Many of you saw this painting in progress during the exhibition at the Silk Purse Gallery. It has been completed, varnished, and ready to join the rest of the series in its journey to Parksville for the next exhibition which opens March 3rd (through to March 29).
Just trying to sort through the clutter in my small condo & studio, preparing the series for their trip to Parksville. I finished and varnished the Wolf Totem painting today and still need to wire and sign 3 other paintings before I can start wrapping them all. Once their are packed up, I can then prepare my studio to accommodate a somewhat large icon board for a special centenary commission which needs to be completed by April 28th. It is 43" x 64", birch plywood with maple framing and weighs more then my easel can handle. All this takes place while also taking care of the Parksville exhibition with:
- a day trip on Monday, March 2nd to hang the show (returning the same day)
- a return trip on Saturday, March 7th for the Opening Reception, but plan to stay overnight rather then having to rush back. With the opportunity, I will likely take the next day to visit totems in the area.
- and then return on March 30th to pack out and return home with the series.
Once the centenary commission is completed, it will be time to continue painting the series in preparation for the exhibition in Port Moody in August/September.
A wonderfully busy time.
Have been busy documenting the wonderful responses in the Guest Book from the Silk Purse Exhibit. Thank you all.
Also getting all the printing requirements prepared for the Parksville exhibit and then start packing the paintings for their trip to the Island very early next Monday. There will be 18 pieces in that show.
In the process, I've redeveloped the handout so that it spoke in more detail as to the talking points about the series, as I won't be able to be onsite as I was with the Silk Purse exhibition. I've posted the handout under the tabs Visual Arts Portfolio / Journeying With Totems / Background Handout about the Series.
Or you can go directly through the following URL
I hope that it is helpful and continues the conversation.
I welcome comments and questions.
Well, weirdness kicked in again today with the Silk Purse booking a therapy class of some sort which finished at 1:30pm. My closing show day was scheduled for Noon (as usual)! And again, I had no warning. In shock, disbelief, and anger, I paced the grounds by the entrance, left to explain to people coming to see the show why they weren't able to enter. I eventually went for a drive to de-stress. Always best to pull away and regroup in times like this. This was my closing weekend, and after being on site for weeks, much to the pleasure of the viewers and the Board, volunteers and staff of the gallery, and this is how my closing weekend is treated? Once the heat has dissipated some, I will be putting my thoughts and recommendations of paper. If anything, for the artists that follow me.
The weather was also not as originally forecasted; being colder and with overcast. So there wasn't a lot of people in the park, but there was still great conversations with people who came and typically had many questions. The anger from pre-1:30 didn't factor in as it is the totems and the viewers that matter.
And, on schedule as in the past month, my friend, the eagle, made an appearance, just as I needed him. I hold a special thank you in my heart for that beautiful noble bird.
So, aside from the bumpy weekend, the overall experience has been rich in sharing and great in generosity and support from the many who came to experience the totems series. There is so much to cherish and much to process internally as I move forward, to the next exhibition in the McMillan Centre in Parksville BC, and with my ongoing journey with this work.
Two paintings have gone to their new homes, and one other is going on its side trip to Parksville before it gets to go to its great home. Thank you all.
So the Show in West Vancouver has come to a close, the paintings have been loaded and returned to my home. I must say that it is odd to have them all back on my storage unit and everywhere again in my condo after seeing them all together in their spotlight. But they are scheduled for packing once again this week and ready for the ferry crossing very early March 2nd. I've prepared a different handout for the Parksville exhibition as I won't be able to be with the paintings there. Following the recurring themes and questions from this show, I wanted the handout having more talking points as the viewers experience the series. I plan to also post this new handout on the website in the hope that it will continue being helpful and keep the 'conversation' going.
Another big day today. Didn't get to close today until 5:30pm. There is simply no way to remember all the comments and wonderful suggestions about how and where to get the word out about the series. A few times today, it was interesting seeing people's faces as they entered and saw the paintings. Quite literally, chins would drop. I've heard words like 'mastery', 'amazing work', 'a must see', etc. Much to think through. Got back on track after yesterday's double booking by the gallery, and again, the eagles was here on cue to start the day. I cannot thank them enough as they have been there every time I needed it.
