Here is “An interview with Mixed Media & Collage artist Famous Empty Sky, who is currently residing on Mayne Island” from Jan 13, 2021
Here is “An interview with Mixed Media & Collage artist Famous Empty Sky, who is currently residing on Mayne Island” from Jan 13, 2021
It was a great summer at Shavasana Gallery & Café, and my three exhibiting artists – Famous Empty Sky, Bill Maylone & Wayne Thomas – and I, decided to wrap it up with a Closing Party on Sept. 30. This Friday night soiree also coincided with Empty Sky’s husband (and my good friend) – Jim Heshedahl’s – 70th birthday, and the wrap up to my 9th summer in business on the sweet little island of Mayne.
Posters were put up, Social Media accounts were alerted, invitations were extended, copious amounts of food and drink were assembled, and there was even talk of a mystery guest/artist* showing up from Colorado…to peak the curiosity of the guests. The only disappointment was the cancellation of “The Rambling Truths” musical collective (of which I am a member) due to my lingering cold-related croaky voice issues. And then, at 5:15, a full 45 minutes before opening, while I was still assembling the cheese, slice meats, crackers & grapes plate & the Fruit Punch…people started to show up.
What started out as a trickle soon became a flood and by 6:30 the better part of the 70+ people who attended our end-of-season blowout were milling about, nibbling, admiring art, buying art, chatting, laughing and generally enjoying this “Pandemic Seems to Be Over” shindig.
Perhaps my only regret from this beautiful evening is not taking some photos – or shooting this video – while the event was taking place…I…was…just…too…damn…busy. So, this is a morning-after walkabout description of events – sans people, music and “the buzz”
To top it off… some of that Mayne Island Serendipitous Synchronistic magic occurred, and four fabulous Island musicians appeared with their voices and instruments and started jamming. Rosalie Ripley belted out the tunes, accompanied by Alan Barber & Jim Heshedahl on guitar, and Barry Gordon on Saxophone. As the sun slowly set on this warm & dry early Fall evening, every available chair made it’s way to the front yard for what became, a standing-room only spontaneous musical event – it was sublime.
This region of BC is experiencing record-breaking warmth (for September) and an ongoing 3 month ++ drought. Apparently we have had less rain during this period, than the Mojave Desert (my sunflowers don’t seem to mind 🌻 😊)
But Friday night and the party was not my final day of business. Here’s a little wander – post party – through a few of the happenings and events that populated my last few days on Mayne before I switched to my Fall/Winter schedule. (The following two pics are not for the squeamish – my apologies)
My friend “Hunter Bob” who quite kindly provides me with antlers for my art https://clayandbone.com/ showed up with the above Fallow Deer antlers (removed from the deer) which were so completely entangled, that the poor animal likely would have died of starvation wrapped and trapped by netting and barb wire were it not for Bob’s “coup de grâce”. Bob’s idea that, perhaps, I could use the antlers in my art was intriguing, but after some consideration I declined.
Saturday was another beautiful, extended summer day…sunny, warm & dry, drier, driest…and, for most of us, becoming worryingly so. The skies have had ongoing haze from some nasty forest fires up the Fraser Valley and a particularly toxic lumber yard fire in Southern Vancouver which gave Metro Van the dubious distinction of having “the worst air quality in the world” for a day or two. I’m convinced that my lung infection and laryngitis likely stemmed from these mid-September fires. Even the Dr. at the walk-in clinic said that, “No one’s coming in with Covid anymore, and 1/3 of my patients are all coming in with this recent smoke-related cold which is making the rounds”…but, it does have a lovely effect on the sun, and the light…here are some pics:
The fields of Punch’s Farm, Miner’s Bay Dock and surrounding Miner’s Bay provides a beautiful yet slightly ominous sun & sky during September’s fires
Sunday at Shavasana Gallery starts a little later – 10:15 – because of a commitment I have to the local chapter of AA with its 9am Meeting. It’s important for me to remember that I owe the beauty of my current experience to the saving graces of AA, so I attend. As I enter my Fall/Winter schedule with it’s intermittent hours, I’ll miss my Sunday meeting, and everything else that accrues with running a popular little local Gallery Café…the friends & quirky but loveable residents, the happy tourists, my interactions with island artists and musicians who drop by to play the 108-year-old Blüthner piano or pick up the Fender acoustic, the newly formed Chess club, and perhaps most of all, my meditation community and my Jamming Buddies – colloquially known as “Gail Noonan and The Rambling Truths”😊
