Sketches of Shavasana Gallery – by Mary Jack

A dear friend of mine – Mary Jack – who is a member of our Saturday morning meditation group and also a wonderful asset at our jam sessions (vocals & guitar), surprised me recently with a hitherto unknown (to me) artistic talent. Mary is a painter who also keeps a journal – written and illustrated – of people, places and events that bring her inspiration.

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I was absolutely delighted recently when she showed me three entries in her journal that involved Shavasana Gallery & Café – two fabulous coloured sketches and a page of appreciative, inspirational thoughts that Shavasana Gallery sparked in her.

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…For me, this is pure gold – these words and images are a large part of what makes this whole journey on Mayne Island worthwhile…thanks Mary!

Artist’s Yard Sale! Sat. June 15, 10 – 3

Shavasana Gallery & Café is hosting an Artist’s Yard Sale on Saturday June 15, from 10am to 3pm. Generous donations* from Sally Sexmith’s Studio (and others) will be on offer. Sally is an internationally acclaimed illustrator who has gone into retirement and her husband Fred Sexsmith has graciously offered the contents of her Art Studio for sale this weekend. Art supplies, Studio Furnishings and Live Music will be on hand.

(*all proceeds benefit Arts on Mayne to support Mayne Islands creative community)

The Show Between Shows

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 – June 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

Shavasana Re-Opening May 16!

The above photo was taken by my friend Bill Maylone, sometime in February, during the “big dump” of 2019. The Gulf Islands rarely gets more than a few inches of snow but this season saw islanders blanketed with upwards of 2 feet of the stuff which – if you have acreage and long winding driveways – can be (and was) crippling. Luckily, islanders are resilient and helpful, so those that could help did so with everyone pitching in to dig, shovel and plow their way to their trapped neighbours.

Although I had closed my business for the season on December 16, my intention was to spend a considerable amount of time on Mayne to take care of some overdue creative projects. Instead, various obstacles (pneumonia, a 2 month course in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, and a trip to Mexico) precluded my spending much time at all on this fair isle. I therefore missed the above “snowcastrophe” and the big windstorm that hit on December 20. (worst storm in BC Hydro history)

It’s now April 19th as I write this and I’m turning my attention to my new season which begins on May 16, just prior to the Victoria Day long weekend. We’ll be starting off our season of Art Exhibits with a show by island artist Nicole Rittemann, on June 8 (running til June 30). I’ve not been apprised of the content of Nicole’s show as of this writing but I’m eagerly looking forward to welcoming her first exhibit at Shavasana Gallery!

See you soon!

 

 

A fabulous evening of Bluegrass with “5 on a String”

Bluegrass Band 5 on a String put on a great show for Mayne Islanders last Wednesday evening August 1st, at Shavasana Gallery. With ferries plying Active Pass as a scenic backdrop, the boys entertained a crowd of 75 for over 2 hours with a great selection of original and traditional bluegrass tunes. We have a very inviting grassy area behind the Gallery which makes for lovely outdoor concert seating, and the weather, which has been quite hot recently, shed a few degrees to make the evening comfortable for all.

 

Band members Hugh Ellenwood (Fiddle, lead and bass vocals), Garry Stevenson (Guitar, lead and baritone vocals), Gordie Sadler (Banjo, lead and tenor vocals), Dan Mornar (Upright Bass, lead and tenor vocals), and Tim Eccles (Mandolin, lead and tenor vocals), have been playing together for nearly 30 years http://5onastring.com/ , and their on-stage humour and camaraderie reflects this lengthy bond – as does their music!

The Band also quite generously donated 50% of the door to a worthy local cause – “Arts on Mayne”, which, along with the proceeds from some delicious baked goods donated by local bakers – Astrid Bellem & Brenda Webster – brought in over $650 for the organization.

Here’s a video from the evening which gives a nice feel for the mood and the music of     5 on a String:

Outdoor Bluegrass Concert at Shavasana – Aug. 1, 7:30pm

Bluegrass Band “5 on a String” returns to Mayne Island for an outdoor* concert which will be held at Shavasana Gallery & Café on Wednesday August 1 at 7:30pm. Last year they gave a fabulously entertaining show when they performed at the Groove as part of M.I. fundraising activities in support of saving St. John Point – thanks Guys! This year they are once again – quite generously – donating 50% of all ticket sales to “Arts on Mayne” (formerly known as the Mayne chapter of the Southern Gulf Islands Arts Council) before they continue on their way to a gig on Saltspring and then onwards to the annual Bluegrass Festival in Coombs.

