Japanese audiences were treated last month to a uniquely Canadian experience — exhibited on a grand Canadian scale.
Susan Falk’s May exhibit at a small gallery in Kyoto, was very much a ‘go big or go home’ scenario, chuckled the Langley artist, who recently returned from a two-week visit to the city, located about 450 kilometres southwest of Tokyo.
Falk had been invited to exhibit her work in Japan several times over the years, by a friend who works in holistic medicine and often travels to the island nation for work.
Two years ago, he approached her again. This time, Falk was ready, having been on the lookout for something a bit different to do.
So in April, 2014, she traveled to Kyoto as a visitor.
Her trip coincided with the city’s annual cherry blossom festival.
Despite her wonderment at the rich colours, ornate detail and sheer scope of Kyoto’s ancient temples, it was all a bit overwhelming for the artist, who lives on a south Langley acreage, immersed in nature’s quiet rhythms.
“Every tourist in the world who wanted to look at cherry blossoms was there,” she laughed.
During her visit, Falk’s hosts, Tom and Joe, introduced her to Jo Ishida, the director of Kyoto’s Art Forum Jarfo.
She showed him some of her drawings and told him a little about herself as an artist.
About a month after she returned home, she received an email, inviting her to mount a solo exhibit in a month of her choosing.
One part of that decision was easy; she would avoid April at all costs.
Once she’d settled on a May show, Falk tackled the more complex decision about what to exhibit.
“I started racking my brain. I thought, I could take the easy route and select from my existing collection. Or, I could start a whole new body of work.”
“As a Canadian, what would I like to bring to Kyoto?”
She knew that other Canadians exhibiting in Japan in the past had brought small, Tom Thomson-style works. That wasn’t the route she wanted to go. At all.
“I thought, I’m going big — grizzlies and sockeye.”
The resulting series, titled RED – Circle of Life, celebrates basic survival, strength, determination, reproduction and the transfer of strength and energy from prey to predator.
The largest pieces of the 10 she painted for the show are nine feet high. The intent, said Falk, was to create the greatest possible impact on the viewer.
Size isn’t a factor when you’re displaying locally, noted Falk. But she had to come up with a creative way to get the pieces across the Pacific without spending a fortune in the process.
She started by painting them on a lighter weight of canvas than she normally uses. And, rather than frame them, she mounted the canvases on doweling rods — similar to a Japanese scroll — and added hooks.
This way, they could be rolled and shipped by air in one relatively small crate.
Once the paintings arrived, the exhibit was hung in such a way that people walking in the door would immediately come face to face with a massive grizzly swiping at a salmon.
The nine-foot-high piece was mounted several feet up the wall, so that the water appeared to flow onto the floor, explained Falk.
“It was all about impact, and showing that emotion and strength. Each (large) painting had its own wall, which was fabulous because nothing was crowded.”
“There was just a wonderful reaction from people walking into the gallery. “
Dedicating his entire gallery to works by an artist from the other side of the world was a risk for Ishida, said Falk.
“But it was a good risk.”
He invited her to come back next year and bring other Canadian artists with her.
Falk said she is turning over the idea of returning in 2016 or 2017.
“Next time, it will be smaller works on paper,” she said. “They’re easier to transport.”
This time, Falk admitted, it was more about knocking her hosts’ socks off.
“I wanted to show them what I do.”Details
When poets’ words and a painter’s brushstrokes come together to create entirely unique pieces of art it could be fate … or it could be Written in the Forest.
That is the title Langley painter Susan Falk has chosen for a new exhibit of her work — the result of her collaboration with a collection of Lower Mainland poets — which opens at the Fort Gallery this weekend.
The series consists of 12 paintings — each 36” high by 18” wide — which will be sold for a minimum of $350 each through a silent auction.
A portion of the proceeds from the sales will go to Watchers of Langley Forests (WOLF), a local non-profit group which fought to save 25 acres of mature-growth forest in North Langley, known as McLellan Forest from being sold for development.
Roughly 60 per cent of that land, which is located in Glen Valley, has now been set aside, but WOLF is continuing to work to have that portion and the remainder of the property formally preserved as a park.
Among those who have been heavily involved in the campaign to help preserve the forest is poet Susan McCaslin.
Falk said the poet first contacted her a few years ago about a possible collaboration. The timing wasn’t right, said the painter, but the women’s paths crossed once again in the forest last autumn and something clicked.
“I watched (the poets) perform — this was in the forest itself,” said Falk.
“One poet, Celeste Snowber, was doing a performance piece of one of her poems. With the forest and the light coming through, it was very dramatic and I started to think about how to blend the poetry and the painting.”
Through McCaslin, Falk put out a call for poetry related to the forest any forest, not just McLellan.
Once she had permission to use the work, the question became whether to paint each canvas based on the poetry’s imagery or to do the paintings and then see which poems lent themselves best to the artwork.
What she discovered was that all the artists, herself included, had come away with a similar sense of their surroundings.
“One continual energy was the green in the forest. It came up in a lot of the poems and I’m feeling that, too,” Falk said.
“The paintings came quickly. Then I began incorporating the poetry.”
Using a gold oil-based marker, Falk inscribed lines from a dozen poems across the finished canvases.
“Some (matches) came easy, others were trickier,” she said.
Mixing vibrant pinks, purples, reds, blues and oranges with the more traditional greens and browns of the moss laden branches within the thickly forested parcel of land, Falk created the 12 smaller pieces and one other, much larger, canvas. This one, at 6’ x 7’, will be for sale as well, though not through the auction.
During the exhibit’s opening on Saturday, May 11, from noon to 3 p.m. the poets will give readings of their work inside the gallery.
Written in the Forest runs from May 8 to 26 at Fort Gallery, located at 9048 Glover Rd. in Fort Langley. Call 604-888-7411.
Great November day for plein air painting. My farm in South Langley has a few ponds on the property that always challenge me. After teaching so much these past few weeks indoors it is always a wonderful break to get outdoors and stretch the mind. I enjoy doing quick studies and have no choice but to move quite quickly because of the changes in light. Usually I give myself about 20 to 30 minutes and then start another one if the weather holds.
His paintings are among the most adored in the world, and the story of his life and death is legendary: Vincent van Gogh was a troubled genius who killed himself. But while van Gogh was no doubt plagued by physical and mental illness, the authors of a new biography say their exhaustive forensic investigation suggests he may not have taken his own life. In fact, they claim he was accidentally shot by two teenage boys who were playing with a gun from the hotel owner.
For ten years, Steve Naifeh and his partner Greg Smith – who’s recovering from cancer surgery – peered into every dark corner of Vincent van Gogh’s life. Van Gogh was laughed out of art school. Couldn’t hold a job. And even tried being a minister, like his father, with disastrous results. Just goes to show how determination, perseverance and hard work can overcome.Details
The horses come galloping towards you, in full movement, or so it seems to me, this novice in the world of horses and dressage. Dorothy is with me as we inspect this daunting painting. One cannot take it all in, in one glance.
I had missed the point, but my friend has had experience with horses. She educates me on the esoteric symbols – the letters that refer to various positions in the arena, the written words that are instructions that the judges call out and the various tests of a horse’s ability to go through the paces of Test 2. The judges box is off to the far left hand side.Details