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Tornado Warnings


She’s one of my favourite living artists.  I’ve known Lynne McIlvride for decades and am honoured to own one of her originals.

I was at the opening of her new show last night http://www.davidkayegallery.com/ and once again I’m struck with the beauty of her work.  As always, I start to wonder why. What is it about this art that hits me so profoundly and more importantly, what is it trying to teach me.

Apart from her being one of the best people I know, her work speaks to me of balance and beauty – often in the midst of chaos.  She mixes found objects with fresh painting, her life 0 the good and the bad is recorded in her work with a courageous honesty that I marvel at, but it mixes with metaphor and symbols, whimsy and heartache.

This is what I love the most; she explores her art and her passions with specific and clear emotional detail while using metaphors that make her work universal.

Her latest series, Stormy weather (seriously, check it out) is all about tornadoes.  She’s put them in their sturdy glass doored boxes so we can view them and their destruction from a safe place, and then she tucks in some supplies to help with the healing after.  My favorite is the one pictured.  It’s a nasty little tornado (in spite of its colors) and Lynne’s given us thread to sew it all back together when the tornado’s done its worst.  No Band-Aids, sturdy and colourful thread.  It’s gonna leave a scar, it will never look the same, but we’re gonna hold it altogether. Another piece has the tornado coming through fabric that’s already patched together…here it comes again.

Sometimes life gets ripped apart, if we face it with integrity and creativity, we can make something beautiful.

Thanks again Lynne.

Check out her web site, she’s great.



Her current show runs to August 25th at the David Kaye Gallery – 1092 Queen St. W. Toronto.   http://www.davidkayegallery.com/

This Post will last FOREVER . . . Babe!


If you’ve only read one sonnet in your life, it was probably Sonnet 18…”Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day . . .”

You were probably forced to read it by some English teacher who was desperate to excite you about Shakespeare by pointing out the obvious sexual references. . . I know I was.

Much as I like love the sexual references, forget about them for a sec.  Look at the last two lines . . .

So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

In simple modern English, he’s saying “This poem is so awesome they will be reading it FOREVER; I just made you immortal Babe.”

The sonnets are numbered roughly in the order they were written, so #18 (of 154) was written when he was a pretty young guy.

It’s the most arrogant thing ever written in the English language.  It would be unacceptably arrogant . . . if it wasn’t turning out to be true.

There are a lot of reasons why Shakespeare’s great, one that is often overlooked is that he knew from the start that he was great.

Do you have the courage – the honesty – the unadulterated Chutzpah to believe how great you are?  We ALL have greatness within us.  Find yours and bring it to the world, this is not an option, it is our job here on earth.  Some are great writers, or painters, or parents or cooks, but we’ve all got something the world is hungry for.

Find your greatness and you will change the world in wonderful ways.

Naked in Florence

I’d been seeing pictures of this naked guy for most of my life.  Now I was finally in Florence and I figured it was time to see if the real thing measured up.

I’m talking about Michelangelo’s David – what were you thinking?

For almost 375 years (1504 – 1873) years he stood outside in the Piazza della Signoria. Then he was moved inside to the Accademia di Belle Arti to protect him . . .  personally I think it was to move him somewhere they could charge tourists to see him.   I guess the Piazza was looking a little lonely, because a few years later, a replica was put in his place.  That’s right, a fake David replaced him.

I have a tendency to exhaust myself on vacation, I want to see and do EVERYTHING.  So by the time I got to Florence, I had already seen Rome, Venice, Assisi, Siena, Pizza, a dozen smaller towns and enough of the stunning Italian countryside to make me dizzier than the Italian wine.

I gazed at the fake David in the Pisa, it’s beautiful; I was tired and broke; for a moment I considered skipping the very long line and the very expensive ticket to the Accademia.  I will never regret slogging my tired tourista butt over to the line and paying the exorbitant price to see a statue that was commissioned and carved to be on public (FREE) display.

The copy is impressive and beautiful, the original is alive.  I know, I know you’ve now decided I’ve lost it and are about to flip over and check out someone else’s blog, but before you do, take a second and go with me.  I’m serious about this, that 17 foot hunk of marble man is breathing.  It’s as though five hundred years ago some seventeen foot naked guy was walking through the Accademia and someone over to his left yelled “Hey Dave” and he looked…he’s still looking.

There is a life in the original that is not in the copy, even a stunning copy.

You are an original.  When we live our lives as copies of someone else: trying to live up to someone else’s dreams, expectations or limitations, we lose originality; we lose life . . . NO ONE wins.

Live your life as the original masterpiece it is and everyone around you wins . . . even the people who think you should do it their way.

Pay the extra, go see the original; go the extra mile, be the original.  It’s worth it.


M*A*S*Hing it up with friends

M*A*S*H cast season 2

M*A*S*H cast season 2

M*A*S*H cast seasons 8 - 11

M*A*S*H cast seasons 8 – 11

I’ve been thinking a lot about friends lately, how much I love and cherish the people in my life who drive me crazy and keep me sane.

