I just realized that I haven’t done an update on the status of Shavasana Gallery since May 26 – neither blog nor post – so, while I have a little time and I’m sitting at my desk here on Mayne, I thought I’d let you know what’s been going on.
Although the Gallery Café has been closed TFN due to the pandemic, I have been managing to come over and use the space as my own studio hangout.
(top left); I’m here now working on a new mask for a M.I. Arts Council online exhibit; August harvest of blackberries on the property and subsequent cookie-making. (Bottom); and also working on some content for a new Podcast I hope to launch soon called “The Accidental Curator”,
It’s been a blessing to have a retreat away from Vancouver, and for this I’m grateful. I think the decision to close was the right one. As a guy who “commutes to work” , I travel – as a foot passenger – between here and Kitsilano twice a week during my open season which now runs April thru December. The commute itself has become far less enjoyable due to masks-wearing and social distancing, and infinitely more risky as I navigate 3 bus connections, the Canada Line, and the ferries.
Top row left: managed to get one of my masks “Archduke Ferdinand” into the “Arts on the Islands” book; middle: this is Cedar Christie’s pallette – framed; and evening treats of blackberries & Americanos overlooking Active Pass from the adirondacks. Shavasana remained a popular spot for meetings and visits: Friday’s Spiritual Reflections met here on occasion as did the Friends of Public Safety on Mayne (bottom row: – had a lovely jam with Gail Noonan and Mary Jack (lower right), here’s a pic of Jennifer Peers and Jerryann Haggart at one of their weekly coffee visits on the porch
Given that we are now into a second wave of the pandemic (Canada had over 4,000 new cases a couple of days ago) I’ve decided to remain closed, likely until my new season starts in April 2021. So…I will miss you all and the joy I receive from running my little business in the heart of “The Village” (“Uptown” as the Groove Kitchen and I like to call it 😆 ) I do hope to see many of you (if not all…it’s a small community 🙏 ) casually/socially/distantly as I come over to use my studio.
Sunflowers from my garden that I bring back to Cathy in Kitsilano; my first effort at making Focaccia (delicious!); a rose through frosted glass; sunset from Shavasana; I turned 65 this year and am now a Senior Cougar according to BC Ferries! 😆
After careful consideration I have decided to keep Shavasana Gallery & Café closed until further notice. I have cancelled all four art openings that were scheduled for the 2020 season and will not be re-opening to the public as a café until I deem that it is absolutely safe for my customers and myself to do so during this uncertain time.
I am adopting a “wait and see” approach to the evolution of the Covid-19 outbreak and will reopen when the time is right for all. I think we will all know when this time arrives – when islanders and seasonal visitors alike feel completely comfortable returning to their pre-pandemic social habits…which include attending Art Openings and dropping by to enjoy everything that Shavasana Gallery & Café has to offer. I look forward to that time…..stay safe!
Proprietor – Shavasana Gallery & Café
(ps..I will be using the Gallery space as my own studio during this period so I look forward to seeing you all when I’m on Mayne ❤ )
As Shavasana Gallery’s first show of the season, “Tanya Clark – A World of Art”, ( May 7 – June 4) is not proceeding due to the pandemic, I’ve decided to do a little write up of Tanya’s fabulous art for you so you may, at least, have an idea of what was in store for you -sans canapés – had we been able to put together an Art Opening and month-long show for her.
Tanya has had an extremely interesting and well-travelled life, which is reflected in the diversity of media & styles that she employs in her artistic expression… “Tanya is a formally trained Canadian artist who studied painting and printmaking at Emily Carr College of Art in Vancouver, before moving to Tokyo in 1985 to study the art of woodblock printmaking with world renowned artist Toshi Yoshida.” Tanya immersed herself in the Shin-hanga style of printmaking which gave her an “appreciation for the Japanese aesthetic with its subdued and subtle approach to colour. In 1991, her work was awarded ‘Gold for a New Member’ at the Nihonhangakai, the largest international juried competition for woodblock prints.”…the first non-Japanese woman to do so!
