So #sorrynotsorry for the tease of a headline, for this post is not about that wonderful method of torching food things in order to give them a delectable, crispy, caramelized croute.
What it is about is a project (one among many, many others) I’ve had the honour, pleasure, and arse pain (literal and figurative) of working on for the better part of a year. A veritable labour of love that peaked last night after months of unfolding in sobering and magical ways.
This project was, of course, helping my closest friend, my sister from another mister, my Miss Megan put together Brulé: A Family Retrospective, a tribute to her late parents in the form of an art show.
A little backstory: Megan, as the spawn of two very well-trained and rather prolific artists, has struggled for as long as I have known her (31 years THIS MONTH) with digging into and expressing her own creativity. I mean, that’s not a thing you just fall into when you’re the loin fruit of not just one, but two parental units who would call their gorgeously executed and technically on point depictions of their environments “just doodles”… or, perhaps, having a good friend who glommed onto visual expression through various media at a very early age as a paradoxical lifeline to and escape from a reality that was often far too real to the point of sometimes making it look easy.
Comparison/competition culture is a terrible thing, but one that we tend to foster and adopt so easily.
Fast-forward to early December of 2015. Megan’s mum had passed almost three years before and her dad a couple of years before that. Megan has faced ordeal after ordeal in sorting out the estate and is pretty beat up emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I am dragging her, almost kicking and screaming (she was cranky and had a few choice words for the throngs attending the Santa Claus parade we had to weave through in order to get to the art school – if you ever want to see the cutest pedestrian road rage ever, walk through a crowded downtown with Megan. I will rent her to you for a fiver and a pint), to an intuitive painting workshop facilitated by the always lovely Brianna Gosselin.
Once we got there, she mellowed a bit and then more once we got into the painting fun. She asked a lot of questions of myself and Brianna and mucked about and made faces and engaged in some disparaging self-talk, but had fun (if also a lot of frustration), overall.
Post-workshop, we went back to my place and sipped booze and talked a bunch about the experience.
As she processed and talked her way through it all, I could see the reckoning, a reconciliation come to her bit by bit:
“I am not happy with this, but it’s mine. I see things I like and I see where I fucked up and I want to do it again and better. I can do this. Mel…I made art.”
We had a paint play date a couple of weeks later, including a wee shopping date to get her a few basic supplies – some canvases and a wee set of acrylic colours. We covered off on some of the basics, like gesso and varnish and some play with glazes and retarders, that we didn’t get into in Brianna’s workshop due to time constraints.
A couple of weeks after that we had another play date and she went home with her very own tub of gesso.
She had her own gesso.
She had become an artist.
She had also become a monster.
I think I was texted 153 questions and images of at least two arty oeuvres every week for about six months.
She put my own artistic intentions to shame.
I had to message Brianna with a gushfest that basically went “you are the wisest, most brilliantest person who has given my best friend a gift that has been missing for a very long time and I love you and will blow sunshine out your ass forevermore” or something like that.
Not that she needs sunshine blown out her ass. Brianna is the bomb-diggity.
Somewhere in that time, Meg hit me up with the idea for the show featuring works of her own, her dad’s, and her mum’s…oh, and those of a teenaged friend.
It promised to be spectacularly chaotic.
Brilliant. I’m in.
It was no easy ride. Most of my job was Megan-wrangling – talking her up and talking her down, depending on the circumstances, and kicking her arse into making shit happen.
When shit did happen, everything was flow.
We went through and selected all of the art from her parents’ rather large portfolios in just a couple of hours, leaving us time to play with paints that evening.
She hemmed and hawed over framing stuff for freakin’ ever, but once I convinced her of a sound, inexpensive plan, that all came together beautifully over the course of a few days as I was able to slip in a few framing steps between work obligations, leaving Meg free to do her food things (a means of creative expression that has come easily to her for a long time).
When it came time to hang the show, we had everything done in one sweaty hour, leaving us enough time to have a beer and harass my daughter at the brew pub she works at.
We had a couple of timing glitches between hanging and opening, but everything was ready to go come go time.
We did pretty well for a couple of lasses who are all too often riddled with anxiety and it was like having Bronwyn’s (mum) and Eric’s (dad) seal of approval all the way.
Don’t get me wrong, like anything therapeutic and freeing, this was work. It was very, very important work.
Putting anything of the sort together is a hefty task in all of the domains of being.
It was incredibly intimidating to be charged with handling and manipulating and working to display the oeuvres of people who are so important to me and in a way that honours and authentically reflects who they are/were.
It’s as spectacularly chaotic as promised.
You guys, it’s so lovely.
It was so amazing to be in that gallery and moment with all of the weight of the history of the space and the art coming together, bearing down so hard it just burst with love and then breathed in a whole new way.
It was so great to have friends, old and new, come through and share their impressions.
I am so chuffed with us for pulling it off and so fucking proud of Megan for putting herself out there and carrying through.
If you’re in the area, do get to The Gallery in the Attic and have a peek at Meg’s show. It will be there until the 30th and there has already been interest from another local establishment to display whatever remains.
Again, #sorrynotsorry there is none of Megan’s delicious food left.