Art School: Semester 3, Week 8

Well, this week has been something of a train wreck. Honestly, it’s the single most depressing week in American politics I can remember. Reading the news is the mental equivalent of being beaten up and having your lunch money stolen. For my Canadian readers who aren’t following the details, consider yourself lucky, but please don’t get complacent and let Canada follow a similar path.

What path, you ask? Well, consider this short but relevant twitter thread discussing the rise of the National Party and Apartheid in South Africa. Click and read, please. Really. I’m not going anywhere, and it won’t take long.

Yes, the above really is a link to a twitter thread. Click on it and see!

I am completely depressed about the future of the US. If it has a future at all, that is. Trump is rapidly turning it into a third world kleptocracy, run by a tin pot dictator who has no respect from the rest of the world — or worse — and no one in congress is standing up to him. It’s bad. A quick look at history says that conditions like these tend not to end well. There are many cases of violence that happen in these conditions, and plenty of times when countries (or empires) end. I hope for peace and non-violence, but the truth is no one knows what will come, and it could get ugly.

More locally — in school — the wheels keep turning, though without the kind of drama that exists in Washington DC. I registered for the coming Fall semester. Advanced sculpture, advanced design, aboriginal carving, and professional practice are in my future. I look forward to those courses, even as I continue in the current Summer classes.

In “ships in the harbour” news, it was mostly a quiet week, but on Friday I saw this:

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Meet the HMCS Calgary

As the caption says, that’s the HMCS Calgary, and it’s the first time I’ve noted anything military in the port. I only figured out her name via marinetraffic.org, starting from the SeaBus I was on and searching for nearby vessels, since the Calgary was docked right next to the Seabus terminal.

If you’re curious, it turns out that HMCS stands for exactly what you think it stands for, and yet it still makes no sense: Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship. Why they keep the British royalty involved in so many things up here? I really don’t know, but they do. As I am here longer and learn more, it seems I am neither as Royalist nor a Monarchist. (And yes, there is a difference, but I leave the research to the interested reader.) Canada is actually a completely separate — independent — country, isn’t it? Why not act like one?

Also in the last week some local friends (one of whom, at least, reads these posts) took me to visit “one of North America’s largest urban great blue heron colonies.” The site has a heron cam. Here are a couple of pics I took:

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That’s a young heron in the lower right, standing in the nest
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You might not want to stand here

It was a nice visit, and herons are impressive creatures. Glad to see them thriving here, in a small group of trees surrounded by apartment buildings, right on the edge of Stanley Park.

That’s all I have from the past week other than class specifics, so let’s get started on those.

English

This time around we read two new stories relating to the French speaking part of Canada:

I was going to participate in a video chat about these two stories, but the day before I got the latest update to Windows 10 and that broke video conferencing for me. Beyond that it turned out there were no other participants on the call in any case, so I’ll chat with the instructor about these stories next week during his office hours.

As an aside, the issue was that the latest Windows 10 update set the permissions to share the microphone and camera to “off” without telling me. That’s what crippled my video conferencing software. I turned those permissions back on and it worked, but that was after I’d given up on the conference and gone off and contacted the company’s tech support people. Good job Microsoft: you changed a permission without telling me and broke things in the process. I know the idea of defaulting those to “off” is a good one, but you should at least have told me what was going on, since you changed something.

In other English class news, I got my first paper back, and received a nice, solid A on it. The instructor had comments, of course. That is to be expected. We can rewrite it if we want and submit it again in a week. I may do so, just because. In fact, I probably will.

I have yet to start working on the final paper. Part of this weekend involves reading the last two stories for the class and starting to dig into things from a research perspective, to see what I can figure out by way of that project.

Somehow, despite a zillion emails, Alex (the instructor) has yet to toss me out on my ear. He’s very patient.

Design

This class is done, but there was an email from our contact at CityStudio Vancouver. It seems there are people at the Port Authority who are sorry they didn’t make it to our final presentation, and they are interested in seeing what we came up with. That could mean nothing in the end, of course. Or it could take three years before they decide to do anything. But still, there is a chance they will take our work to heart. That’s good news in any case.

Canadian Art

This is the new class for the second half of the semester. So far, it’s a lot of fun.

The instructor is Dr. Menno Hubregtse, who seems both knowledgeable and approachable. It turns out he has a variety of interests in the art world, including art in airports, of all things. (Hey, he’s like me. Interested in unusual stuff.) But for me, personally, the most interesting thing I know he’s done in the past is write a paper titled: “Robert J. Coady’s ‘The Soil’ and Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’: Taste, Nationalism, Capitalism, and New York Dada” which I am trying to get a copy of. Those of you who’ve read my previous posts might recall that DuChamp’s “Fountain” has appeared a number of times in my art education already. Well, now I have an instructor who wrote a paper about it. He’s even quoted in the wikipedia article about Fountain.

And yes, I am sure that being quoted in Wikipedia is far from the highlight of his academic career — very far — but it’s still interesting. He’s a subject matter expert on this topic, and I have questions. As I say, I’m currently trying to get my hands on a copy of that paper — which is less simple than you’d think, and I’m not yet sure if it’s written in French or English. I’d like to read it first and only then go ask him my questions.

Anyway, the first lecture was an introduction, and in it we learned that 19th century Canadian art starts with the painter Horatio Walker, who was — like a lot of Canadian painters — much influenced by the French Barbizon school, and the Dutch Hague school. He was among the most famous artists of his time in North America, in fact, not just in Canada. Here’s a famous painting of his:

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Oxen Drinking, by Horatio Walker, 1988

The second lecture was about the Group of Seven, a set of Canadian painters who clearly had great marketing skills and good connections, but were perhaps not as avant-garde as they claimed. Still, they appear to have had an outsized impact on Canadian art in the early to mid 1900s. Here’s an iconic image that isn’t actually by one of the Group of Seven, but instead it’s by Tom Thompson, who would have been a member of the group had he not died in a canoeing accident.

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The Jack Pine, by Tom Thompson, 1916

The next lecture will be about Emily Carr, another famous Canadian artist, and a local favourite here in Vancouver. I’ll have more to say about her next week.

As far as the class goes, there’s some limited writing to do, in addition to the reading, and two tests. It should continue to be fun and worthwhile.

Links

Other than those in the introduction, I have nothing more to share here. Sorry.

Pictures

And I have nothing else new to share here, either. It hasn’t been a week full of picture taking, alas.

And In Conclusion…

Arrivederci, frog!

Written by

Sculptor/Artist. Former programmer. Former volunteer firefighter. Former fencer. Weirdest resume on the planet, I suspect.

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