Because “The Truths” were unable to perform at Friday nights Closing Party, we decided to have a “make-up” jam on Sunday afternoon on Shavasana’s front porch, a last jam of the season and an homage to the years of Sunday jamming that were held there before the Pandemic interceded. Stalwarts – and members of the original trio – Gail Noonan (vocals, ukulele, original material), Jim Heshedahl (vocals, bass), and myself (croaky vocals and guitar) were there, and luckily we were also joined by Brendan Brown on guitar and Anita McCamley with her lovely singing voice & extensive repertoire. We’ve never actively promoted our jam sessions but word gets out and people seeking an entertaining and sweet musical interlude on a warm and sunny Sunday afternoon do show up – so Sunday became a sublime gathering of The Truths and an appreciative audience of 15 – 20 happy people – just a great wrap up to Summer 2022🙏😊❤️
As I was still feeling exhausted from my 14 hour day on Friday and a very busy Saturday & Sunday bookended by our jam session which wrapped around 6, I suggested to the musicians and a few guests that we forego cooking and stroll down the hill to have dinner at the Springwater Lodge with their fabulous deck and good food. Having dinner on the deck at the Springwater with friends in summertime is truly one of my favourite things to do – it is, arguably, the most beautiful deck on the west coast – if not BC.
The fabulous view, and good friends: Brendan Brown, Anita McCamley, Sallie Graham, Gail Noonan & Neena Hasel
Despite the healing quality of just sitting on the Springwater deck, eating and chatting with friends, I still had a café full of dirty dishes, and clean up to contend with at Shavasana Gallery before I could leave Mayne Island on my scheduled 7:55 am ferry the next morning. When the sun sinks below the mountains, it gets cold. As I said my goodbyes, Gail reminded me that “I absolutely had to attend John Aitken’s installation piece in honour of Truth and Reconciliation day (Friday Sept. 30), and the deceased indigenous children” …”it’s best appreciated after dark, and is only open til 9:30…and tonight will be your only chance to see it” No rest for the weary…I decided I would go.
There’s always more “wrapping up” work than I anticipate after a busy weekend at Shavasana and as 9 o’clock approached and I prepared to go to John Aitken’s to see his installation/homage, the phone rang. It was Empty Sky wondering if they could swing by to pick up Prospector’s piece of art – which had been part of our show. As I was heading out anyways I said that I would drop it off as it was enroute to John’s place. Leaving Shavasana, Billie, my next door neighbour came running out of her house to see if I could help her with “an emergency situation” she was having…she agreed that she could wait 15 minutes to allow me to drop off the painting and see the installation. I headed out.
John Aitken standing above a grave he’d dug in his front yard, full of lights and mirrors, with assembled lights above to represent the spirits of all the missing and unaccounted indigenous children whose graves have recently been discovered in schoolyards across Canada. Wayne Thomas carved this phenomenal “Light Box” as an homage to Truth and Reconciliation. It has been making its way around the island to various events, before it is burned in a symbolic ceremony later this year.
After delivering Prospector’s painting, I arrived at John’s in the pitch dark except for the stunning illumination which you see in the photos above. Whereas John’s event drew about 50 people on Friday and Saturday nights, when I arrived shortly after 9 on Sunday, the crowds had thinned and I was the only one in attendance – so I had the artist all to myself and got a personalized tour of his installation. It felt like such a poignant and bittersweet end to this glorious weekend…tragic beauty…meanwhile, in the back of my mind was “Billie’s need for emergency help”…I thanked John profusely and left.
Not knowing quite what to expect, I knocked at Billie’s door and she came out in a bit of a flap. “What’s up Billie?” I asked. “My computer died on me and I hadn’t logged out of Facebook, can I log out on your computer”, she asked. I always love it when Mayne Island deals me these Fellini-esque moments. It was the perfect wrap up to to busy artful, social, fun, crazy & tragic experience…my own little tragi-comic farce. “Yes Billie, I’d be happy to help you out”, I said. I fired up the computer and we logged her out. “G’night Billie” I said. “G’night George…thanks!” she said with her big smile and big heart. “Oh, and thanks for helping me with the recycling Billie, that was a big help, see ya in a couple of weeks” What are good neighbours for.
