Visual Artist Ladd Fogarty’s Life of Art and Inspiration

Visual Artist Ladd Fogarty’s Life of Art and Inspiration

"Muscowpetung Sage Woman" - acrylic on canvas

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up” – Pablo Picasso

“What the teacher is, is more important than what he teaches.” – Karl A. Menninger

Our featured interview with multidisciplinary fine artist and retired art teacher Ladd Fogarty of Emerald Park, Saskatchewan reminded me of the above quotes; our discovery of Ladd’s prolific teaching career and what he meant to his students, as well as his life-long passion for the arts and, like Picasso, an appetite for exploring multiple mediums. Although Ladd has been doing his art work for over thirty years now, it hasn’t been until these last eight years that he has truly taken on marketing his work as a professional artist. During the thirty years that he spent teaching students about the arts he fostered not only their creative gifts which led to their own artistic achievements, but he also forged enduring friendships with many of them.


What is it that makes a great teacher? When we asked Ladd he mentioned not only patience, humour and a diverse skill base, but also the ability to draw out of a person their creative abilities that they never realized was inside of them. One such student was David Benjoe, who was an art student of Ladd’s at age 17 and doubtful of his artistic abilities. Ladd would say to him, “David, please don’t sell yourself short, art is another way to achieve what you enjoy in life”. Then, through Ladd’s urging he agreed to be part of an outreach arts workshop program for the elementary schools in the area, which he loved. This was his first introduction to leading in a classroom setting. He went on to become a teacher himself and is now on the verge of attaining his Masters of fine arts interdisciplinary. David concludes, “I can honestly say that he was the major influence in the path I took after we met way back in the 1990s”.

"Protecting Purity" - birch burl, soapstone, buffalo bone

“Protecting Purity” – birch burl, soapstone, buffalo bone

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The diversity of Ladd’s artistic media came about from various avenues and influences. He attributes personal desire in determining whether he feels like painting at the moment or working with his hands on a 3d object, which may involve acrylic paints, clay, wood, glass or soapstone. It depends on what story he is trying to tell; it could come from the potters wheel or the painting easel. As an art teacher he also had to learn about and present a multitude of mediums for his students to experiment with. His early exposure to art included his mother who was an opera singer and musician and still plays the violin to this day (Ladd also played in a dance band for about 12-15 years until losing a finger five years ago). His grandmother was a painter and his grandfather played the piano. His father happened to be a carpenter that became a master wood-turner in his retirement and was a great teacher for Ladd.

"Parallel Worlds" - acrylic on canvas

“Parallel Worlds” – acrylic on canvas

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Within the wood and clay pieces that Ladd creates you will see striking designs of geometry, figures and symbols; the clay pieces adorned with acrylic paints adding a lustrous finish. For wood he will use accoutrements such as acrylic paints, stained glass, soapstone, buffalo bone, porcupine quills, as well as stones such as turquoise, pipestone, magnesite and jet black. With already the richness of the wood itself to catch your eye, be it maple, birch or cherry, the additional colours and design add a beautiful touch. Ladd notes that when he is working with wood or clay he uses more symbolism and has a tendency to explore more abstract concepts.

"On The Way To Puskwakau" - acrylic on canvas

“On The Way To Puskwakau” – acrylic on canvas

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To Ladd his paintings relay the inspiration he gains from his natural surroundings as well as the experiences of the people who are a part of it. Ladd has a deep connection to First Nations people and their culture and his work reflects that. One such piece is “Muscowpetung Sage Woman”; the painting featured at the top. This piece was created as a donation to a charity auction to raise money for shelters for women and children of domestic violence. It is a personal piece that shows a woman and child, his adopted First Nations daughter with her daughter, looking over her shoulder to an old woman picking sage, a symbolic gesture of acknowledging her ancestral roots. It represents part of the healing process for a difficult time that she was going through.

Turquoise on birch

Turquoise on birch

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We finished up our interview with a tour of the family home to video Ladd’s art work on display; the house itself a part of his artistic handiwork. We had the pleasure of getting to know Ladd’s wife Liz and their daughter Kaitlyn as we sat down to a lovely lunch that they prepared. A stroll through the yard and garden (where we gratefully accepted some veggies for the road) capped off a wonderful day with the Fogartys.