One day left. Imagine that! And then we pack up tomorrow at 5pm. There won't be time for me to paint tomorrow, and my goal is to immediately try and take photographs of the 2 paintings that will be picked up sometime in the afternoon. I expect the afternoon to be another very busy day with loads of people coming in from their walks along the sea walk. And many are aware that it is just about over. I will miss my time in that awesome setting and that special time of interacting with all the wonderful people who came to see the show and who have been so pleased with the show. I hope that they will continue to spread the word. :-)
Then it will be time to pack up again and head to Parksville next weekend. I'm trying to prepare a different handout for Parksville; one that includes more talking points about the series as I won't be able to be with them for that Show.
Thanks to everyone for your support on what has been an amazing journey of discovery so far and open to where it goes.
A major bump in the road with the gallery bumping my show for a Memorial Service this afternoon, and not letting me know. And just as I'm heading into the closing weekend! Here's to two good last days starting tomorrow.
Hard to believe that there are only 3 days left of the first exhibition. The time has flown by.
It is impossible to document all the key points from each day's conversations, responses to the totem paintings, and comments about my work. I am humbled by how the paintings have and are touching people, The totems are reaching out to people, as totems do, and people are responding. Only a few have had a push back reaction to the feeling of being drawn in; uncertain what that feeling was and mistaking it for something negative or dark.
Many times have I felt the urge to look over my shoulder as people speak highly of my work, its quality, and how it respects and honours the great works of the West Coast totems. The artist in me tends to think "Who. Me?"
My hope is find a way of getting high resolution pics of the few paintings that have sold and won't be going on the Parksville Exhibition. Once they are gone, I will not have the opportunity again.
I will so miss being at the Silk Purse Gallery. I have been intensionally savouring every moment as I know that this time will pass, and I will always cherish the memories; the perfect setting in my 'go to' place at Ambleside, the noble eagles that warmed my heart and assured me that everything would be ok, and feeling at home. The realities of my wee studio in my condo will pale in comparison.
There is so much to do in preparing both me and the paintings from travelling to Parksville to set up for the March 3rd opening there.
It was an absolutely glorious sunshine day today, and after finding a parking spot, didn't get any painting done. It was just too busy. I maybe got 15 minutes of painting. The rest of the time, I was on the floor going from one great conversation to another. The park was alive with people, and with the nicer weather, we were able to keep the front door open for easier access to people as they saw the paintings while walking by.
Too many points to remember from all the conversations. As an overview, the main points are,
- how people are amazed with the detail and realism,
- how the wood comes through
- how they look sculpted
- how they draw you in (or reach out to you)
- the opportunity for me to explain my relationship to totems and my approach to this series
- and just an overall sense of wonder and joy.
Having had this wonderful experience of being onsite for this exhibition, I've come to see just how important these conversations are and I growing become concerned that I can't be onsite for the Parksville exhibition in March. But distant and cost are too prohibitive. Someone recommended that I prepare a list of talking points for the volunteers, but they generally run the entrance to the three galleries in the centre and can't be with the exhibition. I'll try to prepare a different kind of handout as an option. But it will feel odd 'leaving the kids on their own' for the month of March.
From the entire time I've been there, I've only had maybe 3 or 4 more pointed inquiries about my not being Aboriginal, but I was prepared for that. After all, the totems are so present in the room. And I feel that, after having those honest dialogs, all left reassured and with a better understanding of my respect and sincerity in the project.
I must also add that I've been so thankful to have found 3 - 4 CDs of Aboriginal Flute music. It makes such a difference to have more appropriate and serene background music for the totems.
After the last day at Silk Purse on Sunday, Feb. 22nd, the show will be packed up and headed to Parksville on March 1st, for setting up on march 2nd. I will doing a round trip ferry crossing to deliver the paintings, returning home that same day. The show opens March 3rd. I then return for the March 7th Opening Reception a, catching a return ferry again the same day. When it closes after March 29th, I return to haul the paintings back to North Vancouver. Lots of ferry crossing costs. I so wish that I could stay for the first week, up until the reception, but the costs are prohibitive.
Once the Parksville show opens, I will be starting on a centenary icon commission for the Archdiosece of Winnipeg which is planned for completion by April 28th. It will require a bit of adjusting the refocus the mindset from the totem series to an icon. And once the icon is completed, making that transition once again back to the totems, and getting ready for the next solo exhibition in Port Moody in August.
