Running until December 29, on the wee second-floor gallery next door to The Office Tap and Grill, artist Pamela Maw’’s collection, “Who is your healer?” had a multi-discipline, interconnected launch that proved yet again the high level of talent in Niagara and the extraordinary value of Tobey C. Anderson’s collective in bringing these voices together. Voices external: music and words; voices internal: the silent expressions of feelings and ideas shared visually, only awaiting the beholder’s glance, stare or extended observation to kindle/rekindle something deeply personal that others may imagine but never “hear” in quite the same way.
Huge quartz bowls became the band. Sue and Karl Zavadil (from the Willow Den on Vansickle Road) coaxed much consonance from their two largest vessels, silky smooth on the inside, somewhat rougher on the outer edges—all the better to draw haunting tones once the instruments’ natural vibrations had been summoned with specially fashioned mallets. After that cantus firmus was clearly established, Karl wandered the transformed gathering with an over-sized goblet that yielded further harmonic nectar from Apollo’s universal repertoire of soaring timbre speaking to all. (Later we learned that Maw has designs to mix crushed quartz into her palette and infuse the resultant images with a touch of mineral into the already rich mix of texture, tone and tension.)
Once the wandering minstrel returned to home base and silence threatened to take centre stage, Natasha Secord (also Head of Montessori School) took her cue and tautly stretched, deer-skin drum then embarked on a dreamcatcher song whose lyrics further reinforced the notions behind the canvases to come (“I want to know what you are here for”; “Can you live with [the] future?”). Although encouraged to join in the refrains, the gathering—save one, ever so briefly—opted to let Secord’s skills move forward unhindered by novice choristers.
Spirit Counsellor Karen Lunnicic closed the “Introduction to the Art” with a thoughtful reading of Oriah Mountain Dreamer’s 1999 poem The Invitation. Its twelve stanzas magically built on the music which preceded. Perhaps most tellingly, “I want to know /if you will risk /looking like a fool /for love /for your dream /for the adventure of being alive.” Artists of all stripes are constantly challenged by the dilemma of putting their reputations, livelihoods or stature on the line—risking all of that and more in their desire to truly say something new. Many others are content to pander to the wants and apparent loves of family, friends and the fickle public—taking a much safer road to masses-driven fame and fortune.
With such a multifaceted overture, anticipation was high for the labours of love, life and anguish, literally, just around the corner. As Lunnicic remarked following her reading, “It enriches us to share ourselves with each other.”
Maw has no qualms about sharing. My Native Brother offers an actual X-ray gently etched over with thin-lined flora and fauna. Those delicate lines intriguingly bring the extra-personal reality of self together with images that at one time or another may well have soothed that very same soul, the exact nature of which modern science will never reveal.
Deer Cure is a wonderful meld of antlers and their owners’ expressions—all awash in a fascinating vagueness with life-giving green lurking hopefully around the edges.
Picking up on that theme is A Nature Meditation. Here, the verdant hue informs the central human face, surrounded by splashes of life; Apache Blessing is a marvel of nature and the cycle of existence with a butterfly and its cocoon co-habiting the somewhat dense limelight.
Red Joy is a symphony of eyes—many of them peering out from those able to fly—as well as, somewhat incongruously, if singularly fascinating, a longing horse sharing the frame.
These capsule observations would likely change at a second viewing. Like truly fine art in every form, the work is rich and mature enough to elicit different impressions and visions whenever they are seen.
Speaking with Maw later that night, it’s immediately clear that she was in her zone during the creative period as the pieces were completed prior to the heady excitement—tinged with a few crystals of fear—of this first public showing. “When each one was finished, I felt really good—elated, although with a couple I had to finally say ‘that’s enough it’s finished’,” she explained. As our conversation continued, Maw spoke fondly of the Cuban connection’s [a number of Cuban artists are part of CRAM’s ongoing international exchange program] influence.
Those interested in experiencing some personal healing of their own, are well advised to find their way to this exhibit and decide for themselves just what is being said by Maw’s art about them. JWR