Ranger Station Art Gallery

What You Liked in 2013

Can I be the first to wish you a Happy New Year?

For 2014, one of my resolutions is, as always, to post more often. I am heartened by the people who tell me they enjoy reading my blog, and wish there was more of it. And that's not just the people in my family, who are hostage to my mood swings. So, I resolve (once more) to post weekly. I have the world’s largest collection of half-finished posts, therefore all I need to do is finish them and I’ve got a few months done already.

WIP and my cats are what you can see if you follow me on instagram.
Except, you know, in a square format.

But while I was scrolling through my brand new instagram account (@matateishi, if you want to check it out) I also realized that the end of the year is great for looking back on the past year. As a writer, you wonder exactly what readers are interested in knowing about. What topics are the ones to break through and get eyeballs? Well, for me, these were the top posts of 2013.

The number three post was:
As I watch the World Junior hockey tournament right now, I am seized with a desire to go back to Malmø, Sweden. I remember how comfortable the bed was in our huge and inexpensive hotel suite, and how much I enjoyed the modern architecture by the sea. Reading about my art travels to the incredible museums of Sweden and Denmark was a top post for readers as well. If you were one of them, great news, my next post will be about my art-filled trip to Australia.

The number two post was:
My visit to Siobhan Humston’s artist studio in Harrison, B.C. was the number two post, and I believe the reason is community. I made this little road trip with two other artists, Rachael Ashe and Valerie Arnzten. All three of us wrote about it, and I linked to their posts and to the artist’s site as well. The synergy of social media and cross-links is probably what gained this post more clicks, something to remember if you want to gain more traffic for your own site. Community makes us all stronger.
And speaking of community, I was paired with artist Rosa Quintana Lillo, for a show in 2014 at the Cultch. She, in turn, invited me to show at the very gallery in Harrison that I visited. So my 2014 exhibition calendar is filling up nicely.

The number one post was
(drum roll, please … brrrrrrrrap)
I was absolutely incensed to see the work of an artist I admire being copied by an artist in Australia. This came on top of seeing a Vancouver artist copying a Toronto artist, and I wrote a scathing post contrasting and comparing the copiers with the originals. But then I calmed down and realized that calling these people out directly would not solve the problem and only make everyone more defensive. Instead I rewrote the post to examine my own work and wonder how much we are unconsciously influenced.
This post was shared on social media and even resulted in one fb comment saying that I was a copier too (ouch!) But the resulting discussion was great, and accomplished what I wanted: awareness without blame. And hopefully, less copying, even though I see that the Australia artist is still at it.

So that’s my 2013. For the first time, I took a whole month out of the studio. I went to Australia in December, and then Christmas came with all its craziness. I feel a little like an addict without a fix, as I’m itching to get back into the studio now and get painting. I feel that 2014 is going to be a great year, and I wish the same for you and all your creative endeavours.

This Is Your Brain on Studio

I wonder if our studios look like our brains? It’s something that I’ve been thinking about ever since I visited the studio of Siobhan Humston’s studio in Harrison Hot Springs, a tiny vacation town in southern British Columbia.

When faced with eviction from her beloved Vancouver live/work space, Siobhan began an odyssey of couch-surfing and artist residencies that ended up in this one year artist residency at the Ranger Station Art Gallery in Harrison. The Ranger Station is a two story building with a community art gallery downstairs and a rambling apartment upstairs. In return for being the artist in residence and manning the gallery on weekends, Siobhan has the entire second floor to fashion to her own needs.

As someone who has shared her home for over 20 years with one husband, two kids, three cats, and various small mammals and fish, I found it fascinating to see the home of an artist who lives with only one peaceful cat. The freedom to set up your home to suit your own interests is very appealing.  

Naturally, there’s a normal bedroom and kitchen/dining area, but the rest of the place is set up to suit her many creative pursuits. It’s like a dream come true for anyone who has ever had to clean up her art project so dinner can be served! She has a meditation corner that looks out onto beautiful Harrison Lake. She has her musical instruments set up in another corner, a merry mix of drums, mandolins, violins, and the like. There is book-filled nook for relaxing.  

She has a small back room with her sewing machine and fabric stash, where she is crafting pillows, clothing and accessories. 

She has a back room filled with power tools where she builds panels and sculptures. It's filled with supplies for her next sculpture project.

She has a big painting studio with multiple works on tables and pinned on walls.

There is a tiny corner for small coloured pencil works, where I longed to sit at the little desk and doodle.

A driving force behind Siobhan’s work is recycling. Many of her fabrics are donated or salvaged, and even some of the papers she paints on were saved from dumpsters. Her current sculpture project is based on one year’s worth of her waste, things that could not be recycled or composted. She has been collecting raw materials with a childlike freedom, sometimes with a vision and sometimes for unknown future possibilities. You can check out her lovely work here.

I really enjoyed my visit to Siobhan’s studio. It stirred my creative imagination to have a peek into her creative process through her studio. I drove up to Harrison with fellow artists, Rachael Ashe and Valerie Arnzten. We were all so inspired by the trip that each one of us blogged about it. For different perspectives, I've linked to their posts as well.

Now, look around at your studio. What's it saying about you?