*The mystery guest artist was Famous Empty Sky’s ex-partner and friend, Prospector, whom she has known for over 50 years, who had flown up from Colorado to visit and put a painting “Raven Studies The I Ching” into our show🙏😊
This has been an atypical year for Shavasana Gallery & Café. Whereas most years would see artists set up and take down within a month – with the joy of Opening Night parties – in 2022, because of the lingering uncertainties surrounding Covid/Omicron I decided it best to keep a good stable of resident artists on the walls, supplying café guests with a safe visual treat of their creative talents while focusing on a very busy café season.
Just some of Bill Maylone’s, Famous Empty Sky’s and Wayne Thomas’s new works
But as the season is winding down, my good friend and Figurative Abstract Collage artist extraordinaire – Famous Empty Sky, who always loves a good social event – proposed to myself and the other artists that we completely refresh the show which had been up for some months, by bringing in all-new material, and having a “Final Show of 2022” event. Structured Abstract Painter Bill Maylone, and renowned First Nations carver Wayne Thomas and I loved the idea, so, new pieces have arrived and found new homes on the Gallery walls and now, we are planning a Closing Party!
We hung the show several days ago (Sept 15) and it always goes smoothly when assisted by the calm hand and careful measurements of Empty Sky’s personal hanger – her husband Jim Heshedahl! As well as being an accomplished art hanger Jim is also a fabulous musician and will be providing background music the night of the show with “The Rambling Truths” (which includes Gail Noonan and myself – see poster above). *Rumour has it that Jim may also be celebrating a “Special Birthday” on the night of the party – Sept 30th….shhh!😆
Just a few pics of the varied talents of these 3 brilliant island artists – I feel blessed to have their art on Shavasana Gallery’s walls
So please set aside Friday September 30, 6pm – 8pm to come on down to Shavasana Gallery & Café (457 Village Bay Road, Mayne Island) for a great evening of art, conversation, food, drinks, music and fun!
*Prospector is flying in from Colorado a few days prior to the party and will be in attendance and able to answer any questions you may have about his art which will also be on display🙏😊
Spring definitely seems to be taking its time to kick-in this year. Lots of false starts, with days that feel warm, sunny & encouraging only to be squelched by new rounds of grey skies, rain and cold – which is exactly where we are at as I write this entry on May 2, from my home office in Kitsilano. Maybe I should just lose my expectations and anticipations of “gardening weather”, and let nature do its thing to avoid disappointment.
The “Made on Mayne” event, which ran Easter Weekend was fabulous and one of my busiest weekends ever. We opened a show for Famous Empty Sky, called her “In Isolation Series”, which showcased her beautiful array of new collage-works – this exhibit should be up and running throughout May & possibly longer (except for the pieces we sold! 😆) I’m not sure where she gets her energy but Famous Empty Sky also baked 8 dozen cupcakes (as shown) to be handed out to grateful guests. We were also treated to some lovely jamming by her husband Jim Heshedahl and friends (Rodger Cove (Hrothgar Jackson), Kurt Dahl, & Brendan Brown)…here are our hours for May:
Friday 6 – 9am-4pm
Saturday 7 – 9am – 4pm
Sunday 8 – 10:30pm – 4pm
Friday 20 – 9am – 4pm
Saturday 21 – 9am – 4pm
Sunday 22 – 10:30am – 4pm
Monday 23 – 9am – 4pm
Hope to see you all then 🙏❤️
Just getting ready to re-open the Gallery Café for the Easter Weekend, which happens to coincide with the “Made on Mayne” (image attached) event sponsored by the Southern Gulf Islands Arts Council. This will be similar to the Fall Studio Tour which ran last November and was a great success, but has now grown to include all things “Made on Mayne”. I am also the lucky recipient of a new show by Famous Empty Sky and her beautiful collage work. We’ll be hanging her new – hitherto unseen – show on Thursday in preparation for our Friday to Monday showings.