This years concert will be staged on the outdoor grassy area behind Shavasana Gallery (457 Village Bay Road) which has a stunning view overlooking Active Pass. Weather permitting, we will be able to enjoy their music while ferries ply the waters and the sun slowly sets over Galiano. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at Shavasana Gallery, Thursday thru Sunday, or at the door. A limited number of chairs, blankets and pillows will be available, but please bring a folding chair or blanket in case we run out 🙂

As an aside, I’ve known Gordie Sadler the banjo player for 5 on a String for over 40 years. We used to jam together and it’s so great to see him remaining true to his Bluegrass roots after all these years. Here is a little bio from their website:

“We began playing as 5 on a String back in 1989, when Gordie, Garry, and Dan got together with other musicians to play together informally.  One thing lead to another and before long the band was invited to play at some of the regions most prominent Bluegrass Festivals including; Darrington, Wintergrass, and Chilliwack.  About 10 years ago founding member Carrol Oldenburg (mandolin) left the band and we were pleased to add multi-instrumentalist and lead singer Tim Eccles in his spot. Another year later Vancouver fiddle player Hugh Ellenwood agreed to enlist after the retirement of our original fiddler, Val Dean.   It’s been wonderful to perform all across B.C., Alberta, and Washington state over the years and the friends, fans, and relationships we have shared are priceless to us.   We hope that we can bring our brand of mountain music to your venue someday soon.”

Here is a wee taste of what you’ll be hearing on August 1 …..

If you’re interested in booking them for an event or have any questions, you can reach them through their website: http://5onastring.com/

See you at the show!

*weather permitting…if it rains we’ll move inside 🙂

 

Mexico – Tragedy, Jewellery & Serendipity

I’m sitting in a cool establishment in Puerto Vallarta called Vallarta Factory*. Although I initially came for the coffee, the place can’t be easy defined as a café. The few meals I’ve had here have been great and the owners have also branched out into cigar making, chocolate making and coffee roasting – all ingredients (or most) of which originate in various states within Mexico. I’m sitting near Pancho who is one of the family members who run the place – an interesting brother who is giving me a rundown on the Factory’s 20 years in business, and their diversification which has made them much more than a coffee shop.

It turns out that Pancho manages their website and does their social media, so when he saw that I was there to do a little writing he confided that he too was a writer – dabbling in a little fiction and political writing. “Can’t that be a little dangerous here?” I asked. “Journalism is one of the most dangerous jobs in Mexico, that’s why I keep most of my commentary about the US” he replied. He then offered me a shot of hooch – some type of tequila distilled from an Agave varietal. “Lo siento Amigo, yo no beber alcohol”, I said…”I will try one of your Café Olé’s though”…a house specialty of cinnamon and grated orange in a locally hand-thrown mug. Who knows how the evening may have progressed if I were still in full-blown drinking mode, but I had no interest in breaking my resolve of six years – so, coffee and journalling it is…ok…maybe I did have a piece of their delicious pecan pie as well 🙂 I find that it’s always good to chat with the locals, it’s the only way to get the back story and you just never know when a serendipitous moment may come of such conversations.

I was treated to some lovely serendipity a few days ago when I happened to go off the beaten trail here in Puerto Vallarta on one of my lengthy daily walks. I ventured over one of the bridges spanning the Rio Cuale, into the Emiliano Zapata neighbourhood. On this day I decided to follow a road called Rivera Del Rio which is a lovely tree-lined street hugging the Cuale – a beautiful stroll beside nature, which is so much more serene than the otherwise traffic congested streets. I am in the habit of saying Hola or Buenos Dias to nearly everyone I encounter on my walks, and on this day when I did so to a woman who was dreamily looking at a row of houses on the street she countered with, “It’s a beautiful part of the world”. I took this as an invitation to engage in conversation and began a small dialogue with her. Her name is Laura Reeves and was, in fact, the owner of the house we were standing in front of. She had bought the property 12 years earlier for $39,000 and built the 3 story house from the ground up with the help of local contractors. A large sign on the second floor indicated that a suite was for rent for $950 a month. When I expressed interest she offered to show me the suite in case I might be keen to rent it in future trips to PV. While viewing the suite I happened to mention that I had a small Art Gallery in BC, and, as it turned out , she had an array of paintings and jewellery that she represented for several Mexican artists and craftspeople. Of course, we had to go down to her suite to have a look.