Enjoy our interview with Ladd and please share his interview on social media. If you are inclined to leave a nice comment for Ladd please submit it below.

Arlene Ness Explores Art Through Culture

Arlene Ness Explores Art Through Culture

Our destination for today was the Gitanmaax Reserve in Hazelton, B.C. where we were meeting with Gitxsan First Nations multi-medium artist Arlene Ness. Driving into this scenic area we were struck by the imposing mountains and lush forests with their breathtaking, resplendent autumn colours! It was easy to avert my eyes occasionally to glance up at them, if only for a second. Suddenly, flashing lights in our rear view mirror suggested we were now getting a police escort by the friendly RCMP of this quaint village; we didn’t even know they were aware of our arrival! As I snapped out of it I realized that I had missed a school sign during one of those brief sight-seeing moments, and the police officer’s intention was not one of fanfare. Luckily he gave me a warning and sent us on our way. Without further delay, but well within the posted speed limit, we were once again on our way to Arlene’s place to get to know this diversified and prolific fine artist.

Arlene in front of her Grizzly stained glass

Arlene in front of her Grizzly stained glass

Arlene says that she has been creating art in various mediums ever since she was a child. From following her mother’s and sisters’ examples, to loving high school art classes, to seeking expertise and education from renowned teachers, to undeniably her own drive and initiative, Arlene has never shied away from pursuing art forms that intrigued her. Life inspires Arlene, and depending on what peaks her interest be it her mood, the seasons, her family or nature, she may indulge her creativity in carving masks, stained glass, jewellery, paintings and drawings. She has even undertaken the enormous task of carving totem poles under the tutelage of master carver Earl Muldon. How does one person manage to spread her creative energy around to all of these disciplines and excel at them, on top of raising four children and teaching First Nations fine art at the community college? From what I observed of Arlene she has this zen-like calm about her and knows how to set boundaries and balance her life so all aspects work in harmony. With her art, she doesn’t try to force her creativity in any one direction, but rather she takes guidance from her environment, embraces how she feels and lets it come to her. She is the proverbial water flowing around the rocks.

Hummingbird Dreams

Hummingbird Dreams

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The beauty of Arlene’s fine art transcends all cultural boundaries. Her style reflects the traditional Northwest Coast Native Art form lines which she maintains strict adherence to when working on art forms of the crests and symbols of other clans. When working on her own family’s crest and symbols she allows herself more freedom to include her own contemporary designs and interpretations. She is of the Giskaast clan; the traditions, stories and ancestral knowledge being very important to her, and it is her desire to pass down that knowledge to future generations. Her art work is an expression of herself, her culture and of the love she has for her natural surroundings and all its inhabitants. Seeing one of Arlene’s beautifully carved masks, for instance, invokes curiosity about the meaning behind it, and one does not have to be of Gitxsan ancestry to appreciate the story it tells or marvel at the craftsmanship. Though the oral history of each clan (adaawx) that is shared with succeeding generations is of primary cultural importance to the clan itself, the art that Arlene creates is the physical heirloom of her ancestry but is there for all of us to appreciate and enjoy.

Learn more about Arlene and her art as Corinne chats with her. Feel free to comment below and share on social media.

The story of Copperhaired Woman in "The Return" above can be found on Arlene's website

“The Return”

The story of Copperhaired Woman in “The Return” can be found on Arlene’s website

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Darren Petersen – Artisan Glassblower

Darren Petersen – Artisan Glassblower

Riddle: What work can be done in shorts and a t-shirt and preferably during a frigid Alberta winter?
Answer: Glassblowing of course; standing in front of a 2300 deg Fahrenheit gas furnace!


Darren Petersen of Sparrow Glassworks has been working with glass for 23 years and independently making a living doing it for the past 15 years along with his wife Deborah who is also an artisan. While most Red Deer residents may be filling their garages with quads, snowmobiles and snow blowers, Darren and Deborah have filled theirs with a home based glass making studio replete with all the tools of the trade including two gas furnaces, one containing the initial crucible of molten glass, and the other for reheating to maintain malleability while working with the glass.


