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)

IMG_2647

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.

image1

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.

IMG_2643

 

 

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 🙂

IMG_4443

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!

Searching for Shavasana (Part 2)

Shortly after I returned to Vancouver, in late May of 2013, I called the landlord to find out more about the situation on Mayne, ask  questions, and gather a bit of info. The building was indeed zoned commercial/residential which covered my need for accommodation on the island and gave me the possibility of opening a little business, making a little cash, and having a cool project to work on. It was a 10 acre waterfront parcel, with four additional cottages that were rented out either long-term, or for summer vacation rental. John Collinson, one of the original settlers from the mid-1800’s is buried on the property with his first nations wife,  several ill-fated children, and reputedly has, growing on it, the oldest apple trees in BC – making this particular piece of land significant from a heritage perspective. Ideas for a business, although unformed as yet, were germinating. What could I do there? As I was completely bereft of skills, talents, aptitudes or business acumen my first thought was…artist studio. As I was also – at the time –  completely devoid of motivation, drive, or work ethic my other embryonic idea was “self-serve coffee bar”…these two ideas would have to fall into bed together and germinate further so I could convince the landlord that I actually had a business plan, and was not just another flaky guy wanting to open up an …Art Studio Café. 🙂 I arranged to meet Dave the landlord back on Mayne in early June for mutual reassurance.

As I re-read my Journal during the early days of this exploration I am struck by two things: my wide-eyed interpretation of simple encounters as a kind of magical projection of wonderment (a woman carrying a basket of cilantro down a dusty country road would take on almost mystic qualities) and; the ongoing internal struggle between the two halves of my psyche as I weighed the pros and cons of this decision…uncertainty vs. impulsive commitment, indecision vs. strong desire,  – I was having a dialogue with myself on the pages of my Journal as I sorted out my internal tendency to overthink. Problems vs possibilities…I quite literally rejected the whole concept three times before I would ultimately commit. Blessedly, magic & visceral pull would eventually win out over fear and indecisiveness…but we’re not there yet.

The June 12 meeting with Dave  went well. As it turned out we had worked together as young guys in the 70’s, so there was a decent cordial recollection of being work chums from another era. Even this diminishes some of the misgivings and creates hints of inevitability. I managed to get inside the space, take some measurements and do some imaginings of what it may become under my tutelage. The cottage is petite…around 600 sq.feet with a cool front porch & ground level rancher-style access. The windows are plentiful heritage multi-pane with tons of light and stellar site lines. The best view is of  Galiano Island and Active Pass through which all of the regional ferry traffic travels. The kitchen and bathroom are small but adequate, and, as an out-of-town part-time dwelling it works magnificently for my needs. It’s suitability as a business though,  will be determined by the appropriateness of my ideas and the efficacy of “my plan”…(which does not yet exist, although  Mr. Journal gives an early indicator of “art – cycle – website – sculpture – café – thing”…I’m good at vague.

As these are my early days exploring Mayne Island, I was still in need of further convincing that this place had what I was in need of ….what I was searching for – serenity & the muse. Although Dave’s commercial property had incredible appeal and seemed perfectly suited to my “vision dream” I needed to unearth the tranquility and unleash “the muse” – that almost indecipherable thing that would allow creative passions to flow.

After years of urban cacophony and living a life that had been turned up to “11” I was in serious need of chillout. The difference between Vancouver and Mayne is vast. Although they are only 30 kilometres and a short ferry ride apart, the sense of decompression one gets upon disembarking from the ferry onto this idyllic rock is immediate. Things slow down, noises abate, enclaves of bliss abound and circadian rhythms tap you gently on the shoulder to remind you when it’s time to eat, or whisper in your ear “lights out…time to shut ‘er down for the day”. Beaches on warm summer days offer moments of  sublime delight…the sounds of happy children discovering the magic of oceanside play, while dogs run in slo-mo after tossed frisbees,  bathed in a golden light while gentle breezes blow and the tides lap. Forest trails and favourite mountain vistas can provide similar moments of  calm and beauty. Climbing the local peak and sourcing out a secluded spot with equal parts sun-generated warmth and the serenade of trees and birds is a fabulous way to meditate. OK….tranquility – check.