Although I didn’t come to Mexico on an art purchasing trip for my gallery, it’s been on my mind that it would be a cool way to connect more deeply with this country and some of her talented artisans. Laura had an interesting selection of paintings from several artists that – although beautiful – were too large for me to carry back to the Pacific Northwest. She also indicated that the postal service was unpredictable at best, and corrupt at worst – word has it that packages go missing and that posties may be pilfering – so shipping was ruled out. She next pulled out a collection of crystal-beaded jewelry that included earrings, chokers, necklaces, bracelets and belts – handmade by a Mexican woman named Laura Meza.

 

Although I am not well-versed in the current trends in Women’s tastes in jewellery (I do carry a small array of necklaces, bracelets, brooches and pendants) I found these pieces to be eye-catching, colourful and fun. Laura Reeves has a large collection of Señora Meza’s work and is looking for outlets for her. The pieces were small enough for me to carry back to Canada in my carry on luggage so Laura (Reeves…I am now dealing with two Lauras) suggested that I take a decent selection of each item with me to sell at Shavasana – on consignment. (Here’s a pic of some of the pieces – I preferred the jumble of colour to a symmetrical layout)

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Serendipity. A casual hello turned into an invitation to view art and jewelry, and ultimately to a handshake deal to walk away with several hundred dollars of product – on consignment. I was surprised yet flattered that Laura felt comfortable enough with my “façade of honesty” 😉 To send me away with the goods. Perhaps it’s a long shot but we’ll let the merchandise reach the summer tourist market on Mayne for at least a couple of seasons to see if it has legs. At the very least it’s my first foray into being an international import merchant🙏👍😄

(*Travel and little time have put a some distance between the start of this article and my current writing location – I’m back in Vancouver at the BeFresh café on Broadway, and, if you’ve managed to read this far, keep going, as I’m about to explain the tragic aspect of this tale…)

As Pancho mentioned, there are certain occupations in Mexico which come with inherent risks. I have not yet had an opportunity to meet Laura Meza – my new Mexican jewellery maker – but I did learn some details of her life from her friend Laura Reeves in Puerto Vallarta. Many years ago when their five children were quite young, Laura’s husband was employed doing investigative work for a branch of local Government. One day, in the course of his duties he – and 4 other co-workers – were kidnapped and murdered –  never to be seen again. Everything changed for Laura on that day. The father of her five children, and their sole means of support, was gone, and she was left a widow searching desperately for a way to feed, clothe and house her kids. Like many before – and after her – she took the dangerous routes north to the US where she managed to find work picking lettuce in the fields of southern Arizona to survive. Eventually Laura was able to return to Mexico, and her children, to continue with their upbringing. And now she makes crystal-beaded jewellery as an additional means of income for herself and her family.

It’s now mid March, 2018, a few days after I published/posted this article. My Puerto Vallarta contact just forwarded me a photo of Laura Meza – which is my first glimpse of the artist, and which I’ve included – below. Laura is on the right seated next to a Tarahumara woman named Maria (80 years old). This was taken last summer while the two Laura’s were in the Copper Canyon. Apparently this was Maria’s first ever bed, and the two Lauras  were winterizing her log cabin.

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So please, drop by Shavasana next time you are in the neighbourhood and have a look at Laura’s work – it’s fun & sparkly stuff.  If you do find a piece of her jewellery that you’d like to take home with you, at least you’ll know that your purchase is helping a deserving woman overcome adversity. There’s always a back story if you look for it.

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Shavasana Gallery is closed until May

It’s January 9, 2018 and I’ve just returned to Mayne Island and Shavasana Gallery after a 3 week Xmas break. Winter is in full swing and the days alternate between cool and cold and wet and drenched. Today, the surprise visit of the sun, offered a very welcome respite from the seasonally monotone grey skies. As one who suffers from a touch of Seasonal Affective Disorder (apt acronym S.A.D.) any hint of blue sky is greeted with enthusiasm.

