Friday, October 02, 2020

SUSAN ANDREWS GRACE'S "DOMESTIC FETISHES" — A HOPE CHEST OF DELIGHT


Susan Andrews Grace has an eye for the mundane, the ridiculous, and the sublime, all of which are on display in her exhibition at the Kootenay Gallery of Art in Castlegar. Although the show has been up for a couple of weeks now, the official "opening" was on Friday, September 25th. 

Domestic Fetishes comprises over two hundred objects that are in some way relevant to domesticity as it relates to women. The title is perfect, a fetish being an inanimate object with some kind of cryptic power. As Susan puts it in her artist statement, they are "objects relative to the world of an artist and woman who has done a heck of a a lot of domestic work."

Upon entering the gallery space, you notice how very white everything is. White, at first suggesting bland, suggesting washed-out, suggesting virginal, and possibly even suggesting the confusion that arises when one finds oneself in the middle of a white-out on a dark road on a nasty winter's day. 

The whiteness is a result of the artist working with cast plaster, limestone, clay, and various forms of silk, covering and enhancing scores of household objects you'd be likely to find on shelves and in drawers and cupboards in any home.

Grocery receipts spill from a pouch — (part of the installation "Tattered, Torn & Worn.") 

Starched collars — (part of the installation "Tattered, Torn & Worn.")

"Tattered, Torn & Worn" (Mouse in the House)


"Pantry Ghosts" — A table set for no one is focal in the middle of the room. I didn't get a picture of the shelves covered with bottles and jars and cans and household tools, appearing ghostly and nameless in their white plaster or paint or PVA coverings. As the artist puts it, "Domestic work is the ghost in our economic machine." 



Cycladic Nipples serves to remind us of maternal aspects of domestic life

There are several nods to quilt-making ("Red and White Quilt 1)



Grandma's Quilt 1


Grandma's Quilt 2


Grandma's Quilt 3


"First Maid/Bride-in-Waiting", comprised of silk fibre and a couple of condoms on limestone clay and birch, is a perfect example of the artist's wonderfully contemplative sense of humour,


as is "Second Maid/Bride-in-Waiting" with it's silk fibre pistol brings up thoughts of shot-gun weddings, to this viewer, anyway!


The wedding theme continues with a nod to groomsmen.  In a previous life in Saskatoon the artist had a sweat shop in her basement where she pieced together flies for groomsmen's trousers. Who knew a fly could be so complicated? (According to the artist, this led her to the somewhat disconcerting habit of eyeing mens' crotches in an attempt to learn more about fly construction!)


"Domestic Garter Catcher" features your standard North American wedding satin garter caught by a bottle of the sort you'd likely find in a kitchen cupboard. Strands of kiboso spill out the top. Kiboso comes from the outer surface of the silk cocoon.  


And then there's a fetish to honour the woman of the hour — her special day, her special dress. This one reminds me so much of the one my mother wore that I used to play dress-up in. They are of an era; my mother's dress was worn in 1945; this one is from 1950. 

Close-up of dress

Close-up of veil


"The Daughter was Shorter than the Mother" — so titled because the wedding dress had to be shortened when her daughter wore it so the bottom was cut off.

And what should be pointed directly at the wedding dress? A rather ominous, yet funny grouping of cigars and pistols rising from a testicular base!

Detail of "Phalanxes of Phalli"

As I wandered about taking in the incredible number of objects that are part of Domestic Fetishes I found myself thinking about something I hadn't thought of in years: my hope chest. 

Did you have a hope chest? They were a fairly normal thing to have when I was growing up. Basically, it was some sort of container—a box, finely crafted or crude—for accumulating things a young woman would surely need should she find herself married. Things like linens and cookware. Things like cutlery and dishes. My hope chest took the form of an old steamer trunk. My older female relations delighted in providing things for it; my grandmother got into the act before I even had such a box, putting aside embroidered pillowcases and tea towels. I still have her pillowcases that say, Mr. and Mrs. and her tea towels that announce BreakfastLunchDinner, and Teatime. There was a teapot that played Tea For Two when you upended it to pour, and a set of "luncheon dishes", most of which got broken on one of my cross-country trips. So many expectations were packed into that trunk it's a wonder I could close it. 

I still use the tea towels from time to time, but I could never quite bring myself to haul out those pillowcases. After seeing Susan Andrews Grace's take on the domesticity scene I begin to understand why. 

The show is up until the 31st of October. Catch it if you can.




 


 

Sunday, August 02, 2020

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING OF LATE

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Okay, okay, it's suddenly August and I haven't posted anything since the end of April. I know. I'm a slacker in blog land.

Slacker in Blog Land. There's a title. 

So thanks to Facebook friends I just heard about this thing people do in August called the Sealey Challenge whereby you commit to reading a book—or chapbook—of poetry, every day, for the month. As luck would have it, today's only the 2nd, and further to that, I actually read a chapbook yesterday, so I'm counting it, and am going to attempt this, and not only that, I'm going to blog about them. 

If you're anything like me (and if you are, you have my sympathy), you have a bit of a collection of poetry  books that you may or may not have actually read. Oh, I've opened all of them. Read one or two, or a dozen, or all of the poems within. But to be honest, I have so many books I haven't read all of...and I think it's about time I rectified that.

So I will do a separate posts on the books I read this month. And I'll likely focus on chapbooks, as that's what I publish, and, come to that, that's what I've been published in. 

I can't say much about the first one, the one I read yesterday, because I was reading it whilst wearing my Nose in Book Publishing hat, it's one I'm in the process of publishing! 