After five years in Japan, she relocated to Phuket, Thailand where she was “seduced once more by a completely different palette. The bold, saturated colours of the Andaman Sea and the visual explosion of tropical flora, both above and below the water, inspired a different direction in her work.” Here Tanya turned her attention to vibrant oil colours and expressive brush strokes on canvas – a departure from the subtle colours of her woodblock training.
In 1994 Tanya moved to the small island of Anguilla in the Caribbean where she “continued to explore the vibrant tropical elements of water, cloud, mountain and reef” She eventually opened “Phoenix Gallery” where she was able to exhibit her wonderful art and provide much-needed framing for island residents. In 2015 she spent time in southern Africa which inspired “a new collection of drawings and paintings featuring the inhabitants of Namibia and Botswana.”
Unfortunately, Tanya had to leave Anguilla in 2017 when Hurricane Irma (the strongest on record) destroyed her business and her gentle Caribbean island existence. The Caribbean’s loss was Mayne Island’s gain as she chose to relocate back to her native British Columbia, and settle on another small island (Mayne) for a time, painting and drawing and providing framing services. She now resides in Victoria, preparing for new artistic inspiration and outlets for her creativity.
Although I’m disappointed that I can’t bring you her lovely work in person, I hope that you can take some time and visit her website to get a better understanding of just how significant and grand her work truly is: https://www.tanyaclarkart.com/
If all progresses as we hope, the Coronavirus will be defeated soon and life can return to normal. Tanya and I have discussed mounting her art show next year when social gatherings are back in vogue – fingers crossed! 🙂
(the Featured Image to this article is called “Veil of Tears” – 20 x 45 Oil on Linen…and is available for purchase)
Our very own, prolific, dependable, delicious, hard-working, generous, and big-hearted Astrid Bellem will be moving to Ontario on or about April 24th, and will be leaving a very large void in the bellies and hearts of all Mayne Islanders who have come to know her and rely on her stellar abilities in the kitchen.
As Joni Mitchell said, “You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”, and I’m afraid there will be very many residents, weekenders, part-timers, and tourists alike who will bemoan Astrid’s absence from the food scene on our hungry little island. “Where’s Astrid?” will be a question raised on so many lips longing for the pleasure of her loving creations, and at so many events where she has become a stalwart & reliable provider of appies and baked goods for the masses.
Astrid’s long-time presence at the Saturday Farmer’s Market might be her most well-known public face as a go-to stall for a never-ending array of yummy baked goods – cookies, tarts, squares, cakes to name a few as well as some delicious savoury items such as her ever-popular Jamaican Patty, which even Chris Bennett (our resident Jamaican) said was, “pretty damn good, man”.
But what many Islanders may not be aware of is Astrid’s foodie presence at so many essential functions and fundraisers. She has provided food, through her home-based business – Astrid’s Kitchen – for the M.I. Conservancy, M.I Little Theatre, the Ag Society, the M.I. Art Society, art openings at Shavasana Gallery, the Food Bank, Farmgate Store, she has also made countless at-home meals for clients & friends, and, almost single-handedly helped raise $24,000 for St.John Point with a series of fundraising dinners held at Tim Hurley’s home…all in her humble manner.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of participating in any of her irresistible food offerings at the above events, you may have encountered her smiling face at the many Mayne Island businesses which employed her over the years: The Gas Station, the Post Office, the Springwater, the Mayne Inn and the Farmgate Store. Like most worker bees on Mayne Island, Astrid has worn many hats. What you might be surprised to learn, is that before coming to Mayne Island she had worked for many years as a Reproductive Endocrinologist – I’ll let you look that up 🙂
For me personally, Astrid’s parting will hurt doubly, as I am going to miss her good friendship (and her irrepressible border collie JC!), and her services as the provider of wonderful cookies, squares and other baked items, and fabulous catered foods for Art Openings at Shavasana Gallery & Café. Her and I have had this friendship & business relationship since early 2014 when both of us were still relatively new to the island and I have come to rely on her culinary skills, and dependability. Each week, as I was closing down my shop and doing inventory, I would text her my order for the following week, and they would magically be waiting for me in the “secret place” when I arrived to open up. She never missed an order – not once – and often I would be the delighted recipient of her “samples or extras”…sigh…these will be big shoes to fill.
