It's been a busy few days, with the Opening Reception at the McMillan Arts Centre on Saturday, followed by a day trip to Victoria and Duncan to see the totems.
The people who made it to the reception enjoyed the exhibition, expressing similar thoughts as during the first show in West Vancouver. The staff of the McMillan Arts Centre is so supportive. It was also great to meet the other artists, who are also showing at the Centre. It's a wonderful combination. And the afternoon was capped by a sale of the Thunderbird Totem painting.
The following day (Sunday) was devoted to the rebuilding my totem photo library. I hadn't seen the Victoria totems for a number of years, and with my hard drive dying 5 months ago, I had lost many of those photographs. Having begun this series, I saw the museum's exhibit through very different eyes. I was actually quite disappointed in how the museum treats its totem collection. I hadn't noticed how much before. The interior collection is taken over by the theatrical lighting, and with it, anyone who goes there to 'see' and study the totems, can't. In so much darkness and dim amber lighting, it is impossible to see colours and wood textures of the pieces. I tried taking a few pictures with flash (prior to be being told not to use my flash), in the hope of seeing the natural colours but flash only brings out the grey patina. In the one totem, there is a hint of a bit of the original red on the upper lip, but it's lost in choices for this exhibit. * An aside about the flash - Being there to study the totems, and scolded for trying to use my flash to actually try an 'see' the totems, while at the same time, a group of rambunctious children were actually hanging off the beak of one totem. But that seems OK with the museum staff. Which leads me to wonder whether these are authentic, with the combo of theatrical lighting, which conceals their 'details' and allowing them to be manhandled if they were in fact real artifacts. Just a question.
And then there are the beautiful totems sections in the separate building with thick windows all around. Again, this is so poorly planned. It is impossible to really see them as the thick windows reflect everything outside, from the sky to neighbouring buildings. Enthusiasts, who are there to study them, and appreciate them, can't. You simply can't find any angle where you can see them clearly and study the wood, colours and beautiful carving.
So I moved on to the few outdoor totems. I'm not sure if the position of the sun improves in the summer, but it is often a problem where the totems have their backs to the sun. As with the UBC collection, for the outdoor totems, you need to get there by 6am.
So that part of adding to my library of totem studies wasn't as useful as I had hoped. After a quick lunch, rather then doing my usual stops to some of my favorite places in Victoria, I started the trek back up towards Duncan, to see the totems there. I wasn't sure what to expect as I knew these were part of a mayor's plan to add a tourist attraction for Duncan. Many were indeed commercial but there were many interesting sections within them, which made the journey worthwhile.
I was back in Parksville by dinner, and tired. A lot of driving and haven't had any time for some R&R on my weekend on the Island.
Today (Monday) didn't turn out to be as forecasted, being extremely foggy rather then having sunshine. So that changed my day of lazing around the beaches for the day prior to catching a ferry back home. But I do also enjoy the fog; its invigorating mist and salt air. So I experimented with my new camera. There were sea lions out in the water but they were too far out to get pics of them. But you could watch them come up and jump out the water, occasionally vocalizing. But there were lots of birds that I could experiment with my camera lens, as they too were often far away.
I was then going to head back to Nanaimo but decided to go a bit further north along the Island Hwy W, until I saw a female eagle sitting on the beach rock. I stopped to have a better look through my camera lens, when 4 - 5 other eagles arrived and kept me entertained for quite some time. It was great being able to keep clicking shots as they swooped everywhere. Now it has been years since I’ve done any serious photography, and I have much to learn about my new digital camera, but I was pleased with what I was able to get this weekend. The shots are of such high resolution that, even with cropping the small images of the eagles in the far off landscapes, they are impressive. The clarity of their faces would have been better on a sunny day.
I am now back in North Vancouver after a very foggy ferry crossing with the horn used every 2 minutes. So much to think about. So many suggestions about the totem series. My totem day trip yesterday affirmed that my research does need to extend to the central and northern totems of BC and even Alaska. But that is financially impossible at this time. But the totems of my series to date, even though many are at the UBC MOA, they too are from these areas. I need to experience the places of their origin and the other treasures there.
Some have even suggested that I could play an important function in recording these precious totems within my paintings, as a means of preserving their memory and beauty for others to see. But like I said, so many ideas, so much to think about…
But my task now is to jump into a centenary icon commission, which has to be completed by April 22. It is a large piece (43”x63”) and with a complex theme. The panel has been started and there is much to do. It will give time for the totem series to percolate, and the McMillan Arts Centre exhibition is still on until March 29th. I will be keeping a similar Journal for that icon project, but under the Iconography tab of my website.
The timing will work well as that will allow me to get back into the totem paintings by May 1st, allowing adequate time to prepare for the next mid-August Journeying With The Totems exhibition in Port Moody.
I often think about that early decision to call this transition 'journeying'. The act of moving still in progress: a journey of discoveries about the totems, about myself, while creating a whole new style.
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.