Talking Craft Has Moved!

Talking Craft has moved - please visit the blog here

Turning and Piercing: The work of Rodney Peterson

Submitted by: Maia Stark, SCC Gallery Assistant

Rodney Peterson, a professional craftsperson with the Saskatchewan Craft Council, was born in Duncan, B.C, in 1943. Having been raised and spent most of his life is Saskatchewan, his work is mostly inspired by the Boreal forest around his Nipawin home (NAC). Peterson has had a variety of careers throughout his life: construction workers, physics teacher (for 29 years!), rail line worker, taxi driver, and professional artisan, just to name a few! (NAC)  Peterson is a self-taught woodturner, developing his skill and technique over the years by attending workshops with master woodturners. 
Many may be familiar with the concept of woodturning, but here’s a quick rundown for those who are new to the term!
Woodturning is a process which uses a “Lathe”: a machine that rotates the piece of wood you are working with on its axis (
Wiki). While the piece is turning (at high speeds!), the craftsperson uses various tools to carve the wood, essentially slicing it down into the shape they want. The appeal of using a lathe is that by nature of the process the finished piece will have a (horizontally) symmetrical design. The origin of woodturning traces back to approximately 1300 BC in Egypt, where a two-person lathe was developed: one person would turn the wood with the help of a rope, while the other used a sharp tool to carve (Wiki). During the industrial revolution, the lathe was motorized in order to speed up production, focusing on mass production of wooden products. 

Peterson at work (Saskatchewan Craft Council)
Despite the “quick-production” origins of contemporary woodturning, many woodworkers incorporate a high standard of aestheticism, making unique pieces enhanced by further carving, coloring, piercing gilding, or by applying pyrography. Rodney Peterson’s work employs many of these techniques, notably coloring and piercing. Woodturning has its various hiccups and problems to overcome, just as many techniques do. One thing to consider is the direction of the grain and the direction one carves. Cutting in the wrong direction can cause the fibres to separate and “tear out,” creating a rough and damaged looking surface (Wiki). As well, there is a patience, foresight and understanding of woodturning required to be able to anticipate the shape and look of what’s being created. Carving too much or too little could lead to a piece of which the form could be disproportionate or seem awkwardly shaped.
Eye of the Garden by Rodney Peterson. This turned piece incorporates coloring and pyrography  (NAC).

Birch Ribbon Vase by Rodney Peterson. Another turned and colored piece, this vase has also had piercing applied to it (NAC).

Peterson’s works often take celebration in the small “faults” found in the wood he uses, often sourcing wood from the boreal area around his own home. Some turned pieces focus on a particular knot, enhancing the natural shape of the tree’s original growth pattern. 
By Rodney Peterson (SaskatchewanCraft Council)
By Rodney Peterson (SaskatchewanCraft Council)

To see some of Rodney’s works in person, come by the Affinity Boutique! The SCC gallery and boutique is located in the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Affinity Gallery at 813 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK.

cSPACE Projects

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

If you missed the Kick Off for Park(ing) Day on Thurs, Sept 18, you missed a great presentation by Reid Henry, President and CEO of cSPACE Projects.
“Reid has over 16 years of experience working at the intersection of urban, cultural and economic development with a focus on non-profit real estate projects. … Recently appointed as the first President and CEO of cSPACE Projects, Reid is leading the development of a network of large scale, multi-disciplinary creative workspaces in Calgary, Alberta.” cSPACE

cSPACE King Edward School
Substitute “Saskatoon” in cSPACE Projects Mission and Vision statements and you get a glimpse of what artSpace Saskatoon is aiming for:
Our Mission
We believe that Calgary’s creative talent is our most valuable and adaptable resource in making a more vibrant city.

But we know Calgary is a challenging environment for emerging artists, small non-profits and early-stage social entrepreneurs. If our city is to be home to a diversity of creative talent, we must focus on a strategy to connect people and their ideas through places that fuel creativity, foster community, ignite collaboration and inspire change.
Our Vision
We envision Calgary as a city where all forms of creative enterprise thrive.

Through our leadership, new generations of Calgary’s creative talent will be nurtured, neighbourhoods will flourish and bold ideas will be realized. Our city’s vibrancy will inspire and engage the world.