I’ll miss you Astrid! Wishing you safe travels as you head across Canada to your new home in Douglas, Ontario! With Love –XOXO
I thought it was time to do a little “shout out” to friends of Shavasana Gallery & Café and anyone else who follows my website or Facebook link to let you all know what’s happening with our 2020 season, which was scheduled to begin in early April.
Wow…what a difference a few short weeks and months can make in all of our lives. First, I just want to send all of you some good wishes for personal well-being during this unprecedented time. The pandemic has been creeping up on us but now it has arrived and I’m sure that you and your loved ones, like me and mine, are doing their best to follow these new strict rules for self-isolation and social distancing that will – hopefully – keep us all safe.
A few photos from previous art shows we’ve had at the Gallery – from our non-socially distant recent past 🙂
With regards to Shavasana Gallery & Café, I am following Federal & Provincial guidelines as long as they remain in place, and am respecting the requests of full-time residents of Mayne Island that anyone with a second home – like myself – remain in place until this crisis has passed. With all of this being said – I really do not have a clear picture of when I will, safely, be able to re-open. As of this writing (April 4), May is looking more and more unlikely so I’m hoping for a June opening…if conditions allow 🙂
I’m missing Mayne and all the terrific friends I’ve made there over the last 7 years! I look forward to this storm blowing over so we can all return to some semblance of normalcy, and sit together over a cup of coffee, surrounded by beautiful & clever art. Til then…here are a few more photos from happier times. 🙂
Weekly jam sessions, Saturday meditation group and various events and visits…
– I miss you all!
The rewards of running a Gallery Café on a small island are not always financial…as I think about it, in my own case, they’re not financial at all, because I really don’t make a lot of money at this gig. What the Art Gallery Café may lack in remuneration though is more than compensated…well, mitigated perhaps…by a depth & breadth of experience that I have come to cherish…tolerate…endure…and fear.
Mostly it’s been good…fabulous actually…how can you not love it when friends and neighbours drop in with fresh baked scones and home-made preserves just out of a spirit of generosity. It’s a very giving community and I’ve been the happy recipient of so much largesse…food of all sorts: smoked salmon, various teas and coffees, baked goods of all kinds, numerous bouquets of flowers, award winning sunflowers, canned items from homegrown gardens, and perhaps one of my favourites, the friends who showed up with an entire ice-cream maker full of freshly made blackberry ice cream…God that was good, perhaps the best ice cream I’d ever dipped my spoon into.
And the fearful? Well, at the moment the bucket of ice cream scares me as I try and shed 20 pounds after my winter excesses. All kidding aside though…it’s people. When you run a retail operation, as I do, it’s a public space open to all, and you never know who is going to walk through the front door. I’ve been fortunate, I know, as I can safely say that 99%+ of those who have graced my Gallery with their presence have been kind, funny, happy, bright and engaging.
And the <1% ?…mostly a garden variety of quirky individuals whom we all encounter from time to time who trigger our awareness mechanism in a way that speaks of unpredictability. We know that our ability to communicate and understand might be challenged and may try our patience. But these individuals are – ultimately – harmless and wander off on their quixotic journeys. Then there are the in-your-face recovering drug addicts who generate wariness and, of course, the irritating drunks who wander in eliciting anger, wariness and thoughts of self defence…
….and then there’s Colin*. Colin was the “1 in a 1,000” deeply troubled individual who walked in one fine spring morning and stayed for a year and a half. I’m not going to go into detail but suffice it to say that Colin’s depth of personal pain had created a malevolence filled with hair-trigger anger, paranoia and threats of violence which I became privy to on an almost daily basis. His appearance, and my exposure to his toxicity made me seriously consider closing my shop…and then, one day, he was gone!
