A Fabulous Send-Off to Summer Season’s End

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.

Retro-Style Poster created by Bill Maylone…celebrated Animator, Painter, Furniture maker, Suiseki Artist, Sushi Maker & Rabbit Keeper

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 eventssans 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.

Here is my – now famous – next door neighbour Billie, being lauded by our monthly island magazine “The Mayneliner” for her long-time support of the Terry Fox Run

*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🙏😊

…and the sunflowers? No late Summer, early Fall return to Vancouver would be complete without a bouquet delivery to my Sweetie Pie Cathy in Kitsilano. Here they are cheering up my fellow passengers on the bus ride home🌻😊❤️