Reid gave an overview of how they were able to engage the community, find shareholders, build partnerships and trust. He said their model of social enterprise is based on 4 C’s:

1. CREATIVITY and the conditions that enable it to flourish – we rethink space as a platform for creative purpose
2. COMMUNITY and the transformative power of engaged citizens – we connect creativity and community for the benefit of both
3. COLLABORATION and the innovation this unlocks – we seek out diverse and meaningful partnerships to shape our projects
4. CHANGE and the culture that fosters it – we cultivate a wide view of sustainability to amplify our impact 


Reid’s presentation was inspiring - but more importantly, it was very concrete and based in the hard realities of financial sustainability.
As they say:
"As a social enterprise, the cSPACE business model blends community stewardship with entrepreneurial agility. Our focus on environmental sustainability, heritage adaptive reuse and urban place-making generates immense community and economic value. As a result, cSPACE is able to mobilize and leverage diverse sources of capital to develop our projects.
We collaborate extensively with government, foundations, individual philanthropists and the private sector. Once in operation, cSPACE projects balance affordability and cost-recovery to deliver a viable operation, requiring no ongoing subsidy." cSPACE

I was impressed at how multi-layered their business model is. They are providing many different ways for various people, goups, organizations and governments to connect and buy into the project. Whether it is saving a local historic building from demolition; upgrading the building through ecologically friendly and sustainable technology; creating a business incubator for new entrepreneurs; including not only artists’ studios but live/work studio spaces as well; designing an outdoor plaza that can host ACAD and other art shows – even in the dead of winter, they are purposely building a web of connections that help grow, fund and sustain the project.

cSPACE King Edward School
I left the presentation thinking cSPACE is being run by smart, experienced professionals. If you want to learn more about their King Edward project or others like it, check out the links at artSpace Saskatoon Places to Find Inspiration

If nothing else look at Toronto Artscape.

Reid developed and managed the consulting practice of Artscape, a non-profit urban development organization. During his time with Artscape, Reid led a diverse range of building feasibility studies, urban district planning frameworks, arts facility policy development initiatives and cultural/creative sector research projects.

Then think about how amazing something like this would be for Saskatoon and remember artSpace Saskatoon.

The REDress Project

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, SCC Communications Assistant

If you are a student, instructor, or employee of the University of Saskatchewan, you may have noticed the 130 red dresses that are hung around the campus. What you might not know, however, is the great significance these red dresses hold. The REDress Project is an art installation by artist Jaime Black, running from September 17 to October 5, 2014. The project “is a critical response to the hundreds of reported cases of murdered or disappeared Indigenous Women across Canada. Through the collection and public display of empty red dresses, the installation seeks to create space for dialogue around the gendered and racialized nature of violence against Indigenous women” (event poster). The red dresses have been installed in the Agriculture, Arts, Education and Geology buildings, as well as in The Bowl on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon.The work is described as “creepy” by some, but this emotional response is the core of the exhibition. When Black began the project in 2011, it was estimated that over 500 Aboriginal women had gone missing or had been murdered in Canada. The exhibition is a manifestation of this gruesome message.

Photo credit: Hannah Luther

However, according to a recent CBC news article on the topic, “The RCMP recently confirmed there are 1,186 cases of missing or murdered indigenous women in Canada” (CBC news). This is more than double the original estimated number of women, a fact which grants even more importance to this project. This issue is of concern because the rate of violence and disappearance of Aboriginal women is much higher than that of any other population in Canada. Black, who is of Anishnaabe descent, manages to portray this chilling message through her work.

Black specifically chose red because of the symbolism of the colour. As told to the Star Phoenix, Black stated, "I've always thought red was a really sacred colour. It's the colour of lifeblood, and it's also conversely the colour of blood spilled. There's connotations of the violence that these women are facing because they're indigenous" (Trembath, "Red Dresses"). Black's project has been able to continue thanks to the donation of hundreds of red dresses over the four years that the project has been in motion.

Photo credit: Mackenzie Stewart
Since the start of the project, Black has installed the REDress Project across Canada, beginning in Winnipeg where she resides. After the University of Saskatchewan, the project is headed to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. In a review of the exhibition, Wendy Haines writes, “Somehow the dresses embody both presence in their representation and absence in their emptiness, so you feel a connection to the lack of these women you never knew” (Haines,“Egocentrix”). The pieces ask you to consider the individuals who have disappeared, but also the magnitude of their similarities. There must be a reason why they all belong to this specific population. This issue is tied to both issues of gender and of race, as stated above. 

