Arty Gordon's Audis
Saturday, June 08, 2013
|Kiera Hill & Arty Gordon
Of Artemis Gordon, Artistic Director of the Arts Umbrella Dance Program, I could write on and on as I have come to know her well and admire her vision and belief that the arts and particularly dance can make humans more so.
For those who might not understand her dance program on Granville Island (they have expanded and have other studios in the city) the purpose of the dance program is not to get the kids off the street or out of the malls (even though it does is so well) so their parents can breathe easily.
Arty Gordon’s standards exceed most of the standards of other dance schools (the ones that are there to purely get your children off the streets while guaranteeing them grace in movement in going up and down stairs with a book on their head). Children, teens and young adults that graduate from the Arts Umbrella have something else going for them.
I noticed this on Friday when I went with my family to the Expressions Festival 2013 at the Vancouver Playhouse. The Arts Umbrella Dance Company gave a recital of all of its classes which happened to include two in which my other granddaughter Lauren is an avid (and I must add) talented dancer who at 10 is seriously addicted to Arty Gordon’s dance program as imparted by her two teachers, Andrea Rabinovitch, jazz dance and Claudia Segovia, ballet.
What I noticed was clearly evident with the graduating class of the Senior Dance Company.
I have seen other Senior Dance Companies in the past. They have all been very good but here I noticed a difference. In the past the quality of the dancers competed with a few stars who were truly phenomenal. Several of those now dance for good dance companies around the world and for Ballet BC.
This year’s graduating class did not seem to have Rolls Royces, Ferraris, Maseratis or other exotics. To me they were all efficiently functioning Audis. The boys (or should I say young men) were all about the same size and shape. More than ever I saw a group of girls and boys that have worked together for years, attended the same special school program at Magee Secondary School. They worked well as a unit, well oiled, efficient, graceful and excellent.
I have seen most dancers before as they grew up from children. But I must point out two (boys), Paxton Ricketts and Christof Von Riedemann and one more who is more recent, Ryan Genoe. I was delighted to see these three and in one number, one of the best of the night, Azure Barton’s Les Chambers des Jaques Excerpts. Ricketts was impressive dancing solo to a Giles Vigneault song, as was Von Riedemann who followed. There is a part where Ryan Genoe kisses and or pats the Brazilian dancer (he is tops) Joa Pedro De Paula (if his parents had been attending they would have washed his mouth with soap!) and there is a furious anger shown by De Paula that made me laugh.
My only sadness, is that here is a graduating class unlike any other graduating class of a local Vancouver high school class in which their separation into what would seem excellent dance companies around the world would seem to me a tragedy. I would like to see this class continue.
Some years ago I watched Alexander Burton and Alyson Fretz dance at a year end Senior Dance Arts Umbrella Company. They seemed to me to be the perfect Romeo and Juliette. I spied the then Ballet BC Artistic Director John Alleyne and wrote in my blog the next day that if there was any justice in the world those two should be snapped immediately by his company. I was glad to see they were.
Now what organization could possibly hire this year’s whole class?
To prove that her dance school has a very long bench, Arty Gordon and her other choreographer/teachers conspired to give us a finale centered around Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in which several classes from the graduating class, the senior dance and intermediate dancers dance together and by the end there were 35 dancers on stage. The Arts Umbrella Dance Company could easily mount a complete Swan Lake and do it very, very well.
But then what can one expect from Arty Gordon and her school, if not just that?
Many repeat the fact that dancers from Arts Umbrella are able to get into Ballet BC with certain ease. But not much is ever said or written that the road goes both ways. Ballet BC Artistic Director, Emily Molnar has frequently worked with Arty Gordon both as a teacher and as a choreographer. It was most pleasant for me to enjoy on Friday night Simone Orlando’s Folia. It was superb. Another choreographer/teacher that must be mentioned is Marquita Lester (also ex Ballet BC) whose Senior Pointe Dancers danced like souped up Audis, with precision and panache.