Despite my earlier indecisiveness and waffling, I knew from the moment that I saw Dave’s little commercial cottage that this quirky setting would provide a perfect tableau to unleash the creative inspirations which had been bottled up inside of me for some time. Whether suppressed or dormant, they were ready to come forth. My muse needed irony and diversity, and a boatload of new and unique experiences which the Gallery – Studio – Café , and life on Mayne Island would provide in spades. What tragedy and hard drinking had squelched, sobriety, stimulus, serendipity and synchronicity let flourish. Writing the script and setting the stage for this new play, unleashed some hidden talents, and gave creative energy to new roles I would be required to perform. As a creative generalist, they would be many….finding one’s Muse – check.

Despite the seeming perfection of Mayne Island and Dave’s little cottage business for my needs, my indecisiveness dies hard and I needed to return to Vancouver for further pondering, worry and excessive pensive thinking. In fairness to Dave, as the weeks slipped by and I’d not come to a firm decision, I called him to remove myself as a potential candidate for occupancy…but I couldn’t get the islands or the place out of my thoughts so I planned another trip in early July to do a final round-robin of my favourite island contenders…Saturna, Pender and Mayne. Unlike Goldilocks, I have to test each bowl of porridge several times.

After a year without wheels, I am back on the road and it does feel good. Liberating. I use my van as a camper when I am on these road trips for the convenience of being able to pull over and sleep anywhere on these accomodation-challenged islands…especially in summertime. I love all of these islands, and they each have something unique to offer, “They all have their own personality”, as they say. I start with Saturna, as it is the most remote, and will work my way back. Saturna is gorgeous and was one of my first considerations but is sparsely populated (300 people) and consequently is lacking in some key amenities. Pender is also stunning but the cycling felt so-so and I’m not fond of some of the turns their development have taken. Each island will dish out serenity and stunning vistas by the truckload, but there was only one “Dave’s Cottage”… And that was on Mayne.

Fortunately, when I returned on July 8 it was still vacant and beckoning. And the island was still dishing out its charms, despite, or perhaps because of, the uptick in people enjoying their summer vacation activities. Perfect days happen and for me, here, they occur with regularity.

It was on this trip that the ideas for the business were congealing and here that I first made reference to the “Shavasana* Chillout Project”, and also germinated the name I would give to my mask making activities, “Clay and Bone”www.clayandbone.com . My thoughts, creative energy and focus were now being absorbed by this looming commitment. It seemed there was no turning back, so, a few days later I called Dave to tell him I definitely wanted it and was ready to commit. The next day I awoke with serious apprehension & “buyers remorse” … I felt like bailing on the whole project.

But I didn’t. I continued my decision struggle debate internally and within the pages of my Journal…“march forward…explore…evolve..learn”, I exhorted myself, “this project may provide the necessary “raison d’etre” to boost creative energies & passions”…I said, and that I would “need to get in the correct mind space” I told myself, so I could “experiment with the place as an incubator for: website development, writing, creative space, playground, business, & the experience of living in a small community on an island”. I obviously required a lot of convincing, which only I was capable of doing. The two halves of my Gemini brain were fighting it out. And finally, from the Journal, “if not this, what?”. The desire to end the search and begin the creative work was strong – I called Dave to meet up on Mayne and sign the lease…I would reject the place one last time before the ink was dry.

It was all set. I was to meet Dave back on Mayne, the August 1st long weekend to sign the lease and take possession. As friends were vacationing there I came over a day early to hang out with them. Dave had given me keys to the place so I could show it to my friends and also stay there for a couple of nights. As we were all about to walk into the cottage, my soon-to-be new neighbour Billie came over and awkwardly injected herself into our group…acting, I suppose as an unexpected and uninvited “tour guide”. Unbeknownst to me, Billie was also the de facto caretaker, cleaning lady and security guard for the property – and also had a bunch of her stuff stored there for the interim. She was also exhibiting – as I would eventually find out – some old fashioned “island familiarity” (not to be confused with nosiness 🙂 ) which we city folk were just plain unaccustomed to. In a word – it was weird.