Maps of the exact locations of all the dresses are available at the Aboriginal Student Centre on the U of S campus, in Marquis Hall. The exhibition runs until October 5. There will also be a ‘Research Round Table & Community Discussion’ on the topic of  ‘Taking Action to End Violence Against Indigenous Women’ on October 2, 2014 at 7 pm at Station 20 West (1120 - 20th Street West), as a response to the exhibition. Please attend if you would like to have your voice heard or to simply learn more about this topic. 

Artist Profile: Cindy Hoppe, the Prairie Fibre Artist

Submitted by: Kimberly Murgu, SCC Festival and Curatorial Assistant

Cindy Hoppe Wearables
Cindy Hoppe has worked in a variety of media over the last 40 years, and for more than 25 of those years, she has placed her focus on fibre art. Cindy works with recycled materials and incorporates machine embroidery with hand knitting to make beautiful wall hangings and garments. Using sewing machines and embroidery thread as her drawing tools, she gets to enjoy creating both public and liturgical pieces of art. One of her biggest enjoyments with this medium is the challenge she faces when reflecting the colours of our beautiful Saskatchewan landscapes, using only cloth and thread.

River Runs Through It, back
Cindy has completed 3 out of 4 years of a Bachelor of Fine Art at the University of Saskatchewan. She decided to discontinue with her degree upon finding that university classes seemed to be more about talking about art, than actually creating art. Since then, her artistic career has taken flight. She has participated in shows all around Saskatchewan and Alberta; including having her work shown a total of 9 times in the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s juried show “Dimensions” since 1986. Also, her wall hangings are available exclusively at the SCC Fine Craft Boutique at Affinity Gallery.

For most of her career, Cindy has worked alongside her mother Myrna Harris. Myrna was also a felting artist, although she also worked in painting, pottery, photography, felting, weaving and spinning. Cindy worked in pottery with her mother for over 10 years, and has accompanied her in every new medium that she started. From painting, pottery and photography, to weaving, spinning, dying and felting, Cindy was always learning beside her. Myrna passed away in August of 2009. Cindy’s comment on her relationship with her mother is: 
“We were each other’s touchstone for support in a vast prairie, where few understand the looping path it is to be an artist.” Cindy hopes to build the same level of connection with her own daughter and step-daughter.

Cindy is currently working in felting. She creates wearables, vestments, and wall hangings. Her wearables are mostly made from recycled materials. She uses leftovers from past projects as a seed for something new, and sometimes photographs will spark a patchwork project that turns into a jacket. Cindy enjoys taking interesting remnants of past work, and giving them a new life.

Cindy is inspired by daily walks and photography by prairie artists. She creates wall hangings for the home and church, and usually creates pieces in a series, finding growth and improvement over several pieces. Combining the techniques used for her wearables and wall hangings, she also creates vestments. These vests are sometimes inspired by scripture, but always inspired by nature.   
Cindy Hoppe Wearables
Desert Blooms
Cindy also creates on commission. She makes custom wall hangings, church hangings, jackets and stoles. Her wall hangings are densely embroidered and quilted to give a detailed close up view on ones wall in their home. In contrast, her church hangings are on a much larger scale, so they are not as intensely worked on. She uses photos of the church to ensure she captures the right colours and feelings for the piece. Some of her jackets have included detailed dragons, parrots, trees, and even pianos. Her stoles are made to be reversible, and two common themes are lent/advent, and Christmas/Easter. She enjoys using context from meaningful scriptures to give personal meaning to each owner.
Cindy Hoppe Wearables

What is Mixed Media?

Submitted by: Maia Stark, SCC Gallery Assistant

In a gallery exhibition you may occasionally see the media on the label listed as “mixed media.” This may seem obvious to you, as you inspect at the piece; look, there’s string, paper, paint… and you may ask yourself, why not just list the various materials? What is “Mixed Media,” and why is it a category unto itself?