The experiences I have come to value the most (next to buckets of ice-cream) are those which feel unique and fresh and unlike anything I’ve previously encountered. Situations or events which arouse my sense of the absurd….friends who drop in by horse, performance artists appearing with giant puppets, phone calls to help move a giant pot-bellied pig to a Church Fair, a friend showing up with a truckful of retrievers, a hunter coming in with a bag full of bloody deer hooves for “my art”, and, one of my faves, an elderly friend dropping off her late husbands collection of retro leatherwork magazines which I’ve captured in this short video “Adventures in Leather”
The magazines went to a good home as I decided against a new career in leatherwork. The adventure – now in its sixth year – continues 🙂
*Colin is the name I have given to “He who shall remain nameless”…
It was there, waiting for me, when I got back from Vancouver. Black, lustrous and imposing, it now occupied the space I’d left for it against the far wall between the two cabinets. Possessing a certain presence and grace, it sat there patiently, as if expecting me. My new roommate had arrived – the Blüthner was here.
The movers had obviously found the “secret key” and managed to access my Gallery and wrestle its awkward bulk into place, without my assistance. For this I was grateful as pianos are notoriously difficult to move. Three-men with a truck, a special dolly and straps is still no guarantee of safety – for the piano or the movers. This is why you’ll find many pianos being offered for “free”…if you pick up the moving fees.
In fact, the piano was not mine – a friend had received it, for free, when the local Community Centre on Mayne Island decided to divest themselves of their two pianos. His impulsive agreement to take the piano was short-lived though, when he realized that he didn’t have space for it. Pianos are beautiful instruments and have an intrinsic allure, even if you don’t know how to play them – like myself. When offered a chance to “store it indefinitely” in my Gallery Café, I readily accepted, and now, it was here…what to do?
It looked lovely in its new home, fitting perfectly between the two cabinets, allowing for stylish art displays on the wall in the alcove above, and on top of the piano too. But what of the piano itself? What is a Blüthner? A name I’d never heard, before one showed up in my Gallery. I was curious.
It all starts with a little Wikipedia…
“Julius Blüthner Pianofortefabrik manufactures pianos in Leipzig Germany. Along with Bechstein, Bösendorfer, and Steinway, Blüthner is frequently referred to as one of the “Big Four” piano manufacturers. Established in 1853, Julius Blüthner, a deeply religious man, spoke the defining words that would allow his company to survive and flourish for the next 167 years, “May God Prevail”. The age of any particular Blüthner piano can be determined by matching its serial number to the age table freely available on the Blüthner website”
Blüthner pianos have won international awards consistently since their inception, and have been prized by pianists all over the world, including Rachmaninoff who said, “There are only two things which I took with me on my way to America…my wife and my precious Blüthner”.
“Hmm…impressive pedigree…and I can determine the age of my Blüthner?,” That’s cool I thought…I had to look. Lifting up the lid, and exposing the Hammer Action I saw the Serial number stencilled on the metal frame, “92989” Returning to the computer and the Blüthner website I was able to determine that my Blüthner was built in 1914 – exactly 100 years earlier (I was doing all this sleuthing in March 2014).
100 years. I paused to reflect for a moment on this significant date. I think we naturally accredit a special respect for anything that is celebrating a century of life on this earth. If the Blüthner was not technically alive, it had experienced a lot of life at the hands of its various owners. And, significantly, it was born in Leipzig Germany at the start of World War 1 which began on July 28th of that year. Where did it go? How did it get here?
