Here we go again
50″ x 42″
Soft pastel on rag paper
Currently on view at Coldstream Fine Art as part of “Eye Candy”, my solo exhibition running from July 21-August 25, 2016
It’s been a while since I last posted an article, mainly because I’ve been busy setting up shop and getting work and framing done for “Eye Candy”, my first Toronto gallery solo show, which just opened at Coldstream Fine Art (located at 80 Spadina Ave, suite 208, Toronto, Ontario). I’m happy to report it made Canadian Art magazine’s online “must see” list.
Setting up shop became necessary when my wife and I decided to separate, something that was, in retrospect, long overdue, as neither of us were happy in a relationship that had seen its fair share of challenges over the years. That decision was made mutually in late January, and by the beginning of April I had found a new place to live and work.
I’m now living downtown, which is much to my liking. During the previous four years, I had been painting full time, but over the final couple of years of both my marriage and working out of my former studio, I had become a near hermit. As I’ve come to discover, that life just didn’t suit me. For one thing, it reinforced my tendency of retreating into myself. For me that tendency comes with the territory to one extent or another with studio life, as I require solitude to facilitate the concentration needed when working. Even when I was invited to share working space at Green Studio with Rocky Green and the late Bert Thompson, we each had our own studio, so over time, I had come to expect and enjoy that solitude. At least, that was the case until recently.
As of late, however, I’ve been enjoying the company of the only person with whom I’ve ever shared a studio since leaving art school.
That person is Wendy Syer, and in addition to being my studio partner, she’s my soul mate and the love of my life.
In a twist that reads like a Hollywood love story, we’re together again after 23 years apart, and it’s already obvious to both of us that we’ll be spending the rest of our days together. It’s a relationship that’s full of passion, romance, and a mutually supportive friendship, one that includes sharing our creative lives and spaces. We began seeing each other a short while after my separation, and we’re both aware of just how lucky we are to have each other as partners. Had it not been for my alcoholism, we wouldn’t have parted ways in our first incarnation–in fact, back then we were engaged to be married. But that was then and this is now, so here we go. Again.
I’ve also returned to bartending on a part-time basis, partly because I needed the extra cash to help quickly finance my new living and working space, and partly because it’s something I enjoy doing from a social standpoint. I’ve always liked the life and work, and as odd as it may seem, it’s the social outlet I find most comfortable. I get to see old friends while developing new relationships, and it keeps me connected to the wider social and art scene that makes Peterborough such a great place to be an artist. I plan to continue working with and for my boss, Catalina, whether or not I need the money, simply because she creates a space and environment that attracts fun, intelligent, creative people, making for a pretty great work and play environment.
This has been an intense, busy year so far, one that has presented me with many new challenges as well as more than a few welcome opportunities in my personal, creative, and professional lives. In a period that could have been painful and lonely, I’ve instead been on the receiving end of love, opportunities in art and commerce, as well as a most welcome return to connecting with friends and colleagues along the way. I’ve also had a good and productive introductory period of work in my new studio, and the next batch of paintings is already underway.
I’ll be writing about those paintings, and about how the art world has evolved over the thirty years or so I’ve been painting and exhibiting, in my next column. In the meantime, if you happen to find yourself in Toronto, you can check out “Eye Candy” until August 25 at Coldstream Fine Art (located in Toronto, Ont., at 80 Spadina Ave., suite 208).
In my New Year’s 2016 post, I wrote that 2016 is going to be a good year in the studio, and that I’m hoping to build on the momentum that began with selling all of the paintings I chose for my participation in “Abstract Concepts”, the 2015 group show at Coldstream Fine Art (208-80 Spadina Ave., Toronto, Ont.) that marked my successful re-entry to the Toronto art scene after a decade spent working and exhibiting regionally in and around Peterborough. As a result, I’m happy to share the news that owner and gallerist Kariv O has me pencilled in for a solo exhibition at Coldstream for mid-July through August 2016!! Stay tuned for details!