“Mixed media” includes any artwork (2-dimensional or 3-dimensional) in which more than one medium has been employed. This could mean that one uses not only paint, but can include found materials like mud, grass, magazine cutouts, stencils, pennies, charcoal, etcetera. The Saskatchewan Craft Council defines mixed media as “includ[ing] any object which integrates two or more mediums in the structure and design of the object” (SCC). This can include collage, assemblage art, altered objects, altered books, cards and journals (mixedmediaart).
Anselm Keifer’s famous work Your Golden Hair, Margarete (1981), employs oil paint, emulsion and straw on canvas (Ibiblio).
Mixed media, though appearing to include a wide range of works, is in fact rather specific when we consider similar categories of artwork. Media, when referring to mixed media specifically refers to media of materials, not media of popular culture. Consider the distinction between mixed media and “multimedia.” Multimedia art implies a broader scope, “combining visual art with non-visual elements (such as recorded sound, for example) or with elements of the other arts (such as literature, drama, dance, motion graphics, music, or interactivity)” (Wikipedia). Mixed media art will specifically use various materials, either traditional or found objects, which support the intended idea for the piece and can potentially attain a wide range of self-expression.

Mixed Media is not a strictly contemporary category of art. The term has been present in discussions about art for over a century, since about 1910, popularly associated with mixed media paintings by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque. Collage in particular, a sub-category of mixed media, increased in popularity among the Dadaists and Surrealists in the 1920’s and 30’s. This work signaled a rebelling against traditional norms, incorporating popular media to create political artwork which aimed to criticize and focus attention on particular issues. For example, Hannah Hoch (1889-1978) was a pioneer of collage and photomontage work, many of her pieces sardonically critiquing the mass culture of the beauty industry, institutional sexism, and racial discrimination by subverting images of fashion and advertising (Wikipedia).  
Cut With the Kitchen Knife by Hannah Hoch, 1919 (source).
Creating work with mixed media rejected certain traditional models, which were built on systems which only allowed certain privileged individuals to make art. For example, when art is defined as work which is made with high quality materials, those who cannot afford such materials, or do not have a spacious studio, or do not have an specific type of art education, are excluded from the title of Art-Maker. Mixed Media not only questioned what art is and can be, but opened up the title of “artist” to a wider range of makers, further blurring the line between “high” art and “low” art, between “fine art” and “craft.” Mixed media artwork allows for a tactile sense of the artwork, which can help the audience relate to physical objects and items in a personal way. A Saskatchewan license plate with paint and strips of leather can trigger a memory, a knowledge of the prairies in such a way that a painting or photograph of the same aesthetic shape cannot. 

Paula Cooley’s current exhibition explores the use of mixed media with her ceramic work, incorporating non-ceramic elements in a playful and colourful manner. “Mix” runs September 5th to October 18th, at the Saskatchewan Craft Council Affinity Gallery at 813 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK.

"Mix" Works!

Submitted by: Stephanie Canning, SCC Exhibitions and Education Coordinator, on behalf of Mel Bolen

After a year of innovation and hard work Paula has succeeded in blending an exhibition of clay and other materials into a coherent statement. 
De La Mer 2

This is a daunting task to undertake and at times it feels like you're completely alone in the studio with the unfinished, evolving concepts and pieces. Paula's determination and good eye for design enabled her to challenge herself to incorporate steel, found objects, and glass into very strong pieces.

I often think of a breakout exhibition like this as a gift, a birth, a celebration. We are treated to someone's inner-self, their bravery and vulnerabilities. Paula gives us this gift. Clay drawings I call them, open vessels with their extremities flying off in a brush stroke shielding hidden treasures. Amorphous clay shapes struggling to free themselves from steel and wire. 

Seed pods blossoming from a tangle of metal stems under the watchful sentinels of flat steel and colored glass coddled in raw and ochre clays. The entire west end of the gallery is filled by a huge assemblage of steel and translucent clay cylinders that mimics our Prairie cloud formations, snow flakes, and northern lights as the sun sets and light changes behind the piece.  What a kinetic surprise!  

Lucent (detail)
To complete this inter fusion we have constructs that make statements about the fragility of our environment, and the restorative power of nature.  This is the Mix that I feel Paula has cultured, nourished and successfully presented to us.

Mel Bolen, Curator

Mix can be viewed at the Affinity Gallery, 813 Broadway Avenue, from September 5-October 18.

