The Warming/The Guardian (Voice and Vision 2021)

Jean K. Blackall’s initial piece:

The Warming. Mixed media collage, 16 x 20 inches

Jean’s Statement: Every city now seems to have homeless people wandering. How did there get to be so many? There are shelters where they can sleep but often they are feared by the people or, if suffering from addictions or mental illness, they are not able to cope with the regulations.  Many people choose to sleep out under bridges or in alley doorways. I worked with homeless people in Vancouver for five years when I was in my thirties. The images would not leave my mind so I did a series of collage works around this subject, and the art cleansed my soul and I am able to sleep without dreaming. The series is a way to bring the plight of the homeless before eyes that would normally avert from looking at a homeless person. I believe that every human is beloved and the presence of the universal energy is with each person, no matter the circumstances. This homeless person is in the presence of a spiritual protector.

The Guardian (my response to Jean’s collage):

Being homeless is no joy ride, that’s fer dern sure. I oughta know, I been there. Great Depression it was, old man outta a job so I took off. Bummed around till the war began. They gave me a uniform and a gun and a job to do, and I done it. It weren’t pretty but I done it.

But this kid o’ mine. Kid, heck, he’s a grown man. I told him, “Git yerself an education,” but he’d sass me back, “You didn’t get no education.” Told him I got a good one, in the war. Cuffed him till he got too big to cuff and then he lit out. Got himself a job till he got too old and they laid him off and now he’s bumming around. Homeless. Like I was.

I worry ‘bout him. Back then, weren’t no drugs like nowadays, just rotgut booze that might make you blind. But these days . . .

I try to cuff him when I see him reachin’ fer the needle but does no good when yer just a spectre. My hand just blows on right through his head. Whisperin’ in his ear works better. He must think it’s his conscience speakin’.

Oh sure, he’s got his mates, when they’re not tripped out on somethin’. They don’t look out for him the same way I do. The way I shoulda done when I had the chance. Guess I coulda been a better father. Shoulda been a better father.

#VoiceAndVision #JeanKBlackall #Homelessness #Collage #ArtistAuthorCollaboration #MargaretGHanna

The Test/Heartfelt (Voice and Vision 2021)

Voice and Vision is an annual collaboration between Airdrie and area artists and writers. We meet in May, each bringing an initial piece, and we are randomly paired. We then create a response piece — the author a response to the artist’s work and the artist a response to the writer’s work — which is revealed at the Grand Gala in September. This year, I was paired with Jean K. Blackall. This post features my initial piece, The Test, and Jean’s response piece, Heartfelt. Next week, I will post Jean’s initial work and my response piece.

Owl returns stolen shoestring to Cormorant
Heartfelt When I began working on this collage, the cormorant, all in black, suggested hijab to me — I spent a few years in Saudi Arabia. I could not get that out of my mind, and then the terrible crime of a young man running down a family in London occurred and I just had to make this cormorant a female in hijab. The painting is about repentance (of our society) for the way we segregate and separate Muslim people, leading to young people learning hatred rather than love. That is the understory of the painting, but it is also about the repentance for things said, unsaid and done between friends. Jean K. Blackall, artist. (acrylic and mixed media with hand-dyed paper and found objects; 16x 20 inches)

Cormorant sulked in his basement.
He was angry at old Hooty Owl.
“He’s stolen my favourite shoestring,
That light-fingered, treacherous fowl.”

“We used to be very best buddies
Which many folks thought really weird,
But, oh, we had such fun together
Playing o’er river and field.”

Owl, who’d taken the shoestring,
Sat up in his tree, all forlorn.
He looked at his purloined possession
Once prizéd but now oh so scorned.

“This shoestring, I thought, would be perfect
To spruce up my family’s nest.
But now I see I was mistaken
For friendship is by far the best.

“I miss my old friend, Mr. Cormy,
Estranged is not how we should be.”
He sighed, and he made his decision
Way up on the top of his tree.

Owl picked up that tattered old shoestring
And flew with it back to his friend.
Said, “Cormorant, I am so sorry,
I hope I can make some amends.”

“I regret my rude rash act of thievery.
Your shoestring I gladly give back.
It’s only a thing – I have plenty –
It’s friendship that I truly lack.”

Cormorant looked at his shoestring.
He sighed, then he smiled. “Old Friend,
I missed you much more than that shoestring.
Our spat can now come to an end.”

The moral of this little story
I hope you, Good Friends, take to heart.
A “Thing” is just not worth the having
If it’s going to drive you apart.

#VoiceAndVision #ArtistAuthorCollaboration #NonsensePoem #SocialCommentary #Friendship #Repentance #Othering #Forgiveness #MargaretGHanna

Voice and Vision, 2020

Up for a challenge? Pick any work of art and, in 250 words or fewer, write a story inspired by the artwork.

Or, if you’re an artist, pick a short story and paint/sculpt/sew something inspired by the story.

This is the premise of Voice and Vision, an annual challenge to artists and writers in the Airdrie area. Here’s how it works.

In May, an equal number of artists and writers meet, each having brought an original piece (writers are limited to 250 words, the art work to 24″ x 24″ although it can be any medium). Writer and artist are randomly paired and then the fun begins. The writer must create a story in response to the artist’s work, and the artist must create a work of art in response to the writer’s story.

Voice and Vision is challenging – artist and writer are forced to venture outside their normal “boxes.” It creates new friendships and strengthens existing bonds. We laugh a lot, sometimes cry, and always stand in awe of what our sister/fellow artists and writers draw out of one another’s work.

This year, I was paired with Verone Solilo. We challenged, surprised and inspired each other with our creations. I will post our collective works in early October.

The public reveal of writing and artwork occurs on September 26 as part of Artember. This year, due to COVID, the Voice and Vision Gala will be live-streamed on the Airdrie Public Library’s Facebook page beginning at 7:00 pm MDT (1:00 am GMT). You’re welcome to tune in to hear and see the work of all the writers and artists. I hope you’ll join us that evening (or whatever time it is where you live).

My thanks to Airdrie Public Library, especially Pam Medland, Director of APL, for both encouraging and participating in this project, and Chantal Patton and Eric Pottie for setting up Zoom so this could happen in spite of COVID. Alberta Culture Days provided financial support of the V&V Gala.

#VoiceAndVision #ArtistsAndAuthors #AirdrieAuthors #AirdrieArtists #CreativeChallenge #AirdriePublicLibrary #Artember #MargaretGHanna