Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

I've got a lot going on right now. The most exciting is of course, welcoming my new nephew, Edward (named in honour of our grandfather), who was born April 15th, at 9 lbs. 5 ounces (4.2 kg). Baby and parents are doing well. I had planned to tackle wedding planning and preparations this weekend, but my brother pretty well summoned us to come admire the baby. This is funny if you know him, because it's rather out of character, but who could say no? He also seemed to want RJH to stand there and tell him, "yes, that sounds like a good idea" for all his bathroom renovation ideas. So I got to sit with Edward, who seems like a very good-natured baby, while they worked upstairs. Plus my father asked RJH to come and photograph his house for the listing. He's found a place to rent downtown. Someone convinced my baby-mad father not to find a house in the country, in order to have a large garden, when his first grandchild was imminent. Poor RJH has been pretty sick for over a week, so I've been trying to help him too.

Also, we've been working on organizing a team art/craft/vintage sale for the first week in June. Cause, why not throw a huge marketplace the weekend before you get married? That's not crazy at all. But this promises to be a great event, complete with free workshops, post-show cocktail party and we're hoping to hire a live DJ (we've been talking to none other than Synap). The upside for me a seller/organizer is that I have displays and stock ready to go. Also, as one of the organizers, I'm lucky to be working with such great collaborators.

Also on the team front, yesterday, we met with local Etsy staff to talk about how we managed to become such a successful team (apparently, ours is one of the largest and most active in the country). While at the meeting, it seemed every single person I know tried to call me, twice. (Sorry Reynardin... could you email instead.?.. would love a reply to my last message). Murphy's Law. And, we're also looking into running some pop-up shops for the team, so I've got another meeting tomorrow.

Plus the city wants to upgrade our water supply to include automatic, digital metering. Sadly, the company they've hired to do this seems to be completely lacking in administrative skills. Hopefully on their third visit, they'll have the tools they need. I happen to be working from home, so it hasn't been a huge burden to be here to let them in... but even for me this is inconvenient. I would think anyone who took time off work to facilitate ill-planned visits, after multiple phone calls and letters to provide the company with the needed information would be more than a little miffed. We're hoping to redo the basement floor, so we can have a proper guest room and to some degree, we're waiting on these people to get their act together because it might put some limits on what we can do.


I haven't posted any original prints recently, because the prints I've been making have rather custom uses. I have, of course, been carving blocks for our wedding invitations. I also got commissioned by a fellow Etsy seller - the lovely Steph of handmade and vintage jewellery shop Arrow And Era to make two custom linocut logos for her. I haven't previously done any branding work, except for myself. I really enjoyed working with her. Her concepts were interesting and clearly conceived, and it was a pleasure to bounce ideas back and forth and converge on a design and carve the blocks. You can see how she's using the logos in her shop. As soon as I finished that, another possible customer proposed another custom logo for me to work on. I'll let you know how that goes. I've also licensed the image of my Aries linocut to a tee shirt manufacturer in Southern California. I'll post an image when they begin making the tees. They were great to work with too! Too often artists get messages like, "hey, I thought I'd steal your artwork to put on clothing, but I'll send you a free sample," so it was great to be contacted by a company who were so straightforward, and used to dealing with artists as small business people.


