Location: Nova Scotia

Virginia McCoy Paints Stories of the Road Once Traveled

Virginia McCoy Paints Stories of the Road Once Traveled

Ever heard the expression “living in the moment”? Not to be confused with “living for the moment”. It is a simple phrase but very potent. It is the reason I can write about someone whom I met briefly a few weeks ago. I remember her face, her smile and the words she shared with me during and after her interview. She also reminded me of how living in the moment is how we connect with the world around us. So few of us spend time this way and unknowingly sabotage ourselves of some of the finest moments we could be experiencing in our life.

Photo Credit: Lindsey Vladyka

Her name is Virginia McCoy. She is a painter, an explorer and a time traveler. She lives in the moment of her own present and lives in the moment of other people’s pasts. Virginia walks many paths both spiritually and with the soles of her feet. She loves to walk on the road less traveled and the one that no longer is. Her prolific curiosity keeps her feet moving and her mind wondering who and what once lived in the moment in this space. When I asked her what she was looking for when she went walking she said it could be anything, but usually she is drawn toward an opening in the trees or between hills or rocks. Through nature’s looking glass she goes and finds herself traveling back in time. There are clues that let her know she is there; the ground beneath her is hard and the birch trees are queued up like fans waiting in line for much desired Rolling Stones tickets. This is a road from the past. It always leads her to somewhere. Does it lead her to a moment in her present or a moment in someone else’s past?

I can connect with Virginia in several ways and I hope when I look at her I am looking at myself 20 years from now. There are many so called luxuries in life and most of them are superficial. Virginia gives herself the gift of thinking deeply about the moments that come her way, she holds them within her and then when the time is right she shares them with the world in her paintings. Each brush stroke and colour choice is chosen from the moments she has collected in her life. Her paintings are an abstract representation of a very real experience, either of her own or of someone elses whose life she has pieced together from walking the road they once walked. It is an expression of her senses and what they tell her is happening or has happened.

Click on the images below to view a larger perspective.

In today’s society most people don’t have the time to think deeply about what is happening in their present moment let alone pondering someone else’s past. Virginia and her husband Frank have a rich life and volumes of moments to show for it. It comes with choosing to live simply and mindfully. Virginia’s paintings are a reflection of what it means to live this way; getting reacquainted with what really matters.

Please join us as Virginia McCoy shares more about herself and her art.

Darren Adams has Concrete Creativity

Darren Adams has Concrete Creativity

A Chevy Avalanche pulled up beside us in the Sydney, Nova Scotia Walmart parking lot where we were “camped” for the night, our launching point for the long ferry ride to Newfoundland the next day. It idled there for a few minutes before driving away, the tailgate catching our eye with the business name Stone Image Studio decaled on the back of it. Early the next morning, the same Avalanche pulled up beside us and waited tentatively to see if we were awake. I jumped out of the van and was welcomed by the friendly handshake of Darren Adams, a Caper that has started to form a niche for himself in the decorative concrete and sculpting realm. Darren had seen our ArtsQuest logo on our van Arty and wanted to find out more.

I have to be honest. The first time we met Darren and found out he made vanities, counter tops and furniture from concrete, we apprehensively wondered if this was a fit for our website. We too fell into the stereotypical thinking about the ideas of strictly utilitarian uses for concrete without being aware of the artistic and creative ones. Relieved from making a snap judgement, we were luckily heading for Newfoundland the next day and had time to ponder this new and unknown art medium over the next two weeks before our return to Cape Breton. What we realized over that time was: What is the difference whether a potter uses clay and Darren uses concrete? Just a different medium. Or, what was artistically different from a potter making a decoratively functional mug, bowl or teapot and Darren making a decoratively functional bathroom sink, counter top or piece of furniture? Just a different object or use. With that in mind we set up a meeting with Darren for our return to Cape Breton.