Darren gave us a demonstration of the glass blowing technique while I tried not to sweat on the camera in the penetrating heat of the furnaces. It was a marvel to watch him work with what is such a delicate and fragile substance in it’s hardened form, but while molten he could manipulate and shape it to his will. He made it look so easy; no doubt a result of his many years of practice, trial and error.

Feel the heat with Darren’s glassblowing demo below!

Darren notes that along with the conventional techniques learned for glassblowing that he has also figured out some of his own tricks to create desired effects. I’m sure thousands of years ago this practice would have appeared mystical, and my lack of understanding of the process from beginning to end certainly left me bewildered, especially once we entered the gallery. The contrast walking from his shop of steel, heat and sweat into the bright, quiet gallery with the finished, handblown creations of coloured and clear glass staring back at us was palpable! All around us were glass objects in the form of drinking vessels, vases, pitchers and ornamental pieces that left my mind struggling to comprehend how they ‘came to be.’


Darren says that there are virtually no limitations to what can be done with glass, and he actively seeks out new and interesting ideas to shape into glass. Not willing to be bound by the safe and well traveled routes through his glass creations, he says that his ‘multiple glassblowing personalities’ allows him to try various undertakings without the constraints of convention. Armed with the knowledge that glass has absolute properties in it’s heated and cooled states, it is quickly evident to him whether a particular experiment will work or not, and so he is not averse to improvising on the fly and an object of one intention may become another as the process unfolds. Regardless of what Darren’s next creation may be, he is always inspired by nature’s beauty as well as a purpose or interconnection of the piece for the appreciator.

From the furnace blast now to the finished glass!



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We hope you enjoyed our interview with Darren as much as we did and please feel free to leave a comment below!

Robert Moeller – Capturing Nature in Photography and Glass

Robert Moeller – Capturing Nature in Photography and Glass

It’s pitch black outside and there’s not a sound to be heard; the only light penetrating the darkness are the billions of stars trillions of miles away on this cool, duvet-worthy night! Our resting place for this evening is at glass-work and macro-photography artist Robert Moeller’s home, an idyllic setting along the banks of the Gatineau River in Wakefield, Quebec. As a fellow Westy owner, Rob understands the more stark living conditions we may subject ourselves to, and so his gracious invitation for a place to park our van, shower and fill up on water was eagerly accepted.


Wakefield is a picturesque town that exudes charm and an atmosphere of relaxation in its natural setting along the Gatineau River. The forested shoreline futilely leans and reaches for the opposite side; the river only giving up it’s span to the brilliantly red, covered foot bridge which emerges as a focal point of the town. Within the beauty of it’s surroundings, it is also an intensely community-minded place, where residents can feel connected not only to nature, but to one another. With inspiration at your doorstep and at every turn, it is no wonder that this area is home to many artists, artisans and crafts people. These are the reasons that Robert chose to make Wakefield his home, and as he conveys images of paddling his canoe to the store to pick up groceries, or swimming in the river on a hot day, I can feel the tug of my own heart strings to this halcyon homestead.


Rob has been working with glass for thirty two years, but in the last seven his focus has shifted from working with stained glass to clear glass infused with colour from various metals, alloys and minerals such as copper, brass and mica. He has also incorporated plants such as ferns and horsetail. The effect is stunning, with the copper changing colour from brilliant blues to ruby reds depending on the number of firings in his kiln. The plants add the organic appeal with nature’s detail captured within the textured glass. Rob notes that he likes to explore his own backyard as well as traveling Westfalia style to other parts of North America to discover fresh ideas. This in part sparked the evolution from more traditional stained glass with its visual appeal to creating textures within the glass itself. Either way, nature is the inspiration behind Rob’s glorious glass work.


