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Backcountry Falls, Garibaldi Park

Ann's Art

Ann's way of being and her way of seeing are woven together in an intricately wrought tapestry of joy and magic and of celebration and reverence. Each of these inseparable pairs serves as the warp and weft of her life and art.

Ann's art and life are seamless - a magical mobius strip that turns inward and outward simultaneously. Endlessly renewing itself, her way of being/seeing can renew those open to transition, transformation and transcendence. Or it can tantalize, even prod, those less likely to leap into altered states of being/seeing into trying to get over themselves.

Her art is fanciful and playful, but never trite. I have yet to discern a single careless line or stroke, nor a thoughtless one. This is not to suggest that her canvasses are suffused with meaning. That would be tedious. No, her being/seeing has always struck me as graceful, peaceful, gentle, always loving, and ever perceptive. This leads to her being mindfull about her life and work, and it shows in how she paints.

Ann's art celebrates what is and what can be in what she is seeing and often reveals its becoming. She also remembers its past. That is, she is mindful of the geological history of the mountains she sees or mindful that a tree grew from a seed which erupted into existence from the decayed debris of plants or trees that grew there once. She is not restrained by this remembrance, but rooted by it. Thereby, she is mindful in the sense of "observing" (as in observing a sabbath) and at the same time of "minding" (as in tending a child). This mindfulness is not passive, though. Nor is it intrusive. It is Ann's way of being creative. Just as the poet gives voice to what lies within and upon the earth, Ann gives it shape and form. Above all, she gives it colour - joyous cascades of colour.

Early Spring, Campbell Valley ParkIn Ann's world, shape and form and substance are inseparable from their capacity for colour. I say "capacity" because she teases out the unexpected colour moments that might escape our eye or lie just beyond our limits of apprehension, even imagination. Sometimes I am sure she surprises even the objects themselves with the colours she catches them revealing when they least expect to be observed. I refer to "colour moments" because her colours are also about time. I don't mean just how her paintings change through morning to evening light or how she renders the passing of the seasons in their dance of colours. Ann's colours allow what she paints to call out "Here I am" in the sense that whatever she paints is able to say "This is my time!" "I am here for you now." She does more than help us notice the world, she enables us to behold it.

Lupines, Garibaldi ParkThis strikes me as a profound gift. She allows us to see a mountain mountaining or a tree treeing itself to us - in its own terms. Other artists have achieved this. Ansel Adams' photographs, are one example. I mention this because he did not use colour, but relied on light for the luminosity that reveals. This is more than revealing the essence of something, it is revealing what it means to be something.

Ann's gift - both in the sense of her being an artist and in what she gives us, the viewer - is somehow different, though. In helping us to behold her world we discover how to cherish it. Some artists wake us up, others cast us into awe and wonder. Ann is more modest, more intricate, - she makes us more attentive. I always want to turn my attention to tending my world and those within in it after viewing Ann's art. Also, I am reminded to heed what is beyond my ken and call.

Ann's art makes room for us in her world. I am not so interested in how she deals with the spatial dimension or with depth. Her use of colour and composition to address the presumed dictates of perspective are worthy of comment, but not so intriguing as her way of making room for everything that must be there, including the viewer. Her paintings have a way of opening up for us. Her paints don't invite us to look at them - no, I've said they engage us in the act of beholding not them, but the world of is-ing and be-coming that they are. This is always subtle in effect. We just want to be in the midst of what she paints. There is always room for us there. We have made a great deal of room on our walls for Ann's art, in a house full of art.

Joy and magic! Magicians transform things, hopefully to Spring Boardwalk, Campbell Valley Parkdelight us and thus increase our joy. Ann lets us see the possibility of transformation within the world and coaxes us to embrace what at first glimpse seems impossible. I will never forget my delight at first seeing her fanciful purple-blue quails scattered about an arbutus grove. Or, her chickens fluttering about in the midst of gardens, sheds and fences in a cockamamy confusion of angles and colours. She has helped me to float like a Chagall creature above a boardwalk wending through a forested glade or to hover amidst mountains cradling lakes. The improbable beckons me to hold it within my gaze. These are not mountain landscapes, barnyard scenes, or vistas and views. They are works of art that work on us. Their "work" is always worthy. Not because they are profound, nor because of some message or statement on the world or art. Not because they are easy to be with. But because they gently persuade us about what is possible.

Walking to Wing LakeCelebration and reverence! In a world stripped of the sense of celebration and which seems to have forgotten how to revere, Ann's art reminds of what must not be lost. She works carefully. That is, she is full of care for what she paints. She both celebrates life and her existence and reveres what comes forth, flourishes, and dies. She celebrates and reveres, too, that which abides and reminds us not to take it for granted. She is endlessly patient and knows how quietude is a source of insight. Best of all she allows us to see these qualities in the world and those we love.

For more than thirty years I have known and loved Ann as her teacher, friend, and fellow existential traveller. I have seen her tend her garden, mind her child, love her husband, and care for her friends. You don't have to know her as I do to love her art. But you know that such art cannot come from some alienated soul. Somehow you must know that her work stems from a special way of being on this earth. Ann is one of those few among us who dwells poetically on this earth.

Jim Sellers,
Yellowknife, Canada