And of course, my friends, over dinner après, had to remind me of this and embellish upon it – they were British after all. “She likes you you know”…“She’ll be over all the time”…“It’ll be like Kathy Bates in the movie Misery”…“She’s going to break in and tie you to your bed” and on, and on…..and on. All in good fun.

As I retired back to the cottage for the evening, the clouds had rolled in, the wind had picked up and there was a hint of rain – it was a dark and stormy night. As I got ready for bed, there was a sharp rap on the front window “Who is it?”, I quailed, “It’s me, Billie…your next door neighbour” With trepidation I flung open the curtains and there she was, face inches from the window, wearing a bike light on her ever-present safari hat, “It’s blowing pretty hard out tonight” she said, “sometimes we have power outages and you might need…candles!” She raised aloft a couple of candles in each hand. As I absorbed this apparition I said, “Uuuuh…I think I’m good Billie…I have a flashlight – thanks though” The Brits were right…it was going to be a nightmare.

This thought stuck with me overnight. It wasn’t going to be a relaxing & chill experience…I was going to be pestered, hounded, and it would not be good. I’d be trapped in awkward encounters…badgered by Billie…I’d have to bail. Which I did. I saw Dave for breakfast at the bakery the next morning and – rather than sign a leasing agreement – explained my apprehension, and, once again, rejected the property. He completely understood. The deal was off.

We shook hands, I left, and went for a long walk in the woods and down to one my favourite beaches, and sat there, staring at Mt. Baker. And then I had an epiphany – there are going to be problems, difficulties, wherever you go. There is no escaping them. They are opportunities for growth, and need to be confronted – gently – and dealt with. I can handle this, I told myself, try it for a year and if you don’t like it you can move on. I reconnected with Dave and explained my change of heart. Once again, because Dave is a good guy, he completely understood. We met up and I signed the lease for one year…this time, I let the ink dry.

PostScript: Billie and I have since become friends and good neighbours. She’s big hearted, generous and kind. We look out for one another…and she’s right – it’s always good to keep a supply of candles handy for those blustery nights when the power can go off. I had found Shavasana.

 

*Shavasana is two Sanskrit words: Shava (शव, Śava) meaning “corpse”, and Asana (आसन, Āsana) meaning “posture” or “pose” and is the last position in Yoga – considered by some, to be the most important part of Yoga practice. Lying on one’s back with arms and legs splayed out, eyes closed and breathing deeply, Shavasana is intended to integrate one’s Yoga practice and rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Although I would eventually use this Yogic term as a playful name for my Art Gallery/Café on Mayne Island, it was also a metaphoric and tacit recognition of my personal need for rejuvenation & healing after many years of pain.

 

 

Searching for Shavasana(Part 1)

…If you are about to embark on a journey, or think that you are going to have an experience which may prove interesting, I’d recommend keeping a journal. Besides the reputed therapeutic & cathartic benefits of writing, journalling is a great way to capture moods, feelings and observations, that photos just “don’t get”. In a serendipitous moment, a friend of mine in the AA program (thanks Kelly!) gave me a lovely leather-bound journal for my one-year anniversary of sobriety, weeks before I would make my first trip to Mayne Island…in search of Shavasana. I filled that book and others over the past three years of this journey, and am referring to them now as I write this Blog. I find that reading some of the words that I penned three years ago can transport me back to some beautiful moments and also remind me that my ongoing search has been both outward…and inward.

It is May 22, 2013 and the rather long and arduous Goldilocks quest for a rural property will soon bear fruit. I am on a solo cycling trip through the Gulf Islands to check out lifestyles and amenities on each of the five major islands and to get a feel for the various communities residing there. Galiano just felt a little too close to Vancouver, and, as an avid cyclist, I wasn’t fond of the layout of it’s road system. Salt Spring Island was a little too big and too busy, rumours of traffic congestion and narrow roads made cycling sound awkward and unpleasant. Saturna – although beautiful – was too far way, sparsely populated and had few amenities. Pender Island was a contender, but, when I finally arrived on Mayne, the Fates intervened, the stars aligned, and my Goldilocks quest was over. Mayne Island felt right, it felt like home.

