Category Archives: Not Going to Buenos Aires

Not Going to Buenos Aires: Before, and After

The art show Not Going to Buenos Aires is over, but remains available online.  As one of the participating artists, I’ve come to realize the importance of this exhibition.  A visitor commented:  I came to the show with my friend; I don’t know any of the artists.   I didn’t think I’d want to have ‘pandemic art’ in my home.  But when I saw all of the artworks, together, I wanted to buy some work to mark this time.  (I’m happy to report she bought one of Janet Brooks’ Zoom Rooms, and five pieces from my wish you were here…. series.)

Zoom Room 3, Janet Brooks, acrylic and pencil on cradle board

wish you were here…. Terry Vatrt, mixed media

Whether or not we acknowledge and accept the reality of the pandemic, we are living in a significant historic moment.  Our daily lives and our corporate life have changed for a substantial and unknown period of time.   Our movements and interactions – everywhere! – are severely limited by the threat of illness and death. As artists we grappled with those limitations through the Not Going to Buenos Aires theme: inquire into the complexity of yearning to be anywhere other than the “here” of a pandemic shutdown.

As I wrote in a previous post six artists produce six very different responses.  Images and artist statements, available on our website, illustrate the variety of interpretations.

For some of the artists Not Going to Buenos Aires marks a significant change in their personal art practises.  Kate Scoones, with a laugh, refers to Before Not Going To Buenos Aires and After Not Going To Buenos Aires.

The spontaneity of the work I found to be just so rewarding and it kept me going.  I think that has made a huge shift in my art practise now.  I can forever say ‘Before Not Going to Buenos Aires’  I worked this way, and now I work this way – another way – a different way.

Among my Souvenirs, Kate Scoones, acrylic gouache on foamcore

Participating in Not Going to Buenos Aires was notable for Amy Marcus. (@amarcusx)  I was always a dabbler who made things.  I became somebody who could put something forward and feel that it was good enough to be accepted.  I could stand in that, and feel good about that.

My Monkey Mind, Amy Marcus, embroidery

At the very least, participating in NGTBA gave me a project for the covid winter we endured.  Less time on screens and more time in the studio is always a good thing.

Like Kate I also learned to be open to new ways of working.  I created highly personal pieces.  I believed the assumption that being too personal in my work would seem pedestrian – not interesting to others, and only appeal to a limited audience.  I discovered the opposite is true.  The most personal artworks elicited the strongest positive responses.

bred in the bone, T. Vatrt, 2021, mixed media

bred in the bone, T. Vatrt, 2021, mixed media

In a Not Going to Buenos Aires debriefing meeting (on Zoom, of course!) Kate expanded on my observation.  You have to let things happen. They sit with you.  They come out.  The truer you are to that feeling, the truer the work will be.  And in spite of it feeling so personal – like it really comes out of you – it resonates with people. That’s what the person who purchased your work is going… ‘Oh!  This is coming from a place inside myself that I recognize.’

Participating in Not Going to Buenos Aires forced me to clarify my thoughts about the reality of living, and loss, during pandemic times.  Joanne Hewko agrees.  This project – having a framework to think about – and to do a deep dive intellectually into my thinking – was super useful.  I liked having something to really sink my teeth into.

Let’s end with Amy’s summary of  participating in Not Going to Buenos Aires :

I loved working with all of you.  I felt like it was a group effort.   I know everyone goes away and does what the do and that’s always one of the things that amazes me about a project – when everyone has the same topic and they create something that’s completely different. It’s just amazing, and  fascinating, and so soul satisfying to see what other people do.

Don’t be surprised to see Soul Satisfying  t-shirts this summer.  I suspect they could be very popular with artists.

 

Not Going to Buenos Aires – yet

Not Going to Buenos Aires opened  (in person visits!) last weekend at the Errant Art Space in Victoria, B.C.  The previous  Art Caravan post explained the genesis of the art show’s theme –  six artists inquire into the complexity of yearning to be anywhere other than the ‘here’ of a pandemic shutdown.

Not Going to Buenos Aires group art show postcard

As you can imagine, six artists interpret one theme in vastly different ways.  The website for NGTBA provides each artist’s statement and artwork images. The diversity of media is remarkable – you will see embroidery, collage, printmaking, paper sculpture and  painting.

Annus Horribilis, Amy Marcus, embroidery on cotton

Jardín di Los Sueños 1, (detail) Joanne Hewko, acrylic on canvas

As I noted in the last post, overlapping ideas, like climate change and environmental degradation, emerged from the works.  Other commonalities are evident.  It’s interesting to see Janet Brooks and Kate Scoones both reference the ubiquitous Zoom calls we are all enduring.  Janet created a series of Zoom Room paintings which mimic the fractured Zoom experience in an emphasized horizontal perspective.

Zoom Room 3, Janet Brooks, acrylic and pencil on cradle board

About her works Among my Souvenirs, Kate says: Each subject is alone and motionless on a colourful background, with no specific landscape or environment. They are intimate yet aloof (not unlike a Zoom call when private space is shared with strangers).

Among my souvenirs, Kate Scoones, acrylic gouache on foamcore

Among my souvenirs, Kate Scoones, acrylic gouache on foamcore

My series wish you were here….. echoes Kate’s observation about uniqueness within a relationship. The presentation of the artwork also reinforces the grid inherent in a Zoom call.

wish you were here…. Terry Vatrt, mixed media

Almost all of the artists commented that the pandemic, while forcing us to slow down, resulted in new discoveries in our art practises.  Trish Shwart says she’s been able to… work more slowly, and at a much larger scale than I have worked in the past few years.  The continuous day to day practice has allowed me to develop a kind of resilience in terms of how I approach and modify the paintings over the course of their development.

