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A Peek Inside the Palace of Palaces: THE FORBIDDEN CITY at the ROM

KJ Mullins published an article I wrote on the Forbidden City show at the Royal Ontario Museum. My article has a different slant to that taken by most of the other reviewers for newspapers and on-line magazines, who didn't seem, overall, to be hugely impressed with the show. I do hope a few folks make their way to the ROM to see it based on my response. The offerings from the Forbidden City are well worth seeing.

A Peek Inside the Palace of Palaces: THE FORBIDDEN CITY at the ROM


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Clay Lady (test video)

Since this is a test-run, a video-in-process, a test of the writing for what I hope to do in the 'real' one, you probably don't need to watch it unless you would like to offer a comment that might help me compose the final video.



direct link: Clay Lady (test)

During the Autumn of 2013, I attended a figurative sculpture session at the Toronto School of Art with Florian Jacot. Throughout the 13 weeks of sculpting from a live model, I took photographs. In December of 2013, I searched for a turntable to video the finished little sculpture spinning but did not include that footage in the video just completed (I have included a 25sec clip at the end of this post). Yesterday I finally set a painting on the floor of my living room as a back-drop, set up a Canon 60D, sat down and read from my notebook. It's off-the-cuff, no preparation, a test run. I also had composed a Picasa album last Fall documenting the progress of the sculpture and made that into a mini video and added it to the test video. Honestly, I am a procrastinator and hope that posting these video clips will inspire me to do the one I had planned, which will be a little more complex in its structure and have many more photographs and video of the sculpture itself.




Uploaded 14 Dec 2013: Only a test run... not using the right camera and not with the poetry I am composing for a videopoem on/of this figure sculpture.

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Clay Lady test shot


Clay Lady (a video) - still from a test of the poem & talk. I'll probably upload the test vid too.
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Poetry Salons @ Urban Gallery Continue

It's official: I will be hosting monthly Poetry Salons at Urban Gallery on the last Saturday of each month from 3-5pm. Urban Gallery is a wonderful gallery and I am most honoured to be asked to host salons and very happy to be part of the art scene developing at the Gallery. Thanks to Calvin Hambrook, Allen Shugar and Kaspara Albertsen!



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Lady in Red Corset



Lady in Red Corset (or some such title), life-drawing @ Urban Gallery 1 Feb 2014 (but finished tonight), model: Manminder, by Brenda Clews, 11" x 15", charcoal, graphite, India inks, pastels, etc., on primed canvas sheet.

The red ink might still be sticky, wet enough, and it is photographed at night under daylight bulbs with sheets of mylar hung over them - in daylight, there would be more detail and the colours might be slightly different shades.

On another front, NaPoWriMo is going well, and I am managing to keep up - but posting privately.

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Due to anxiety over those who fly by and swipe a line, an image, a concept, an approach, a theme and use it to build their own little poetry nests elsewhere on the NET without referencing their source or giving credit to me or my work, which happened constantly when I used to openly post my writing, I simply cannot post poetry here. As I move through the block caused by this behaviour of seemingly well-educated and ethical writers, and on the advice of my analyst, who I discussed the issue at length with, including names, sites, specific examples when I was still seeing him, I find I'd like to continue writing on-line.

So I will have to do it in a private blog.

I have, of course, been writing throughout but in bursts and then reading the poems in Open Mics around the city where, I know, no-one really listens - because it's too hard to and with say three featured poets and 10 Open Mics one can't place a single poem in a context to analyze its value and what can potentially be taken from it (if poets in Toronto did such a thing - my experience has been that those living in America do this frequently, Canadians tend to be more original) - and so that felt safe.

What I had hoped to do this month, the month of 'poetry,' is to take a photo or do a drawing every day and write a line or a stanza or a whole poem to accompany it.

So I might share the pictures here, and perhaps a little of the intent.

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April is poetry month

Besides a (for me, heartbreaking) issue with Picasa albums and Blogger, which has kept me from posting, and may drive me from this blog ultimately, who knows,

I had wanted to write something every day for the month of April for poetry month, which I've never done before.

With other stuff going on in my life, I forgot entirely.

So I found something I scribbled on the 14th of March, which really encapsulates so very much and yet which, of course, maintaining the silence on my personal life that I have mostly adhered to in this blog, I will not speak about.


The world couldn't open up when I was being held under a viewpoint like that.

It's not much, I know. But it appears to be part of a growing series of poems that, in their entirety, give forth more meaning than I could offer here.

Oh, I am being opaque, and no apologies, and I may continue to post whatever here or in another totally private blog during this month.

I just hope the poetry nest-builders who fly by and grab lines or ideas or approaches and add them to their own writing with nary a credit leave me alone - now and/or in 6 months, when my stuff used to re-surface in theirs! One whiff of it, and I won't post anything substantial here.

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Ink Ocean featured at Art and Earth

Ann Marcaida featured my performance videopoem, Ink Ocean, at Art and Earth yesterday.


