LIGHTING THE WAY: DR. TOM HUNTER...

BY TATIANA ZAMORANO-HENRIQUEZ *Permission to reprint granted by the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society Over the years the integral humanizing qualities of humanity have become almost non-existent, as our economic model is responsible for prioritizing monetary endeavours rather than the arts. Theses values have fragmented our way of being and devalued the arts as art has now become commercialized for profit and disconnected from our culture.  This almost irreversible divide has hindered our relationships with others and ourselves as it has detached us from our histories, cultures and knowledge.  The formation of this divide has left us stranded and we have become like a wave of sailors trying to navigate the seas without a compass where we have not only lost our sense of direction but also our purpose. However, art has the power to steer us back in the right direction as it illuminates our path by reconnecting us with our origins, which allows us to embrace diversity, and knowledge that then has the potential to lead to community. The world carries with it a kaleidoscope of art forms and rooted within them are diverse cultures that are entrenched with an array of histories and knowledge that shape our values. This is paramount as it is our values that construct the stories that we relay to others and ourselves about what is important. Therefore, it is these values that shape not only who we are as human beings but who we will become and the responsibility we hold to the future generations. Values create empathy and it is this compassion that allows individuals to embrace new cultures and form profound and intricate relationships that have the power to produce viable communities where culture becomes a way of life.  This is why art is integral...

RUDIGER KRAUSE: “RELATIONSHIP IS OF THE ESSENCE”...

By Liam McLean Photo Courtesy of Rudiger Krause Permission to reprint granted by the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society Earlier this month, I had the great opportunity to sit down and talk to Rudiger Krause, a man greatly interested and invested in the community, art, and human connections. Rudiger, or Rudi as his friends call him, was born in Germany and moved to Vancouver when he was a little boy, where he lived most of his life. As we sat down to talk one early March afternoon at the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society (VACS) headquarters, our conversation began with the topic of Rudi’s gardening initiatives before shifting into a deeper introspective about human relationships and connections. The importance of relationships to other people, nature, and art surfaced as the overarching theme of our conversation, emphasizing relationship’s important role in the human experience. As our conversation continued, it became increasingly clear that relationships and the connections they foster are an essential element in Rudi’s and all our lives. If we can recognize and overcome the barriers we face when making genuine connections, then we can live satisfying and rewarding lives in relationship and harmony with each other.         Our conversation started with Rudi’s lifelong passion for gardening. Rudi’s interest in gardening and the communal relationships it encouraged started at a young age and has been a constant passion in his life. “I grew up with parents, especially my father, who loved gardening. When I got married in 1970, my wife and I, wherever we lived, we had at least a small garden,” said Rudi about his early gardening, “When we moved to the Okanagan, we bought an orchard and developed a very large commercial garden. We grew garlic, berries, besides the fruit, and...

Making Genuine Connections Through Music...

By Jamie Zabel* Walking into the Musical Voice Lab for the first time is an intimidating experience. As a newcomer to the program, this is certainly what I felt at first. However, the actual experience, while it may press your boundaries, is nothing but uplifting. Sitting around the circle of participants and hearing the chatter of people around you, you can tell that friends have been made and that trust has been built. This is inevitably the result of the Musical Voice Lab’s fantastically warm and bubbly facilitator, Jane Perrett. Her open and inviting presence, as well as her willingness to help with even the simplest questions about voice, breaks down any walls that people might have coming into the program.  The Musical Voice Lab is a Skill Share project run by the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society (VACS) that aims to help people discover and develop their voices. As of now, participants meet once a month to learn songs from a variety of genres as well as vocal techniques. Jane is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano, meaning that she can hit the high notes with ease while also having a rich darkness to her tone. Performing has been a passion of Jane’s for most of her life, starting as early as high school where she would treat her classmates to performances of ABBA’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” and other popular songs. She would always be the first to volunteer whenever there was an opportunity to sing. While her first love is singing for people, Jane “always knew in the back of [her] mind that [she] wanted to teach.” When Keiko Honda, the president of VACS, approached her about running the Musical Voice Lab, she was hesitant but allowed the courage gained from her passion for...

Something to Dance About  ...

