Thor & Dorty's Brackendale Art Gallery
Saturday, June 26, 2010
During the 1950s and 1960s we didn't have a place to hang our paintings. Vancouver artists were starving for a place to exhibit. And if you wanted to play music there were only a couple of coffee houses, The Classical Joint for one. If you were an actor there were few venues available. If you wrote a play you could kiss it good-bye. It would never be seen. Only George Ryga was able to break the barrier.
On top of that we were stifled because there was only one art critic, working for both major papers, and she was not interested in helping us. So we either had to do something about it or live with it.
I started looking at land all over southern B.C., on my fly fishing trips, and weighing the pros and cons. One day, in 1968, I was fishing at Dragon Lake with Jack Grundel, Jim Killburn and Wade Chernenkof. Jack had started B.C. Fish and Game Magazine. So I asked him "Where do you think I should put this dream of mine?" Jack said "It doesn't matter where you put it, Thor, as long as you do a good job they will find you." One day I found myself fishing my favorite river with my fishing partner,Gary Weir, again talking about my dream.
And Gary said "I'm sick and tired of listening to you spouting off about your dream. We have fished all over the province, looked at all the places. Now will you make up your mind." So I said "If I take Jack at his word, I should put it right here"
That was just up here at the confluence of the Cheakamus and the Squamish Rivers. We packed up our gear for the day and walked up to Brackendale, to Boomer's Alpine Cafe and Service Station, for coffee and pumpkin pie. We looked out through the window and there was a sign saying "!/2 acre of commercial property For Sale" with a phone number. I realized that the time had come to act.
On Feb. 20, 1970 I bought the property, with a low down- payment and low monthly payments, from Harry Sims. We built a fence in 1970, poured the foundation in '71, started building in '72 and opened, 15 months later, in '73.
To be continued...
Lillooet With Ale, Paul & A Case Of Corona Beer
Friday, June 25, 2010
Of late it has been hard to find a few days that are free to visit my daughter Ale who lives in Lillooet. She teaches at an elementary school there. The reason for not going until yesterday was that she was working on her report cards. Rosemary and I enjoy going with the granddaughters. But they have been busy with classes and it was Lauren’s birthday party on Friday. So when Paul, who is on holiday, suggested that the two of us go for a visit I immediately jumped on the idea.
We arrived on Thursday exactly at the time when Ale arrived from school. Even though we had left Vancouver early we had spent some time on the Cisco Bridge. A couple of hours into the afternoon I cooked some hot dogs on the barbecue and a couple of Ale’s friends, Teresa and Sandra arrived for a visit and happened to bring a case of Corona Beer. The guitars were soon out and Sandra (she teaches music in the two elementary schools in Lillooet), Ale and Paul played. Since this is the 21st century, Ale brought out her laptop and the songs they wanted were found on the net with both lyrics and chord patterns. In fact when I was asked for a request I asked for Nick Lowe’s Cruel to Be Kind
and I was immediately satisfied by a fine rendition from Ale who is a fantastic sight reader.
Because Lillooet is really a desert you can expect some sort of dramatic sunset every evening. The cloud patterns are fantastic and Ale's house sits smack in the middle of Fraser Canyon. You can see weather come and go. I am not into taking pictures of sunsets but here is one, anyway shot so easily with my iPhone. The evening grew cool and Ale lent me a sweater. She told me I looked good in it and gave it to me. It is a nice one. I am wearing it as I write in this cool not quite summer evening in Vancouver.
By the time Paul uncluttered Ale’s computers (Paul is a whiz for these things) it was past midnight. We woke up at dawn and I made thick bacon slices (Rosemary knows how to buy good bacon), toast and two teapots of tea. We said our goodbyes and left for Vancouver. It was a trip, where we were not in a hurry, so it became a kind of photo safari. We stopped to take pictures wherever we chose to.
Paul had to drive a bit on the slow side as we returned via Pemberton and the curves between Lillooet and Pemberton make my dizzy if I don’t drive.
We stopped, again on a lark in Brackendale. For more on that, see tomorrow.
Stopping A Train At Cisco Bridge
Thursday, June 24, 2010
I crossed on foot the CP Cisco Bridge with my friend Paul Leisz on Thursday. We were on the way to visit my daughter Ale in Lillooet when on an impulse I told Paul to stop. The Cisco Bridge is somewhere between Boston Bar and Lytton. At one time there would have been all kinds of warning signs posted by CP and CN warning that we were trespassing. There were no signs. I told Paul to be careful as I didn’t want him to hit his drive train on the rough unpaved road. Paul reminded me that his was a Toyota 4x4 and that there was no danger.
