Location: Calgary

Bryan Versteeg’s Art Is Out Of This World

Bryan Versteeg’s Art Is Out Of This World

I am undeniably in love with Earth! I love the plants, the animals (humans are animals too), the fish, the insects, the birds, the landscape, the seascape, the biodiversity, the interdependence and on and on. I love how I can breathe the oxygen rich air while walking through the Boreal Rainforest. I love how I can feel the sun, the rain or the snow on my face when I am outside. I find it difficult to describe the feelings that I have for Earth but I am sure some of you understand. My eyes are welling up as I type these words. This emotion comes from my consciousness and from my heart at the joy the earth gives to me every second of my day but it also comes from an awareness that Earth is dying. Whether you believe it to be because of some natural cycle and therefore there is nothing we can do about it, that it is dying at the hands of humans, or that it is not dying at all, that is for you to decide from your heart. By now you are probably wondering what all this has to do with art. Well, what if Earth gave its last gasp in the not so distant future? What would we do? Where would we live? How would we live? It is challenging for me to understand that it could be possible to inhabit another planet, like Mars for instance. But what if it were possible? What would that life look like?

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Orbital Space Station

Orbital Space Station

Bryan Versteeg is a conceptual design artist for space exploration who currently lives on Earth in Calgary, Alberta. He is the artist that gives clarity in visual form to what those answers to my previous questions might look like. Although I would not leave our little blue planet for the littler red one, there are many people who would. In fact, there is a space project underway called Mars One and so far two hundred thousand people have signed up for a one-way ticket to a new life. When might this all happen? Surprisingly enough, it could begin as soon as 2025.

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Without Bryan Versteeg’s detailed artwork I assume the idea of living on Mars would seem like another Star Trek episode to most people, and it would be a stretch to think this could become reality. Bryan spends countless hours researching his next image even before he sits down to his computer to start his design. Reading technical space exploration articles and what are called white pages from NASA, as well as consulting space exploration experts from around the world gives Bryan the information he needs to start to design a space habitat, meteor mining equipment or even a football stadium. Bryan’s relationship with his space exploration colleagues is one of mutual benefit. They have a vision of what needs to be built and the knowledge on how to overcome the extreme difficulties of living in such a foreboding environment, but the final piece to the puzzle in order to bring it all together for the average Earth citizen, and perhaps even themselves is Bryan’s ability to make it come to life with his designs and his final art pieces.

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Self-Sustaining Living Space

Self-Sustaining Living Space

Because I lean hard toward the preservation of life on Earth, I had many probing questions for Bryan on and off camera. I was especially curious about why he thought people would leave our planet instead of simply mending and healing the earth. But of course there is nothing simple about that. Bryan sadly stated that although he loves Earth as much as I do, he doesn’t believe that people will change. We have such wealth given to us courtesy of nature but it is strictly a one-way take relationship many of us have with Earth. On Mars there is nothing to take for granted like we do here, and being sustainable is a matter of life or death; on Earth it is still currently seen as optional. Bryan says that everyday is precious to him whether he is walking his dogs in the park on a frosty fall morning or delving into the next space design project. He lives in the present while keeping an eye on the future with an understanding that tomorrow may never come.

Mining Asteroids

Mining Asteroids

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Bryan’s art is a place where creativity coalesces with science. It is a melding of imagination and facts. Although Bryan is an artist his work, like the work of his scientist colleagues, is dictated by the constraints that outer-space places upon them. He is constantly thinking through every step as he designs and as he says the final result may never be the final result. For now it is really only his best guess. Bryan may find his designs in physical form with human inhabitants on Mars one day but for now they hang on the walls of those fascinated and enamoured with outer-space. To see more of Bryan’s work or to purchase an image of your future home on Mars visit his website at Spacehabs.com.

Please join us as Bryan talks more about his art and what drives him to create it. We appreciate your comments and to help spread the word about Bryan Versteeg on social media and through email. Thanks.

Frances Vettergreen – Poised to Paint

Frances Vettergreen – Poised to Paint

October 1, 2012, we dropped off Arty for his post X-Canada check-up, strapped on the camera bag, laced up our walking shoes and started heading for downtown Calgary to do our last interview of the year in our former hometown. We went to meet Frances Vettergreen in her studio located in Calgary’s beltline district.

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Frances is a painter working mainly in oils and cold wax. She refers to herself as a visual artist but there is much more to what meets the eye. Calgary is in the top five most sun drenched places in Canada and this affords an artist such as Frances plenty of clear days for exploring her surrounding prairie and mountain landscapes and storing away ideas for her next painting. She is always tuned in to her surroundings and although she may not recognize her experience as the catalyst for a painting at that moment, it lies dormant and when the time is right it bubbles to the surface. My first “visual” impression of her work was a stimulating experience as the brightly coloured shapes on the canvas left me wondering where she could have been and what she might have seen. Her work leaves me wanting more. More questions, more answers, more sensory stimulation.

Early Bartlett

Early Bartlett

Four Seckels

Four Seckels

I must admit my preference for visual art had a propensity to lean toward the more realistic representations of the world, but like all things we don’t understand art in the abstract is sometimes hard to appreciate. Humans are highly visual creatures and I, like many, stay in my comfort zone when it comes to some things, like art for instance. Gladly and as I had hoped, Frances opened my eyes to see beyond the obvious. Her paintings stood before me and gave me a taste and a feel for how abstract visual art encompasses solid creativity. It was joyful to be able to grasp that even in a small way. Now that I understand the abstract world of art a little bit more it has been like opening my eyes for the very first time. It is new, bright, big and exciting!

Please join us in our conversation with Frances Vettergreen. Comments are always appreciated!

Demonstration Forest

Demonstration Forest

Wildlife Photographer Garth Irvine

Wildlife Photographer Garth Irvine

Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

Above: Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

Garth Irvine’s artistic calling has certainly come to light as a noteworthy wildlife photographer, which is not to say that he wasn’t accomplished in the arts of stained glass or glass blowing (I say, you should see his Tiffany style lamps!). But considering that he has spent most of his working life as a Zookeeper and very experienced in the behaviour of animals, it only makes sense that those skills and knowledge would lend themself well to wildlife photography where anticipating an animals behaviour can muster up some pretty fine pictures!

African Elephants in Zambia

In addition to his Zookeeper career, Garth has also been leading ecotours through Nature Encounters Tours and Travel Ltd., which has been a vehicle to the venues for the breathtaking photos that you see throughout this post and his linked site. So hurry up everyone, book a tour with Garth so he can get out there and bring us more of those remarkable photographs from all over the globe!

Garth and a Lioness in the Ngorongoro crater in Tanzania

Armed with an arsenal of knowledge and his camera, Garth’s vivid photographs of these iconic gifts of nature invokes a feeling of “closeness” to them, and I can only wonder at the exhilaration, mixed with a certain amount of that instinctual fear of the unknown, that Garth must feel being so up close and personal with these magnificent animals on their home territory.

A Cheetah family in the Masai Mara in Kenya

Wildebeest in Amboseli National Park in Kenya

Adelie Penguin in Antarctica

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Be sure to join us for an engaging few minutes with Garth as he brings us closer to the animal world! And don’t forget, Comments are Cool!

Jack Sichewski — Hand Turned Wooden Bowls and Birdhouses

Jack Sichewski — Hand Turned Wooden Bowls and Birdhouses

Ukranian Bird Houses

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).

Calgary, Alberta

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!

Beautiful wood makes beautiful bowls