Responses to Ink Ocean:

  • "Wow, what a trip. You've made something passionate out of this collision of many technologies and layers. Thank you." John Oughton (who jammed the über cool inky ocean music) 
  • "GREAT WORK Brenda, really great. I enjoyed every minute of it, choreography, words, music, background video. WOW." Pierre-Marie Cœdès 
  • "You did a fine job of editing, regardless of the circumstances. The surrounding imagery works very effectively, together with your combined dance and spoken word performance and the music. You prevailed over the lighting limitation and static camera. The result is indeed moving, as well as imaginative." Allan Briesmaster
  • "Outstanding video effects, excellent message and a perfect musical accompaniment. I especially enjoyed the golden orange segment which you had earlier shared a preview of. Another great piece of artistic work." Bill Sprague
  • "Gorgeous! ....the poem, performance, and choice of costume are spectacular." Ann Marcaida

It's been called "an awesome video poem" (Stephen Sinclair); "very impressive" (Hana Barak Engel); "glimmer of gold at sunset...love is the twine that binds our bones....beautiful contrasts to the chaos" (Jennifer W); "I love it"(Poonam Chandrika Tyagi); "Ocean ink is fantastic. Bravo!" (Mawar Marzuki);

Ink Ocean is a poem on the Gulf Oil Spill -we hear the lament of the wild through the birds, fish, plants- a poem on us and our ways and on loving in an increasingly polluted world.

Ink Ocean was shot at a live performance at Urban Gallery (where my poempaintings show was - those are mine hanging on the walls) in January 2014. Sick with the flu afterwards, I spent days researching open domain photos and video of the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill and was often in tears at what I saw (like we all were that year). John, who jammed on his guitar to produce a kind of oceanic sonar soundtrack while I performed, said, of an earlier draft version of the video, that he thought I should try to keep the performance/movement the main focus. I decided not to bombard the viewer with graphic images of the oil spill and used various filters to present the photos and video I used so that (hopefully) they became part of the dance itself. We are immersed in the realities we create. Ink Ocean is an activist poem - but not stridently so - rather helping people to hear the cry of the wild and to care and to keep loving ourselves, each other, the world, so that we may all survive. I hope the poem and performance and video open channels of hope, that there are ways through what we are being told by scientists is the world's sixth mass extinction.

John Oughton jams on his electric guitar with his magic box of sounds as a musical accompaniment to the performance: http://library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/oughton/index.htm

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 brendaclews.com
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First attempts at digital drawing...

Because I like to draw at poetry readings and many of them are in dark bars where there is not enough room to spread art supplies and there is not enough light to see your page, I started, this weekend, to explore drawing and painting apps on my (smallest, cheapest, non-retina, 2013) iPad Mini (purchased to show Gallery owners my work and it did get me the show at Urban Gallery almost immediately).

All of these sketches were done in each of the apps without looking at, let alone reading, the manuals, instructions or anything else. While I've never used any paint programs, I have used Photoshop for years and so it wasn't hard to figure out an instrument (pencil, pen, crayon, brush), a thickness, a colour. Of all of the programs, Brushes proved to be too hard to figure out - and will require a thorough reading of the manual at some point. I liked the animation video Brushes created of the drawing though I was not able to export it. They are all powerful programs that offer the artist a vast range of drawing and painting options instantly - just open your device, aim your stylus, and go!


The first one. Entitled Resurrection Man. Drawn in layers in Sketchbook Pro and assembled in Photoshop.

          

This was done in ArtRage. I like the first two filtered versions, a Noir and a Transfer, better than the original, in which too much blue predominates.

                       

Sketchbook Pro again. Only lines this time (orig to left, separated layers in the final version on the right). Trying to see how best to sketch - there is a short lag, and even then the lines don't always appear on cue. This drawing is a bit wispy for some reason (it wasn't on the device) and easily took three times as long as it would have with pen and paper. Flippantly called, 'Womans In Crinolines.' Digital drawing, any town, any size.



This one is done in Brushes. Now I know Brushes is a powerful paint program but I could hardly get it to work and am thinking it wasn't recognizing my Sensu brush stylus and simply going by pressure. I wasn't, for instance, able to get it to do detailed eyes - it just ignored my repeatedly laying down lines. While I like Brushes, I realize it's going to be (another, sigh) learning curve.



Not my best one so far, and it definitely looks 'digital' - no variations in line thickness, etc. -sort of like a marker drawing. Done in Sketchbook Pro with a stylus with a nib, the Adonit Jot Pro, which was much more responsive than the Sensu brush. My doggy after her walk today. Snooze time! :)]


This one was done in ProCreate with the Adonit Jot Pro stylus. The original is on the right, and the splitting of the layers was done in Photoshop on my Macbook Pro. (Yes, these programs will export a .psd file.) When I shifted the layers, 'he' went from being a man to a 'woman.' Intersex. Transgender. In and out of drag. Or 'she' is a woman who becomes a 'man.'  Intermeshed. Fluidities of gender.

Last night at our Ren Rev poetry workshop I tried to draw Norman Bethune and my lines were so hesitant and wispy, I see I have a long way to go. He was very sweet, and said he liked the sketch but learning how to draw digitally - at least 200 hours he estimated. And the final layer I drew, without which the sketch is pointless, has simply disappeared. It was there when I showed him last night; it's entirely gone this morning. I thought closing the app meant an automatic save (there are no save buttons anyhow). Apparently not. Can't get an answer Googling the issue either. Time to read the manual, I guess.

Having been at it only a few days, I'm not doing too badly (except for Norman's sweater and eyebrows, which disappeared).

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I sold a painting!! Gone to a good home! I'm so happy!


Every Angel is terror' (Rilke), 2011, 18” x 22” x 1", charcoal, acrylic and oil on canvas in a drop mount birch frame.

"Every Angel is terror. And yet, ah,
knowing you, I invoke you, almost deadly
birds of the soul" from Rilke, 2nd Duino Elegy
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