The significance of the CP Cisco Bridge is personal for me. It was sometime around 22 years ago that I stopped a very long train not once, but three times. I did it with a walkie-talkie. Before the era of cell phones this was the only way to communicate in the field.
Most know me as a magazine photographer but few know that I shot industrial photographs for CP Limited (and Air Canada) between 1980 and the mid 90s. I photographed trucks, locomotives (including the last caboose) and even photographed the Royal Hudson being repaired at the original roundhouse on the foot of Drake Street.
It was around 22 years ago that I received a call from CP Limited Public Affairs man Morrie Zeitlin. “I want you to go and walk between Boston Bar and Lytton and find a photogenic place to photograph cars on a train.” The request was unusual and brutal. Brutal because it was in August and as I found myself walking in the area I knew the temperature was around 40degrees.
I found the perfect spot at the Cisco Bridge. There are actually two Cisco Bridges (but originally there were three). The original, built in the late 1880s had the purpose of transferring the CP track from the Western side of the Fraser Canyon to the Eastern side. This bridge was replaced by a new one in the beginning of the 20th century. When CN built its tracks, its Eastern side of the tracks had to shift to the Western side so as not to impede the CP line. In those days CP had clout. So the Cisco Bridge is sometimes called the Cisco Bridge CP/CN interchange.
It was here that I found two bridges, a canyon, forests, water and sky. It was a perfect place to photograph Toyotas, Hondas and Datsuns (as Nissans were called then). My mission was to photograph the rail cars, one at a time on the bridge showing one of the brands, one at a time. The photographs were going to be sent as gifts to the higher ups of those car companies in Japan.
The day came and Morrie gave me the walkie-talkie and told me, “When you have the train where you want it tell him to stop. Give him some time as he cannot stop on a dime.” The train was going to pass through a tunnel that precedes the bridge. In my wide angle shot (taken with my Mamiya and a 65mm lens I could even see the red CN Bridge in the background.
The shoot was fun, I was amply compensated but the best part was my sense of power and authority to be able to stop that train.
It was that memory that led me to suggest to Paul that we might want to explore. Paul is an extremely enthusiastic photographer. I managed to take a few with my two Nikon FM-2s but the pictures you see here I took with my iPhone.
Before we left I knew that I wanted to pick up a couple of spikes as souvenirs for my granddaughters Lauren and Rebecca. Someday their parents will explain the significance and the importance of that track in the history of the country in which they were born, Canada.
Beatrice's Corset & Cleopatra's Gold
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Every morning I wake up and take time to focus on which show I will be performing that evening so that throughout the day I'm "tuned up" with the character and the dialogue.
The real preparation begins when I arrive at the tent, about 2 hours before the show which gives me plenty of time to run lines, go over fight and dance choreography, get make-up and hair sorted. By the time I'm being laced into Beatrice's corset, or putting on all Cleopatra's gold jewelry I am more than ready to step onto the stage as one or the other.
Jennifer Lines (Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra) Much Ado About NothingAntony and Cleopatra
Cleopatra, Melancholy & The Schick Razor
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Tuesday was the kind of day that made me have my ups and downs. I had my last editorial class at Focal Point. Even when I have a hard time remembering the name of all my students I find that I fret about them and I worry how they will adapt to our changing world of photography. I left Focal Point a bit after 5 with a touch of melancholy. The melancholy turned into worry quickly as I hoped that I would have no technical problems in my little photo session with Jennifer Lines (she plays both Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing
and Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra
. She was going to pose for me as the Queen of the Nile. To make sure everything would work I had a Plan B (my real camera with film) to my Plan A my iPhone.
I should have not worried as Bard publicist Cyannamon Schreinert had smoothed the way for me, and Jennifer Lines was most gracious. In fact Allan Morgan (Antonio in Much Ado About Nothing
and Lepidus in Antony and Cleopatra
) offered me some of his plum cake (the legendary New York Times recipe) but I was not able to take up his offer as I was busy trying to make sure my pictures of Lines were exactly what I wanted.
From Bard I went quickly to L'École Bilingue (I was a tad late) to watch my granddaughter Rebecca graduate from the 7th grade. I snapped my iPhone picture and my melancholy (I had been ecstatic until then since my shot of Cleopatra had turned out exactly as I had hoped) returned as I realized that my Rebbeca is growing up. After all her father has allowed her to open a Facebook account and Rebecca gave me her new (and first) email address. What will I write to her? Will she write to me? Time will tell.