I feel quite fortunate to be welcoming back Famous Empty Sky as my first art show after two years of pandemic event precautions. As I’m sure you are all aware “Group Events”, like Art Openings have not only been discouraged, they have been banned. So, getting together with her and her husband Jim to hang the show on April 14th for an Easter Weekend Opening was a real treat. To illustrate how “rusty” I have become during this time, I am only now (May 2) editing my “Current Exhibits” page to reflect this new show that we have – something I would normally do prior to each new opening. And, in fact, we did not put together a big evening soirée as we would normally do, but chose to promote the show over the course of the first 4 days of its run, to avoid big crowds out of respect for attendees lingering precautions – but things are improving.🙏 I think the 8 dozen cupcakes that Famous Empty Sky baked to hand out to guests may have helped people to overcome their anxieties about public places😆
Famous Empty Sky’s , new exhibit is called her “In Isolation Series”, which showcased her beautiful array of new collage-works – this show should be up and running throughout May & possibly longer (except for the pieces we sold! 😆) I’m not sure where she gets her energy but the 8 dozen cupcakes (as shown) which she baked were a big hit with our grateful guests. We were also treated to some lovely jamming by her husband Jim Heshedahl and friends (Rodger Cove (Hrothgar Jackson), Kurt Dahl, & Brendan Brown).
Please drop by during our hours of operation to enjoy these gorgeous collages…(sorry, cupcakes are all gone, I ate the last one!😆)
Hours of Operation:
Friday & Saturday: 9am – 4pm
Sunday: 10:30 – 4pm
Monday: 9am – 4pm
It’s promising to be a fabulous event, please come on by!
It’s a rainy Friday afternoon and I’m sitting having a coffee at the Starbucks at the corner of 49th and Fraser. I like this Bucks for its international clientele, perhaps one of the most ethnically diverse areas of town. Although I’ve lived all over Vancouver, I have a fondness for this area as I spent the first 8 years of my childhood just a kilometre from here.
Just gearing up for my final days of operation before I close for the season on the 16th. This next period of opening is atypical for me as I’m planning on being open Weekdays rather than on a weekend – we’ll see how this experiment plays out, here are my upcoming hours of operation:
Monday December 13, noon til 4pm, Tuesday December 14, 9am til 4pm, Wednesday December 15, 9am til 4pm and Thursday December 16 9am til 4pm
And, there’s still time to drop in and enjoy some of the lovely collage work that Famous Empty Sky has produced during the pandemic, “In Isolation Series” with a couple of new pieces added since last week!
These are also the last few days to pop in and grab a coffee and a delicious Christmas Baked Good – lovingly crafted by MJ Tiller…here are some of her creations:
The featured image for this post (above) was made by island (and National) artist Cedar Christie, who sadly passed away last year. It is on loan to the Gallery until her estate sorts out its final destination. If you are interested in purchasing this piece by Cedar, let me know and I’ll make inquiries with her executor.
I’m just on the ferry heading to Tsawassen and have an hour, or so, to devote some words and attention to our new Art Show at Shavasana Gallery. Famous Empty Sky has returned to Shavasana for her third exhibit in as many years and she is sharing the stage with good friend and fellow artist, Angie Carson, who is back with her second show.
We had a fabulous opening on the evening of Friday September 6…the weather was cooperating, there was a great turnout of friends and art appreciators, Empty Sky had baked two delicious cakes & Angie brought a multitude of fruit & custard tarts. Guests were serenaded by the gentle guitar of Jim Heshedahl, and Rosalie Ripley even stepped in to contribute her beautiful voice to some of the arrangements.
And the Art! Empty Sky is a renowned Collage & MultiMedia artist and she has created a new series of pieces that reflect the title of the show “Images & Icons”. The majority of her new pieces are beautiful collages which include images of spiritual leaders from the various spiritual traditions – Buddha figures prominently; the Virgin of Guadalupe; Ganesh; Goddess of Mercy; Lohan and others. Her collages are vibrant and playful and draw the viewer in for deeper more reflective viewing. One young purchaser was moved to tears by her purchase! (she said that purchasing art has this effect on her as a very personal experience…perhaps it was the Blue Buddha effect!)…when asked how long it took her to produce a piece of art Empty Sky replied, “A lifetime”…so true.