My curiosity about the Blüthner’s journey was piqued and I wanted to know all I could about her…but all I had was the piano sitting before me – and she wasn’t speaking. I grabbed a flashlight and a screwdriver and started to explore.
Removing the bottom panel just above the piano pedals I peered in with my flashlight and saw the Serial number again, handwritten in pencil along with what appeared to be a signature. My first thought was of a young German piano maker leaving his mark for posterity – a little Saxon graffiti – and immediately wondered what might have happened to him with the advent of War.
Without knowing for certain though, I sent a photo to my German friend Rainer Schroeder (Valhalla Tours ), for translation. Rainer said that although “it’s definitely a word…the font is in Old German “Suetterlin” …but I’m not sure”. Undaunted, I went online and found Katherine Shober of SK Translations who works in this field to see if she could help. (Chasing this one word translation becomes a story in itself: Katherine was too busy but directed me to Geneologist Dr. Ellen Yutzy Glebe. She too was busy but gave me three Facebook Translation Groups – which I joined – and within hours had a viable translation from Georg Patrzek – “Tschempel” which is a family name…God I love the internet)
I was glad that the word I’d discovered was a family name and didn’t mean “right piano leg” in Sütterlinschrift . Knowing that M. Tschempel decided to sign this instrument upon which he (or she) worked creates, for me at least, a whole thread of historic inquiry to ponder or pursue. Was he young, old, married with family? What happened to Tschempel? World War 1? 2?…in a last grasp at trying to understand, and complete this circle, I found one Tschempel reference online – again on Facebook, a Marie Lea Tschempel whom I have messaged…I await her reply.
The next and most obvious clue in the Blüthner’s journey was a small metal plaque attached to the keyboard lid which read: “Bowran & Co. Ltd – Newcastle on Tyne”
I knew that Newcastle on Tyne was in England, so the Blüthner had to have made it’s way safely between two warring countries, but I had no way of knowing when it made that perilous trip. Mr. Google was there to help and gave me a little tidbit from the Newcastle Journal August 4th, 1916…a small classified ad indicating that E. O. Bowran was indeed engaged in piano sales, representing several makes & models of new & used pianos. Bowran survived the war but not the great Depression, and had to be “wound up due to liabilities”, as published in the London Gazette, February 5, 1935
So, somewhere between 1914 and 1935, the Blüthner made it’s way to England, sat in a Piano Shop in Newcastle upon Tyne and was sold either new, used or as part of a bankruptcy liquidation.
Sometime during it’s long life, an aspiring pianist, or perhaps a child who didn’t know better, sat down at the piano with a pen and piece of paper, and forever scarred the keyboard cover while writing out the notes and lyrics to a song:
Their scribbling moved around too much for me to identify the song, or tell what era it’s from. I visualize a young student or budding musician from the 60’s or 70’s copying or creating a piece for personal enjoyment or to entertain family and friends. I find these words add a human element to the Blüthner’s almost indecipherable journey.
The trail goes cold here until August 10, 1986 (or perhaps October 8) when the Blüthner was tuned up by Cliff Brownlee of Penticton, BC.
I’ve attempted to fill in some gaps with the Blüthner’s history but have been unable to do so beyond the plaques, stickers, and graffiti that were left attached to the piano. The 50 year gap between Newcastle & Penticton is long so I decided to take a chance and call Cliff Brownlee in Penticton to see if he could remember anything about the piano – 28 years after his tuning job. It was a long shot.
Much to my surprise, there he was in the directory, no longer listed as a piano tuner and living at a different address but I felt compelled to call him. What possible harm could it do? Again, surprisingly, Cliff picked up the phone after a couple of rings. I could tell by his voice that I was not dealing with a young man. I explained who I was and why I was calling, that I was on a crazy mission to try and understand the life of a piano. How did it get to Pentiction?…and then to Mayne Island?