By Chloë Lai Photo courtesy of  Chloë Lai As I followed Keiko and the volunteers into the Beyond Music meeting space at the Musqueam Cultural Centre, I was greeted by the sound of lively chatter and haphazard violin-string plucking. Then one of the students spotted me and said, “Who’s that?” Good question.  It was something I’d spent the past two months (or the past 15 years, if I’m being completely honest) trying to find the answer to. I was fresh from a research trip to Borneo, where I had reached out to my paternal grandmother’s side of the family. She is Kadazandusun, an ethnic group indigenous to Kota Kinabalu in the Malaysian state of Sabah. My father and I drove all over her hometown of Penampang interviewing as many elders as we could find. We learned about cultural taboos, rituals surrounding birth, marriage and death, and hilarious flirtation techniques that involved licking fruit sap from someone’s neck.  Several of the elders we spoke with were related to us by blood or marriage, others were introduced to us by friends. More than half of them had never seen or heard of us. Regardless of whether they knew us or not, our shared ancestral connection meant that we were welcomed with open hearts at every turn.  As someone who’s spent over a decade in a city known for being aloof, I was overwhelmed at this reception. I was determined to find ways to keep that spirit of connection alive once I came back to Vancouver.  The Beyond Music students told me that their favourite thing about the program so far was learning to play the violin. One of the students even held her violin case in her arms throughout the entire session. Since music is one...

More Than Just Teaching...

By Susan Tsang Photography by Kenta Moike John Yan—an aspiring violinist and an UBC integrated science major—arrived at Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society (VACS) office on a Monday afternoon, accompanied by an electric violin after his practice session. Before his interview, he played a little to show how the electrical instrument differentiates from the traditional violin. He explained that playing both of the instruments are the same, but their sounds vary because the electric violin would only come to life with the amplifier. Even though the electric violin barely made any sound, John could not help but fiddle with it.  John playing the electric violin mirrored his first experience with the violin thirteen years ago. “I don’t know (why I liked the violin, because) in the beginning, I didn’t even make any sound. I just felt it was pretty cool.” John had embarked on a soulful path with music in a more or less ordinary way: his parents wished that their child would learn an instrument. Under their encouragement, John fell into the embrace of music briefly before piano proved to be a chore. Fortunately, violin was challenging but fun. “Violin is definitely my go-to instrument,” said John. He was grateful that he would have a chance later down the road to share his music and knowledge with other young kids who might not had the same opportunity as he did. His chance arrived when he was going through his toughest time adjusting his lifestyle to the university life during the first year.  John expressed the challenges of playing violin after graduated high school: “I joined the UBC Orchestra. Since I’m not a music major and didn’t know many people, I felt a disconnection between me and them.” He needed the human connection in the...

Rule #1: Gerard Satamian Followed No Rules In Composing Classical Music...

By Susan Tsang As I was expecting to enjoy a queue of singers performing their pieces at the Opera Zone, I was thoroughly impressed already by the first performer Gerard Satamian’s En Sourdine. His buoying baritone voice lightly rode the sad wave of music that was accompanied by the piano. His melancholic composition from 2008 moved me and left an profound mark on my first experience with classical singing. I was compelled to talk to him about composing music and being a musician in Vancouver.  Growing up in Beirut, Lebanon, Gerard had the support of his family to hone his musical talent even hough they might not have been rich in resources. He had studied in the Beirut National Conservatory of Music when he was thirteen-year-old and earned his piano Master degree at Gomitas Conservatory of Music in Yerevan. After Gerard had moved to Vancouver in 1989, he continued to perform and went on releasing albums Canada, Mon Amour (2010), Frisson Infini (2010),  Forget Me Not (2009), Flowers and Thorns (2004), and Dry Fig Trees (2004). Gerard proved that artists can create outside the box, even in the strict, prestige world of classical music. How is being a musician in Vancouver different from being a musician in the Middle East and other places that you lived in? Gerard Satamian: Vancouver is such a beautiful place. It inspires you to paint if you’re a painter; to compose if you’re a musician. It has such a high standard of life here. I was in LA for awhile, and it wasn’t inspiring. I couldn’t last long so I came back here. I missed all the beautiful mountains, nature, and the ocean. These are inspirational.  Can you tell me what inspired you to write Barcarolle Triste (another of Gerard’s...

One Voice Amongst Many – Lilia D’Acres Remarkable Journey ...