It almost didn’t happen. The prior eight years had been a rather arduous & gruelling journey of tragedy, misfortune, alcoholism & recovery: https://clayandbone.com/2016/12/13/death-mask-troubled-dreams-on-the-road-to-clay-bone/. One attempt at relocating outside of Vancouver on the Sunshine Coast in 2011, had crashed and burned ( https://clayandbone.com/2016/12/27/death-mask-part-2/ ) and my realization then, that I would need to gain my sobriety before embarking on this solo rural life, would prioritize a year of dedicated recovery in Vancouver before I could recommence my search for a rural property. Even the process of gaining sobriety would ultimately feed me an obstacle on this quest for a simpler country life. Within a month of quitting drinking I began having seizures which would eventually be diagnosed as Transient Epileptic Amnesia ( https://clayandbone.com/2017/01/01/transient-epileptic-amnesia/ ). This condition prevented me from driving for a year and modified my  out-of-town search greatly. Without knowing what the eventual outcome might be (I had no way of knowing if I would ever be fit to drive again) my property search was limited to places within walking or cycling distance of the ferry terminus on each island – which explains why I was on this current bike excursion…although I loved cycling, It was suggested that I not drive until I was six months seizure free.

Bikes it is. The first thing I had to do was learn how to navigate the Vancouver Transit System with my bike. From my point of departure in Kitsilano, it’s a four part journey to get to Mayne Island – first the B-Line Bus down Broadway at 8am, transfer onto the Canada Line at Cambie, exit at Bridgeport Station to catch the 9am  # 620 Bus to Tsawassen, in order to catch the 10:10 (10:20) Queen of Nanaimo ferry on it’s milk run through the Gulf Islands – Destination Mayne Island…a gorgeous one hour and forty minute journey through bliss…unless there are crippling windstorms – more about this later. Little did I know, at the time, that this would become my weekly commute for the next 3 1/2 years (and counting!).

Mayne Island is, like most of the Gulf Islands, a hilly proposition for cyclists. As a friend has observed, islands are the tops of mountains…if they were flat, they’d be reefs 🙂 As you leave the ferry your first task is to climb a rather steep hill to exit the Terminus.  My first destination was to check in at the Springwater Lodge, a short undulating 10 minute jaunt to “The Village”. As I sped down the hill which approaches the Village, on my trusty old Peugot,  I spied a cute commercial cottage on the left hand side of the road which, to my eye, looked like an appealing little coffee shop. I decided to pull in and grab a coffee and get my first sense of the community, as coffee shops in small villages can be wonderful locales to pick up on the gossip and learn of the goings-on of island life. As it turned out, the business was vacant…a hair salon called “Mayne Cuts” which had occupied the space for the past decade had just closed it’s doors within the last several months. The “For Lease” sign indicated a monthly rent of $550 – cheap by Vancouver standards, and said to call Dave for further info.

Friends, who are unquestionably smarter than I, had suggested that I would be wise  to rent before purchasing – to try living in the rural setting prior to buying to see if I was cut out for island life. As it turned out, this little commercial cottage which held great visual & locational appeal (stunning views, waterfront property, proximity to the village and the ferry) was also dual zoned residential – I could live in it as well. Although my original intention was just to rent a cottage as a residence –  not run a business – I found the concept unexpectedly appealing…”artist in residence” was the first thought that came to mind. Yeah. Perhaps I could use this space as a studio for my ceramic mask making and other creative projects I had pending …I’d have to call Dave the landlord to discuss.

At this point, I was in no hurry. I had an island to explore and the call to Dave could wait – although Mayne felt good I still needed to explore its nooks and crannies to determine its suitability for my needs. I checked in at the Springwater Lodge – which is the oldest continually operating Hotel in BC. – where I’d be staying on this two-day adventure. At the time, the rooms above the pub were available for $40 per night…rustic and worn, it very much felt like staying at a Youth Hostel.  There was a shared bathroom/shower, and the rooms were only lockable from the inside…”Don’t worry, nothing ever gets stolen here, Mayne Islanders are very honest” Tessa the affable barmaid assured me. As quaint as this reassurance was, years of urban conditioning had taken its toll – it involved a leap of faith to leave my “stuff” in an unlocked room. But it was charming & I loved it, the strength of the Springwater Lodge lies in its restaurant/pub and the outdoor deck,  which may be the sweetest place in BC to grab a meal and watch the sun go down.

