Monday, February 3, 2014

critiquing artists in the Canadian canon and toi, toi, toi*, Renée

If you know one thing about Canadian art history, it's the Group of Seven. Thing is, that's all I've heard about Canadian art history, and it's made me think, there has to be more to Canadian art than this! ...right?

Monday: I submitted a call for participants for my independent project to the NOW bulletin, which is published by the NSCAD Service Centre and distributed throughout the school three times a week.

Tuesday: Over lunch, there was a meeting about the grad show and catalogue. We can do either one or both, and both are voluntary, unlike NBCCD's grad show, which is a requirement of all the programs. I'm considering submitting stuff to the catalogue but not the show because of the cost of shipping my photos on top of the cost of mats and frames (Canada Post ain't cheap).

I was supposed to have an appointment with Joan that afternoon, but it was canceled because she was sick. I used the extra hour to get stuff done.

Wednesday: At the beginning of the semester, I had a look in The Plaid Place, which sells Scottish stuff, and checked out their tartan scarves. I have a Moffatt tartan scarf, but it's way too scratchy for me. The lady told me that they'd be having their annual sale (fifty per cent off) in the last week of January and the first week of February. On Wednesday I finally bought myself a scarf--or two. As I didn't have anything with the Johnston tartan (Mom's family--unfortunately, that tartan doesn't reproduce well: in addition to the gold stripe, it has dark blue, forest green and black) on it, I decided to get a Johnston tartan scarf as well.

While I did get stuff done, my time management was really bad and I was up until 2:00 AM studying for Thursday's classes...

Thursday: ...which meant that I only got about five hours of sleep, which is less than I get on Christmas (unless there's a power outage, I'm in bed at midnight and then up at 6:30 to put the cinnamon buns in the oven--and I'm someone who needs eight to nine hours of sleep a night in order to be happy).

Jayne spent the first part of class talking about the midterm exam, which will be my first-ever essay-format exam (all others have been multiple choice or fill-in-the-blank style). After class, I had a bunch of questions for her because I was new to doing an exam that way.

In between classes, I studied for Contemporary Indigenous Arts as I wanted to get a good start on the week's readings.

And yes, this week's Topics in Modern Canadian Art was about the Group of Seven. However, for the first time in my life, I was in a setting where there was freedom to actually think critically about the Group--in fact, one of the readings for this week took a step back and actually examined the Group and the National Art Gallery's role in promoting those artists to death. Apparently, the NGC's attitude has been, "if you don't like the Group of Seven, you're not Canadian or not patriotic" (which means I'm screwed: minus Harper, I love this country--but I like the Group of Seven about as much as I like Ketil Hvoslef: they're good, but not my style). I've been raised to think critically, and it's bothered me that no one has done that with the Group of Seven (at least as far as I could tell). Sure, I don't question the composers in the classical canon--but then again, I like most of them. And even with the ones that I don't like, I feel no pressure to like them and treat them like they're the best thing since music notation.

That evening I got my first response to the notice that I put on the SUNSCAD Facebook group, advertising for participants for my project.

Friday: During Helen's and my Skype chat/memorial service, she told me that she was going to be in Halifax a couple of weeks from then and we started making plans to meet. Friday was the big day and I met her on the first floor of the NSCAD library (it has three floors) and we talked for a while. Eventually Helen had to go put more money in the parking meter. On our way out, I said "hi" to Ken, who was also in the library and introduced him and Helen. The two talked for a while, discussing artist stuff. Also, yay, networking. After Helen fed the meter, we went in the NSCAD Art Supply Store's street door, as she wanted to get some supplies (unlike NBCCD's store, the NSCAD store is open to the public). Turns out, she knows Neil, the storekeeper. We finished with a thorough tour of the photo dept.--and a good, long chat with Alex and Chris (also: yay for all the random things you learn at art school. Today's topic: gardening.).

Saturday: I spent the day studying and listening to the Met.

I'm considering going to the simulcast of La Bohème. While I can afford it, the issue is that it's right at the end of the semester and therefore I'll be in the midst of studying for final exams and putting the final touches on my photo project. Keep your fingers crossed, everyone! I'd love to finish my time at university with a good Met Opera/MOO/favourite opera-induced sob-fest (Bohème never fails to turn me into a sobbing wreck in act four).

Because the BSO played a pops concert featuring the music of John Williams that evening, I thought I'd share my favourite pieces by him, some of which were on the program. Enjoy. What I would've given to hear the BSO play the Indiana Jones and Schindler's List themes...

You'll have to go to YouTube to view this one:

I still remember the time the BSO reduced me to tears with the Star Wars theme:

Sunday: Once again, I spent the day reading--while listening to opera on CBC Music in celebration of Renée Fleming's performance at the Super Bowl, which I was super-excited about (I was positively giddy as I wrote about the upcoming performance in an email to Lynn Saturday evening, and I think my excitement came across in my writing).

If you've ever wondered about Renée's vocal range--wonder no more. Long story short: it's impressive--yet another reason why she's my favourite soprano. I have always wondered about the numbers that followed note names, as in the video below, and I finally looked it up.

The video is included in this list on BuzzFeed.

Back in August, Suzanne Nance opened her final broadcast on MPBN with O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi, as sung by Renée:

I know I've shared a lot of videos (eight, to be exact) with you guys already, but I promise this is the last one. How can I deny those of you who weren't lucky enough to see Renée's performance of The Star-Spangled Banner live the joy of said performance, which was the first time an opera singer sang the national anthem at the Super Bowl? As I watched--with tears in my eyes because her singing was so beautiful--I was thinking about the significance of her performance. This is what I had been gearing up for and getting excited about since yesterday. BRAVA, RENÉE!

*"Toi, toi, toi" is the opera equivalent of "break a leg".

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