The Return…Getting Back to my Creative Process

It’s been eight months since I’ve posted anything on this website and six months since I’ve created any new episodes on my Podcast: The Accidental Curator https://www.theaccidentalcurator.ca/ . Although most of my creative energy had been directed towards the podcast since its inception in mid-2020, it was still my intention to use Clay and Bone as an outlet for my mask-making, painting and short story writing. Whereas writing can take place anywhere and anytime that inspiration and the muse allow, regional travel restrictions prevented me from using my Studio/Gallery on Mayne Island for any of my 3 and 2 dimensional artwork. All creative projects hit a wall in June as regional Covid restrictions were lifted and I was able to travel – once again – to Mayne Island to re-open my Gallery Café https://shavasana.ca/ .

Although I haven’t painted much during the pandemic I did manage to sell one of my pieces, “Winter Pond”, when my Gallery re-opened for business this past summer

When I finally managed to re-open to the public in July – after a 21 month hiatus – I had no idea what to expect. Given that we were still in the midst of the pandemic, would islanders and tourists show up or would I be left in my empty Gallery/Café vaxxed, masked, and holding a bottle of hand sanitizer. Well…they showed up…in droves…and I had the busiest summer, albeit shortened, that I’d had in 8 years in business. Perhaps this was due to an unprecedented fire season we were having in the interior of BC which drove people to the coast for vacation, perhaps it was due to the US border re-opening to Americans (but not Canadians) such that they flowed up here but we had nowhere to go, maybe it was the new dynamic of people leaving the cities, discovering ways to continue working online thus liberating them from offices and the urban environment…maybe it was just that islanders after a year and a half of pandemic limitations, were in need of somewhere else to go and grab a coffee on a small island with few options. Anyway you slice it, it was a busy, busy summer at the Gallery Café and all plans of Podcasting, Posting or Painting were off.

This was my last day of Summer hours – October 3, 2021 -and I had a quiet moment to do a walkthrough to capture the Shavasana vibe, a little momento of a fabulous summer – despite the pandemic👍

This outcome was not such a bad thing. I actually love working at Shavasana Gallery & Café. I feel blessed to interact with such a – generally – happy group of people. Whether they are tourists who are on vacation euphoria or islanders who are joyous at their good fortune, my experience, as a barista/curator on a small Gulf Island has been one of sublime bliss.

And I could carry on this way indefinitely but for two realities, “shoulder season” arrives, and my inner creative neanderthal needs to abandon the hunt for nuts and berries and go into the cave and make art, or tell stories, or beat a drum. “Shoulder Season” for a small Gallery Café proprietor on Mayne island is that period – roughly – from October through March where I become, as one friend described it, less of a gregarious summertime social maestro, and more of counsellor for those suffering mid-winter cabin fever blues…all for the price of a cup of coffee.

I did manage to paint this mask, “Pandemic Pan”, which I made in 2020

Thus…a perfect time to work on my creative projects. I’ve already started to prepare more clay for a new mask I have in mind, and have been gifted with a lovely set of Fallow Deer antlers from one of our island hunters – Bob – which will grace this piece.

Preparing “Clay and Bone” for the next mask project

Another project which has kept me moderately busy is an ebay store which I set up in late 2020. It occurred to me during the pandemic that I had collectibles (comics & sport cards from my childhood), antiques and art that I was willing to part with so I took some time to populate my ebay store https://www.ebay.ca/usr/shavasana9 with 200 items for sale (follow the link if you wish to have a look). This has been going surprisingly well and has been a fun pastime in lieu of running Shavasana Gallery or making art at my studio. I think the next stage will be reaching out to artists and friends who have art which they’d like to sell through my store. I already have a few items from friends for sale and have had interested inquiries from others.

And then there’s life…and death. Joyously, my son Cam got married in September to his sweetheart Nekita, and then tragically two of my dearest friends lost their son in October…this capricious universe, so dynamic, so organized yet chaotic. I am often left in awe of this experience, yet always try to find some way to express gratitude.

And when all else fails? Go to a Bond movie…although the pandemic postponed the release of “No Time To Die” for 18 months, when it finally hit the screens in October I beelined to the neighbourhood cinema and caught a Sunday matinee. I slouched into my seat with a box of hot salted buttered popcorn… and Bond delivered…all is right in the universe👍

Nothing like a little Bond & Buttered Popcorn on a rainy Sunday afternoon to make everything right in the universe…at least for a short while🙏

The Accidental Curator

It just dawned on me, recently, that I haven’t fed this Clay and Bone website for a while – last November to be precise when I did a wee article on my newest mask “Pandemic Pan”. For those of you who do receive my Blog/Journal posts on Clay and Bone, you are probably also aware that this site is inextricably connected to things I post on www.shavasana.ca which is the site for my Gallery Café on Mayne Island. Shavasana Gallery also serves as my creative studio when I am inclined to make a mask, or do a little painting, or some writing…or embark on some other creative project. It’s also where I exhibit all of my unsold masks & paintings, or, hold exhibits for other artists.