Almost everything that I saw on these initial trips to Mayne Island charmed me. Perhaps I was looking at the world through the rose-coloured glasses of those new to sobriety, but in fact, so much of what I saw and whom I encountered fed my enchantment. The Village itself is small – perhaps a collection of a dozen plus businesses – which reflects its rather intimate yearly population of roughly 1,000 good citizens. It seemed to have everything one needs to cover the basics: 3 grocery stores, a liquor store (for those so inclined), a gas station, 3 restaurants, a gaggle of unique shops, ubiquitous realtors, and a fabulous little bakery that opened sprightly at 6am every day. (This thrilled me because I do some day trading and like to hit a coffee shop when the markets open at 6:30am.) Some remaining heritage buildings from the late 1800’s (The Agricultural Hall, Museum,  & Springwater Lodge) give it a comforting sense of community & continuity. Other island amenities include a lending library, a Hardware Store, a Community Centre and a second retail gathering in the middle of the island known as the Fernhill Centre.  If I was going to rent the little vacant cottage/business from Dave I would become part of “The Village”…how cool is that?

Perhaps the greatest appeal of Mayne though is its natural beauty & outdoor amenities (I would later discover that its citizens are yet another wonderful attribute, but that would come later) The Gulf Islands are a uniquely beautiful micro-climate which has been compared to the Mediterranean for it’s low precipitation & above average warmth (compared to the rest of Canada). As I cycled around this tranquil rock I encountered dense rain-forest woodlands, pastoral heritage farmland, rare stands of Garry Oak & Arbutus, and a beautiful selection of bays and beaches to toss down a blanket and make an afternoon of it. There are some fabulous parks with great hiking opportunities, a heritage photo-op lighthouse, Mt. Parke with its mezmerizing vistas, and  an unexpected treasure – the well-tended Japanese Gardens. The fauna is equally varied & enchanting. Deer abound – both the indigenous Blacktail, and the pernicious Fallow…and in fact, the wildlife is just too plentiful to write up in this article – so I won’t try. Whether in the ocean, in the air or on land, if you choose to live on a Gulf island you will be living “in” nature not just alongside it, it envelopes you in a charming & therapeutic way.

My brief Mayne Island excursion was drawing to a close as I had obligations back in Vancouver. Of the many properties, hamlets, and rural communities that I had visited over the last five years of this quest…just like Goldilocks and her porridge, this one tasted just right. I had Dave’s number and would call him to find out the scoop on the vacant business.

(this story is continued in: Searching for Shavasana (Part2) https://shavasana.ca/2017/01/08/finding-shavasana-part-2/

 

Shavasana Art Gallery & Café – early days

I’m sitting in my Gallery on a drizzly & cold November afternoon, almost 3 years to the day since I opened this business to the public here on Mayne Island B.C. It’s Sunday and I am just about to wrap up for the weekend & get ready to head back to Vancouver tomorrow as I have done every week for these past three years. It’s been a great weekend. I hosted the fourth of my Gallery Art Openings on Friday the 11th (Remembrance Day),  showcasing the art of two artists – Trish Mitchell and Angie Carson (Liudzius). We had a great turnout and I think it was a successful show for my artists and a fun event for the crowd (great food, beautiful art and happy engaging people).

I’ve been working on this new website for the Gallery (not to be confused with the website I’ve recently created for my masks: http://www.clayandbone.com ) for the past several months, feeling that a move away from my early GoDaddy inspired site towards this current WordPress format would more easily allow me to chronicle some of the cool things that go on here.

I’ve also recently created a YouTube Channel which is making it easier to post some of the videos I’ve taken since I arrived on Mayne Island. This first video was taken in June 2013 before I’d signed my lease on the space. It’s a walk through of – what had been – Nan’s hair salon, know locally as Mayne Cuts….post Nan but pre-reno. At this stage I wasn’t even sure what kind of business I was going to be running, but I’d already fallen in love with the island, the location and this little cottage which would eventually evolve into Shavasana Art Gallery & Café …have a look: