Category Archives: Art

Mandala Dismantling

The farmer's market turns into a temple
The farmer’s market turns into a temple

Sunday I went to a mandela dismantling ceremony. A tibetan monk had come to town and spent weeks making a compassion madala, and Sunday was the day for blowing away all the sand and learning a lesson about impermanence, immediacy, and of course, compassion.

Packaging up the sand to bring to others.  I got a mini bag for mom and dad!
Packaging up the sand to bring to others. I got a mini bag for mom and dad!

It was sponsored by the local new agey buddhist group, populated by white hippies with dreadlocks and nice sandals. It was nice to be the most straight-edge, conservative, shy, and reserved person in the room again.

This is where we ate dinner and listened to the concert
This is where we ate dinner and listened to the concert

There was also a vegetarian potluck, which was pretty nice. I brought pao de queijo and rice with lentil dahl. Dinner came after a lengthy ceremony, which was a food safety nightmare, especially for non-vegan dishes. I just closed my eyes and relied on karma. Good so far!


Winter Art Project

Shadow-mobile installed over the sofa
Shadow-mobile installed over the sofa

During the -55 C weekend, I finally got around to doing some art projects at home. I’ve had a blank canvas mounted on the wall for months, and after putting it up I liked the reflection from the white canvas too much to paint it with anything darker.

Arty 'on an angle' shot
Arty ‘on an angle’ shot

So, I left it without paint and installed an abstract mobile of construction paper shapes that match our throw pillows. The wall-mounted lights cast some nice shadows, but the overall impression is brightening up the living room instead of darkening it. Thanks Ikea!

Bonus photo of the cute reading nook with the Danish modern chair
Bonus photo of the cute reading nook with the Danish modern chair


Eff yeah!
Eff yeah!

My cool cousin Anita told me about the decentralized dance party a few years ago. From the DDP party manifesto: “It is the complete loss of the social conditioning that makes adult life monotonous and depressing and has the power to be a transformational spiritual experience.” It involves silly costumes and props, no cover, alcohol and drugs discouraged, and total accessibility regardless of age or income.

Skytrain station party!
Skytrain station party!

Folks bring along battery-powered boom boxes and a DJ transmits the party music on a portable mini transmitter so everyone within 100m can brooadcast it on their boom boxes. The best use of Duracells ever! Cool, right?

“…the prime objective at a DDP is celebrating life, enjoying music and having fun- not getting drunk and being an idiot.”


Crowded but welcoming... Who knew the skytrain could bounce?
Crowded but welcoming… Who knew the skytrain could bounce?

Last night started with a great chicken dinner and games night at David’s place, and he mentioned DDP was in town (timely text from Anita). Awesome! After toasting midnight we headed home on the RAV line… and caught the party train! So awesome! We were in our civilian clothes but still got to rock out with the best-natured rave-hippies in the lower mainland. Well done, Tom and Gary!
I am now a fan and will be recruiting Elizabeth’s excellent costuming skillz for this next time (although she was probably there and just on the other end of the train).

Great Gatsby

While in Regina I watched the Great Gatsby with Kenzie, Chris, and Carina.

I am not a universal Baz Luhrman fan; I loved Strictly Ballroom and Romeo + Juliet, but HATED Moulin Rouge and Australia.  However, the trailers looked beautiful, I like Carey Mulligan, and I am coming to appreciate Leonardo DiCaprio as an actor, so it was on my ‘to see’ list.  I thought it was great!

Tobey McGuire was a bit goofy (the boys hated him), but I think he was supposed to be a relatable narrator for the audience; if he was too slick it might be hard for folks to identify with him.  It was the same nerdy role as in all his other movies with the same tone, but it fit here.  The sets and costumes were AH-MAZING, Art-Deco all ovah.  It is not my favorite architecture/design feature, but I can appreciate that it was really well done here.

The music was inspired; the soundtrack was one of the best things about the movie.  Check out the full soundtrack here (for as long as that lasts). I’ve heard some people whine about how it should have had jazz, since it is a period movie.  But I think the modern music fits; Jazz was new and edgy and rebellious in 1922, but now it sounds anachronistic and old-fashioned.  It would have given the movie the feeling we were watching our (great-)grandparents as we think of them, not as they were in that decade: young, ambitious, and hunting for something new. Kanye and Jay-Z fit the ($100) bill.  Plus, there were some jazz interpretations for folks looking for it:


I did not love all the characters. I found Daisy to be distractingly, eye-rollingly passive, breathy, and unrelatable. I realize it isn’t fair to superimpose 2013 feminist values on a 90-year old character, but I just wanted to yell at her to show some fucking agency. Come ON! Glad she shagged Gatsby 10 minutes after meeting him though – take that, snooty southern parents!  😀 There was a bit of a class divide that made it hard to get on board with this as a ‘great American story’. How excited can we really get about these rich people problems? “Oh I live in this  island castle with gardens and a pool and servants but call a wahmbulance because life is so haaaaaard….” There have been some cool blogs about the depictions of gender and race in 1920’s, worth a read.   I’ll have to watch the Robert Redford version again and see if I like it better.