My melancholy shifted to nostalgia. Rebecca’s other grandmother (we call her Nana) had invited us to Starbucks for for coffee and hot chocolate to celebrate the occasion. It was then that I told them all that I had graduated from the 8th grade. We had been a class of 6 boys (and only boys) in a small town in northern Mexico, Nueva Rosita Coahuila. I told them that we had each been given a beautiful razor in a very nice white case with our name on a brass plaque. Rebecca’s other grandfather said, “let me guess it was a Schick with an injector.” He was right and my melancholy returned.
Richard III At The Supermarket
Monday, June 21, 2010
Saturday night Rosemary and I went to Bard on the Beach and watched Jennifer Lines play Cleopatra in Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra
. It is a difficult part for a woman and no matter how good Antony is (played well by Andrew Wheeler) Cleopatra is the real show. Harold Bloom calls this one of the best and most complex female parts because not only does Cleopatra have to play herself she also has to play playing herself. There are few really meaty female protagonists. One that comes to mind is Beatrice who is a really serious and principal part in Much Ado About Nothing
. This play can be taken lightly as the comedy it is supposed to be but if one listens to the dialogue between Beatrice and Benedick one immediately notices that there is more meat to this play than meets the eye.
When one considers that both Much Ado About Nothing
and Antony and Clepatra
are performed on the same stage (on different days) and that Beatrice and Cleopatra are both played by Jennifer Lines ones begin to wonder if there is the possibility of some confusion. This confusion would be compounded in my eyes when you consider that John Murphy plays Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing
and Alexas in Antony and Cleopatra
. Could the right lines to the right man be uttered in the wrong play? "No," says Chrisopher Gaze (seen above as Richard III).
When I asked Gaze (the Artistic Director of Bard on the Beach) about this said something (with a smile on his face) like, “When you go to the supermarket in the morning you kind of know that that day you are so and so. On another day you will wake up knowing you are someone else in a different play.” Gaze went as far as saying that the actor in a part is sort of like placing a ticket in an ATM kind of machine and the ticket comes out programmed to help you be who you are supposed to be. In short he said that this is all very easy.
I am not sure if I can believe him. The fact is that I marveled at Jennifer Lines’performance in Much Ado About Nothing
and then could not help being marveled again by her Cleopatra.
I am glad I don’t have to go to the supermarket and think, “If today is Tuesday and I am currently buying Swiss cheese I must be Cleopatra. It seems as you will soon find out it has all to do with a corset. (Hint read what Jennifer Lines herself will write about the subject on Wednesday!
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Watching Lionel Messi run with a ball is no different from listening to Marc Destrubé play the violin or watching Evelyn Hart in Prokovief’s Romeo and Ju
liet. They are all examples of virtuosity. All this came to mind several times today and Saturday night in what has really been a perfect Father’s Day. Virtuosity seemed to be before my eyes for most of it.
It all began over a month ago with the chance turning on of my TV to the Turner Classic’s Movie channel. What I saw from beginning to end was Gabriel Pascal’s (Pygmalion
, 1938) Caesar and Cleopatra
and unlikely film (Technicolor) made just before the Battle of Britain. It featured Claude Rains (John Gielgud was to have been Caesar but Gielgud took an instant dislike to the director which in my opinion was a fortuitous occurrence which made the film much more fun). The film has Vivien Leigh playing a spoiled teenager (she looks younger than she did in Gone With the Wind) playing against Claude Rains as an extremely funny but wise and old Caesar. As the dialogue delighted me I was pleasantly surprised to find out that a 89 year-old George Bernard Shaw had re-written his play and was given credit for the screenplay. After watching this delightful film I felt that I could never ever see (and I have never seen it) Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s 1963 version starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rex Harrison (as Caesar) and Richard Burton as Antony. The sets were sumptuous and the film featured an extremely handsome and young Stewart Granger who plays the Persian carpet merchant (carpets, Cleopatra, get it?).
Yesterday evening Rosemary and I attended the Bard on the Beach opening performance of Antony and Cleopatra
. We, of course did not go without first reading Harold Bloom’s take on the play from his Shakespeare – The Invention of the Human. It seems that Shakespeare wrote three four plays in a row from 1604 to 1606, in 14 consecutive months. These were Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony and Cleopatra. Bloom suspects that even William Shakespeare would burn out after such and undertaking.“I am the most Bardolatrous of critics and yet even I find that after Antony’s collapse and Cleopatra’s apotheosis, Shakespeare was wary of further quests into the interior.”
Bloom further opines:“Cleopatra, indisputably the peer of Falstaff and of Hamlet, is the most vital woman in Shakespeare, surpassing even Rosalind [As You Like It].”
