Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Anong Beam

Spring Bay, Mennonite Barn, oil on canvas, 2020 by Anong Beam

Looking at my life, and with my mother entering Alzheimer's' I have been painting memories.

My practice has always centered around water and how it holds and contains us, and is a silent witness again and again to all events, constantly renewed and present in us, as it was for our ancestors.

Ghost Moose and Camp, oil on canvas, 2019 by Anong Beam

But now I am looking back and I feel like I am reclaiming histories for myself.  

I am inspired by other histories of place like Camp Forestia by Peter Doig.  It is a classic camp from the Ontario north, there are many all around me, and they are completely other.

I have memories of seeing people go to them.  They are the settler camps, even though they are so familiar.

They are a visual image of privilege and isolation.

Camp Cadillac oil on canvas  2018  by Anong Beam

All around my home, even on reserve, the waterfront belongs through long term lease to non-native families, who have held them for years.  These paintings are emerging to reclaim images of where I live, and to relate them back to me.  It's strange to live somewhere and be of a place so fundamentally, but seeing it depicted only in a way that isolates my culture.


Mountain Lake oil on canvas 2018 by Anong Beam

It is this medium and genre of oil on canvas.

Sections of Tom Thomson's West Wind, and his Jack Pine, appear with Doig's Camp Forestia, alongside a ghost moose, myself swimming in the lake, my boat in Swallow Lake at first snow.

My father's recurring image of a rocket launch, birds and birds and birds!

An old Cadillac, fireworks, lakes, birds, bears, and the stars.

It is just immensely pleasurable to rectify this even if it is just in  my paint-world..  I love these painters as well and hold them no ill will!  Peter Doig, Tom Thomson, Kim Dorland, these men are painting their lives, and I am grateful to live in a time and place where I can do the same.


Beaver Dam Overflowing, oil on canvas 2018 by Anong Beam

Also, reaching deeper into art history, I'm happy to explore painting devices from Matisse (table with pansies, the joy of life) Botticelli Birth of Venus, Rothko's colour pairings, Georgia O'Keefe's skulls, and Agnes Martin's grids which influenced my father, back into me, into dancing elk herds.

It's really something to be the child of a famous artist.  It's intense, and I've seen so much of the art world that is unkind, and unhealthy.  I've seen my mother's pain inside that she was not recognized like her husband.  

But all that pales in the joy that I feel creating these landscapes, internal, wishful, desirous, wanton, exploding!  In some real ways they are ecstatic love stories to paint.

Deluge, oil on unstretched canvas, 2019 by Anong Beam

Being the first series where I have made all of my own oil paints, there is an incredible circuity to making paint from rocks from Bay Fine near Killarney, then painting that same scene with those rocks that are now paint!

Each image that I make I feel and I fall immersed in the history of painting, learning devices from those who have already travelled this path.

Miigwetch.

Anong Beam

detail of Deluge by Anong Beam

The text in this post is Anong Beam's powerful artist statement for her exhibition:  Anong Migwans Beam at Campbell House.  It was curated by Elka Weinstein.  I saw the show in July 2022 when it travelled to Manitoulin Island and was mounted in the Ojibwe Cultural Foundation. 

I admire how Anong has addressed the huge issue of white settler colonization / indigenous land and human rights with these multi-layered paintings.  These paintings appropriate subject and style of white male artists' paintings of iconic Canadian scenes.  Make no mistake.  This beautiful and tender and luscious work is also political. 

Wednesday, November 09, 2022

Haptic Vision


I just read an essay by Victoria Mitchell that I found in  Textile volume 19, issue 3.

It is entitled  Judith Scott: Capturing the Texture of Sensation and analyzes Leon A Borensztein's famous photo of Judith Scott hugging her own sculpture.  Why does this photo have such emotional power?   This photo was chosen for the cover of  Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy and Performativity by  Eve Kosofsky Sedgewick. 

The borders between interior and exterior, between subject and object, between imaginary body and sensed body are activated through this photo of Judith Scott and her work.  Scott's body presses against her artwork with all the windings and bindings, embracing it as if it were alive.  Her face penetrates its surface and this exchange comes to us through the membrane of the photo.  Victoria Mitchell 

The article was about how photographs can elicit strong emotional response within the viewer.  

Reading it, I considered my own blogging and how I try to make my photos reach out and touch the reader by including my own hands at work.  

Some words used in the article:

Affect:  the effective mobilization of feeling which is non-conscious and pre-verbal but also relational and active  

Haptic:  an experiencing of touch that we feel not only with our skin but also inside our bodies.

Haptic Vision: The eyes function as an organ of touch.  

Texture rich photographs of textiles are transformative of that which they capture.   

Textiles have such tactility that they rub uneasily against the eye.  

Smooth surfaced photographs of textiles act as a mediator.    

When the flesh of a human body engages with textiles and is captured in the smoothness of a photograph and then the cornea, it's affective.

When arms and hands are caught in the act of touching cloth, the texture of the cloth can be felt through the photo.  Better than if the body is absent from the photo.    