This was a complete contrast to another small business. Yesterday, I got a message from someone I used to know, who mentioned how much she liked the art she found when she googled me. So, I did a google image search on my own name, to see what turns up these days. I was more than a little annoyed to find amongst the things I expected, that someone had taken my rabbit linocut, cut out the background and called it the logo for her company. She, strangely, even wrote that I (well, she misspelled my name) had made the original and that she had taken it from the Year of the Rabbit Exhibit site! I wrote her a note to explain that this does violate my copyright (though she could hire me to design her a logo), and that she does not have my permission to use my art. I've asked her to take it down. I have yet to hear back. I won't hesitate to assert my rights if I need to, but I do hope that considering that she attempted to credit me, she's just woefully ill-informed, and will be reasonable. Under US law, where she is based, I could contact her ISP and demand that all of the logos be removed. It amazes me that people think it's okay to download original art from the internet and use it to sell their companies! I make a point to only ever post artwork I can attribute to its originator, but more than that, when I use art other than my own, I do it to illustrate something or review the art. I get a number of email from people who would like to feature my art on their blogs - this is quite flattering and they are welcome to do so. In fact, I don't mind if people re-post my art (credited and linked to me) to admire it without asking my explicit permission. Heck, copyright regulations allow people to take excepts from works of art to make reviews, so should someone want to pan something I made, I wouldn't be thrilled, but it would be their perogative. But I would never dream of appropriating art to sell something! Imagine just claiming someone else's original work as your logo. Art is not free. Artists like being able to pay their bills and it isn't okay to just appropriate it. Had she contacted me, rather than appropriating my art, it's likely we could have worked out a very reasonable fee. As it is, I'm appalled.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Birthday to RJH

photographer I hope you have an amazing new year; I know it promises some great new changes, even if today, your birthday was harder than it should be (since you are ill, but at work, and in fact, you're still there). I've decided however that this will not set the precedent for your year and this will be your best year yet! This year will be full of love and success for you. We've got our wedding and our future to look forward to, and I have a good feeling about it. It's going to be great.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Saturday, April 6, 2013

1800 hearts!

Warm My Heart - both states There are now more than 1800 hearts for things from secret minouette places! I love hearts and would like to thank each and every one! Also the 623 Etsy followers, 567 fans of the minouette fanpage, 748 twitter followers and anyone who reads this blog. I don't always know why you're there, but I really appreciate it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Reading is sexy LIII

detail from a portrait of Madame de Pompadour by Francois Boucher. Source: marquise-de-colombe.tumblr.com

I want to read more books this year than last. (I wrote this a while ago and am only publishing it now).

1. back alleys and urban landscapes by Micheal Cho. Toronto is indeed a city of back alleys elegant illustrations capture its feel. I appreciate also his notes about making his art and what inspired a given illustration.

2.Joseph Anton by Salman Rushdie. Now, I am a fan of Mr. Rushdie's books, particularly his amazing novels. I also believe in civil liberties, think censorship is wrong, am against capital punishment and am very clear on the fact that there is no excuse for threatening someone's life for what he thinks or writes. So, I obviously think that what happened to Rushdie is wrong. No one can deserve a fatwa to be issued calling for their death, and this is especially true if their 'crime' is writing an excellent novel (which by the way, doesn't actually say anything directly about Mohammed). In fact, when I read The Satanic Verses I kept expecting to find the provocative part, and was left confused about how someone could think it was blasphemous. In fact, in Joseph Anton Rushdie points out that one of the British Muslim organizers of a Satanic Verses book-burning later renounced his faith, showed up at a reading and pointed out that he now wonders what all the fuss was about. That said, having read Joseph Anton, I can't help but feel less fond of Salman Rushdie. Yes, it would seem that several British politicians, public figures and newspapers were less than kind and blamed him for his plight and the cost of his protection. Yes, I think he was in fact innocent, and certainly could not have been expected to foresee the response to his novel, warn the publishers, or censor himself. However, both 'Joseph Anton' (his pseudonym while in hiding) and Salman Rushdie also come across as well, unself-aware, pompous, entitled, at times petty, unfaithful and prone to name-dropping (cough! Bono, ahem). I do think that he deserved to be protected by his country when a foreign state threatened his life (and his translators and foreign publishers did get shot, stabbed and murdered, so the threat was real). I do agree that Western powers should have stood up to death threats from extremists - but his assertion that the fatwa led inexorably to 9/11 is simply that - an assertion. He does not make the case, and it strikes me as self-important and unfounded. Yes, the newspaper he calls 'The Daily Insult' did write some petty things about his appearance, but he responds in kind. He does come across as a dedicated father. He remained close with the two wives who bore him children post-divorce, which is admirable. He clearly loves his friends, though he does point out their shortcomings. He does a convincing job of painting wife number 2 as probably mentally ill and less than kind, but frankly, he's the one who married her. By the time he gets to wife number 4, I found I'd lost much sympathy for him in his personal life. It's probably unfair to expect authors to be wise just because there is beauty and insight and wisdom in their novels, but I was surprised at him. For whom did he write this book? If it can dismay a fan, I don't see how it could convince someone who thought he deserved his fate. He does describe his writing process, which will be interesting to many. If you ever wanted to know where he went (London, mostly), and how he was protected, and who paid for what, it's all revealed. If you're interested in gossip about the literary world, this is the book for you. You will find the typical Rushdie love of language and word play. The memoir is written in the 3rd person, as if it were a novel. The novelistic aspects are enjoyable, but like many memoirs, facts get in the way of it really flowing like a novel. I don't think he's capable of writing a bad book, but several (possibly all) of his other books are better than this.