The primary reason I haven’t been posting on Clay and Bone is because I have a new Podcast project called “The Accidental Curator”, https://www.theaccidentalcurator.ca/ which was launched last November, and has been occupying most (if not all) of my creative energy, and will help to explain my absence from this site. Most people who receive Shavasana Gallery posts are aware of this project because I have included information and links about it on that site and also on my Shavasana Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/shavasanaartgallery . Unfortunately I’m not sure who’s receiving, liking, following, or subscribing to any of my four sites so I apologize if this current info is already known to you…I don’t want you to suffer from “George Overkill” 😆

If, on the other hand, you are bemused and intrigued by my new Podcast Project announcement and are thinking, “Hmm, sounds very compelling…I’m intrigued, please tell me more” Well, here is the premise:

Have you ever wanted to leave your job and pursue a simpler life? I did. An intimate glimpse into small island living and community life through the eyes of a Gallery Café owner, artist and writer. This sublime adventure brought healing, growth and new challenges, for our tragicomic play is never quite so simple. Join me for short stories, and interviews with island creatives, activists & other heart-centric denizens.

As of this writing – March 4, 2021 – I have published 4 episodes and am working on my 5th which I hope to have recorded and published within the next week. From a strictly creative perspective the Pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse. Covid-19 has shut down my Gallery and made travelling to my studio quite awkward, thus liberating my time for additional projects like The Accidental Curator podcast. Emotionally though, it has also been a huge drain and a worry which – on occasion – has been an energy-sucking motivational Muse kill. As my heart has been more into writing these last few years, I have a body of short stories from Clay and Bone and Shavasana Gallery which will make their way into the new podcast in an audio format, I will be doing some interviews, and I have an intention to write some Semi-Autobiographical Fiction which will also wind up there.

So, I haven’t disappeared, I’m actually quite busy and looking forward to the evolution of any of these endeavours. If you’re a fan of podcasts and are interested in checking out what I’ve done, you can either go to this link https://www.theaccidentalcurator.ca/ (as mentioned above) which takes you to the Podbean Host, or , you can go to either Directory: Apple (iTunes) Podcasts or Google Podcasts and do a search for The Accidental Curator.

I hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe & well during this time.

Cheers!

George

The Anecdotard

“an old person whose mental faculties have declined, but not enough to dissuade him from telling short stories about himself”

                                             From the “Bathgate Book of Puns & Portmanteaus”

I suffer from the occasional bout of depression. Although it’s not clinical or chronic, and usually dissipates within a day or two, while it lingers, it can have a nasty crippling effect upon my productivity and sense of accomplishment. I don’t medicate – anymore – as I have assembled tools & techniques, from years of self-work to help me deal with the down. A little reading and self-awareness, a little counselling, and a little Cognitive Behavioural Therapy have been the Hardware stores from which I have filled my emotional toolbox. Luckily, these discouraging feelings are oft times mitigated, as well, by a zany sense of humour, which I have in spades.

It usually starts with some kind of self-critical observation. 

I’ve been doing a fair bit of writing recently (and not so recently) and have had the  disquieting thought that a lot of my current writing lacks substance and depth and is merely anecdotal in nature.  This is the crack in the door through which the depressive thought tries to gain a foothold. 

“Of what lasting value are your anecdotes…old man?” Sneers the cruel inner critic as the crack of despondency widens further. It’s the same accusation of meaninglessness that my demon has conjured up anytime I’ve picked up a pen, a paintbrush or a musical instrument. “Gee…am I just an old guy writing his memoirs?” I ask myself glumly. “Limited talent and minimal lasting value I can accept…but old?…I still have red hair for fuck sake”  My “Sensei of Humour” arrives with a pun and some self-deprecatory thoughts, to teach me a valuable lesson and deflect the cruel blows of self-doubt. “That would make you an Anecdotard, Seito” he says,  “an old man with diminishing mental acuity, telling amusing stories about himself.”

Despondency lifts as I comfort myself with this playful pun. But self-doubt has not released its grip and returns with a pointed remark which casts doubt on my knowledge of language, “That’s not a pun” he oozes, with thinly veiled contempt …Anecdotard is a portmanteau!” Like a deer in the headlights, paralyzed by self-doubts’ cocky certainty, I slowly reach for my cell phone. “What the fuck is a portmanteau?” I wonder. “Sounds like a French overcoat….I need to reach out to a higher linguistic power” No, not Google or Wiktionary – higher than that – I text my friend Jon Steeves, creator of  “Moot – The World’s Toughest Language Game” and pose my question.

“Ahhh, I’m not wrong”… I ponder, optimistically, as I lean back in my chair with my hands clasped behind my head…“I’m half right”. Depression and self-doubt are – for a time – vanquished, and I return to my normal happy-go-lucky state.

Friends and an appreciation of the absurdity of life – two of the most important contents of any depressive’s toolbox.