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Rob’s foray into macro-photography as an art form evolved from his lifelong interest in observing the world of small things and examining their textures. His shift from selling traditional photographs to his current montage style was a format inspired by an artist at an Ottawa art show. She was combining her paintings, mosaics and all her mixed media work within a montage design of same size squares. This was an “aha!” moment for Rob and the aperture on his lens has been wide open ever since! He combines various square photos of the same size and category into a larger rectangle or square. Ironically, Rob’s intent is for the viewer to be caught off guard by taking in the larger piece first from a distance, and then allow each person’s inquisitiveness to draw them in closer to find a surprise in each individual square. Rob’s goal for a viewers first impression is that the eyes are not drawn to any one picture, but that the individual photos create the overall effect. Once again nature is the prime target for Rob’s lens. The macro images not only allow him to capture nature at its smallest but also allows us to feel its texture with our eyes. What I enjoy about Rob’s work is that he is unfettered about delving into new arenas of creativity. He admits that he can get bored doing repetitive work and so he is always looking for new ways to direct his artistic channels. This can only bode well for his admirers and we certainly look forward to seeing more of Rob’s work!


Stained Glass Artist Emily Hyatt

Stained Glass Artist Emily Hyatt

Our foray into Minnesota was short and was really only a quick passage to the furthest southwestern corner of Ontario where we were in hot pursuit of finding an artist to interview right off the bat. It was not until Barwick, Ontario where we found Emily Hyatt. It was funny how we found her. We stopped to look around the little community of about one hundred residents. Our luck with places to park ourselves and Arty for the night wasn’t working out so well at the point of our stop and so we decided to move on. As we turned back onto the highway, I looked over and noticed the blue plastic outhouse and then Gary saw some picnic tables. We discussed whether or not we should turn around until we reached the outskirts of town and decided it might be worth a look. It turns out we found ourselves looking at the “District of Chapple Complimentary Campground” sign which even included nice cold fresh water and electricity. What a glorious find!

Our other glorious find was walking into the local restaurant to inquire about artists in Barwick and having two nice ladies point us in the direction of Emily Hyatt, the local stained glass artist. They helpfully told us where we could find her and off we went to introduce ourselves. We met Norm, Emily’s husband, who regretfully delivered the news that Emily was away at a workshop in Miami, Manitoba. Norm invited us in and gave us a quick tour of some of Emily’s work and we decided it was worth our while to wait for her return. This was on Saturday, so on Sunday we had a great opportunity to catch up on some work and on Monday we went to see Emily.

Click on the images below to view a large aspect.

Emily took her first stained glass course 32 years ago and has been looking through rose coloured glass ever since. Her desire to pursue the art of stained glass came out of a need to balance a demanding job. She fell in love with the colours, the possibilities and the people. She began working with artist Wayne Barron who is another local talented artist in the Barwick area. He used to teach with Norm at the school. Over the years Emily and Wayne have collaborated on many projects including 35 church windows and a memorial piece for Emily’s parents; Wayne does the design work and Emily brings it to life with the glass. The church windows are commissioned by individuals or families who want to commemorate or honour someone they love. Gary and I stopped to see the ten windows in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Emo as well as the one in the Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Frances.

Church Window

Like many artists, Emily is humble about her work and feels there is always so much more to learn. She does say that her particular talent lies in picking the colours of glass for a project. She sets the panes of glass in the windows of her studio to watch how the light hits them at all hours of the day. Sometimes the glass will dictate the next project or it will present itself as the perfect choice for a project or commission that she has already been thinking about. For Emily, sometimes this pondering and looking could take up to 2 years before any cutting and shaping even begin.

Fused Glass Bowl


Emily’s other talent lies in teaching her skills to other enthusiastic proteges. She loves to see that sparkle in their eye’s and know that they too caught the glass bug that she caught long ago. I would love to take a class from her someday!

After we finished chatting with Emily, we were invited to join her for a salmon sandwich, some tortilla chips with homemade salsa, yummy carrot cupcakes and some ice cream with fresh picked raspberries from their garden. Norm arrived home from a hard day at the golf course and we all enjoyed a wonderful lunch and a visit from a pair of Baltimore Orioles (the birds not the ball players). They are stunningly beautiful with their deep orange breast. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Emily and Norm and hope to go back someday for a visit and perhaps a little stained glass lesson for me.