3. NW by Zadie Smith This novel is a little different. It has four protagonists and sections written in their own style. There are several chapters 37, the first one following chapter 10 and other literary tricks, including one person described with a concrete poem. The protagonists are tied together by neighbourhood (hence the title). The stories of the four slowly intertwine. While the characters are full and real, this novel left me craving a bit more.

4. Seduced by Logic - Émilie du Châtelet, Mary Somerville And the Newtonian Revolution by Robyn Arianrhod. I picked up this book because Émilie Du Châtelet and Mary Somerville! While the two are not entirely an obvious pairing, born almost a century apart, on either side of the Channel, they are two of author Robyn Arianrhod favorite women in history (and mine). They both taught themselves mathematics and became world authorities on Newtonian mechanics, when few imagined a woman capable or even interested in such a thing. Émilie may today be remembered as Voltaire's lover, but her impact on continental physics, and bringing Newton's Principia to Europe (and even to those in England more able to read French than Latin) cannot be overstated. To this day, modern translators of Newton's Principia (where he finally, after much goading, printed the bulk of his understanding of mechanics and his famous three laws), still rely on Émilie's translation, explanations and re-organization of his work. She was aristocrat who not only dedicated herself to knowledge, writing about physics and experimentation, she enjoyed clothing and could be extravagant. Voltaire was known to call her Madame Newton-Pompom-du Châtelet for the pompoms she wore. His own writings on physics were written in collaboration with her and often quoted her word for word. It wasn't long before her skills and interest far exceeded his own. She had some insight into the relationship between light colour and heat, long before a modern understanding of energy (at the time, scholars debated whether kinetic energy or momentum was the pertinent thing - we now know that both are important, yet distinct). She leaned towards Leibniz' ideas on the subject, which shows how she was at the cutting edge of contemporary physics knowledge and debate. She translated Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees into French and used the preface to denounce the prejudice that prevented women from access to a proper education. Nonetheless, a product of her time, she focused more on her daughter's marriage prospects and her son's education. She had to fight to be taken seriously and deal with sexism from even the well-meaning; she and contemporary part-time Bolognese physics professor Laura Bassi were not impressed when their friend Algarotti wrote a rather patronizing popularization of Newton's physics called (I wish I were kiding) Newtonianism for the Ladies (I feel like there is a Kate Beaton comic in this anecdote). The story of her long-lasting relationship with Voltaire is quite fascinating, as is that of her husband, Voltaire and final lover Saint-Lambert all at her bedside with she died. Mary Fairfax Somerville was born in 1780 in Scotland and allowed to run wild, roaming the fields. She happened upon mathematics at 15, when she saw which published mathematical puzzles. She proceeded to try to teach herself using one of her father's books on navigation, and convincing her brother's tutor to buy her Euclid's Elements. Luckily when she first attempted solving published puzzles she met another self-taught mathematician and early mentor Wallace. Soon she moved on to Laplace's Celestial Mechanics, which she would eventually translate into English - and her translation became the standard university text for decades. This brought her fame. After a brief, unhappy marriage, she was mercifully widowed, and went on to meet her beloved husband and supporter of 41 years, William Somerville. As she continued to educate herself and write about mathematics and astronomy, she came to meet the leading scientists of the day (before the word or concept of a 'scientist' really had meaning... in fact the word was coined by Whewell when reviewing one of her books). She also wrote On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1834), Physical Geography (1848), and Molecular and Microscopic Science (1869). In 1835, she and Caroline Herschel became the first women members of the Royal Astronomical Society. Her excellent writing skills made her a best-selling author of science texts. She also believed in the rights of women and in 1868 (at age 87), she signed John Stuart Mill's unsuccessful petition for female suffrage. These two women and their stories are inspiring and the book is engaging. Unlike many history of science books this one has the context needed to really understand the contemporary state of science and the role they played, since Arianrhod is an astrophysicist by training; she does put the mathematics in an appendix, if that's not your thing - but it's all there for those of us who appreciate it.