Reception: Friday, September 12, 7 - 9 pm.

Book Review: How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery by Edward Winkleman

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant

If only every potential career had such a well-laid out, thoughtful, and truthful guide book as Edward Winkleman’s “How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery.” If you have the passion and the drive to open a retail gallery, this is a helpful guide. Winkleman writes as though he's speaking directly to you, and he lays some things out so simply that I feel like I could go start a gallery right now!

A point Winkleman repeats several times throughout the book is this, “there are much easier ways to earn a living than by selling art. It is assumed, therefore… that enthusiasm and an understanding of the importance art holds for mankind play a major role in influencing anyone to open an art gallery” (26). Basically, do not open an art gallery with the sole goal of becoming wealthy. There are much better and easier ways to do so. However, as an art dealer himself, his argument is not that no one should ever open a gallery. I think he hopes to simply warn any possible new gallery owners to really consider their motives before beginning the task of opening their own business. Passion is key to loving your new career as an art dealer, he says.

This book functions as a business how-to for the art inclined. As Winkleman points out, “having a PhD in art history does not guarantee that you’ll be any good at managing a small business, just as having an MBA does not guarantee that you’ll develop an eye for the kind of art that collectors will want to purchase” (1). Both business skills and artistic understanding need to be held to be able to successfully run a commercial art gallery. This means you must both be an expert in the type of art you are going to sell, and be savvy enough to run a business with little outside help.

Winkleman discusses the basics of deciding on your gallery’s mandate, ensuring that you have the legal and economic matters covered involved in starting a business, how and where to find artists to represent, how to find and keep art collectors coming back, how to take part in art fairs, as well as many other topics in this 250 page book. As someone working for a not-for-profit art organization, many of the things he writes about are not applicable to my job. However, I do feel I now better understand the everyday work of the owners of commercial galleries, such as the Rouge Gallery in Saskatoon or Slate Fine Art Gallery in Regina.

Interested in reading this book? We found it from the Saskatoon Public Library. Find it at a library near you here. You can also purchase it here

Winkleman, Edward. How to Start and Run a Commerical Art Gallery. New York: Allworth, 2009. Print.

How to Apply to a Gallery, Part 2: Types of Galleries

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant, and Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

Click here to read part one.

When you are applying to an art gallery, it’s important to note that there are several kinds of galleries. The first is a commercial gallery, which is an individually owned, for-profit gallery. These galleries are run as a retail business. The owner will choose to either purchase artwork outright at a wholesale rate, or to sell the work on a consignment basis. The latter option is more common. This means the artist receives a portion of the price of the artwork when a piece is sold, and the gallery receives the rest. As mentioned in the last post, there are many reasons why a gallery needs the consignment they are owed. This allows the gallery to continue to run!

The second type of gallery is a cooperative gallery, in which artists join together to set up and run the gallery. Everything involved in running the gallery is dealt with democratically between the members, and the gallery is co-owed by all the artists involved. In this case, wall space in the gallery is shared by the artists in the cooperative. If an artist wishes to join, there will be a charge and usually a monthly fee to pay. Sometimes these galleries will show works of artists who do not belong to the cooperative, but usually there is a fee for this.

Lastly, there are museums, which are publicly funded galleries which generally do not sell the work they show. These are funded by grants and through the government, and do not run like a retail business. These usually are run by some sort of advisory board and employ a curator who chooses which pieces will be shown. The institution may have a gallery gift store or boutique that does sell items. Again research is advised before approaching the store or boutique.

The Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina is a public, not-for-profit gallery.
Have you spotted the issue with these explanations yet? They are not cut-and-dry definitions. The Affinity Gallery at the SCC is a hybrid of the public and private types of galleries. We are funded by the government and by grants, and we are considered a public, not-for-profit gallery (meaning there is no entrance fee and we are open on some statutory holidays) but we do sell pieces on a consignment basis in our exhibitions, if the artist chooses. We make money to fund the gallery through these types of sales. The SCC also has a gallery boutique featuring a selection of works by Juried SCC artists.

Again, the underlying message here is to do some research before you approach any gallery. It is important to understand these different types of galleries, as they determine if or how you can make money off of your artwork. 