The Air was Still and the Sun was Out (detail) Trish Shwart, acrylic on wood panel

Kate writes I wouldn’t have delved so deeply into a mundane subject and found it so compelling had I not been confined.

In my own studio, I  was surprised by the long lengths of time I spent working on the larger pieces.  It felt like an extraordinarily contemplative process.  Standing on their Shoulders took me several iterations, and months, to complete.

Not surprisingly, Amy humorously summed up her experience working at home.

 I have a short attention span so for NGTBA, as a challenge, I took on a v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-w-w project. My Monkey Mind was hand embroidered with single strands of thread and that extended the work time into just short of forever. And that was supposed to be the point.
At times i experienced it as a meditation as intended, and at other times it felt like a drawn out trial. In those times, if ‘trial’ is a metaphor, I found myself guilty of monkeying around.
In the end, fast, s-l-o-w, meditative, drawn out, guilty, or not, it was all part of the dance.

My Monkey Mind, Amy Marcus, embroidery

The show is open one more weekend, (April 17-18, 2021) with covid protocols in place.  We’ve provided a website with plenty of visuals,  links to a CBC radio interview, and a visual walk through ‘tour.’  Please visit as you are able, and see if any of our responses to these strange days resonate with you.

 

Not Going to Buenos Aires

My favourite mask right now is one that announces Not Going to Buenos Aires.  (Let’s pause here and consider that a year ago, you’d be scratching your head, wondering what I really meant by my favourite mask.  These days,  wearing a mask in public is almost second nature – an essential item on the mental phone-keys-sunglasses list as we leave our homes.)

Not Going to Buenos Aires masks

On occasion, it elicits comments like I wish I was going to Buenos Aires and I like your mask. It’s fun to explain that it’s the title of a group art show in which I am participating.  If people seem interested, I pass them this postcard with all the show details.

Not Going to Buenos Aires group art show postcard invitation

Trish Shwart  formulated the idea of this art show.   The project was a great way to connect with other artists around a theme (longing, uncertainty, impossible dreams) that I find compelling, she says.

Mid-year 2020, and several months into the pandemic, Trish invited several artists in Victoria, BC  to consider our participation.  Her introductory proposal outlined possible themes:

Going to Buenos Aires     In March (2020) my husband began talking about going to Buenos Aires.  Even though he knew it was impossible to travel during a pandemic he was adamant we would go soon.  Why not embrace this crazy idea, I thought.  Imagine going somewhere green and beautiful.  Buenos Aires began to be a fantasy stand-in for somewhere wonderful.  It stood in total contrast to the reality of our covid society.  I started to yearn for what it represented.

To help imagine more clearly what it would be like to be in Buenos Aires, I started doing some research and my imaginings were disrupted by some hard truths.  Because of the pandemic, citizens of Buenos Aires are going hungry and becoming homeless.  There are strikes and civil unrest.  The economic disparities have grown and for many there is a great degree of economic and physical instability.

So what does it mean to be going to Buenos Aires?  What we imagine.  What we long for.  What we think will bring positive change into our lives is not always simple.  Can a yearning for green and beautiful exist alongside the difficulties of others?  Is that in fact how we humans cope with challenges?  By ignoring some aspects of it?

These images explore the dual nature of yearning.  Of longing for the unattainable. And of considering how what we yearn for, long for, is not necessarily a reality.

I jumped at the opportunity to explore these themes.   The pandemic gave me time – lots and lots and LOTS of time -to wish, dream and hope in the context of devastating world events.  Examining the concepts of yearning and longing appealed to me.  Trish provided us with vocabulary, a framework and deadlines (!) to process and express some of our losses as well as our dawning insights.

Over the course of a handful of mercifully efficient Zoom meetings, we distilled the theme and revised the title of the show.

Not Going to Buenos Aires artists' Zoom meeting

Not Going to Buenos Aires artists’ Zoom meeting

Not Going to Buenos Aires  

Six artists inquire into the complexity of yearning to be anywhere other than the ‘Here’ of a pandemic shutdown.  From settling in to the gratifications of solitude to the restless urges for escape, and all points between, this show reflects their stories.                            

These stories show the diversity of their thoughts and feelings and will surely prompt viewers to consider their own responses to these restrictive times.  If you’re not going to Buenos Aires, where are you going?

It’s fascinating to see the unique responses from each artist.  Six different artists produce six different interpretations, although overlapping concerns emerge.  Joanne Hewko says that Before the pandemic, I loved to plan trips and travel….the feeling of anticipation and discovery. I  realized that travelling, especially by air,  is a privileged activity that has consequences environmentally and culturally….it is something that I can no longer take for granted.

Trish notes that the pandemic created an ideal opportunity to reflect on how the environmental degradation that is the norm is beginning to shift how our world will be.

The Air was Still and the Sun was Out (detail) Trish Shwart, acrylic on wood panel

The pandemic has affirmed my conviction of the interdependence between humans and the natural world.  It’s a deadly example of the connection of the micro to the macro in all things.

bred in the bone (detail), Terry Vatrt, etching, embossing, chine collé

We’ll talk more about the artists’  ideas and experiences in future posts.  In the meantime, if you’re interested in more images, and reading our artist statements, you can visit the Not Going to Buenos Aires website.

In one week you can visit us in person, too. ( Covid protocols in place, of course.)  Let us know where you aren’t going – just yet.