I do believe that Arty Gordon and company could be dispatched to a US Marine Corps boot camp on Parris Island and make those marines not only excel but do it with grace, too!
I live with the deepest disappointment and regret that my eldest granddaughter Rebecca dropped out of the Arts Umbrella Dance Program but there is solace in knowing that her sister Lauren is in good hands.
In Lieu Of That Readhead
Friday, June 07, 2013
|Rosa 'Soleil Brilliant' , top & Rosa 'Alain Blanchard'
By now anybody who regularly might read in this space, will know that I am a rosarian. That is a person who grows roses as a hobby. It is one of those peculiarities of these small obsessions that hobbies can be that I cannot understand why the rest of the world isn’t as excited about roses as I am.
Thematically I have stories to write here that are coming out of my ears and yet I go out into the garden to gaze on my roses, to see which ones are open or are about to open. I smell them and feel like I am levitating.
All hobbies have aspects that get no respect. I could walk the street with a Doberman or a German shepherd without much notice. If I happened to do so with a just-manicured and coiffed poodle it would be a lot different.
In the hobby of roses the snoots (I am one of them) look down on those who grow Hybrid Tea Roses. While it is unfair to say so, many modern tea roses have no scent.
In less politically correct times such a rose (a beautiful, perfect, single, long-stemmed hybrid tea rose specimen0 is like a beautiful blonde that is all show but no substance. I apologize right now for any blonde rosarian who might object to that comparison.
The poodles of the rose kingdom are the patio roses. These are small, almost cute, and with the current trend to live in high-rises they seem to be the ticket for young couples who might want to tend to plants on the balcony. Except that few understand that roses, even these “poodles” need at least half a day’s sunshine. While Guinea pigs can be microwaved (preferably while wearing a metal collar) when they are unwanted, all one can do with a dying patio rose is to chuck it into the compost.
I love my old roses, particularly the once-blooming (they are unremontant) Gallicas. These roses are ancient and some of them are hardy enough to grow in Lillooet where my eldest daughter lives.
Originally, species roses, roses found in the wild and untouched by human influence, had five petals (one, this one
is the sole exception). You might note that since apple trees, cherry trees and other fruit trees are members of the rose family, they too have five-petalled flowers.
In the wild, as Darwin noticed plants tend to sport, change, vary and or adapt to changes. These wild roses would sport into having more petals. These are sometimes called double flowers. This term applies to flowers in any other category that suddenly have more petals, and tinkered by humans are bred to remain so.
Roses have been bred for centuries to have evermore petals to the point that many of them have their pollen hidden behind and bees and insects cannot get to it. These roses and most modern roses that are cloned need humans to reproduce.
I like my Gallicas because many are deep red and when the blooms age they turn into maroon or purple and in some cases a weird metallic purple/red. Most Gallicas have sweet scent and they make up for not re-blooming by blooming for a long period and profusely.
And because I am snooty I have a predilection for spotted, mottled, marbled and striped roses. Here are two Gallicas that are marbled. The marbling is subtle but some of my garden visitors ask me if they are sick roses or if spring rain does this to them. The darker rose is Rosa
‘Alain Blanchard’ which for me does not have much scent. What is most remarkable about this relatively rare plant to find in Vancouver is that I bought it in Garden Works on Lougheed Highway in Burnaby some many years ago. The other rose, the lighter one came via Germany with a friend (did it come in a suitcase?) who gave it to me. This rose, ‘Soleil Brillant’ is rare enough that if you google it my blog will be first up!
I have a predilection for mottled roses which just might be the result of the frustration of having been attracted to redheaded women all my life. My mother told me that my sister, born dead, would have been a readhead. When I was 20 I fell in love with my redhaired first cousin Elizabeth Blew. I long to photograph a multi freckled, white skinned redhead with nothing on. Until then I will have to settle to scanning my mottled roses.