How to Apply to a Gallery, Part 1: Advice from the Experts

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant, and Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications Coordinator

In order to have your work exhibited in a gallery, you need to approach a gallery. However, like many things in life, some ways are more effective than others. Often gallery owners and directors become frustrated with the lack of understanding from artists about what they do and how they do it. We asked several gallery owners and operators what they wish artists knew before applying to a gallery. This is what they told us.

With the internet, it's very easy to do your research about any gallery.

First and foremost: do your research. Before contacting a gallery, check out their website and mission statement. What kind of work does the gallery show? What level of artists do they exhibit? Do you need to be a member of an organization to show there? Is your artwork a fitting style for that gallery? As one gallery owner wrote, “An abstract artist contacting a traditional gallery will probably not get a response.” Be realistic about the gallery and your work. Another owner advised, “If you are a new artist with no gallery experience, approaching a major art institution is likely not going to be fruitful.”

The second most common comment is do not walk into a gallery with your work hoping to find someone who will be immediately available to talk to you about showing or selling your pieces in their gallery. Find out who the most appropriate staff member is to speak to, and make an appointment. Everyone’s time is important; show that you value and respect theirs as much as your own. If you do walk into a gallery without an appointment, do not expect instant feedback about your work. Most galleries will not accept walk-ins of this kind.

The next advice given by those we interviewed is to check the submission protocol of the gallery. Submit everything the gallery asks for, which may include an artist’s statement, a curatorial statement, a CV, an estimate of value, and photographs in the correct type of file (for example, .jpg or .gif files). Follow the instructions you are given regarding these types of procedures.

Do not simply cold call the gallery without first doing your research. In a book directed at new gallery owners, How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery, Edward Winkleman writes:

Because cold-call submissions are often the least productive means of finding suitable artists, they tend to be most dealers’ least preferred means of searching. No matter how explicit your submission guidelines may be about the type of art you’re interested in, you are likely to receive package or e-mails with images of work that seems plainly wrong for your program. On the other hand, every now and then, an unsolicited submission will make your day. Either the artist has done his research and knows his work is a good match for your mission, or fate basically smiles on you. (190)
Why not try your hardest to be that artist who makes a gallery owner’s day? Don’t wait for fate. Do your research!

One gallery manager pointed out that it is frustrating when artists are unrealistic about the costs of running a gallery. There are a huge number of expenses which are covered by the gallery’s commission on any artwork sold. A gallery’s share of a sale goes towards rent, utilities, advertising, staff, shipping, insurance, and security.  This is why a gallery will take a percentage of the profit from any sales made.

The bottom line is to research the gallery before you apply. It will save everyone involved time and frustration. However, if you find that your first few applications are not fruitful, try to remember that there is a learning curve involved. A rejection could be an opportunity for constructive feedback and success in the future. 

Click here to read part two. 

Winkleman, Edward. "Artists: Where To Find Them; How To Keep Them." How to Start and Run a Commerical Art Gallery. New York: Allworth, 2009. 160. Print.

It’s been just over a month – it feels like six – in a good way

Submitted by: Carmen Milenkovic, SCC Executive Director
 Carmen Milenkovic, Executive Director, Saskatchewan Craft Council; 
Photo by Ljubisa Spasic

There’s a certain irony regarding my joining the Saskatchewan Craft Council as the Executive Director. I used to be part of the adjudication process, back in the days of PCOs and SaskCulture. I, along with other colleagues, would diligently read the contents of the 4” binder outlining the programs and hopes and dreams for the organization. And now, here I am, in the Executive Director chair, trying to figure it all out.

Daniel J Kirk works on She Dreams of Color at EMMA International Collaboration 2014 
(Collaborators on the piece: Daniel J Kirk, Asherah Cinnamon, Katie Green)
Photo by Ian Preston