So it is a busy time, and hopefully, there is will be enough sales along the way to cover home front expenses.
Well, the show is entering its final stretch, and I am so thankful that the weather will finally be clearing up for it. Most Vancouverites are stoic but rain, but the endless storms have been oppressive lately, and foot traffic in the park (and the gallery) has been dismal on some days. It has become a major concern for my exhibition.
Yesterday, a few people came through as they were starting to come to the park again, but I noticed a shift in their approach to the gallery, where they go to the front door off the deck instead of the main side entrance. I had been working at that end of the gallery the past few weeks, trying to not get in the way of viewing the paintings. With the long range forecast showing sunshine for the next week (Yay!), it would be great if that front door is open. So, I found a way to cram myself into another corner. Not ideal as it is near the main entrance and washroom...and the lighting is poor, but it will do.
I'm not sure about being onsite next week. I'll play it by ear. I'm juggling the question whether my presence is a good thing or whether it is intimidating some people from coming in. I know that many like to meet and chat with me, but others may feel like I am there to push a sale. They would be partially correct as there hasn't been any sale to date, and I had hoped for a better result. The home budget needs it to be. But my main goal to be onsite is the increase exposure and hopefully create new relationships and networks.
I had been prepared for the inevitable questions of the totems paintings and my not being aboriginal, and so far, the conversations have been very positive around that. Interesting that the more pointed inquiries are always from non-Aboriginals! A few young Aboriginals artists came in the other day, who happened upon the exhibition. I will always cherish that conversation on many levels. They understood my approach to the totems, and we had a great chat about their own art and their journeys. It is not an easy path. We shook hands and I wished them well in their discoveries. 'Stay true to yourself.'
I then met with an artist friend. It was awkward at first as I sensed there had been a problem around my work. The artist also shares a love of totems, wanted to meet and get the concern out in the open. I am thankful for that, although it did leave me in a bit of a slump the remaining part of the day. I had never seen my work as being potentially hurtful. The thing that made it harder to process for the artist was the fans and staunch supporters that were agitated and insisted that I was copying the artist's work. They were well intended but the truth of the matter is that they are off the mark. The totems are out there for everyone to see, and many artists and photographers respond to them, each in their own way.
In my work in iconography, you quickly adjust to the fact that others are doing the same work and people will like or dislike the work of various iconographers. We are all writing icons but we have our own styles. No 2 are alike.
I wanted to express to my artist friend that we are kindred spirits in our love for the totems, and how we both feel that we've found a distinct niche for our work. We are simply walking a parallel journey. My friend's work is so distinctive, in every piece. Even though we happen to be both painting totems subjects, the two approaches are different. And I too know that, even though I too feel I have discovered a unique place for my totem paintings, it will spur other artists to do similar work, and the work will evolve accordingly. It would be great, as an artist, to have found that distinction as 'That is clearly the work of Andre Prevost' but the reality is such, that in each of our journeys as artists, few of us will achieve that notoriety. But that is the ongoing wrestling of our work. It ultimately comes down to the work, and finding that balance of promoting it in order to survive and support families etc., and in turn, allow us to continue painting.
Anyway, there was lots to process after that conversation, and I suspect that is why the questions of whether I asked permission to do this series, has become a bit more affecting. It is more the pattern of non-Aboriginal persons showing themselves as knowledgeable and being quasi defenders of Aboriginal Arts. But in the meantime, don't fully understand the nature of totems and the 'hows and whys' of how I've approached this series. So I keep explaining the foundation on which the series was formed on, hoping that, on some level, that dialogue will evolve. My sincere hope is that in time, my work will be seen as supportive and as honouring the great totems of the Nations, Families, and Masters who have and are once again creating them. My only goal is that, in my responding to these wonderful treasures, my work can simply be seen as an homage to the great works, and as bringing viewers closer to facets of these wonders and through them, grow in their appreciation and understanding.
FEBRUARY 14, 2015:
Today was a good day. Back to talking about the work
Andre Prevost, began his work in theatre in the late 70s after completing his studies at the Banff School of Fine Arts, and in his iconography in 1980, and having a large body of work in each. He has since been based in Western Canada; North Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and now back on the West Coast.