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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Flying into 2020!

Many thanks for a good personal finale 2019 and a hopeful entry to 2020. Many good wishes to you for the new year. 
In my location off the Pacific edge of the world, my personal events have been topped by a wonderful art exhibit at the Zack Gallery, which continues for a week. The Poetry Event relating to this Wings of Imagination exhibit was filled with exuberant poems and so many talented people flying high. The spirit of the event was just magical! What a mix of performance art and poetry it was. Such a flight  of light and dark bursts of imagery and imagination together. 
photo by Olga Godim

The idea behind Wings of Imagination is a big one: it's all about freedom and the human desire to fly, to cross boundaries, go beyond imposed limits.    It's inspired by the fact that, across the years, birds have flown into my artwork.They are odd and beautiful creatures, so different from us, yet their essential quality beckons us: they can fly. They serve as messengers to us, as symbols of freedom, of flight across boundaries and limitations that need not, and often should not, be.

As humans who may wish to fly, our actual capacity to do so rests upon our ability to create flying machines…  but that's not what's at the heart of it all. When Albert Einstein was asked what attribute was responsible for his amazing mind, he responded: Imagination-- for  “Knowledge is limited, but        imagination encircles the world”.  

For a press review of the show and interview written by Kristy Dockstader and printed in this December-January issue of  The Source , click here: http://thelasource.com/en/2019/12/09/a-leap-of-passion/

Here's a video peak at opening night at the exhibition. May your imaginations
take flight into 2020 towards good destinations, and may it be a better year for all!

Friday, November 8, 2019

Double Feature This Season

This fall ushers in two new art shows  for me in Vancouver.  One, called Being There, is at the impressive Centennial Theatre, which boasts great theatre (music, performance) as well as visual art displays. The theme of Being There presents my focus on special places in nature, myth, and imagination.
The second exhibit is one I've been working on  during the past year, and am just now finishing, as I write! Called Wings of Imagination, this show envisions the power of imagination to take flight and cross all boundaries... for reality is limited whereas imagination encircles the world (A. Einstein).  This exhibit features 3D assemblages/collage and paintings of winged creatures, flying machines, and vivid flights of ideas. It sopens at the Zack Gallery in Vancouver on Nov. 28 with an evening reception (7-9pm).  Also special is the Poetry Event related to this exhibit on Dec. 12. During that evening's lively event, poets from Vancouver read their art-iinspired work to the assembled audience. I've attended these, and they're great: so different and surprising. A whole new set of views on the art presented! And the poetry itself has often been wow! I'm looking forward to it.  Here's your invitation:

 And here's a brief slideshow Preview  (<1min.) of some of what you can see at this exhibit. Hope you enjoy the flight! Click here.

Friday, May 24, 2019

PRISM Art Gallery on Saturna Island

Saturna Island is a very special place in this world, as free as possible from the intrusive and often-troubling distractions of the world at large. It's an island filled with gorgeous natural spots and much abiding inspiration. No wonder Saturna is home to many local artists and artisans. You can see a fine sample of work of local talent displayed on the walls of the Saturna Café until June 9.
I'm one of Saturna's local artists, with my Saturna Island studio being the place where the magic I can capture gets conveyed to canvas. My studio (up the hill from my home at Saturna) is in rather an out-of-the-way spot, even for this out-of-the-way island. Relatively few people come to visit me there, and I suppose that's just as well. It's busy with all the work I'm doing for current and upcoming shows in Vancouver and elsewhere, and there's hardly a place to "show" the work well. All the in-progress material impedes anyone but me from getting around. I try to tidy it up occasionally, but not when I'm busy on a project, which has been often these days. But, you know, it's nice to have people see and comment on your work. And I do miss that. So....
original painting, 2019, by Janet Strayer: www.janetstrayer.com
What I've done is open the PRISM, a small gallery for the summer months at lovely spot near the ferry. I don't know how long I can keep it running, but it's been a pleasure to invite people to see the art, to direct them to other people's studios, as well as to local scenic spots on Saturna. I welcome all the new visitors who just casually drop in as they wait for the ferry or have an ice-cream. And I'm happy to see return visitors, like the nature photographers who've come by boat for several seasons, eager to show and share work with me. Or like the couple from France who only had time to visit one Gulf Island and chose Saturna. Or the young bike-riders from Germany, who'd never  been to an "art gallery" before, but enjoyed this one. It's a small island that invites the world.

This summer, I'm hosting the PRISM Art Gallery once more--- OPENS  JUNE 1. The gallery will be open on weekends and holiday Mondays until after Labour Day. New paintings will be displayed  monthly, and there will be some surprises, including a large 3-D collages I've been working on for months. I'm eager to meet the new visitors and to welcome those who've come again to visit.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Retro is Always in Style

 I've been thinking about time. It's tricky, as everyone knows --  an elusive, immaterially real concept that entwines us as we live each moment, day, year of our lives. Time marks our memory, our mirrors, and leaves traces on everything in our world. Like the wind, we "see" time only in its effects, its collaterals.

