“…then wind your way along a cliff-side road that drops precipitously down to the Atlantic Ocean, take a few more hair pin turns, and then just as you are about to go flying off into oblivion turn left at the yellow vehicle into the driveway of the lime green house and park in front of the yellow piano!” Huh? Yesiree, I definitely embellished the directions from that email, but that (more or less) was one of our first introductions to Cara and Pam and a glimpse into their world of colour and whimsy. Truth be told, it is a scenic route to The Grumpy Goat Gallery that overlooks the vast Atlantic Ocean with breathtaking views that have caught not only whales and porpoises cruising by but also ice bergs at one time or another, all to be seen from their panoramic porch.
After our loud Arty Farty van pulled up in front of the yellow piano, we got out and strode up their front porch expecting to see them. They were nowhere to be seen. Hmmm, what’s this sign? “Hi! Please Honk the Horn For the Studio” So we did. Honk! Honk! And then like magic, there they appeared! I can’t help but feel that we were the lab rats of the day, observing us to see if we would go back to our vehicle to honk Arty’s horn. Preposterous you say? It is a fate befallen by more than one unsuspecting gallery visitor as you will read in Cara’s blog (play dark and scary music).
I will let you in on a little secret! Maybe this shouldn’t get out! Am I jeopardizing their business? Well, here it goes anyway! We found absolutely NO grumpiness at The Grumpy Goat Gallery in Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland and Labrador! Gasp! There, I said it! On the contrary, although we did meet their pygmy goats Rose and Sophia (and they aren’t grumpy either!), our meeting with affable artists Cara and Pam was filled with laughs, puns and hilarious stories of the lovely people that they encounter coming through the doors of their gallery. As a matter of fact, most of the gallery visitors are incited to smile, chuckle, or outright laugh as they notice the colourful and creative creations with often comical connotations displayed on the walls, floors, tables, or hanging from the ceiling. You don’t have to take my word for it though. Peruse the blog stories for The Grumpy Goat Gallery and you will see not only their wonderful mixed media creations, but also the creative comedic writing that is another forte complimenting the award winning mixed media work of Cara and Pam.
Cara is the self-taught artist that walks hand-in-hand with the child within her, looking at life with the curiousity, wonder and humour of a little girl and expressing it in her paintings. This gives her the gift of uninhibited expression. Pam is the self-taught carver and woodworker extraordinaire. We were stunned to learn that not only was she an incredible carver, but also built the woodworking shop, painting studio, goat barn and the house extension for the gallery all without a stick of training. The colourful fusion of the union between Cara’s historical and whimsical look at Newfoundland’s people, places and events and the three dimensional effect of Pam’s woodworking is nothing less than magical.
Click on the images below for a full view:
Join us with the voices of Cara and Pam as they tell us their story. Don’t be shy to leave a comment!
Don Smith came walking up to our van in the Mossbank campground and introduced himself as a friend of the folks camping next to us. How did we know them? They had recognized our van Arty from the Moose Jaw Walmart parking lot where we camped the night before, and finding out about our quest for artists from a chat with Corinne, thought of Don who is a bird carver. It’s funny how one thing always seems to lead to another, and I’m sure that synchronicity will be the most overused word that we put on our pages over the next few months, and certainly the most appropriate!
Don’s family had settled in Mossbank in 1941 and so Don was a wealth of historical facts pertaining to the area including the tale of Old Wives Lake and the Cree-Blackfoot battle, the air force training base that was there from 1941 to 1944, and the mountainous snowfall in February of 1947 that blocked the railroad to such an extent that they had to bring in a giant “snow blower” to cut a swath down the tracks. Don graciously showed us around the area including his home where he had fascinating documents, photos and paraphernalia from these historic eras gone by. And he even shared a joke or two!
He also showed us the remarkable carvings of birds that he displays throughout his house. Don’s foray into this art form started with his father who was a bird hunter, and who would document his birds by carving them. His work was extraordinary and he won many awards. When he had carved a goose and attracted a buyer for it that set the stage, and now Don has become an accomplished carver of birds in his own right and has won an award for an extraordinary Ruffed Grouse which is on display in the Shurniak Art Gallery in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. Technology and materials have changed since Don’s father’s time and so now instead of painting on the feather details, Don can actually burn in the feathers using a hot iron and then paints the proper colouration.