By Lara-Sophie Boleslawsky Photo Courtesy of Lilia D’Acres It was completely unplanned. Soft rays of sunlight were filtering through the windows of the Dunbar Community Centre and the lobby found itself filled with a diverse group of women, all of whom continue to be avid participants of the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society’s Creative Weaving Workshop. Perhaps through some form of Fate, her deft hands always intervening in life, I soon found myself meeting and conversing with local author, Lilia D’Acres. The setting was loud, as women continued to weave and talk amongst themselves, and small children roamed the room, crashing and playing with any items their surroundings seemed to proffer, and yet it seemed our conversation never wavered, never warbled, never faltered. What struck me most about Lilia was the care and craft she took in deliberating and delivering her answers. We seemed to be forming a narrative through our dialogue, worthy of being written in ink. Passions seemed to erupt, as we touched on the power of English literature, the tasks and troubles of the writer and a few of Lilia’s ongoing projects.  Before composing her first book, Lilia taught writing and literature classes to many diverse groups of individuals. While happy to be fostering such supple minds, Lilia mused, “I didn’t get the chance to write.” This realization spurred her movement towards writing books, and eventually she transitioned from the classroom into this new creative venture. Her first work, described as “onerous” by Lilia, chronicles the building and development of Vancouver’s most iconic landmark. Entitled, Lions Gate, the non-fiction piece delves into the stories behind this bridge; following multiple threads of thought, the book soon becomes a beautiful tapestry of Vancouver history. In Lions Gate, Lilia explores issues and themes such as the...

A beauty which transcends time...

“The gift of art is that it allows anyone to express themselves in their own way.” – Richard Marcus By Leonni Antono Richard Marcus, the president of the Sculptor’s Society of BC, is one of the pioneering sculptors who works with mammoth ivory. With great artistic insight and creative vision, he draws on its exoticism to transform it from its discoloured and ancient state into modern masterpieces brimming with unique antiqueness. When working with this unusual type of ivory, Richard combines the use of semi-precious stones, gold alloy and exotic hardwood for embellishment, and the obsolete prehistoric material is reborn as inimitable mosaic artworks – beautiful syntheses of the past and the present.  Every day, Richard works up to sixteen hours in his cozy art studio to create an array of magnificent sculptures and artworks one after another, from porcelain-like plaques of breathtaking scale, to stylish aesthetic bracelets that are individually crafted. Stepping into Richard’s workplace and beholding his artworks, one would be overcome by a sense of awe inspired by the splendor they exude: each of them is unique like no other, an assembly of patterns of different shapes and sizes that bespeaks of its own artistic tale. Even to the untrained eye, it is obvious that they are exquisitely the product of immense effort and dedication.  One of the reasons for their uniqueness is perhaps the unusual type of ivory used – mammoth ivory – instead of the comparatively more common elephant ivory. Compared to elephant ivory, mastodon ivory are shattered and less consistent due to the weathering of time, and stained by the minerals in the soil in which they were buried in. As to why Richard chose the more ancient and unstable ivory, it is because using elephant ivory goes...

Plant Your Flowers on a Canvas: A Colloquium with the Artists In the Garden...

By Susan Tsang Photography by Kenta Motoike Artists In the Garden hosted by the Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society was not all about organic pies and fresh Italian pizza made straight from the Kits CC Collaborative Garden, rather it was a celebration of “Eye of The Beholder”.  This was the second year that Artists In the Garden a perfect addition to the Kits CC’s Summer Garden Party.  This year’s theme entitled, “Suggestions From Nature,” brought together a group of seven local artists, both amateur and professional, to showcase their arts that had drawn inspirations from everyday’s life. The beautiful day outdoor and the pleasing paintings were enhanced by the vibrant edible plants at the background and energized any visitors dropping by. Artworks were everywhere around us. Artists could be spotted in all walks of life.  “I did painting when I was in highschool, but then I stopped. I went into another field (law),” said Sylvia Andrews while she stood in front of her group of distinctive floral paintings. “I didn’t have time to do it. It’s better painting during the day when you have natural daylight coming into the room. If it’s at night it can be a lot more difficult to really see what you are doing.” Sylvia’s story mirrored with other artists who were present. They truly proved that artists exist everywhere. Renetta Nagel was an interior designer. Marilyn Bowman was a clinical psychiatrist. And Georgia used to be a registered nurse. Some of them could only reunite with their passion again after retirement. There were also the ones who found their passion for arts later in life and were already owning their styles after painting for six or seven years. Their effort and talent were admirable. There was always room for growth and to discover hidden skills regardless of how...