A Vampire Visits My Robson Street Studio Revisited
Thursday, June 06, 2013
The guardians hastened to protect Miss Aubrey; but when they arrived, it was too late. Lord Ruthven had disappeared, and Aubrey's sister had glutted the thirst of a vampyre!
The Vampyre - John Polidori
Polidori had his mouth full of paper and the corner of a page poked through his inky lips; on his lap was what was left of the book: the limp cover and a few remaining pages. He finished chewing and swallowed noisily, trying to hide what could not be hidden. Before turning on his heel and leaving the room, Byron whispered: 'Bon appetit!'
Polidori's only answer was a helpless little burp, dry, bitter and much too quiet to constitute a literary opinion.
The Merciful Sisters by Federico Andahazi
Translated by Alberto Manguel
Of late I have seen many pictures in just about every media of vampires. The bulk of them are gory and in some cases I look at them in distaste even though they do not scare me. The makeup is skin deep and the people who impersonate these undead are much too convincingly alive to pass the test. In films the special effects trump any internal characterization that might help me forget that it is a movie that I am watching.
But I recall when the closest I ever got to meet a true vampire happened to me at my Robson Street studio. I wrote about it here
but it is worth bringing in the copy. Here it is:
A few days back in Intimacy on the Net - Not
there was quite a reaction to the image of the young lady posing with my Smith Corona PWP-40. Quite a few sent me queries on who she was. I first photographed Katheryn Petersen around 1990 and the first pictures were for Vancouver Magazine
. After that she was frequent subject of mine in my studio and in outdoor shoots in Lighthouse Park. The best pictures I ever took of her came from her own ideas.
She would come into the studio and pretty well ask me, "Are you ready?" I always had that distinct impression I was not to ask questions and just shoot. And this I did. This is the other side of the coin of the idea that you cannot take pictures of someone unless you have some idea of what you are going to do. I tell my students that the worse thing a photographer can do is hire a model and then tell her/him to do something. This will guarantee failure in the session. But Katheryn is one of those rare persons who has a rich imagination and is not afraid to draw from it.
She arrived and we took some pictures with flowers that were happy - not in the least memorable. Then she put on the white camisole, opened a jar of theatrical blood and put some on her neck. I began to take pictures and she was oblivious to my camera, her eyes got glassy eyed as she drifted away into the role of the vampire, first sad, then ecstatic and finally she looked she turned into my camera and scared me almost to death.
I have brought back my original pictures and I have no memory how I manipulated them for effect. I have re-interpreted them.
Degas, Updike & The Snapshot
Wednesday, June 05, 2013
When I snapped my granddaughter Rebecca at Uxmal in 2007, my purpose was to take what I called then a snap shot. This was sort of a photographer’s avoidance of a busman’s holiday. As a professional photographer who usually uses big equipment and lights the idea of having to seriously compose a shot while on vacation in Mexico was a tall order for me. So I posed Rebecca and snapped the shutter of what I believe was her little point and shoot digital camera.
|A Summer's End
Perhaps only a month later, by the end of the summery I snapped Rebecca in my rose bed while she was holding a butterfly net. I was testing a Nikon FM-2 that I wanted to buy at Leo’s. I took some pictures with it but returned it when I realized the built-in exposure meter was not working. And yet the picture I took of Rebecca, which was supposed to be a snap ended up being much more. I have it framed in our guest bathroom and I gave it the romantic title A Summer’s End.
To me the picture of Rebecca in Uxmal is a snap, and he second one is more. It is a revealing portrait of a little girl about to cease being one and reflecting my own idea that the hot summer days were just about over.
Today I am enjoying Just Looking – Essays on Art
by John Updike. I found this lovely book at my Kerrisdale Public Library. It was a random find.