There is an affective moment when we feel we are being touched through the photograph.

The viewer becomes bound emotionally into the image.

All images are of a new piece made from a re-configured wool blanket.   

I'm couching one side of it like a drawing, and I like how the reverse side is like a carving.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Autumn Song

We closed our cottage on Thanksgiving weekend, just Ned and myself.

We got there around 2 pm on the Saturday.  It was very blustery. 

I started a fire in the kitchen stove and he started one in the fireplace.

We had an early simple dinner.

I had my holy Rothko piece with me.  

I am thankful for the angle of the sun that makes the water sparkly at 5 pm

and for all the pillows, blankets and quilts that I prepare for winter storage

and for my teacup of gin and for Eleonor Wachtel on CBC radio. 


Ned wore his red toque all day and night and I wore my undershirt.    

We have started into our 50th year or marriage. 

On my mind is the spring 2023 exhibition.  

To help me plan, I have been writing out the measurements of the walls   

and pinning different pieces up to see how they look together.

I want to choose a collection of work that is beautiful but also a bit raw.

I want my exhibition to be like a poem that reveals an inner self full of love and emotion and worry. 


I stitched my red Rothko piece by the fire both nights. 


Meaning in art often comes from the materials it is made from.

Repetition is a material.

The over and over gestures made by the body calms the maker.

The sight and feel of the repeated marks soothes the viewer.


On Monday we finished up and drove into the setting sun with the boat on its trailer.   

We were home in time to see the  moon rise.

and the next day's sunrise 

Why do you stand at the window abandoned to beauty and pride

the thorn of the night in your bosom, the spear of the age in your side?     
Leonard Cohen.

Circles, red thread, domestic textiles, ancient marks, 

whirling spirals, grids, time, dream and the vulnerability of sleep.

All of these are in this work of mine.  What do they mean?


And what does it mean that there are two-sides 

and that I work the marks from the back? 


The first thing I did in this piece was to dye it red.  

It is a full size linen damask table cloth.  I made holes in it with a kind of acid.  

This was in 2011.  See here

then in 2020 I planted velvet in each hole with reverse applique.  


A garden of dots arranged in a grid, like Agnes Martin's idea of perfection. 

"it is not in the eye, it is in the mind. In our minds there is an awareness of perfection."  


Now there is a layer of dark sheer fabric covering the reverse side. 

And I am stitching circles around the reverse dots using a running stitch.

The stitches get smaller and smaller as you go around.   

It takes time.


When I finish, I clip the sheer cloth away and the velvet is set free.  

The raw edges flame into petals that stand up from the base cloth.  

This work is about finding a way to meditate. 

These repeated circles help me to feel my own spirit.


This work doesn't address the outer world.

(There is a war going on that we fear any day will turn nuclear.

There are school shootings, children are being killed for no reason.

There are floods and hurricanes and fires that ruin people's lives for years.)


My circles do not fix these things.

My circles do not comment on these things. 

They do not try to convince people.

These circles are a way to find emptiness and calmness.

I was sad because I was alive.  I did not even know all the things I wanted, and that is what made me saddest.  If I were more religious than I am, I might say that the feeling was yearning for the place we came from before we were born. 

Perhaps instead, it is about the human search for perfection, the perfection we find only in great works of art and out in the landscape.  Sharon Butala

I think that we yearn for perfect peace, which doesn't mean being in perfect solitude, but for peace in the heart.  A peaceful heart in the midst of the multitudes, tumult, chaos, violence, sorrow, and beauty of everyday life.  We can never have that peace.  (Except in a work of art or in the sunset we have intimations of it.)  That is why we feel sadness.  Sharon Butala


 I will continue stitching these flowery circle stars.    

Carry on bravely my friends. xo  

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Thank you Loree Ovens

Between Heaven and Earth, dyed rayon laid on cotton and hand stitched  by Judy Martin

Thank you Loree Ovens for organizing the Evolve exhibition that was installed in the Propeller Gallery from September 14 - October 2, 2022.  

It was nice to spend time with you, Loree, on the closing day of the exhibition, October 2 when we were both there for the entire time, (1 until 5:30).   

Thank you also for doing the installation of my work on September 12.   

The first thing I saw from the street was my bundle sculpture,
 "in my arms humble" , displayed on a plinth, leaning on the wall.

in my arms humble, wrapped and stitched silk, the size of a 2 month baby by Judy Martin

Thank you for receiving my three pieces in August and keeping them safe until the installation time.   

New Growth, acrylic, ink on heritage washi paper by Loree Ovens

I liked how right from the beginning  (late January 2022) you told us that we each would be given 8 feet of display space and that although the work didn't have to be new, it should reflect our endurance as artists through the pandemic.

Thanks also to your partner T C, who designed the invitation.  I printed some up and mailed them to my southern Ontario artist friends.   

I was glad to see my piece Turning Forever To The Heart hung near the entrance, next to your paintings on Japanese paper. 

Do you remember how I wrote about your work on this blog in 2015, Loree?  Click here if you'd like to read that post.