Interview with Patrick Colvin, Permaculturalist, Engineer, Urban Farmer...

By Sean Yoon A lifestyle that promotes healthy living by integrating nature into our daily lives, permaculture is an ongoing dialogue in our community. Last summer, Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society, or VACS began its permaculture project around Vancouver called placemaking, transforming public spaces like front boulevards into gardens. One of these spaces was a front boulevard site converted into a pollinator garden on 23rd and Mackenzie.  VACS has begun a new permaculture project for this year called Permaculture InAction. As one of the project’s leaders, Patrick Colvin was born and raised in a small city in Northern Ontario. He then went on to complete his bachelors of honours in engineering at Queen’s University in South Ontario. Throughout his degree, Patrick was discovering and wanting to address issues that are currently afflicting our society. In particular, he was concerned with the environmental issues arising from the chemical industry, which in many cases, has produced chemical waste destructive to our environment. The city of Sarnia in Southern Ontario for example, close to where Patrick studied, is a region that is host to numerous chemical facilities. And in Sarnia, there is a river called the St. Clair River that has a history of having chemical waste being dumped into it by local chemical facilities. The St. Clair River is currently still being listed as an area of concern because of chemical pollutants.  “Permaculture is interesting because it provides an alternative way of thinking. It’s a different way of looking at what we do as a people on the planet. It brings together plants, our land and us as stewards of the land – it allows us to reimagine this world that we live in. For me there’s a lot to learn about and I feel like I...

Exploration of Our True Voices: The Beginning of the VACS Musical Voice Lab...

By Susan Tsang “Skillsharing” might sound like a strange, and even confusing term when you first stumbling upon it. To simply put, people skillshare when they exchange their skills with one another, whether they are singing, improvise acting, or cooking. Skillshares is only a part of a bigger picture of connecting the community through meaningful interactions. Vancouver Arts Colloquium presents a series of skillshares workshops that link people in one place to build our skills as well as the community. On June 18, as soon as the Upcycling Fabric workshop led by the creative Colleen Rhodes had been completed, people trickled into the room for the Musical Voice Lab to learn from the skilled Dramatic Soprano Jane Perrett. Our group consisted a wide range of people aged from ten to sixty but we openly shared our experiences (or lack of experiences) with one another. We got to know each other as past choir members, curious people, some who had taken lessons before and ceased singing for years, and I belong to the last group. Like everyone else, I was excited to pioneer the unexplored territory of our voices. Most of us had found out about the workshop through Jane. We were attracted to her uplifting voice and exhilarating opera performances. Along with her friend Leo (also a singer and an instructor) who played the piano and offered tips, we were set to generate music together. First, we touched base with the basic Italian “i” (pronounced “e”). Jane instructed that saying “i” correctly is the foundation of singing; knowing how to imitate properly with our voices is helpful for beginners to polish the basic skills. The process was a novel and interesting one because it was like learning a new language, we tightened our lips...

Michael (Mikhail) Pertsev and His Moving Sculptures...

By Susan Tsang For Artists In Residence (AIR) Series session 104, the guests transform Keiko’s cozy home to a salon that is of fluid conversations and ideas while appreciated the vegetarian lasagna and wine. The guests who have already attended the previous sessions are welcoming to everyone, including the first-timers like myself. Amongst the new guests, there are Misha’s students who come for their teacher’s presentation. Michael (Mikhail) Pertsev is a figurative sculptor from Moscow, Russia. He has a studio at Parker Street and teaches at Emily Carr University. He inspires his students to master their skills in sketching and sculpting. They would practice their drawings because Misha likes to make drafts on paper before sculpting. But the one who has a significant presence in Misha’s life is his father who was an artist from the Soviet Union. Misha’s story begins with his father’s artwork, drawing inspiration from the arduous times of the Communist Soviet Union. Seeking to capture the oppressive lives of the Soviet labourers on canvas, his father’s works were marked by strong strokes of dark green, red, and other saturated colours. The images left an impressionable imprint from the distinct lines that are sharp and angular to the subjects’ eyes that are hollowed out by black shade. Yet Misha’s father was not only an artist but also a part of the browbeaten citizens who needed to have his voice heard. He wished to draw the spine-breaking domestic lives of the Russians instead of the style of multi-figure, male-centric artworks. While his piece of drawing might have been controversial since it reflected the reality of the iron-fist governance, his intrinsic disposition to his cultural background made the occurrence of that drawing to be almost inevitable.             Under the influence of his father,...

