Touching Base

Been a while, true, as some have pointed out.  Just back from a long weekend in Prince Edward Island – the 3rd was out 26th Anniv.  Exhausted. Will write later but to tide you over, I present a street-side commentary on popular culture in the form of: a headless Anne of Green Gables.

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I Stand (Dripping) in Solidarity

Recently Urspo mentioned it was overly warm in his area. As shown here in Canuck

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And in more jarring Fahrenheit  (it seems more bearable if you use Celsius)

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We stand in solidarity with him. (And count my stars it usually passes in a week or two.)

“Try and catch some vitamin D!”  – Oh DO fuck off.   

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A stray leaf blew across my face…

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A stray leaf blew across my face, startling me out of a dream of home or something resembling home. I sat up with a gasp, picked up the leaf and crushed it to dust, angry it had pulled me back into this world.

I was slow to disentangle from my bedding – despite the weather, sleeping with little between my aging bones and the concrete floor left me stiff and sore.  I stood and stretched before walking to what had been a balcony.  The view from the 8th floor was no less depressing from the ground. Buildings that once had housed families – scoured almost to dust by years of abandonment and weather.  Despite the sunshine the air smelled of rain. It was getting late to be late summer and, despite my misgivings, I’d soon have to consider leaving. Once fall/winter weather started, I’d never be able to make the crossing back to the mainland.

I looked out to what I could see of the bay and said “No time like the present” to the morning air. I ate a protein bar (13 left) and packed my things into the backpack. Lastly, I rolled the pair of yoga mats I used as a sleeping roll and tied it to the top. I looked about to make sure I hadn’t missed anything. 

This had been a studio apartment at some time in the past. It consisted of a single room with a small balcony & the most secure place I’d stayed in the last decade.  With a working door and on the 8th floor with the 2nd and 5th stairways being almost impassable, it discouraged any “visitors.”   Truth be told, though, I’d not seen another soul since coming to the island.  I’d been able to forage the remains of the island’s crumbling buildings while leaving my things at ‘home’ each day.  Routine.  I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed having a routine.

With a sigh, I opened the door and headed down the hallway to the stairwell.

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Look What I Found on the Way Home From Work

 

Looks like they’re updating our maps.  The Google StreetView Camera Car!  Parked a block from our apartment building – I feel so … touched by greatness.  (It won’t embiggen thanks to my crappy phone’s camera.)

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Maybe Art’s not as hard as I thought

As I mentioned in the last post, we submit photos of our art pieces for class. They’re subject to peer review – in order to get my mark, I have to peer review two other students work – assign them a numeric rating on several criteria and then add my own thoughts on the work. (Once I’ve done two, I have the option of reviewing other students’ work until the deadline passes.)  I’ve been consistently impressed by the level of work produced week to week.  Since the reviews appear to be assigned randomly, I think the whole class is working to a great level.

As I said before, this week was a bit of a disaster – several ideas discarded due to weather etc.  I wasn’t pleased with the work but submitted what I could. 

Wednesday at 10pm (my time) we’re able to see our “mark”  and read the reviews.  I was a little hesitant and, even as late as 9 this evening I was going to pass on the whole thing.  But I checked and I’ve very glad.  The numeric mark was better than I’d hoped and 5 (FIVE) other students left very positive – VERY positive reviews. 

I admit I’m feeling rather chuffed, thanks very much. It’s just the boost I needed as I’ve been stretching my brain on this weeks assignment – a piece of “collection art” in the mood of Andy Worhol, Mark Dion, Joseph Cornell, etc. 

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ART is Hard

If you can spare a few hours a week, and want to stretch your mind a little,  I would happily point you at the online teaching site Coursera.  It had it’s genesis with some online courses Stanford offered a few years ago.  (A while ago I took a course in Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics taught by the amazing Andrew Ng.  I have a degree in mathematics so this was a nice review of linear/nonlinear regression, neural networks and real-world applications – like how Netflix likely determines what you should watch next.)

Coursera has expanded  massively and this term I took “Introduction to Art” (offered by Penn State.)  Yes, I went to art school here in Canada for a couple of years so you may think “Introduction?  Seriously?”

In my defence  the instructor,  Anna Divinsky, is running the course in non-traditional areas of the arts.  No working in acrylics or watercolours for us. I took the course specifically because it’d stretch my brain a little.

Over the last few weeks we’ve been collaging, photographing and, this week, it was time for Environmental Art.  (Think Christo wrapping islands and erecting giant orange gates in NYC’s Central Park.)   It didn’t help that it rained on an off for most of the week here.

So today I managed to, briefly, turn a bus stop near city hall into an art piece.  (To give you an idea of what I was working with, I’d hoped to use the benches on the city fountain but it was way too windy.)

I called the piece  “Public/Private” and wanted to comment on private conversations between strangers in public places.  The stop is glassed-in, essentially making a private room in a public space.  I’d created speech balloons containing non-committal phrases and (attempted to) apply them to the benches in the stop – essentially make the empty seats represent invisible riders having the conversation.

And I did – for a while. Just about the time I took the last photo (we have to photograph our work and submit via the website)  a massive hot wind blew through the square and took out most of my work.

But, in the end, I learned that working in the environment is a different from working in the studio.  Before starting the course, I hadn’t painted in well over a decade, maybe this is what I needed to start again.

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Sigh

We rented a car this weekend and visited Halifax in the midst of the tail end of a hurricane.  I returned the car at 530 this morning (I’m an early riser) and, while walking to the gym, I encountered this on a “Smoke shop” on Main Street.

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I assume the sign refers to PM HaRper (our commander in chief for the Non-Canuck.)  I love how the window reflected both the poster, the bongs and the other materials in the window.  Sigh.

Stay classy, Moncton NB, stay CLASSY!

(I really gotta get a new job and get the f*** out of here.)

 

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