Mosaic Bench

We welcome you to leave a comment for Emily!

Bodacious Beads for the Body and Soul by Andrea Symons

Bodacious Beads for the Body and Soul by Andrea Symons

The heartbeat of the human spirit is creativity. Many of us tend to think we aren’t creative but it is an element that is woven into the very matrix that makes us human in the first place. Sometimes it takes several attempts when exploring our own creativity before we find what “does it” for us.

Andrea Symons in her studio in Pemberton, B.C.

Andrea Symons is the first artist that we interviewed as we resumed our trek across Canada and she found her creative addiction in lamp work. Simply put, lamp work is a technique used to manipulate molten glass with a torch into beads and vessels. Every chance she gets, Andrea has been working on her art for the last eight years and there is no doubt she loves what she does. She lives in Pemberton, B.C., where even the most passive creative person would succumb to the beauty that is beholden here.

Andrea exudes a vibrancy that is expressed in her beads and she is quite willing to go down any road to explore new and exciting challenges. The day we met Andrea she was wearing a bead around her neck in the shape of the female torso. I never knew glass could look so sexy! Later when we were in her studio she shared with us the story of her friend who looked at her female torso beads and said “she’s not doing anything”. So after some discussion and some laughter, Andrea set out to put her female torsos to work and now you can find some of them wrapped around a pole. These are very popular with women who use poles as part of their exercise regime. Imagine that!

Bead Inspired from the Coastal Peoples Influence

On a more serious bead note, Andrea has wandered into the world of the Coastal First Nation peoples motifs and has given her own interpretation and style to a glorious series of beads. Her relationship with the people she knows and nature sets her inspiration on fire and it burns right into her beads.

Be sure to watch our interview with Andrea and a little demonstration on lamp work. As well, we welcome you to leave a comment for Andrea.

Meet Rabi’a – “Woman of Steel”

Meet Rabi’a – “Woman of Steel”

Rabi’a greeted us at her gate with a hello, a hug, and a request to help her flip over a twelve foot long sheet of ¼ inch steel cut into the shape of a woman. It was a glimpse at her next project; the woman of steel to be clad in colourful ceramic tiles. [See photo of “Dancing Myself” updated below and the sculpture on public display in Castlegar, B.C.] It was perhaps a fitting symbol of this “woman of steel,” as Rabi’a’s boundless energy was apparent while she toured us around her property. That energy has transformed what was once a bare lot on the Slocan River into a beautifully treed sanctuary and also home to her bed and breakfast, The Artful Lodger. You will find an experience of cozy strawbale cottages, a solar shower (trust me, it’s very hot!), organic gardens and orchard, a boardwalk to the Slocan River, and of course the eclectic one-of-a-kind garden art sculptures created by Rabi’a. As we walked around the property it was evident that her outdoor art sculptures were as much a part of the décor of her acreage as were the variety of abundant trees she planted, each piece lending its own personality to the surroundings.

From Rabi’a’s history of homesteading and permaculture she is clearly a do-it-yourself person. That trait has extended to not only building the boardwalk shown in the included photos, where she hauled in 120 used tires for the base of it, but also to learning how to weld. That skill, combined with her creativity led to the creation of “Huge and Foolish“, a piece shown in Castlegar’s Sculpture Walk 2011 and purchased by the Columbia Basin Trust which now has it on display in Castlegar, B.C. for everyone to enjoy.

The "Huge and Foolish" mold

"Huge and Foolish"

Our visit with Rabi’a concluded with a tour of her strawbale cottages and a nice cup of tea, scrumptious dried apples and intensely flavoured dried tomatoes in her welcoming home; these goodies post-harvest bounty from her garden and orchard. Thank you for your hospitality Rabi’a.

“Dancing Myself”

Please click here for a more extensive look at Rabi’a’s art and enjoy the last two photographs below of views from Rabi’a’s property. Please feel free to leave a comment in the “Leave a comment” section below.