Angie Carson never fails to amaze with her range of ability and talent. She is able to move comfortably between impressionistic landscapes (this piece is just gorgeous)
to expressionism, whimsy, cubist abstracts & collage (here are but a few examples):
Did I mention that she also won a Blue Ribbon at this year’s Fall Fair for growing the tallest Sunflower on Mayne Island? Her talents know no bounds! 🙂
(here is her prize entry being proudly displayed at Shavasana Gallery for public viewing)
I always like to do a walkthrough video of each new art exhibition at Shavasana Gallery when I find a quiet moment. A great way to participate in the beauty of Empty Sky’s and Angie’s art if you are unable to attend in person. The show runs until October 6 and is the last show of our season, so please drop in! – cheers!
We are just preparing for our final art exhibit of the season, Famous Empty Sky is returning to Shavasana Gallery with her friend Angie Carson (nee Liudzius) with a brand new show called, “Images and Icons”. I know that the artists have been busy creating new and exciting pieces for this show which is self-described as “quirky mixed media art”. I’m pleased to be welcoming F.E.S. back for her third exhibit at the Gallery which will also be Angie’s second show here. Although I’ve seen glimpses of Empty Sky’s colourful & thought-provoking new work, the talents of both women will arrive as a delightful surprise when we hang the new show next Thursday September the 5th.
We are having an opening reception on the evening of Friday September 6th between 6 and 8 pm. Please come by for a chance to meet the artists and to hear the Gentle Guitar of Jim Heshedahl. Refreshments and merriment will also be on hand – so don’t miss it! 🙂
On Thursday August 17th we had a fabulous opening for our current artist: Famous Empty Sky, and her new show “NNots – A new Twist”. Empty Sky brought a gallery-full of her beautiful “Mysterious Mixed Media Works”…
…to Mayne Island residents and visitors alike. The gallery was packed and lively, the food and refreshments were delicious, and for two hours we were serenaded by the melodious guitar of Jim Heshedahl – bliss! 🙂
Catering was provided by the talented Astrid Bellem (right) and the lovely Mikela Jay (left) assisted with the evenings logistics –
Famous Empty Sky shared the stage with budding young artist Thea-Rose Mitchell whose small colourful paintings and bone china teacup candles were quite popular with guests.
The fascinating beauty of Empty Sky’s NNots draws one in for a closer look at their intricate complexity, and often leads to new revelations as the viewer is treated to visual discoveries both large and small. In an effort to answer the many questions that were posed during the course of the evening, I’ll quote directly from her Artist’s Statement:
“These new works are called the “Nnots”. They are true works of mixed media containing elements of drawing, printing, collage, photography, and painting. A fresh energy carries me along, producing images that reflect all my earlier work but with a new twist. Now, I have created over 60 individual pieces.
It begins with a simple knotted piece of fine handmade paper and sucks me into a vortex of art making unparalleled in my 40 years of visual art creation. My compositions simplify toward a complete form of abstraction, moving toward pure sensation. Details enlarge to a point where they are no longer recognizable and assume true abstract character.
I make no other work. I am at the mercy of the Nnots. It is glorious and hard. It is the most demanding work I’ve ever done. Requiring intense meditative concentration and constant honing of all my earlier skills, they take on a life force of their own. I am along for the ride and very grateful for the opportunity to be their humble scribe.
It’s all in the Nnots.
They reflect all of my experiences and they get me through. They are the light in the dark. They reveal the beauty in the darkness. They are about capturing the moment of transition, that moment of stillness in the act of transformation.
The Nnots are innocent, childlike but also, dark and dangerous. They mimic ancient forms and sing songs of science fiction sirens while referencing veins, arteries, orchids, and Japanese samurai. Archaic, totemic, architectonic, both crisp and soft, they float in a contemplative space. Synthetic yet organic, they reveal multiple faces like other worldly fairies bringing hints of the “oversoul”, of Buddhas, too. Wizards, princesses and dragons lurk between the folds.
The more one looks, the more one sees.”
Several years ago, Mikela Jay produced a video about Empty Sky’s NNots which, in her own words was “a hauntingly beautiful journey, literally navigating in/out of magical landscapes, layer upon layer of soulful imagery…” here is that video – with a serene soundtrack by John Williams and a cello solo by Yo Yo Ma:
This show will run until September 24th – don’t miss it!