Our time spent with Darren in his shop and studio revealed a man with unlimited ideas about the uses and possibilities for his decorative and sculptured concrete creations. As he toured us around and explained the various processes of his work, we could see the excitement in him at not only his own ideas, but also those shared from the imagination of others who wonder “is it possible…?” From the shapes, colours and textures of his work to date, Darren is showing us that virtually anything is possible with concrete, and in his own words, “I’m just getting started!”

Click on the images below for the full size:

Thank you Darren for introducing us to the other faces of concrete and we are excited to see what new creations you come up with in the future!

Please join us with Darren in our interview with him below:

Laurie Swim – On the Cutting Edge of Quilted Art

Laurie Swim – On the Cutting Edge of Quilted Art

One would think that the best time to travel across Canada is when the sun is high in the northern hemisphere and winter is well behind and in front of you. A challenge we never anticipated was finding artists who had idle time on their hands. Summertime brings with it tourists and tourists bring cash. We arrived in Nova Scotia during the peak of tourist season and hadn’t been able to nail an artist to the wall until we were two thirds the way around the province!

Thankfully, Laurie Swim, a textile artist, in Lunenberg, Nova Scotia answered our e-mail. Now, this is not to say that Laurie wasn’t busy. When we arrived she was getting ready to travel the next day to a show along with a million other things she had on her list. Perhaps it was the ocean breeze or the glorious crystal clear day, and it may have been the case, but I never felt like we were just another item on her list to complete and check off.

Regaining Paradise
Laurie Swim

When we walked into The Art Quilt Gallery of the Atlantic it was a jaw dropping experience for me. As with most people who think of quilts, I too thought of lovely symmetrical patterns and geometric shapes beautifully sewn together in straight and even stitches, handcrafted to wrap around yourself or your bed. I’ve even made one myself. Laurie uses fabric and quilted material but the similarities end there. She “paints” her quilted art. The fabric acts as the canvas and the paint, and the thread and the sewing machine act as the brush. You would be hard pressed to find any straight and even stitches in her work, and that is part of the magic of it all!

As with most artists, Laurie spends a great deal of time with her camera, shooting photos and collecting ideas to patch together a story of her own experiences, the culture of the people, and the landscape in Nova Scotia. Prior to their life together in Lunenberg, Laurie and her husband Larry lived in a small community just down the road, called Blue Rocks. Gary and I wanted to get a feel and appreciation for the place that had a major influence on Laurie’s work, so we traveled to the end of the road and there it was, Laurie’s quilted art just as we had saw it hanging in her gallery. I could see right away how inspiring this place can be; the smell of the salty air, the tiny boats bobbing in the bay, and only the sound of sea birds and waves nudging the blue rocks along the shore. It was peaceful beyond my imagination and hard not to fall in love with this place on a day such as this.

Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia

Laurie has been a textile artist going on forty years and has poured her love into her work over this time. She has contributed her experience and expertise to community projects as well. She recalled while we were there the York Mill Subway Station Project in Toronto, Ontario, which consisted of about twenty-five volunteer quilters working together on Laurie’s design and under her tutelage creating a twenty foot long quilt titled “Breaking Ground” which hangs in the subway station as a memorial for the five Italian men who lost their lives in the Hogg’s Hollow Mine Disaster. The tragedy that occurred 50 years ago changed the labour laws in Ontario. Laurie finds great satisfaction in creating art that people will cherish for years to come, but it is projects such as these that hold a deep sense of fulfillment for her. She is able to contribute a powerful message and reminder in an art form that has held her passion for a long time.

Click on the thumbnails below for a large image aspect.

Laurie is also the author of three books on quilt art; The Joy of Quilting (1984), Quilting (1991) and Rags to Riches: The Quilt as Art (2007). Rags to Riches can be ordered through Laurie’s website or online through Amazon.ca. It will be out in October 2012 in paperback.

Learn more about Laurie Swim and her textile art in her interview below. We always welcome comments.