I must say that when I agreed to a July 2nd start date I thought that meant I would have the summer to immerse myself – at a somewhat leisurely pace – in the nuts and bolts of the organization. I have been immersed, but forget the leisurely pace. In six short weeks, I’ve:
  • Wandered among the booths at Waterfront;
  • Visited the exhibit, Art of the Book, numerous times;
  • Observed an exhibition change over;
  • Witnessed the erection of A Show About Nothing (and continue to visit it daily);
  • Attended a very busy and fun opening reception where I met EMMA artists, members and even some friends that I hadn't seen for a long time;
  • Had over twenty meetings with stakeholders and supporters;
  • Was apprised of the process of the Saskatchewan Handcraft Festival and the Toronto Gift Show;
  • Met with the SCC Board of Directors;
  • Wandered through the Boutique on numerous occasions;
  • Attended the auction on the final day of the WoodTurners Symposium;
  • Submitted a grant application (on my first day if you can imagine - got the results - it was successful!);
  • Started to learn a new accounting program and get a handle on the financials;
  • Became updated on the direction and strategic initiatives of the Canadian Craft Federation;
  • Had numerous conversations with members and supporters of the SCC; and
  • Tried my hand at blogging.
The highlight to date was my deep water dive into the EMMA International Collaboration 2014. I visited for a couple of days – wandered around the site at Ness Creek, watched the pieces take shape, listened to the interaction between artists; I took advantage of their generosity to answer my questions and give me insight into their process and what EMMA meant to them. I come from the film world, which is always collaborative, and wandering around EMMA reminded me of that spirit, that industriousness and the need to troubleshoot and come up with new ideas when the planned ones don't work and you're going to camera in five. I loved that rush, and that building of community, which in real time can be short, but in "feelings" time is forever.

    June Jacobs works on Buoh Doctor at EMMA International Collaboration 2014 
(Collaborators on the piece: Te Rangitu Netana, Nadine Jaggi, Michel Boutin, June Jacobs, John Wirth, Katie Green, Cassie Rosteski & Kjelti Anderson); Photo by Ian Preston

The experience was capped by the EMMA Auction. On a hot sultry night in August - probably our hottest day of the summer - we witnessed the transformation from work site to gallery exhibit. It was glorious. Thanks to all who attended and loved the excitement of the purchase. The heat and tight fit couldn't supplant our euphoria.

   Control Flabula in Wood by Tod Emel at EMMA International Collaboration 2014
Photo by Ian Preston

It makes me wonder what I’ll be able to say after my first year.

The Saskatchewan Craft Council is a treasure, worth savouring, protecting and enriching. 
2015 is a big year for us. We’ll celebrate our 40th Anniversary and are part of a national celebration, Craft Year 2015. At the heart of it all is the impulse that drives the creation of art. It’s beating loudly at the Saskatchewan Craft Council.
Thanks for welcoming me into the thicket. I’m looking forward to finding my way.

The History of the Emma International Collaboration

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Communications Assistant

The Emma 2014 International Collaboration took place this past week, and it seems very timely to find out just how it came to be. With a decades-long history, Emma is now hosted biannually at the Ness Creek Festival Site.

Michal Hosaluk
Jamie Russell
Don Kondra

A trio of Saskatchewan woodworkers - Michael Hosaluk, Jamie Russell and Don Kondra - began organizing woodturning symposiums and workshops in Saskatoon in the early 1980s at the Kelsey Campus. They began the symposiums because there was a lack of formal craft education in Saskatchewan, beyond the weaving and pottery offered at the University of Saskatchewan.  Their woodturning conference was staggered biannually with a furniture conference in the same venue and eventually these two events were merged in 1985 and became a biannual event together.

Collaboration at a past Emma. 
In 1996, the first Emma Lake Wood Conference was organized and was held at the Emma Lake Kenderdine Campus, after the Kelsey Campus cabinetry program closed in 1994. The event was “agenda free and hands-on,” which is a mantra continued to be upheld by Emma Collaborations today.

The attendees were invited to the collaboration and these included longtime woodturners, as well as newer, less experienced artists. Although it began as a woodturning conference, many new mediums were added, including glass etching, metal casting and fabrications, beadwork and Japanese lacquer. Each year, new mediums are introduced and focused on. Now, Emma involves almost every craft medium one can imagine!
A past Emma Auction.

The main hope of the event is that all attendees will act as both teachers and students. Participants are urged to try new things and experiment with other artists. The seclusion of the event means that artists can completely immerse themselves in the art they create during the collaboration. A public auction is held at the end of the week-long conference, the proceeds of which are used to fund future Emma Collaborations.