Turning Forever To the Heart, stitched taffeta by Judy Martin


Propeller is a co-operative art gallery located in the Queen West district of Toronto.

You, Loree Ovens, are an artist member.  Thank you for inviting me and the other non-members to be part of this exhibition.  

Chung-Im and Eva in front of skeleton v2 by Chung-Im

Also, thank you for leading the discussion about the title of the exhibition and the statement for the website.    

Evolve is a glimpse into the world of six resilient female artists who continue to show ingenuity and strength through their practice.  To evolve is to constantly learn, adapt and take on challenges.  Resolutions are found, perfected and the evolution continues.  Artists include Eva Ennist, Chung-Im Kim, Judy Martin, Liz Menard, Loree Ovens and Saskia Wassing.

skeleton v2 (detail) screen printed industrial felt, hand stitched by Chung-Im Kim


Chung-Im Kim and I have been curated into an exhibition before when Sandra Reford created a show of Canadian textile artists and took it to the Carrefour in France in 2012.  I wrote about that exhibition on this blog when Tradition in Transition showed in Oakville, Ontario. Sandra came to see Evolve on October 2.    

Chung-Im Kim's work in sculptural felt is fabulous.  It's fun to see how I wrote about both Chung-Im Kim's and Eva Ennist's work in 2015 when it was on exhibition with other Ontario College of Art and Design professors at the Craft Council gallery.  Click here.

Shelter series, A Sure Instinct 3, 2, and 1, encaustic and mixed media by Eva Ennist


Eva Ennist was also at the Propeller gallery on October 2 and it was great to finally meet her.  I wrote about her Nesting sculptures at the 2018 World of Threads on Judy's Journal.   


I was charmed by Liz Menard's etchings of wild plants on eco printed paper.  Those and her small pinch pots grounded the back wall of the gallery.  

On Purple Loosestrife, etching on artist made purple loosestrife paper with embroidery and pastel by Liz Menard

Two of Menard's pieces had remarkable French knot embroidery.  Thanks Loree for telling me that the paper itself was made from loosestrife fibres which was then etched and embroidered.  


It was nice to meet Saskia Wassing on Sunday.  We talked about our fine art degrees in Embroidery from UK universities.  Her degree was in Embroidered and Woven Textiles from the Glasgow School of Art and mine was Embroidered Textiles from Middlesex.  Embroidery has as much respect as painting does in the United Kingdom.

Stitched Stories, embroidered and applique silk by Saskia Wassing

I appreciated visiting with many friends and colleagues on October 2.  David Kaye came and that was especially wonderful.  So many of us miss the David Kaye gallery which closed in early 2019.  David continues to keep his website entitled David Kaye Projects live.  Past exhibitions and artists' work are on the site.  You can find Eva, Chung-Im, Loree and Judy (moi) on his site. 

Between Heaven and Earth, rayon laid over cotton and hand stitched by Judy Martin

Loree, there are a lot of links in this post and I hope that is OK.  
I will provide two more.  Your personal website,  Loree Ovens and my own,  Judy Martin.

The Evolve exhibition has come down from the walls now, but it continues online until November 13.   Read the artist statements and see close ups of each piece at this link. If you scroll to the bottom there is a video and an online catalogue (downloadable)

Thank you, friends, who came to Propeller on Sunday Oct 2 to see the show and to visit me.  I treasure the selfies of us that I took.  

Monday, September 19, 2022

road trip back

The photos tell a story

of the beautiful northern Ontario drive

we made last week
to north western Ontario

via the north shore of Lake Superior
with all the rock cuts.


I don't have many photos of the actual destination.  

I didn't think to take photos of the empty fields

behind Burris and Devlin and LaVallee.


We went over to Morson

from Rainy River, past Blackhawk.

Exotic names for the tiny places where people live.  


I didn't think to photograph them. 

Those towns that we drove through or stopped at for soup on the way there and 

also when we were up  there in my home corner of North Western Ontario. 

The Fort Frances area, I tell people.


Besides places named poetically; Terrace Bay, Ignace, Schreiber, Upsala, Emo,

Grassy Narrows, Sleeman, Finland, Nestor Falls, Barwick

there were so many fields and forests that have no name.

That we drove by.  And I did not photograph.


Also, I didn't take enough photos of my children.

They flew to Winnipeg and rented a car to join us.


I do have photos of my brother and I standing in front of 

the trees that my mother planted.

Now giants.


I didn't photograph Ned fixing the gravesite

so that it was perfect.

How can I tell a true story

when most of the photos I have are of long views across big water and cliffs that have 

no relation to the rural pocket of Canada along the rainy river where I grew up.


We drove three full days to get there.

We were there three days.

We drove three more days to get home again.


I worked on Indigo checkerboard during the long drives.  

I stitch in the ditches and also 1/4 inch inside

vast areas of white muslin.


When my father was 22 he was hired to be the secretary of the local school board.  Three applicants interviewed for the one room school in Miscampbell and Pauline Paget age 17 was hired.  In September 1945 they had their first date, a play held at the Burris school.  Theatre continued to be important for them throughout their long marriage.