Home Projects

Tools and materials
Tools and materials

Finally, we got some good weather. Saturday was 17 at the warmest, no wind and no bugs. So, it was a perfect day for some painting projects I had saved up.

The home-made deck paint-booth
The home-made deck paint-booth

I turned the deck into a mini-painting booth and spray-painted a thrift shop side table. It was $15, plus $6 of paint. It turned out pretty much exactly like I wanted.

Graham behind the new turned-leg end table
Graham behind the new turned-leg end table

I also stained the pine kitchen table. I think we bought this one before moving to the 16th Ave hobbit-hole, and had lots of dinners on it. Andrea Lam had it at her place for a while too, so it has had about 10 years of use. It was definitely worse for wear, but the stain seems to have livened it up a bit, and now it matches the Starbucks chairs from mom and dad.

The final table
The final table


I also had a decorative idea for the apartment. I tried to buy antlers for some time, but apparently you have to kill a deer for that. So, I bought a hedge nipper from home depot and made my own folksy mounted antlers out of branches. I painted them the same colour as the table, and used the red stain on a wooden plaque. Altogether I think this guy must have been about $20, if you include the nippers (which will be great for stealing lilacs for years to come, take that Elizabeth).

Vegan mounted antlers, as David calls them
Vegan mounted antlers, as David calls them

Professional photo shoot!

I think this one is my favourite. There is still schmutz on my jacket though.

So as part of the grant I was awarded earlier in the summer, the funding agency wanted some professional photos of recipients for their website. Monday I got an email form the photography, and Wednesday we did the shoot.

The famous stone barn

The request was to take some ‘in my lab’ and some casual shots outdoors. Since I do mostly field work and my funded project is in agriculture, I suggested the stone barn since it is one of my favourties. In that neighbourhood there are also lots of animals, other farm buildings, machinery, and generally pastoral scenes.

This is photographer Debra’s favourite; she may put it on her website. 🙂

The weather was perfect (if a bit windy) and it was a fun break in my day. I left feeling pretty good since photographer Debra Marshall said I was pretty easy to direct and asked if I had done any modelling before… I could laugh nostalgically and say it was a long time ago (it was!) I am delighted with the results and happy to forward the pictures onto local webmasters.  The vizi-vest pics were getting a bit old!

Was that thresher locked out?!?

Saltsjöbaden sculptures

I love how gender equality is so complete in Sweden that naked ladies are not the only subject of art – there are lots of naked dudes too! This one is at the Grand Hotel.
This one commemorates the 1912 Stockholm Olympics. The speed skating venue was very close by.
Another naked dude sculpture, this time at the beach. woot woot!

Fuck Yeah Saskatoon Jazz Festival!

Looking back from the stage at the Bessborough

The Saskatoon Jazz festival started this week in Saskatoon.  Over 10 days there are more than 40 free outdoor concerts and the city has really come alive.  There is free bike valet at all the venues, bbq and vodka lemonade vendors, and even a bit of pot smoke.  The Mainstage at the Bessborough hotel has general admission festival seating and has some big acts: Michael Franti, Janelle Monae, and Feist.  I was lucky enough to see Feist last night before flying to Vancouver.

Timbre Timbre


The opening act was Timber Timbre and I was impressed. Not exactly ‘rocking out’, but very atmospheric and moody.  I really loved the singer’s voice, I think their songs would make a great soundtrack for film (maybe they can get launched internationally on True Blood?)  I hadn’t heard them before going to the concert, and I actually like them better live (I could feel the kick drum!)

A crappy jostling phone picture of Feist

Feist was fantastic, super high energy and a great mix of songs. Some had a completely new arrangement – ‘Mushaboom’ followed out of ‘How come you never go there’ and ‘My moon my man’ was set to an awesome reggae beat.  The crowd was singing along and Feist was an all-star with audience participation. The crowd was *mostly* cool, although this being Saskatoon there were a few drunken assholes. Overall a good night and I am glad I got to see Saskatoon at its best.