Today, over 100 artists are invited from all over the world to attend. The event was moved to Ness Creek in 2006, although it kept the Emma name. The event continues to uphold the original intent, which was to hone a creative environment without a set agenda, at which artists can learn and grow. The Saskatchewan Craft Council has been involved since 1982, working as the administrative support to the creative event.

The Emma 2014 International Collaboration Auction is taking place this Thursday, August 7, 2014 at PAVED Arts and AKA Gallery in Saskatoon. You can view the event poster here. Attend for your chance to view and purchase the beautiful collaborative artwork created at the conference!

Maud Lewis and East Coast Folk Art

Submitted by: Maia Stark, Gallery Assistant

This lucky Gallery Assistant had the great pleasure to spend some time on the East Coast this June, and while being visually overwhelmed by cliffs and waves and whales, she managed to spend some time at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and, on a friend’s recommendation, went to check out the AGNS’s permanent collection of Maud Lewis’s work.

Despite knowing a bit about folk art (or so I thought) I hadn’t heard of Maud Lewis before this moment—to my own surprise, as she is apparently one of Canada’s most beloved and well-known folk artists. Her life story, struggles, and seemingly never ending positive outlook on life make her story a compelling one.
Maud Dowley was born in 1903 in South Ohio, Nova Scotia. As a child who developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as well as being born with some physical disabilities, Maud often played by herself and stayed close to home. To assist her family in her own way, she began painting and selling Christmas cards. Maud’s parents died while she was still quite young, only in her late twenties, and it was her brother who inherited the family home. She stayed with her brother and his wife for some time, but then moved to Digby to live with her aunt—here was where she met Everett Lewis, a fish peddler who further encouraged her painting and the two were married in 1938 (AGNS). Having little money and little access to proper painting materials, Maud used any and all materials available to her. She painted with hobby paint and house paint on board, cardboard, dustpans, even baking trays. I could imagine that, if she was a contemporary artist now, these pieces may be considered sculptural in form.
Maud Lewis in her small home in Marshaltown, Nova Scotia (Source)
Everett and Maud’s house was small—only 16 square metres in area, consisting of one room with a sleeping loft upstairs (AGNS).They had no electricity, and no plumbing their entire lives. A poor couple, Everett supported them selling fish while Maud sold her paintings and cards. Maud’s rheumatism worsened as she got older, and so spent most of her time painting at the window, advertising her pieces through a roadside sign. Maud’s work, though locally known, sold for very little most of her life.  The most she ever received for a painting was $10. Despite Maud’s secluded life, she clearly understood visual composition and colour theory, as the AGNS points out:
"Although she was not a formally trained artist, Maud's work demonstrates that she had a strong sense of composition, learned from close observation of any visual material that came her way--postcards, calendars, greeting cards…Her early paintings are quite complex in arrangement as she tackles harbour scenes, rolling farmland and countryside.”
Oxen by Maud Lewis (source)
Recognition and fitting payment for her work came much too late—after a CBC TV broadcast and multiple newspaper stories about the folk artist in 1965, Maud fell and broke her hip; her health declined and although she was getting requests  for paintings from people all over the world, it was difficult for her to acquiesce (Artist Biography Database). Maud passed away in 1970, having lived most of her life in poverty and with difficult health problems. As is the case with so many valuable artists unrecognized during their lifetime, Maud’s work now sells for upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars: money she and her husband were never able to use to help bring them self out of poverty. Despite her struggles, she seemed to have a joyful outlook and transcended the circumstances of her life with a rich archive of “bright and evocative paintings” (Triad film productions).

The AGNS not only has a large collection of Lewis’s work, but they’ve also reconstructed and preserved her small home from Marshaltown, Nova Scotia, which had been adorned with years of painted decoration. Maud had, during their marriage, painted most of their home with decorations of birds, flowers and insects.

The house as it appears in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (source)

Caption: The interior of the Lewis home (source)
After Maud’s death in 1970, and the death of Everett in 1979, the painted house began to deteriorate. A group of concerned citizens from the area started the Maud Lewis Painted House Society, their goal being to save the valued landmark. In 1984 the house was sold to the province of Nova Scotia and put in the care of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS). A testament to the importance of community and the local artist, the little house reconstructed in the gallery space is a wonderful sight.  Maud’s work reflects a make-do aesthetic, one which is culturally relevant to settler generations of Nova Scotia.