I also wrote of how I had spent some time away from social media in late 2015 in order to take stock of the toll taken on me, and on my relationships with those closest to me, by the twin issues of depression and chronic pain/pain medication management. Though I’ve been dealing with these issues since 2003 as a result of a cancer related spinal cord injury, I spent the first half of 2015 dealing with new and severe pain because of a malfunctioning bursa in my left side hip that provided me with no lubrication for the muscles, tendons, and ligaments from my hip to my toes. Fortunately, after six months, this condition fixed itself just as randomly and quickly as it appeared, doing so just in time for the lead up to the show at Coldstream.
Toward the end of 2015, I started going to the gym again, with the aim of adding weight training to the running habit I was able to take up again in August. My thinking was that the training might help with the pain and other issues by making me stronger and more flexible, as well as helping relieve some of the depression by way of the natural creation of mood elevating endorphins that comes with working out.
As life and luck would have it, I’ve seen a dramatic improvement in my physical and emotional state over the past 2 1/2-3 months. I’ve cleaned up my diet, lost weight, and have been experiencing much, much less pain in my leg and foot. As a result, I have noticed a recent and significant drop in the amount of pain medication I’ve been taking, as well as an increase in my strength, flexibility, and mobility levels.
But as life and luck would also have it, these changes came too late to prevent the very recent separation of me and my wife after 21 years of marriage.
While I’m still dealing with the variety of emotional and practical considerations that come with such a life altering event, I can honestly say it was a decision we came to mutually, and that we plan and hope to negotiate our way through the process cooperatively and with the goal of settling our affairs so that we each emerge in the best possible position as we begin our “new” lives. We also want to conduct ourselves in a manner that doesn’t introduce a strained dynamic in our relationships with our adult daughters. We know we’ll always be a family, just one that no longer involves married parents. Though our decision seems sudden to many of our family members and friends, it was a decision and situation that was a long time in the making. I can also honestly say that with time, we will both be better and happier for having come to it.
For me, it means a return to bartending for earning some extra revenue that will supplement my painting income while I begin looking for and furnishing a new living and studio location. It’s something I’m actually looking forward to, as it will force me to give up the hermit-like life I’ve largely been leading for the past four years or so. Having completed a few short shifts at my new job at Catalina’s Vintage/Barbeside in Peterborough, I’ve come to realise how much I’ve missed the social aspect of my former career; and since I’ll only be working 4 shifts a week from 6-12p.m., I won’t get over-worked or burned out like I did from some of my previous jobs. I’m also looking forward to moving back downtown, because I’ve come to realise that I need to have a variety of people and experiences to rub up against to fuel my art making process, and that being more socially connected will also help keep depression at bay.
Change, it seems, is my theme for this year.
I’m looking forward to whatever comes my way.
Cheers. See you soon.
Well hello, there.
It’s been awhile since I posted anything new here, as I’ve been taking a step back from social media in order to reassess what it is I’m doing on and offline. This has been a part of an introspective overhaul I’ve been consciously undertaking in a bid to temper my tendency to get bogged down by the bouts of depression that have been my lot since chronic pain became my constant companion following my second episode of Hodgkin’s disease back in 2003/04. I also found that my online posts regarding my increasing distaste with Canadian politics were both occupying too much of my time, as well as getting in the way of my studio practice and contributing to my bouts of depression, so I’ve been “away” for the past few months.
But I’m back, and in a much better frame of mind.
I think 2016 is going to be a very good year in the studio, and I think it’s also going to be a year in which I build on the momentum and success I enjoyed in exhibiting with Coldstream Fine Art that marked my reintroduction to Toronto’s art world. I’m eager to get painting again following a short break that resulted in a quick kitchen makeover during the holidays, and I’m planning to get back to painting some portraits and figurative paintings this year, as well as continuing with my work in the genres of abstraction, still life, and landscape. As I get back to work, I’ll be posting photos of studio life and finished pieces, and I hope to include more writing about my own and other artists’ work as I continue to dig deeper into this thing called art. I’ll also make sure to let you know when and where I’ll be exhibiting. I’m currently in talks about the next show at Coldstream, and I have some other irons in the fire for shows outside of Toronto. Details to follow.
Most of all, it’s time to have some serious fun, and I invite you to join me for the ride.