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Look what appeared in our local paper this week. Pay it forward!
I purchased Paula Fenwick’s Ocean Nestbird from the ELEMENTALS Birds exhibition at SLU, though “purchase” isn’t really the right term here. Of the nearly 40 artists who participated in the ELEMENTALS project, a good percentage of them decided to offer their work for sale in exchange for doing something to generate good will or feelings of positivity, such as donating a nice meal to a local charity. That was the way the two exhibition organizers, Inga and Andy Hamilton, had set up the show—for artists’ works to generate good will and positivity.
Paula had indicated that her three birds were “US $56 each, or $32 if the buyer agrees to buy and give a total stranger a bunch of flowers, or $0 if buyer verbally agrees to a random act of kindness.” So, I cogitated for a while. I didn’t necessarily want to buy the artwork outright, because something about this show asked visitors to re-think their relationship to the world around them. (Hmmm. Crazy how art can do that, isn’t it?)
Therefore, as I continued to think it through, I wondered, at $32, how will I choose “the right” perfect stranger? At $0, what qualifies as an act of kindness?
And then, my random act of kindness appeared right in front of me. I didn’t have to go find it. It found me.
Yesterday, I went to the local food mart to buy a few items. In the checkout lane, a guy and his teen-aged daughter were going through the usual routine. In this case, however, the guy’s debit card wasn’t working. He tried four times and held it together pretty well. (I’ve been in that situation before, and it stinks!) He tried it again as a credit card with no luck. He tried three times more putting a plastic bag around it, now running it up to eight times through, and nothing. He rubbed it on his jacket. I rubbed it on mine. It wasn’t working.
Well, you can guess what happened next. I paid for his groceries. I told him and his daughter about the art exhibition and that I was trying to figure out what to do to perform a random act of kindness. I don’t think they really cared about the whole back story, which is fine. Maybe this debit card thing had happened before. All I know is when I said I would cover the bill, the two of them just melted with relief. It was pretty sweet.
The other part of it is that I used to go food shopping with my dad after my mom left our family when I was 14. He and I (and my two sisters) were sort of on the edge, I think, trying to make sense of how to proceed without her. I remember making a shopping list every week: ham with pineapple slices, cheez-pixies, orange soda, bread and sliced meat for lunches, etc….
Anyway, yesterday, according to the grocery receipt, the guy and his daughter bought a BC CAKE ($1.19), 80% GROUND B ($10.97), JMBO BNLS CH ($8.96), TOP RND LOND ($7.48), and two BCN WRPD BF FILETs ($2.00 each). It came to around $32.00.
I hope Paula, Inga, and Andy will be happy to hear this story.
The transformative power of art!
Carole and I (and printmaking prof Melissa Schulenburg) are heading to Toronto tomorrow to attend the Inuit Modern Symposium at the Art Gallery of Ontario on Saturday. One of the most important artists from Cape Dorset, Kenojuak Ashevak, will be there, as will David Ruben Piqtouken and Jimmy Manning. David and Jimmy both came to SLU some years ago, as did Kavavaow Mannomee. David’s beautiful Inuksuit sits at the entrance to the Canadian Embassy gallery in Washington, DC, where the gallery presented our 50-year anniversary Cape Dorset exhibition last year in 2010. Carole and I passed the sculpture every day as we installed the show.
Our globe-trotting sticker ninja, Spencer Homick ’06, sent a link to a hilarious video skit about Julian Assange played by David Rees called Terrible Houseguest. We’ve had David come to SLU on two occasions, and both were some of the best presentations we’ve seen. David’s work is difficult to classify, evidenced by two project titles, “My New Filing Technique is Unstoppable” and “Get Your War On.” The GYWO series is/was a brilliant response to the events taking place after 9/11. I say is/was b/c David has been doing some new cartoons in the GYWO series, from what I’ve heard.