Cliff was friendly but admitted that – after this length of time – he really had little memory of working on my Blüthner, but – again with the surprises – he would look into his files, and call me back. He did just that. Two days later I received a call from him, unfortunately, he wasn’t able to elaborate much more on my pianos journey. He did recall coming to Mayne to tune David Hodges Grand Piano back when he was still in business, so we speculated that perhaps the Blüthner was here at that time, and not in Penticton, and that Cliff had picked up some additional tuning jobs.
I had one more lead to try – call the Community Centre and see where they got the piano and talk to whomever donated it. A chat with Lauren led to me Lise who gave me the final word on my quest. A couple named Don and Nina Thompson had made the donation to the Community Centre but they were now both in a seniors care facility in Victoria and should really not be disturbed. The thought being that perhaps they would be dismayed to know that their “donation” had changed hands and was now in a Gallery Café.
After all my sleuthing I certainly wanted to call them, or their family members but I honoured the suggestion. If Don and Nina’s intent when they made their donation was for the Blüthner to be cared for and played lovingly, I’m sure this little video that I made: “Eleven Pieces for the Blüthner” would warm their hearts and assuage any concerns they may have…
Earlier this year I created a Blog called “The Show Between Shows” …just a little coverage of the art that I put up whenever I’m not hosting other Island or regional artists. This is my “Closed for the Season” sign so I’ve chosen to repost it now – Cheers! George
After 6 years in business, Shavasana Gallery & Café has evolved into a two-season cycle – the “Open” season from May through October, and the “Closed” season throughout the winter months into early Spring. The Open season consists of scheduled Art Shows of local and regional artists, with art hangings & take downs and Opening Receptions. It’s the time of advertising, invitations, catering decisions and – hopefully – sales. The closed season arrived several winters ago when I realized that business was just too slow to remain open, and that my time would be better spent either travelling or working on my creative process. Luckily, when the last scheduled art show has packed up and gone home, I have enough art squirrelled away at Shavasana to completely fill my walls with familiar pieces. This is the “Show Between Shows”…
As this Show Between Shows is now up for 5 to 6 months of the year I thought it would be a good idea to keep a record of it and acknowledge some of the artists who are part of this collection. All of the pieces are artworks I have bought, inherited or created over the years. Many are NFS but some are for sale as I do – on occasion – open up to the public (as I am right now – June 1) The video gives a nice walkthrough and commentary on most of the pieces & artists so I encourage you to have a look…if you are so inclined.
George Bathgate – November, 2019
*ps. the Featured Photo is a picture of “Kabul 1973″…a painting I did many years ago upon my return from Afghanistan & the far east. I hope to elaborate on this with a little article in http://www.clayandbone.com …soon
It’s October 2nd and I am sitting in the bakery/café in the Co-op on Cortes Island. There are many toddlers running around – several in full emotional meltdown – while their mothers drink coffee and visit. My partner Cathy is here on a retreat at Hollyhock Learning Centre and I’ve tagged along to have a little road trip vacation before I head back to Mayne to close Shavasana Gallery for the season.
This is the final weekend to drop in and see the lovely creations of island artists Famous Empty Sky & Angie Carson, and their show: “Images & Icons” – and to pay a visit to the café which will be closing on October 6th for the winter – reopening mid-spring.
The show has been great – lots of visitors to the exhibit and many happy owners of new pieces of art to adorn special places in their homes and hearts.
We are also having a Final Weekend closing celebration on Saturday October 5th between 3 and 5. There will be free coffee & tea & yummy cake made by Famous Empty Sky, who will also be in attendance. Artist Angie Carson will also likely be here to participate in the fun – hope to see you there!
**As mentioned in my last post, this is also your last opportunity to purchase arts and crafts made by talented local creatives: jewellery, rugs, carvings, cards, prints, drawings, quilts, dryer balls and an assortment of icons, artifacts, curios & carvings from India, Africa & the Northwest Territories (Innu)…come down and have a look!