Saturday, 15 November 2014

First dusting of snow 14 November 2014

Well today was one of those days where nothing is quite as it should be. It started with a false Fire Alarm in our building triggered by a workmen who bang into the wall alarm and triggered it. So walked downstairs with 2 puppies in tow who have to be carried because they cannot manage the stairs. The lobby was mayhem with people and firemen milling about, obviously there was no fire but the noise of the sirens had set the dogs off and Nora got into a fight with one other dog. She may be small only 5Kg but she is tough. I was not happy with her behaviour in front of all the old ladies of the building. I also forgot I should have been at the Museum at 10am and was now late, but it did not matter because the activity was cancelled. Then I got an emergency email telling me that the scheduled tour of the Jack Bush retrospective was now today and not on the 20th. So I quickly made my way to the National Gallery to attend it. Luckily coffee and cookies were on offer prior to the tour.
Glass dome of the Great Hall, National Gallery of Canada.

The weather has been progressively getting colder but still some days are warmish. However today with a mix of bright Sun and grey snow clouds swirling above the City, you knew snow was on the way. The clouds just have that colour, not rain obviously because they are taking on a blue grey hue. Then suddenly light snow flakes fall, the wind is wiping them around like white sugar falling on a pound cake, just a dusting, just to make things look wintery as in the Flemish paintings by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

This week has been quite interesting artistically. We went to a concert with the Cantata Singer of Ottawa, they are considering a new maestro and Christopher Hossfeld is one of the candidates. Hossfeld has a Master in Choral Conducting from the Yale Music School and a Bachelor from Harvard in Music Composition, he is the recipient of many Academic awards and he is an accomplished composer.

Christopher Hossfeld

I had met him this past Summer at the Canadian War Museum when he came to see the Exhibit of Canadian War Paintings, Transformations AY Jackson & Otto Dix. He was at the time composing his new piece In Pace and I gave him the tour of the exhibit, he's a charming fellow. He later told me that seeing this exhibit with me giving the background context had helped him along.

We went to hear the Cantata Singers of Ottawa and Hossfeld was directing In Pace.
I was very impress with his composition, the beauty of the music and words, a moving and thoughtful piece.

Then we went to the National Arts Centre of Canada, as it is now called, the hear the NAC Orchestra and their new Conductor Maestro Alexander Shelley. He is a very urbane and elegant young man, he has that European Conductor look, think Pappano or Muti. He currently works with the Orchestra of Nuremberg, Liepzig and DSO Berlin among others and he has also worked with many other orchestras.

Maestro Alexander Shelley

Shelley surprised the audience when at the beginning he made a short introduction to the pieces in French and then in English. It was flawless and very well done. He is a much anticipated and welcome change to Pinchas Zuckerman who frankly had discouraged me from going to the concerts. The black Kmer Rouge pyjama shuffling along look was not inspiring and the program was usually what you can hear any day on the radio, in other words lots of easy listening music, you can hum along.

The program started with a piece of music by Otto Nicolai, Ouverture to the Merry Wives of Windsor, then Korngold Suite from Much ado About Nothing. The main piece was Mendelssohn
Incidental Music for A midsummer Night Dream with actor Colm Feore providing the narration of the text from the play using both French and English as he went along.

It was a delightful evening and I simply loved Shelley's elegant and fluid conducting style.

Then the next day I went to the Vernissage of the Jack Bush retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada. It is a very well put together exhibition and it was not an easy one to mount, Bush died in 1977 in Toronto of heart failure and his paintings are in a large part in private collection, like the one of David Mirvish.  What I like about this exhibit is that it speaks of all the aspects of his life, we have his diaries which he kept for 30 years of this life (1930-1977), they are not open to the public and are with the E.P.Taylor Library at the Art Gallery of Ontario. In this exhibit the Curator Marc Mayer and his collaborators brought together the diaries and the paintings. It was Bush's psychiatrist Dr. Allan Walters who suggested he keep a diary and paint in the abstract style to relieve his chronic anxiety.
Bush would then read out loud to his doctor his diary entry and discuss his paintings as a way to reduce or get rid up his anxiety. Bush was also for 40 years a very successful commercial draftsmen and artist. He was part of the Group of 11 for some years and was involved with many other arts groups, an over achiever in other words. He is known today as one of the best Canadian Artist of the 20th Century.
Chopsticks 1977, his last canvas.

Tall Spread 1966

Bush exhibited in New-York and elsewhere and his agent was Clement Greenberg one of the great art critic of his time and a close friend of Bush. I was also privilege the next day, to get as a Volunteer of the NGC, a tour open only to employees and volunteer of the Exhibit and given by the Gallery director Marc Mayer who is not only knowledgeable but also loves the subject.

Jack Bush 1909-1977

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