The Opera Zone

By Lara-Sophie Boleslawsky (Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society) Photos by Noriko Nasu-Tidball Walking in, one is greeted by a jovial atmosphere; the afternoon sunlight filters into the room, illuminating the dark wood of the piano at the front of the room. There is a small buzz, with the audience waiting in anticipation for the concert to begin. We begin with the classics: Jane Perrett’s soprano voice is soars as she sings ‘Quando Me’n Vo’, teasing her lover as Musetta in Puccini’s La bohème. It is then Gerard Satamian’s turn to take the stage, and the tone immediately shifts as he laments love in Poulenc’s heartbreaking ‘Les chemins de l’amour’. Each performer embodies not only their respective characters, but also the songs themselves. It is a truly magnificent spectacle, and the brief intermission is needed, if only to refresh after the emotional outpour of each performance.      Indeed, we are treated not only to Jane Perrett and Gerard Satamian’s brilliant voices, but also to breathtaking piano instrumentals by Jane’s son, David. Performing classics such as Chopin’s ‘Prelude in B Minor’ and Beethoven’s first movement of ‘Leichte Sonate in G Major’ he brings a voice to these songs, flitting about the room as if truly alive.      Following the intermission is a brief performance by mezzo soprano Ayako Komaki. She beams brightly before beginning her performance, only to transform before our very eyes, becoming the tragic Queen Dido, mourning her own lamentable future whilst singing ‘When I am Laid in Earth’. The intensity present in the room soon reconstructs, with Jane Perrett’s rendition of the classic Disney tune, ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’, whereupon everyone is urged to join in. Continuing along this nostalgic frame, Gerard Satamian ends the concert with ‘If I Were A Rich Man’...

The Theatrical Threshold – An Interview with the Innovative Minds behind Umbral...

By Katherine Dornian (Vancouver Arts Colloquium Society) Photo Courtesy of Salome Nieto In a quiet, bare studio at the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, I watch Salome Nieto being born. Her movements are slow and deliberate, full of pause. She falls into herself and then unfolds, slowly, evoking something fragile and primeval, facing the world for the first time. Behind her, poet Shauna Paull approaches with deliberate steps. In a shy, vaguely singsong voice, she speaks of water, light, and my mind leaps to the quiet of a first creation. In the background, original music plays, vaguely evoking Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Shauna watches Salome’s transformation, watches as she looks around in wonder and fear. Soon Salome embraces her, childlike and seeking comfort, and a deeply intimate connection is established before she is sent back out on her own to discover. All this time, producer Eduardo Menesses has been scribbling away at his notes, muttering quietly with the lighting and sound directors. When the song ends, he calls Salome over to work out some transitions, then asks her genuinely, what she felt while performing the scene. So has this process gone for over a year and a half – this constant cycle of meditation, observation and dialogue that’s gone into the production of Umbral. “It grows organically out of what we have to say,” says Salome. “It’s not about a product; we’re working together to create an experience.” The production, co-created by Salome and Eduardo with the help of their close-knit community of artists, is a reflection on human nature, as well as a commentary on the reality of war. It integrates an interdisciplinary mix of poetry, video, music and visual arts to support the core element of the show and Salome’s strongest talent, butoh...

Landscaping the Issue of Economic Inequality: An Interview with Dr. Krishna Pendakur...