The gallery got in a little trouble after producing an exhibition card for a GYWO mini-exhibition (presented alongside work by NY Times photographer Tyler Hicks, who was recently held captive on assignment in Libya but today released). Trouble on one level (with donors), but the SLU president at the time was very supportive of free speech in academia.
If you haven’t seen the GYWO books, pick them up. (Sorry for the crazy thumbnail….)
On view March 21 – April 20, 2011
The Richard F. Brush Gallery at St. Lawrence University is delighted to present an exhibition of Peter Nelson’s photography and video work, focusing on topics of sports, identity and relationships. Two-Point Perspective, a term usually designated for a traditional drawing technique, refers to the possibility that every situation can simultaneously be perceived from multiple viewpoints, and that those viewpoints often conflict with each other.
In his most recent series, Nelson turns the camera toward his new community in Canton, NY. Noon Ball is a collection of portraits of the men who play lunchtime basketball at St. Lawrence University. Nelson reflects on the duality of this activity, “The games are both heroic and pathetic, epic and banal. Though the players are competitive and aggressive, the individuals form a tightly-knit community.”
The exhibition also features four videos that further probe nuanced two-point perspectives. In Mr. and Mrs. Nelson, a video with an original operatic score, the artist’s parents share their individual perceptions of falling in love, overcoming personality struggles and negotiating compromises to make their marriage work.
An artist talk and reception will take place on Tuesday, March 29 at 7:00 pm. The public is invited to attend.
Peter Nelson is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Photography and Digital Media at St. Lawrence University. He holds a B.A. from St. Olaf College and an M.F.A. from the University of Washington. Nelson, originally from Minnesota, currently resides in Canton with his wife, Jane, and can be found playing noon ball every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The Commissioner (Noon Ball series), 2011, archival inkjet, 60″ x 40″
One of the most respected elders in the Cape Dorset community, Kananginak Pootoogook, passed away last week at age 75. His work is in our current Nipirasait exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in DC. I was very lucky to have met Kananginak on two occasions at his home in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. It was a little intimidating since I obviously don’t speak Inuktitut. But Jimmy Manning was there, the metaphorical shaman that passes between the Inuit and the southern “qaalunaat” like me. Kananginak was known as the “Audubon of the north” with his carefully rendered and thoughtful depictions of nature and the environment. I have some pictures at school that I’ll post tomorrow.
St. Lawrence owns several of Kananginak’s prints, including one of my favorites, “Amiraijaktuk, Shedding the Velvet.”
His print “Intrepid Caribou” was also represented on the card for an exhibition at the gallery in 2005 entitled “Far North.”
Kananginak had a major retrospective exhibition of fifty years of work last February-March 2010 at the Museum of Inuit Art in Toronto.
Our Nipirasait: Many Voices exhibition at the Canadian Embassy in DC was reviewed in The Washington Diplomat with a story entitled Inuition: Five Decades Produces ‘Many Voices’ from Canada’s Cape Dorset. The author, Stephanie Kanowitz, did her homework, and the article is very well written. Leslie Boyd Ryan from Dorset Fine Arts provided information about the artists, life up north, and Inuit traditions and lore. I talked about how the exhibition was organized as a result of SLU’s acquisition of the 2009 annual Cape Dorset collection. From the review:
Both Ryan and Tedford hope exhibition viewers come away with the sense that each artist has his or her own style and message.
“It’s not simply generic Inuit art — it’s very specifically Kenojuak or specifically Suvinai,” Ryan said of the artists.
“What I would like to see is that people recognize these artists as individual artists,” Tedford said. “It’s not just a body of work by anonymous artists. It’s these artists and they have these perspectives.”
Our exhibition of Inuit prints will be on view at the Canadian Embassy in DC through December 30, 2010, and will come home for display at the Gallery next spring. St. Lawrence worked with Embassy staff to host a private reception on September 15. SLU trustees, alums, and friends met with President Bill Fox and Ambassador Gary Doer, and as Bill said later, “Raves everywhere.” By all accounts, it was quite a success. A set of pics from the reception is linked here.