I’m on a five month hiatus from running the Gallery/Café side of my business and will be using the space as my personal studio: www.clayandbone.com for the duration. I have several masks that I’d like to work on, perhaps a few new necklaces, and – if time and inspiration permit – sketches and paintings. It’s also my intention to do a little writing on my two websites, and – God-willing – a trip to warmer climes. Receiving this photo today from my friend Jon – who is on extended vacation in La Manzanilla, Mexico – provides ample incentive to assist God in this matter 🙂

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One thing I like about writing as a creative outlet is that it’s very portable. If I do make the trek down south I’ll definitely dedicate time each day to either journalling or creative writing. I have a lot of material, it’s just a question of connecting with the Muse and buckling down – doing the work as it were.

Cheers & Hasta Luego!

George

ps. The feature image of masks as shown is from a dedicated wall at Shavasana Art Gallery & Café where I exhibit some of my ceramic work. The next actual Art Opening is scheduled for May 17 – details to come sometime in early May – hope to see you there!

The Drunk, the Blind Man, and the Ukulele Player

Small islands seem to attract their fair share of dreamers, spiritualists, creative types, rogues & non-conformists.  Some come to escape the cacophony and rigor of urban existence, some come to build their alternative universe retirement dream, while many come to relax and play on this part-time fair-weather-friend holiday rock. The absence of police or any recognizable form of authority can add a lawless frontier edge to peoples activities and expectations. When you operate a small Gallery Café on just such an island – as I do – any and all of these people may walk through your door, and indeed, are encouraged to do so. On occasion they all arrive at once, and interweave into a lovely Felliniesque tapestry. I always consider it a blessing to be part of a notable absurdity.

It’s a warm & lovely Friday in July 2016. It’s late morning, all the windows of the Gallery are open as is the front door which offers an inviting access for all who wish to drop by for coffee & chitchat and a glimpse of Anita Edward’s art show, “Forgotten Gardens”. While I am otherwise engaged in pleasant mindless café duties, an off-island woman named Dralene wanders in, plunks herself down, and asks if it would be ok to play tunes on her ukelele for the smattering of guests.  I’m always delighted when musicians show up unannounced so encourage her to play freely for as long as she likes. Apparently she IMG_1456was on Mayne to attend the annual “Bob-b-que” with friends – a celebration of the life and music of Bob Dylan at which she would contribute her ukelele chops. She sings a little Bob, a little this and that, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” as memory (and my Journal) attests, and generally proceeds to entertain my guests and I for the next couple of hours. Shortly after she began, my friend Paul G. appeared while on a bike trip from Vancouver followed by two island friends Angie & Tim. Tim – a truly admirable & remarkable fellow – had recently lost his vision with a sudden onset of blindness which, understandably, had thrust him into new challenges and steep learning curves, which he accepted without complaint in his good-natured manner.

I introduced he and Angie to Paul and Dralene while a few others sat sipping their drinks at outside tables. Just as Angie excused herself to go, another friend – Gail – wandered into the shop, also sporting a ukelele which she proceeded to play with Dralene. You can never have too many ukeleles at a farce. My musicians soon realized that maybe it was best to take their jam outside and allow inside guests to have quiet conversation if they were not so ukelele inclined. Paul & Tim and I began some important dialogue about issues and opinions (God knows what we talked about – Donald Trump wasn’t in office yet)…and then, the drunk showed up.

