One of my favourite places to go with the kids is the library. We always have a stack of books out and walk away with fresh stacks after every visit. Generally my kids lap me several books to the one or two that I have on the go at any given time. And that isn’t always because their books are smaller than the ones I have!
Oh to have all that leisure time back again to read for hours on end…
Today we had books, a CD and movie to return, so off we went after school. As I have two books on the go from the library, plus a few more borrowed from friends, I had not planned on taking any new books out. I had planned to peruse the Canadiana folk section of their CD collection when a display case caught my eye. A new exhibit had been installed. I wandered closer to take a look, but then a voice behind me made me turn.
“Do you like steampunk art?”
I turned to see a dishevelled man standing behind me. He had threadbare holes in his shirt, long, greasy looking hair, and he leaned unsteadily on a cane. I was startled, but nodded that it was interesting. It turned out that he was the artist.
The glass display case contained deer horn sculptures and jewellery on one shelf, paintings on another, a few examples of his ‘steampunk’ art on a third shelf, and books regarding the art forms on the last. It was the steampunk that caught my eye though. On closer inspection, it was created from old screws and bolts, brackets, a small oil can, a window closure, a clock face, and various antique brick a brack pieces from another age. There were small worn out car parts and obscure articles that only materialized when Phil pointed them out to me. It was quite unique.
As we chatted, the artist described his process of creating art and the different modalities he had used to create his pieces. He also made comment on his life and how he had come to where he was. He was originally from London, Ontario but had spent many years north of Red Lake in the mining industry. As much as that conjures images of soot-covered men emerging from underground caverns with grim faces, this local artist smiled at the memory. He had loved being underground; was almost loathe to emerge. But he had emerged and found himself in London again at the tail end of his life.
Now his back gave him problems and doctors feared osteoporosis. Or possibly stenosis? Or was it that his vertebrae were becoming fused? But then he had issues with tingling in his arms, probably exasperated by holding his dremel tools for long hours drilling out the deer antlers. His ailments seemed manifold and fuzzy at best. But despite my children distinctly steering away from this queer stranger, I spoke to the local artist whom had put himself out on display in Landon Library. He might have had his issues – don’t we all, but it didn’t prevent him from creating art and sharing it with the world. He also claimed to be a bit of a writer.
Alas, I did not capture a picture of his artwork. Nor did I write down his name, thinking I would find him on the library website. Here I had an opportunity to network with a local artist and it was relegated to a blip in time quickly forgotten. Is that what so many artists are doomed to? Will our artwork live on without our precious names attached? Are we all destined to bodies that give out at the end of the day, worn down by our trades? Or perhaps I should reflect that it doesn’t matter what we wear or how we look, rather what we produce that matters. For Phil created some cool pieces that caught my eye, despite him not being the shiniest bauble in the sea of boys to look at.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder… or perhaps in the artist’s version of it.
For we are all artists, whether it be pen, paint brush, potter’s wheel or instrument that we pick up. We create. It comes from need, release, love, heartache, political statement or whatever it is that drives you. And worrying about sharing that creativity with the world means that by not sharing, you might as well not create at all.
So today I share my small moment with you. How did you broaden your scope today?