January is happiness month

Happy New Year!

At a time when I am wishing all my friends happiness, I thought that I would like to spread a little happiness on the blog as well. So all my January posts are going to be about happiness.

In late December I went to see an exhibition of Takashi Iwasaki paintings at the Elliot Louis Gallery. The paintings were actually embroideries on linens, so they are more than just paintings. Several years ago, I met Takashi at his studio when I was in Winnipeg. I bought a drawing from him.

My Takashi Iwasaki drawing!

At the time he had some embroideries as well, but the new work looks much more complex and elaborate. In fact, the needlework is so good that we spent time staring at the works and wondering how they were done, especially the plaid sections!

In his artist statement for the show, Takashi wrote:
Life is too short to take gravely all the time. I want to delight in what I can when I can. Having this as my essential philosophy, my goal of art making is to create a positive and playful atmosphere, and generate warm feelings of intimacy and substance through my work.

The art is full of vibrant energy and oddly engaging titles. I would defy anyone to see these works and not come away smiling. 

I do intend to update the blog more frequently, but then I get busy in the studio and poof…two months have gone by without a new post. So my resolution for 2011 will be write shorter posts more often and to write about different aspects of art and what is inspiring my art. And with my new camera, I’ll take more photos as well so that I can occasionally let a picture take the place of a thousand words.

Good things come in threes

I began writing this blog last night and planned to finish it today. The subject is happiness and good things happening, and incredibly more good things have happened in the meantime.

I am on an art high. In the first place, I am almost finished all the paintings for the Japanese Canadian National Museum show. Hooray! I had to get them done early so that I can deliver them to the photographer. He gave me the option of two different days and I chose the earlier one, since I want to be done and able to relax and enjoy the first game of the playoffs (Canucks vs. Kings) on Thursday. So I motored through and finished 7 paintings in the last three days. While that sounds amazingly productive, my process involves working in layers, so the work might best described as binary. Instead of being 75% of the way there, my paintings are either done or not done.

I have the satisfaction of looking around the studio and seeing all the work I have done. The show looks good to me, although the work has evolved as I did it, and there may be a slightly schizophrenic quality to it. Still, I'm feeling proud and one of my favourites is this one:

The second nice thing that happened was getting accepted into The Cheaper Show. I had a nice studio visit from one of the show's curators, but she was more interested in getting a variety of applications than specifically vetting my work. So I applied, and then found out that there were 950 applications from around the world for 200 spots. At that point, I basically forgot all about the process until another artist friend reminded me. So I ended up watching an 8 minute video in which the shows organizers discussed the project and the process, and then in the second half they showed slides of the work and names of the selected artists. Not in alphabetical order either, these people know how to build up excitement. I knew some of the artists and admired others, and there was a certain tension to having to watch. Then...my painting appeared! I gave a little shriek and ran upstairs to tell Patrick. Being only 6:30 in the morning, he wasn't quite as enthusiastic as I was, but he didn't actually growl at me, so it's all good.

Good things come in threes, right?

The third thing happened today. I got an email from Agnes Bugera Gallery in Edmonton asking if I would be interested in being represented by her. (The perfect email for an artist:  the subject line is Representation and the sender is a gallery I know.) Turned out that I was referred to her by Deborah Boileau of Sopa Fine Arts in Kelowna, to whom I have been sending work for her Under $800 shows. It's all an enormous thrill for me. I spoke to Agnes who was the correct combination of charming and business-like. I will be part of a group show starting June 26th.

Sometimes being an artist is a lot like dating. If you wait by the phone or pursue someone manically it never seems to work out. But if you are busy doing what you love and just enjoying what you have, the phone rings and Mr. Right is on the line. Happy days.