By Sean Yoon Photos by Noriko Nasu-Tidball Born and raised in Kerrisdale through the late 70s, Dr. Krishna Pendakur can be described as someone whose work speaks about his passion towards helping this country, this city he grew up in and this world in which economic inequality represses the poor. Dr. Krishna Pendakur is currently a professor of economics at Simon Fraser University. His work in economics fundamentally seeks to develop a toolkit to describe and measure efficiently the landscape of social issues impacting our well-being such as economic inequality, discrimination, and poverty.   It was during his bachelor studies in sociology at UBC when Krishna ventured towards a 4th year course title in economics which was welfare economics. This course introduced the economic aspects to the issues of social welfare and economic inequality that Krishna had been interested in for a long time. His interest in economics grew, eventually leading to his doctoral studies at UC Berkeley. Krishna’s research at the time was focused on the distribution of income vs. the distribution of consumption and on the measurement of household characteristics such as the cost of raising children, which you need to know in order to measure the distribution of income or consumption. In particular, if you want to measure inequality and the data you have is household-level data, then you need to have some way of comparing apples and oranges, like families with children to families without children. They have different needs so if they have more money it doesn’t mean that they’re better off; you have to have a way to scale or deflate household incomes per household characteristics.   Much of Krishna’s research was done in collaboration with his brother Dr. Ravi Pendakur, a professor in the Department of Public...

“Great Clothing Starts with Great Fabric.” Andy Yuen Couture Clothing...

By Sean Yoon Photos by Noriko Nasu-Tidball On the corner of West 4th Avenue and Stephens Street is a clothing business that strives to produce premium quality men’s casual/dress shirts, jeans, suits, coats and accessories personally tailored to meet your needs and fit you comfortably. A clothing label which began in 2002, this brand is Andy Yuen Couture, where Couture stands for tailoring using superior quality fabrics and materials. Alongside the use of premium materials is the quality of customer service with a focus on person to person, face to face interaction that is provided by Andy Yuen, who is currently functioning as the tailor, designer and CEO for the brand. Andy asserts that, “Great clothing starts with great fabric.” The Andy Yuen Couture label uses high quality fabrics such as Supima and Egyptian Giza 45 or 87 cottons carefully selected for their softness, strength and lustre, or brilliance of colour. New pure wools are also used, which are chosen for their long staple yarns, double twisted and milled in Italy for superior durability. In addition, they are certified to be clean and skin friendly. For Andy, clothing can often be described in terms of taste, where he says, “With food, you pay for the quality of taste and in clothing, it’s the feel and touch.” Andy devotes himself to bring awareness to and educating customers about the advantages in quality that premium fabrics can provide. Andy Yuen was 3 years old when he arrived in Canada with his family from Hong Kong. Having settled in a small town in the prairies with a population of around 1100 people, Andy’s father was looking for tailoring jobs as he was an experienced tailor by profession, but there simply were no opportunities available at the time....

VIFF’s The Devout Dives Into Reincarnation and Belief...

By Katja De Bock Have you ever been in a situation of déjà vu before? Have you sometimes recognized places, tastes, smells or faces even though you’re sure you’ve never seen them in your life? In your present life, that is.   When Vancouver Island filmmaker Connor Gaston was four years old, he told his parents that in a past life, he was a carpenter named Peter, and fell off a roof. Gaston grew up in a Christian household and his parents had their faith challenged when they started looking into their son’s stories.   Some twenty years later, Gaston, an accomplished director of short films, researched cases of presumed reincarnation for a feature film screenplay.   The result, the buzz-making BC feature film The Devout, premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) on October 2nd and director Connor Gaston promptly won the BC Emerging Filmmaker Award at the festival.   “I’ve always been interested in supposed accounts of reincarnation, and in theories about the afterlife in general,” says Gaston. “I read about a specific case where a little boy remembered a past life with incredible detail. He grew up in a Christian household and the parents had their faith challenged when they started looking to their son’s stories. This crisis of faith the family faced was so enticing to me. ‘What a great premise,’ I thought. The idea of reincarnation is so prevalent in society’s hive mind, but there really aren’t many movies about it. So I started writing.”   The Devout follows a young, devoted Christian family in a small Bible belt town, where the unthinkable happens. Darryl and Jan’s four-year-old daughter, Abigail, has terminal cancer with only weeks to live. Bedridden at home, Abi, while playing with her rocket ship toy, mumbles...

Piecing her world together...