Updike writes of Degas:
His most brilliant and characteristic achievement might be described as the patient invention of the snapshot, before the camera itself was technically able to arrest motion and record the poetry of visual accident. Equipped with a collage of sketches and the compositional example of Japanese prints, he began in the early1870s, to make pictures truly novel in their off-center foci, the cropping action of their edges, their unexpected points of vantage and dramatic perspectives, the electric violence of their lighting. The discovery of stage lighting, as a means of organizing a painting, effectuated an intensification of his vision, favoring his virtuoso draftsmanship and reducing color to a matter of highlights. In the Orchestra of the Operá, the orchestra in the foreground is a dark mass of naturalistic portraits – each musician personally identifiable – and the background of actual performance is impressionistically splashed across the top, the dancers dissolved in light and cut off at their necks.
With the digital camera-in-the-phone the snapshot is now supreme. I wonder how many snappers might suspect that Degas was doing it better and without an iPhone?
Clematis - Clitoris & Chiclets
Tuesday, June 04, 2013
|Clematis 'Duchess of Edinburgh'
Time, since our move to our present house in 1986 has softened the competition between us. In that beginning Rosemary had her garden and I had mine. She had her plants and I had mine. Curiously when I would become interested in plants she was interested in she would drop them like weeds. She was the one who introduced me to the wonders of roses and yet the roses of our garden are my roses.
There is one group of plants that I have never shown too much interest and this is the clematis a plant that is usually followed by the epithet “the Queen of Vines”. They are part of the ranunculus or buttercup family, which manifest that sterling quality of vigor. In plain language they are weeds!
|Duchess of Edinburgh
I have never understood how an RRSP works. The idea of borrowing money that one can then in a future make money on it is alien to me. Just as alien is the complex structure on when to prune a clematis. Fortunately my Rosemary understands both concepts and I leave it up to her to invest and prune.
To me most clematis (because this work has a Greek origin there should be a stress on the first syllable just like in that other word the clitoris) are like all those so called wonderful roses with the names of celebrities that often have no scent. They are all show but do not deliver.
There are at least two exceptions to this no-scent rule and unfortunately in our years in our present garden both Clematis armandii
(beautiful white flowers full of sweet scent) and Clematis Montana
(light pink with the scent of sugar) have succumbed – the former to a rough winter the latter to very old age.
But there is one clematis in our garden that I absolutely love because of the complexity of its white and light-green colour and the shape of its flower. This is Clematis
‘Duchess of Edinburgh’. It was hybridized by George Jackman in 1874 and it was named after Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia (later Duchess of Edinburgh and Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha), 1853-1920.
The scans you see here are of the flower before it opens.
|Art Bergmann & Clematis montana
Before my beloved (the scent reminded me of the sugar coating of Chiclets) Clematis montana
died I managed to photograph two friends - one, Art Bergmann with the plant behind and the other Katheryn Petersen with some flowers on her wonderful chest.
The violet/blue clematis seen here is Clematis
'Bee Balm' one of Rosemary's favourites. It is full of blooms right now. In a recent past in overwhelmed and kiled one of my Rosa
|Katheryn Petersen & Clematis montana
|Clematis 'Bee Balm'
The Bilbao Effect
Monday, June 03, 2013
|Dan Rutley at the VAG
I remember some time ago when I was listening to CBC Radio when a man, a well regarded Vancouver author, playwright and musician who at the time was part of the Canada Council admitted to not having been to the Vancouver Art Gallery since the time of Luke Rombout.
I have a well grounded, intelligent and articulate friend who has never been to the Museum of Vancouver.
If the Museum of Vancouver which also houses the Vancouver Space Centre (planetarium and we do have a reason to be confused here!) were to be magically transferred to our waterfront by a Star Trek type of transporter we would have a “world class” structure that might in a small way rival the Sydney Opera.
The Sydney Opera is now forgotten because we have been made aware of Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.
Much has been written about the Bilbao Effect and how a comparable structure in Vancouver would perhaps do the same for our Vancouver Art Gallery.
I hasten to point out, right off the bat that the Bilbao Museum happens to be a Guggenheim. Our VAG is not. I would also hasten to point out that the Guggenheim probably does not have one single Emily Carr. I am not sure if that is an advantage or a disadvantage.