Please enjoy these photographs of Don’s bird carvings as much as we enjoyed meeting and spending some time with Don and sharing with us his artistic passion. Please click on the three thumbnails below to view the birds in their entirety:
Above: Recently completed stunning Wolf and Hummingbird urn box.
James Michels is a Cree/Metis artist that pulls himself between his longstanding passion and experience as an accomplished musician, and his newer passion for creating and perfecting his Bent Cedar Box works of art. It was through his six years of journeying on the road playing music with his band within the pacific northwest that he came across the expert carvers and bentwood box makers that he would observe for hours on end and learn the skills and art form.
I had never heard of a bentwood box before until I stumbled upon James’ website. After looking at the magnificent boxes and panels, the uniqueness and beauty were evident, but there were many unanswered questions such as “where did they originate?”, “what are they used for?”, “are they still used today?”.
What exactly is a bentwood box? The best explanation is an excerpt from James’ site:
“Bentwood boxes are one of the most outstanding items manufactured by Native people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, including parts of southern Alaska, western British Columbia and southern Washington. Made by kerfing and steam bending a single plank to form four sides, the containers with a height greater than their width are called boxes, while those with a length greater than their height are referred to as chests. Historically, boxes came in various sizes from small (measured in inches) to massive (large enough to provide seating). Some undecorated, others carved or painted or both. The highly decorated ones were symbols of wealth. Fishermen used boxes shaped to fit into their canoes to carry tackle and supplies. Some were used for cooking (filled with water and hot stones) while others were used for storage of food, clothing, tools, or supplies.”
As an addition to the uses for bentwood boxes, James said that he has been getting requests for urn boxes, one of which he was just finishing up when we visited with him. One of the urns that James was asked to create was from a family that lost their little boy. The song below that James wrote and performed is a dedication to that young boy.
Click on the player below to hear “I Will Be The Moon” by James Michels.
I Will Be The Moon
Join us below with James in his workshop as he demonstrates the fine wood craftmanship of making bentwood boxes:
These wood creations are a taste of things to come from the Lethbridge, Alberta master craftsman Daryll Duus, a title given not from his own words but rather from his own work. He has created an array of fine works of art such as a symphony orchestra quality violin, ukeleles, book shelves, chess sets, a small sailboat, a kayak, various boxes for various uses, hand planes, our own bistro table and chairs made from cherry wood and black walnut, an armoir, bedroom dressers and bed frame, and the list goes on and on.
I don’t think there is anything that Daryll couldn’t make out of wood except maybe a NASA space shuttle but even then I wouldn’t count him out! A Renaissance man of sorts, Daryll is also mostly a self taught musician with his own Blues Band, an avid and knowledgeable gardener with specialty’s in many different types of tomatoes and peppers, and generally a great guy to have in your back pocket should you ever get lost in the woods; he could tell you which worms, roots and bugs to eat to stay alive! For more on Daryll and his woodwork please take a look at our interview with him.
I met Jack and Glenda while shopping on Kijiji for a pressure canner. As luck would have it, I found one and I also found Jack and Glenda. Most purchases I have made off of Kijiji have been uneventful for the most part except for this occasion. Jack and Glenda are a retired couple who keep themselves busy in the garden, and puttering around the house. When Gary and I met them, we got to sample some wonderful cherry tomatoes and Jack introduced us to his eye catching hand turned wooden bowls and Ukranian bird houses (as Jack referred to them).
Glenda is the beauty and Jack is the brawn. Jack turns the bowls on his lathe machine in his well stocked shop out back and Glenda puts the finishing touches on them. The shine brings out the striking patterns and color in the different kinds of wood that Jack comes across. He even had us trying to guess at some of the wood. I have never seen yellow wood before and I mean lemon yellow. I guess the caragana bush is yellow. Who knew?
I couldn’t wrap my mind around how these bowls were made so I found myself asking Jack and Glenda if we could come back sometime when he was making a bowl so we could watch and see how it was done. They happily agreed. When we did come back not only did we get to see how Jack makes his bowls, he had us making our own. Gary was the brawn in this case as a lot of muscle goes into carving out a bowl. In the end we did walk away with our very own Corinne and Gary hand made bowl. Thanks Jack for taking the time!