I have a couple of links to share.

First, and I've already posted about this one, I read several poems for National Poetry Month and you can catch the videos here.

Then there's Paul Nelson's interview with me about August postcard poems, now known as POPO. 

And a few of weeks ago I got an email from a blogger from Virginia who came across an old poem of mine online at Your Daily Poem and wondered if she could use it in her blog. And this is the result. And here's my mom who's now living at Jubilee Manor as did my aunt when I wrote that poem, when she turned 100 at the beginning of June. 

Here she is with her grandson, Jesse, his partner, Cheralynne, and their boy, Kyran, her great-grandson

With Ben, Jubilee's resident cat. He's turning 22 this month, which makes them around the same age!

100 years young!

I hope you're staying well in these crazy COVID times. Wear a damned mask!


Me and Ted in May, wearing our Mexican fabric masks made by our friend Cheryl Malmo



Having a COVISIT with Rita Moir, at Lakeside Park in Nelson at the end of July

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Thursday, April 30, 2020

POETRY MONTH DAY # 30 — LIGHT, BIRDS, FISH, BIRCH

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A poem about something that returns is on today's menu from NaPoWriMo.


Light, Birds, Fish, Birch


Each day the light returns,
sometimes later, sometimes sooner,
but always, it returns.

Hummingbirds come back
each spring, to the feeder.
If it's not out, they buzz the window, looking.

Paper birch in the curtilage
rolls out the catkins,
promises leaves to come.

Late summer finds the redfish
swimming up their birth creeks
to spawn the next generation.

We are all the light, the birds,
the fish, the birch, off on our adventures,
coming home.




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Wednesday, April 29, 2020

POETRY MONTH DAY # 29 — ODE TO NED

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"Today," says NaPoWriMo, "I challenge you to write a paean to the stalwart hero of your household: your pet." 

Sisu and Kiisa came into our lives a year and a half ago. Found them on the K.A.A.P. site on Facebook, a Kootenay-based animal rescue group. I'd been keeping an eye on their "looking for a home" posts for at least a year, and there was something about the face looking out at me; Sisu's, it turned out. Grey with the faintest of tabby markings. The other was full-on black. After a few day's deliberation (and being firm with the husband) we arranged to meet them. Imagine our surprise when Sisu came to greet us, all 21 pounds of him (9 ½ kg). Long story short, they moved in about a month later. It's an open adoption; before Covid their former family would drop in when they were back in Castlegar. Every now and then I send pictures and/or videos of cats being cute. It's what they do. We look forward to seeing the boys' boys once this social distancing thing calms down.

Sisu attempting to get all of himself into the patch of sunlight

Kiisa loves the Irish blankets that are usually found on my chair

The two of them, during an altercation

But a poem about them? I dunno. I sort of stopped writing cat poems after my first one which happened when I was in my early teens. It went something like this:


ODE TO NED


I turned the corner and there he lay
a little ball of white and grey
basking in a golden ray
of sun.

I wondered as I saw him there
what charms he held to make me care
thankful, I offered a little prayer
for Ned.



It truly worries me that I still remember that!

And here are a couple of pictures of the aforesaid Ned:











And I'm done. One more day in April! This was the longest, shortest, fastest, slowest month I've ever lived through. 

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

POETRY MONTH DAY # 28 — SANCTUARY

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Welcome to the world of Emily Dickinson! NaPoWriMo is digging around in our memories today.

"Martha Dickinson Bianchi’s description of her aunt’s cozy room, scented with hyacinths and a crackling stove, warmly recalls the setting decades later. Describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem. It could be your childhood room, your grandmother’s room, a college dormitory or another significant space from your life."


Sanctuary


Pale yellow walls


built in shelf

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OOPS!


April 30, 2020 — 

Last night I was reading this on my phone and saw a typo. Somehow I deleted most of the poem and I hadn't gotten around to saving it anywhere so it's gone. This may be a breakthrough—I really can get rid of everything! Anyway, Sanctuary is now a two-line poem. I thought of adding 'Ootpik' for a third and final line because I know one was mentioned in the original and how often am I likely to use it again?


This is writing and letting it go. The August PoPo Fest is about writing directly onto the card. First draft stuff. Quality varies greatly, but now and again you get a line or two. I wrote Santuary directly into my blog, likely quite late at night which is how this month of daily poeming has gone. 



Sanctuary


Pale yellow walls


built in shelf

Ootpik

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Monday, April 27, 2020

POETRY MONTH DAY # 27 — OAK LEAVES

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A poem in the form of a review of something/someone that doesn't normally warrant one.

And I fell asleep after dinner and just woke up and it's ten to midnight, my time.

Don't expect miracles!

Oak Leaves

While some may speak of acorns
and how you grow from one
I'd like to point out how your leaves
make such a mess
before they're done.

They worm their way inside the nest
of boughs of lavender and such.
They're picked out one by one
and then they don't break down,
at least, not much.

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Sunday, April 26, 2020

POETRY MONTH DAY # 26 — HODGEPODGE

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Today is all about creating a sort of poetry blueprint after jotting down your answers to an "almanac questionnaire." Too sleepy to do much with it.


Hodgepodge

thank you for coming,
the fox is back in his bedtime story,
cowering dog 
to the cold, hard, nothing
of confrontation.

bluster of a day
sprigs of yarrow still coming up 
legacy of a former resident 
who planted it everywhere, 
its roots as determined to stay 
as I am for them to go.

black bear      garter snake      
rainbow[ trout,      
five-year-old’s scary wolf-face nightmare
footprints of the past
in an ordinary life.

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