By Amy Cheng Photos Courtesy of Joanne Nakonechny   Art is not just about those usual paintings that hang on our walls. Rather, art is a way of understanding and unraveling how people piece their worlds together, with the medium being infinite. For Joanne Nakonechny, an avid connoisseur of textiles, this is especially true.   Joanne’s appreciation with textiles dates back to her childhood and that hasn’t dimmed. “While growing up, my mother regularly knitted and sewed, and in turn, she taught me how to cross-stitch, knit, and sew,” she fondly recalls. Additionally, she also has an aunt who is a weaver. Despite being well over ninety years of age, her aunt is still enthralled by the different perspectives in using Ukraine colours and patterns into her material work. ”It’s so incredibly inspiring,” Joanne gushes. Being surrounded by all those materials and inspirations involved in her mother’s and her aunt’s creative processes since young, her nascent fascination with textiles only grew. The more she wove, the more ideas came to her. And before she knew it, she was enamoured by a euphoric sense of freedom.   “I’m not only working with my hands, but I’m also working with various colours and my mind—thinking of the endless possibilities to the patterns. And within those frameworks, there is this constant rewarding engagement with chaos, which I just love,” she adds. “I understand that this can be overwhelming, but as long as you maintain within the weave structures, you have a hundred degrees of freedom. And this freedom is exactly what enables you to explore and find yourself within those very structures and boundaries,” Joanne explains. After all of her years of working with textiles, Joanne is still discovering herself in the process. For her, working with...

Tetsu Taiko

By Ellen McLaren Photos: Noriko Nasu-Tidball   Drums almost all handmade, leather skins are stretched taught across recycled wine barrels, wood still fragrant. In North America, this is the norm among taiko, percussionists finding it more practical to make their own drums than import them from Japan, where the prices run much higher. Since his entrance into the taiko world, Doug Masuhara has joined the ranks of BC drum makers. His odaiko, the largest taiko drums, sound rich and deep, craftsmanship clearly on par with musicality. Not that Doug would ever say so himself. Despite his success with taiko – establishing his own performing group, Tetsu Taiko, and managing several practicing circles – Doug remains exceptionally humble. He attributes many of his accomplishments to the hard work of his daughters, without whom he may have never tried out taiko drumming at all. Until 2000, taiko had no presence in Doug’s life. A Vancouver native, Masuhara is sansei, third generation Japanese Canadian. Growing up, he mostly connected with his Japanese heritage through his grandparents. Other than that, however, his homelife remained fairly western in nature. Certainly, traditional Japanese drumming was not something frequently heard. It was only fifteen years ago, at the Steveston Buddhist Temple, that Doug had his first introduction to taiko. In a workshop led by Shinobu Homma, of Chibi Taiko, a Burnaby based drumming group, Doug began his taiko lessons. Initially organized for children at the temple, “I was the only adult there,” he says, “and I was the most nervous!” They practiced mostly on car tires, using bachi drumsticks, also homemade from wooden dowelling.             Under the tutelage of Shinobu and his assistant instructor Naomi Shikaze, for two and a half years Doug, his daughters, and a handful of other students...

Artist Robert Naish: Found and Pinned...

            By Patrick McGuire Photo credit: Noriko Nasu-Tidball, Keiko Honda, & Albin Sek              If spray paint is the brush of the times then the stencil artist is king.               Banksy and Shepard Fairy are among the most popular and influential artists in the world and the street art movement they’ve lead has created the images that have captured the spirit of our times. Both honed their craft on the streets, using stencils and spray paint to reflect and shape their urban environment. Robert Naish is not a street artist because that is not where he shows his art, but his stencils are from the street but his art encompasses the whole urban environment.                Naish finds his stencils everywhere. In thrift stores, junk shops, roadside stands and garages sales, they are the fly swatters, the kitchen tools, the plastic railroad tracks and children’s toys, the ones we throw away, the ones with interesting shapes that he can pin to the canvas and spray. He uses them for their shapes, for the lines they create when he places them with precision. He sprays on top of them with bright colors on giant canvasses to create intricate works that are stunning to behold. He has thousands of stencils to choose from.               “It’s endless,” says Naish, “I have more stencils than I could use in a dozen lifetimes. The things people throw away are like gold to me.”   Naish first began to paint with stencils and spray guns after painting extensively with oil and brush and exhausting all his ideas with them. He needed to do something different and found his answer in the city around him.               “Stencils allow me...