I don’t remember the drunks name and indeed it’s not important to the story. It’s shortly before noon on Friday and he’s noticeably pissed. He’s carrying a bottle of what seems to be Coke and what I gather was laced with rum – “for aye! He were a seafarin’ man” By his own braggadocio, “One of the best boat designers in Canada…came here by boat…just down at the dock” He slurred in his slightly wobbly aggressive way. It seemed that he’d either lost or forgotten his cell phone charger and was now on some kind of angry rampage to track one down on our island. Finding all islanders collectively responsible for his stupidity and our failure for not having an electronics supply shop for his needs. “This is a shitty island, ye can’t even buy a cell phone charger.” “Where can I get one? You’ve got one, I’ll buy it from you” “Uh no, sorry, mine’s not for sale” I said. “C’mon…I’ll give you a hundred bucks – how much do you want? I need it because I’m part of the Emergency Disaster Response team” he belligerently blurted. “Dude” I thought, “you are a disaster – how can you possibly be part of an emergency response team?” I was starting to get angry with this guy, and, as one does with unpredictable drunks, was sizing him up in case I had to physically evict him from the Gallery. Like I mentioned earlier, there are no cops on Mayne so people sometimes feel empowered to break the rules. Meanwhile the ukeleles kept playing and my dialogue with my friends became intermittent as the obnoxious comments and demands of the drunk kept superseding our collective rationality. Trying to be a nice guy I said, “Tell you what, you can charge your phone here with my charger and that will at least get you on your way” (and you can take your unpleasant tirade to some other island, I thought) When you are dealing with such an obvious out-of-control alcoholic you need to be on your guard though, for their thoughts and actions can be chaotic. This ramps up the stress level. After 20 or 30 minutes of annoying commentary, he asked me to give him my Social Insurance Number to show me how good he was at memorizing numbers. My level of tolerance was reaching it’s end, and this request tipped it over into mild anger “I’m not giving you my fucking Social Insurance Number” I glared. The ukelele ladies kept the background music steady and incongruous when suddenly, Tim changed the subject. “Do you know anything about Razors?” he asked. “Huh?” I turned to look at him, welcoming the distraction from the Drunken Sea Captain, “You mean like, shaving razors?” I said, “Yeah” said Tim as he pulled a little baggie from his pocket with a shaving razor in it. “Since I lost my sight” he said, “I can’t figure out how to open this up, can you show me?” We are now operating at max-Fellini. I take Tim and his razor outside because I’m afraid of dumping his beard hairs on my floor – preferring to do it on my front lawn beside the Ukelele Duo. Meanwhile the drunk is swigging and staggering his way around my gallery. Paul is absorbing the spectacle. I’m picking up pieces of my blind buddies razor off my front lawn, as Jeffery the quirky Karl Marx look-alike shows up with his rather demure Japanese girlfriend Meg.

I’m in some kind of strange inexplicable heaven – a conductor to all of these collective moments on the stage of my café. But like all moments, they must pass, the participants have to move on to new adventures. Paul had to hit the road to continue his bike trip. Tim armed with his new manageable razor picked up his white cane to walk home. The ukulele sisters collected themselves to rendezvous with the rest of their day and the drunk, with his newly-charged cell phone in hand grumbled his way out the door and down the street to his next misadventure. Like an unexpected summer storm, the players breezed in unannounced, gave a dramatic show and then left. I returned to the pleasant tasks at hand..greeting more guests…pouring a little coffee, and talking about the beauty of the art upon my walls.

Addenda: Later, over dinner on the lovely deck of the Springwater Lodge, my friend Paul and I commiserated on the days events when Paul pulled a book from his backpack “The Course of Love” by Alain de Botton, a book which he felt I might like. The premise being  “the magnificent, sometimes frightening, developments we can make as we slowly realise that love is in essence a skill we need to learn rather than an enthusiasm we simply experience.”  It was a glorious day. 🙂

 

 

 

Butterfly Moment

It’s Wednesday May 3, 2017 and I am at the main branch of the Vancouver Public Library doing a little writing for my Art Gallery blog. Most of my recent blog-based writing has been done at coffee shops, or at my studio on Mayne Island, however, for the past three weeks I’ve been coming here to write with my friend Janis Harper, as a little experiment to see if writing with another person can be more focused, productive, or…fun. Thus far, the experiment has been working on all three counts. At the very least it removes some of the insularity associated with putting fingertips to keyboards.

It’s raining out…cold and grey…and we are now about 7 months into one of the shittiest, longest, coldest, wettest winters in living memory. Perhaps the lousy weather has contributed to my prolific writing jag since late last November. The launch of my two blog-friendly WordPress websites (this one and www.clayandbone.com ) last fall has certainly been an encouragement to recommence the creative process. There has been a considerable hiatus since I last wrote plays for my theatre group –  Just Push Play – in the 90’s (www.justpushplay.ca) so this current flurry of word-based creativity feels good. We’ll see how it evolves.

But I digress…the butterfly moment…. Considering how grey and monochromatic it has been in this region for such a long time, I felt like posting this little video I took during a pause in one of our jam sessions on the porch last summer as a reminder that it will not always be thus. Have hope! Songbirds have begun returning from their winter time shares in Mexico, and it is only a matter of time before we are visited by gorgeous little creatures such as this…

…an idyllic moment at Shavasana Art Gallery on Mayne Island  🙂 (courtesy of the great video capabilities of the iPhone 6+)