Thinking back about friends who have come and gone, and those who have been consistent, I realized that a circle of friends is like the cast of a long running TV show.  There are a core of regulars, cast members who are in every episode; we can count on them being in every episode, if one of them is missing you know there’s a reason why.  Then there are semi-regulars, people who are part of the character’s world but don’t show up every time we tune in, then there are characters (sometimes great characters) who show up for an episode and then disappear.  Sometimes these one shot character makes such an impression that they keep coming back, and sometimes a semi-regular becomes a main character.  I think the lesson here is pretty obvious; we have people who are permanent fixtures in our lives and people who come and go, and people who show up for a short time and then disappear.

When I was in High School one of my favorite Television shows was M*A*S*H.  It mixed comedy and drama seamlessly, the acting was brilliant and the writing was some of the best in the history of Television.  The show handled the replacement of lead characters better than most, M*A*S*H took place in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.  The show ran 11 years (8 years longer than the Korean War) and had some major cast changes.

Here’s what M*A*S*H did right when someone left the show; they replace them with a totally new character (who filled the same basic role).  As an example: for the first five years of the show the main antagonist was Frank Burns (Larry Linville), an irritating, whining wimp who kissed ass, slavishly followed rules (except the one about cheating on his wife) and irritated everyone around him.  When he left the series, he was replaced by Charles Emerson Winchester the Third (David Ogden Stiers), a pompous, rich snob who looked down his regal nose at everyone around him…he still irritated the hell out of everyone, but he was anything but an ass kissing wimp.  We missed Frank, but Winchester was a great character and the show took on some super new directions with him on board.

Here’s the sucky truth: our circle of friends is going to change, especially during times when our whole lives are changing (finishing schools, new jobs, moving, marriage, kids).  Strangers become acquaintances, acquaintances become close friends and sometimes close friends move out of our lives.  The secret to surviving it all is to M*A*S*H it up.  Let new people in.  They can’t replace the friends we’ve lost, but they can keep us laughing and touch our hearts, if we let them be who they are and not who we think we need them to be.

Three me’s

Bryce's Caricature

Bryce’s Caricature

Nadia's Caricature

Nadia’s Caricature

Didi's Caricature

Didi’s Caricature

A few weeks ago some of my students – and former students – were raising money by doing caricatures.  Always being one to support the arts – – – and get a few neato, cool pictures of myself into the bargain, I waited until all of them were free at the same time and got three caricatures done at the same time – how’s that for quality time management.

I LOVE the results.  It’s impossible not to be struck by how different they are.  Three artists drawing the same face at the same time…three totally unique works of art.  Three VERY distinctive impressions of their acting teacher.

EVERYTHING we do is filtered through how we see the world.  No two people are the same and no two perspectives are the same, only you can create the art that’s inside you, you – and your contributions – are irreplaceable.

Check out more art from these awesome artists:

Bryce Jones http://jonesy-orangatangerine.blogspot.com/

Naddya Oluoch-Olunya http://nyargoro.tumblr.com/

Didi, if you can get me your info, I’d love to link to it.

Putting it together, bit by unlikely bit


This stuff is sooooo freakin’ cool. I first saw Leo Sewell’s work at the Galerie Christin in Toronto about six or seven years ago. I recently contacted them about buying a piece, then I looked at the price – – – sigh, one more item for my bucket list — or my Christmas wish list – Santa are you reading this? I’ve been VERY good.

Leo Sewell takes the most unlikely (and I must say extremely cool) objects and combines them into awesome, original and new sculptures.

My take on Sewell’s work – and why I love it: It’s about the integrity of the original pieces and the way they work together to create something beautiful and something none of them could create individually.

I tend to avoid getting involved with organized groups; I generally prefer to work alone. Even when I’m involved with sports (YES I have been involved with sports) it’s always solo sports: swimming, running, cycling etc. I worry I can’t really be me if I get too close to people. Somehow I will have to disappear or adapt to get along with the group.

Sewell and his magnificent Junk Sculptures show me that it’s just not true, the individual doesn’t get in the way of the group, he, she . . . I make the group cool and intriguing.

I think my summer project is going to involve finding a cool group to join…maybe baseball, I like baseball.

Oh – – – and my birthday is in August…hint, hint. You can shop for me here -> http://www.leosewell.net/

It’s all the same ugly crap … isn’t it?

I heard it again this weekend “It all sounds the same”.  This time it was a symphony conductor regarding Turn of the Century (1900) ballads.

It’s one of those things that has ALWAYS driven me nuts.

I’ve heard it about Rap Music, Symphonies, Classical Music in general, Opera, Rock, Jazz, Anime, Disney, Rembrandt, Norman Rockwell, Jackson Pollock, Shakespeare, Reality TV and Orange Juice.

I’ve also heard it about Racial, Cultural, Gender and Age stereotypes…they all look/act/think/are the same.

When we consciously or unconsciously, choose to diminish a type of art or a group of people, we don’t diminish them as much as we diminish ourselves.  We lose the opportunity to enjoy the art or to be enriched by the people.

Some of the art styles I’ve listed above are NOT my personal favorites (don’t try to guess, you’ll probably be wrong) but they all have value, they all seek to express the human condition and connect to an audience in a way that is authentic and real.

When we make blanket statements about art styles, we show our own ignorance and stubborn unwillingness to look (or feel) outside our comfort zones.

Take another look at the art you don’t like…it’s trying to teach you something too.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is ugly.

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