I could add that coincidentally since Bard on the Beach is also featuring Much Ad
o About Nothing
, that the female protagonist Beatrice is a close second to Rosalind and Cleopatra. What is most interesting (and more later this week) is the fact that Jennifer Lines is playing both parts, that of Cleopatra and that of Beatrice at the moment!
As Rosemary and I watched the play and a woman in front of me with supersensitive ears objected to my munching my official Bard on the Beach caramel pop-corn, I wondered how much of what we think we know about historical characters is really based on theatre and films and so little on fact.
After the most satisfying performance I decided that as soon as I got home I would research my home library and find out. I was surprised to find out that the Cleopatra who has herself rolled up in a carpet is pure Bernard Shaw while Shakespeare’s fishing quote by Cleopatra (Cleopatra could fish?):"My bended hook shall piece/Their slimy jaws, and as I draw them up/I’ll think them every one an Antony,/And say ‘Ah ha, you’re caught!"
In Plutarch, Antony
. in The Lives of Noble Grecians and Romans
, John Dryden and Arthur H. Clough, tr. and ed., vol. 3 (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1902) However, the Alexandrians in general liked it all well enough, and joined good-humouredly and kindly in his frolic and play, saying they were much obliged to Antony for acting his tragic parts at Rome, and keeping comedy for them. It would be trifling without end to be particular in his follies, but his fishing must not be forgotten. He went out one day to angle with Cleopatra, and, being so unfortunate as to catch nothing in the presence of his mistress, he gave secret orders to the fishermen to dive under water, and put fishes that had been already taken upon his hooks; and these he drew so fast that the Egyptian perceived it. But, feigning great admiration, she told everybody how dexterous Antony was, and invited them next day to come and see him again. So, when a number of them had come on board the fishing-boats, as soon as he had let down his hook, one of her servants was beforehand with his divers and fixed upon his hook a salted fish from Pontus. Antony, feeling his line give, drew up the prey, and when, as may be imagined, great laughter ensued, "Leave," said Cleopatra, "the fishing-rod, general, to us poor sovereigns of Pharos and Canopus; your game is cities, provinces, and kingdoms."
This morning brought and invitation from Robert to watch Brazil demolish the Ivory Coast on his extra large and extra flat and thin TV. We (Rosemary and Rebecca and I ) were to go to the annual Vancouver Rose Society Rose Show at the Floral Hall at VanDusen. Rebecca showed up at noon to bid me to take her and Rosemary to the show. Robert invited her in and she was soon glued with us to watch the game. She surprised Robert with her knowledge of the players playing. She then had a long chat with Robert’s wife Patricia on painting and how acrylics make it easier to fix mistakes. When we left (after the game finished) Patricia came along and at the floral hall Rebecca explained to Patricia all about roses and their botanical classification. I could not hide my pride on all this!
In the afternoon I puttered in the garden and took some medium format photographs of the garden. In the late afternoon I took the film to be processed at The Lab and when I was about to return home I stopped the car and called Rosemary on impulse. I told her I was going to buy some hot-dog buns and that she was to take out from the freezer our most favourite Angus beef hot-dogs. I was much too lazy to stop at Safeway so I stopped at a corner market on Oak and 16th not far from a DVD film rental place. It was there that I found the gem that finished off Father’s Day to my delight and to Rosemary’s.
I found a filmed stager version of Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra
(staged at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival last year) with no less than Christopher Plummer as Caesar and a very young and very lively black woman, Nikki M. James as Cleopatra.
The Stratford version of the play is almost identical to the film I saw a month back. It had more dialogue and the Cleopatra here was much more believable as a young 16 year-old that grows in age and experience in contact with a Shaw Caesar who is much more the mentor and much less the lover that we think he might have been. This film dovetails perfectly with Bard on the Beach’s Antony and Cleopatra
Rosemary was afraid that much of Shakespeare’s dialogue would escape her. Such is the terrific acting in the Bard on the Beach production that little of the dialogue is lost. At the very least the understanding is there and one can re-live the experience by reading the play at home. Rosemary is always wanting to sacrifice her entertainment by convincing me to take Rebecca in her stead. I told her that Rebecca would probably find Antony and Cleopatra a trifle boring and or simply difficult. Such a play could put her off.
But after seeing Plummer playing a wonderful and believable contemporary man who happens to be Julius Caesar and a Nikki M. James playing a teenager no different from Miley Cyrus, both talking in what is almost contemporary English I was glad I paid that extra dollar for a week’s rental. It is my hope that Rebecca will see it and enjoy it. She might then not refuse an invitation by her grandfather to take her to see Jennifer Lines play Cleopatra at Bard on the Beach.
As for me it seems that Plutarch's Live beckon. Shall I go to Macleod Books or the Vancouver Public Library?