My main rebuttal to the so-called positive repercussions of the Bilbao Effect is that Europe is a much more compact geographical location. Bilbao is not all that far from Paris or London or other places that even if you cannot drive to it because of he high price of gasoline it is easily reachable by rail or air.
Who would come to see our Bilbao Type Vancouver Art Gallery? Would they come from New York, London or Paris? Or would it be more likely from 100 Mile House, Coquitlam and even Surrey?
Smoke & Mirrors at the VAG
My Maser Is Gone
Sunday, June 02, 2013
|My Maserati Biturbo, June 2, 2013 just before Sigfried took it away
Rosemary has been going through the boxes of documents of past years. She has kept, until now, just about everything. As an example she told me how much my equipment was insured for sometime in the mid 90s, it was for $28,000. But there was one piece of information that shocked me; she told me that I had stopped driving my Maserati Biturbo 19 years ago. Until today, Sunday I thought I had parked the car nine years ago and then did my best to forget the folly this car was to my life and finances.
In my life with cars I have owned three VW Beetles, two Fiat X-19s and the Maserati. My Rosemary has owned a VW Rabbit (a most terrible car), a four-door Honda Civic (a terrific car that my eldest daughter helped to destruction by not understanding that the water she was putting into the windshield washer receptacle was not going to the radiator. The engine seized up.) After the Honda, Rosemary purchased a big Audi (five cylinder engine) which was such a good car that after that we leased three more Audi A-4s until our finances necessitated we give up the lease when it was up and we bought our present 2007 Malibu which is perhaps the best car we have ever had.
Between that VW and our present Malibu I went through all the motions that men have in their relationship with cars. When driving the Maserati, which looked like a Toyota I liked to wait for those idiots with souped up Hondas to pass on the right lane at a light as it turned green. It was fun to see their faces when I gunned the Maser past them. But I soon grew weary of this macho attitude towards cars.
I now love the dependability of the Malibu and that the windows go up and down and that the car starts and stops unlike the three Italian cars of my past life. I drive like the grandfather that I am but more likely, still, to be a right around the speed limit.
Today the Maser is gone. It was purchased by a “crazy” Spaniard called Siegfried and his son. I did everything to dissuade them but in the end Siegfried, a younger man is still in that stage (or his son surely is) where a car is more than just utility. We all live and learn. He will learn.
I am unable to figure out if I should feel sad (there is still some of that male attraction to car left in me, perhaps) or happy that my garage is now empty and my friend the architect Alan James will no longer be able to ride my patience by asking me, “Do you still have that Maser?”
Whichever feeling I am supposed to have there is one of relief and a weight being taken off.
For 19 years the car occupied a dark garage, like an overdue library book. As long as I did not think about the problem (the car or the overdue book) it did not exist. But the car did offer some comfort to what may have been several generations of mice. They made a nest over the beautiful cast aluminum Weber carburetor cover with the Maserati trident on it. We found it today. It was made of feathers, corn cobs and other stuff from my garden.
The mice and this 70 year old man whose Malibu takes him from A to B and back with efficiency, will miss him, her? I can remember the wonderful full throated roar of the exhaust when I would turn left onto Oak from 6th Avenue on Fairview Slopes and then gun the car up the hill.
I now get the same thrill starting my Malibu in the winter from my kitchen or as I did two years ago, cruise safely at 85 miles an hour in Utah.
Sigfried told me something which I could not deny. "You are an Argentine, you know who Juan Manuel Fangio was and how he drove a Maserati. It's that simple." Sigfried is right.
Technical Info: The image is a scanned Fujifilm Instant Black & White Film FP-3000B (3200 ISO) in which I scanned the peeled negative. I reversed the image to make it a positive. Normally a negative would still be reversed and Maserati would read backwards. I did not want to offend the memory of my last glimpse of her so I flopped the image so marque (as the English like to write) can be read.