Then there's the fairly uniform way we mark time by clocks and calendars. Civilization must agree on some things at least, though we take our liberties there too, like the idiosyncracies of local yes-or-no "daylight-savings time". And the wildly different personal timescapes of individuals. Some are highly compartmentalized, others not.

Me, for example, especially at this time of my life. I experience time as a rapidly moving conveyor that blends many elements backwards and forwards. Each minute is vast with so much flowing into it. Yet, I'm also acutely aware of the relentless ebb of minutes, the finality that will be reached... who knows when. 

For most of us, looking back through time's traces in photo albums, old magazines, and even historical art work is often a moving experience. Given that time is nonstationary, looking "through time" necessarily moves us from now to then, wherever and whenever those places exist.

Art history has always seemed a treasure-chest to me. How it cycles back and forth between stylistic preferences and different "avant-gardes". How amazing break-throughs seem to occur alongside advancing tradition. How styles change, are assimilated or absorbed into new treatments. How old things come alive again in new contexts.
painting by Janet Strayer, 36"x36", acrylic on canvas

 I'm pleased to have this work, Lady Cranach Likes Early Modern in an exhibit of Federation of Canadian Arists (click for Retro show). It's my take on a bust-portrait by Lucas Cranach that  I've appreciated for its outrageous costume and stylistic slyness --re-envisioned in this painting with a different face, lower body, and setting.

painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder
The  headress and upper clothing, especially the sleeves, identify her as a Northern Renaissance Cranach  -- but the face, setting, and mixed stylistic devices used in my painting play anachronistically with art history. My intent is to convey, more generally, the convergence of many epochs in painting, which typically builds from the past, acts in the present, and thinks of the future. I really enjoy this spiraling  of art-history and different styles.

Time moves on... in many directions.

Monday, January 7, 2019

A New Year and What Have You Got to Show for It?

It's a new year and we wish it to be a good one. What good is, of course, is relative and subjective. So, with each of us wishing for a good year, there are bound to be conflicts among all those incompatible goods. Still, I like to think there might be some universal ones (so Kantian), like peace. I know: if wishes were horses, beggars could ride. But it seems worth it to keep wishing or, at least, it seems impossible for some of us not to keep at it.

New Year's brings out customary but odd habits. Not the staying up until midnight and drinking champagne (if you're lucky). That's dandy so far as I'm concerned. But the typical old year's reckoning and new-year's resolution-ing is not something I want to do. Not personally, and not more generally in terms of  the society in which I live.

But it's unavoidable: the new year coundown of "best" (and of course it also brings to mind "worst". To me, there seems something so culturally sad and diminishing about going through  "the 10 best hits of of the old year" and similar lists. We still like to do it, though my own lists hardly match up. The flip side to our customary backward-looking reckoning is all the forward-looking resolutions we project into the future for bettering ourselves or our world, There's something reassuring about that forward-looking, I suppose. A little optimism about our own decisiveness for future action. So I'm picturing a petty con-artist saying to him/her-self, "Yeah, tomorrow I'm gonna quit all this petty theft and get into some serious crime!" Well, we do what we can.

I was wondering when this habit of new-year-resolutions started. Seems it has ancient and religious origins.  Thought the seasons differed, the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year (Spring) that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. Whereas in the winter, the anciet Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus (January).

We're hardly  surprised when, yet again, our actions disappoint our resolutions. No one holds us accountable for them anyway.  So what if, instead of momentous resolutions, we just decided, "keep being humane each day"? Does that sound too defeatist, not striving enough? How about just trying to be decent, as a good friend of mine once said?  I'll try that.

So what have I got to show for the new year? Fortunately, since I set myself up for this one, I've got a new art show, with its opening reception next week: FLOW: Nature, Art, and Mind. Some of the paintings from my previous exhibition on the same theme are included,  as well as many additional ones.
parts of 3 paintings from FLOW: Nature, Art and Mind exhibition, by Janet Strayer

Here's the write-up:

FLOW: Nature, Art and Mind is a collection of abstract and expressively representational paintings that seek to capture the dynamic energies of land, sea and sky. Inspired by the natural world on Saturna Island,  Strayer depicts the shifting currents amongst natural forms, which serve as a daily reminder of the delicate balance of geo-organic life. The seemingly solid Earth is alive with telluric energy and tectonic shifts, the Sea with oceanic flows, the Sky with atmospheric currents . . . each interacting to form and transform our world.

The exhibition is at Place des Arts in Vancovuver, a large and friendly setting that will be showing three separate art exhibits simultaneously: mine, those of another painter who uses alcohol inks in lovely abstract compositions,  and a photograhic work that is quite dream-like. You can read more about it all here.   

The exhibitions run until Feb. 6, ... enough time to set  your resolution? Happy New Year, regardless.