5. A Fine Line - Scratchboard Illustrations by Scott McKowen by Scott McKowen. If you live around here you'll recognize McKowen's art from his iconic posters for the Shaw Festival and the National Ballet, amongst others. I really appreciate his work as it is similar in effect to a relief print. His descriptions of his process are wonderful, as are all his anecdotes of the theatre, theatre people, and synopses of many plays.

6. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi. This is a perculiar novel - a sort of battle of wills between a Mr. Fox and his mostly-imaginary muse Mary Foxe, who doesn't appreciate he way he kills off all his heroines. They trade off casting one another in tales. Reynardin plays a bloody role like Bluebeard. It's a sort of love-hate triangle story between Mr., and Mrs. Fox, and Mary Foxe. It's set in different times and places and is rather magical.

7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I picked this one up because told me too. So far, so good.

{Series so far: books read, more books read, books read, books read continues, more books read, I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII, XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII,XIX, XX, XXI, XXII, XXIII XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XL,XLI, XLII, XLIII,XLIV, XLV, XLVI, XLVII, XLVIII, XLIX, L, LI, LII}

Thursday, April 4, 2013

the Lady

TC -'This Too Shall Pass' linocut

I lost one of my oldest friends a week ago Saturday. She was only 38. She was diagnosed with cancer in the fall. The second loved one (and non-smoker) to die of lung cancer within one year and one day. I've seen others write about this, in ways I've found quite moving, but I've felt completely inarticulate. I've focused on the practical, the logistical (like getting to Chicago and back in a minimum of time) and trying to help. When my step-mother died, I saw the survivors were laden with a myriad of responsibilities when least able to deal with it. So, I was glad to be able to offer RJH's help getting an obit printed in time, or to contact our Alma mater, or find friends with whom we've lost touch. Though what I wanted to do was to go back, to spend more time with her, to make her life easier in what were her last months.

I was able to get to her funeral, though it was in the middle of the OOAK, which made it even more exhausting. I'm thankful for the help I got from friends and family. I'll tell you about the show and the rest of the week in a little while. Right now, I need a break.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

for the bees

TheBees If you're in the Toronto-Hamilton-Buffalo area this spring, I'd like to suggest making a day trip to the lovely Ball's Falls Conservation Area. Until Canada Day (July 1), along with the beautiful scenery and heritage areas, they will be hosting an exhibit about the biodiversity of bees, including artwork and 7 of my prints. The exhibit also has the wonderful multimedia sound and visual art of installation artist and composer Sarah Pebbles. Her "Audio Bee Booth for Ball's Falls" allows you to not only see, and learn about our beautiful pollinators (and their alarming decline), but to hear them too. There are many artifacts, and scientific photos curtesy of York University, also included. I set up my art early, so I myself have yet to see it all. Check out Resonating Bodies for more of Sarah's work on bees, and my set of images of bees here.