Every month, we feature a new take on the CBC Arts logo created by a Canadian artist. Check out our previous logos!
Birdmouse is the pseudonym of Jason “Lenny” Gallant, an East Coast artist who likes to describe himself as a reclamist.
“I know reclamist is not a real word,” Gallant writes, “but I use it anyway.” And as for what that means, think of his practice as a kind of upcycling. The artist typically works with salvaged wood, harvesting second-hand timber from whatever he can get his mitts on. “[I’ve] dissected 50 organs over the past nine years,” he says. (Pump organs, that is.) And he reworks that material into everything from murals to coffee tables.
“Using reclaimed materials also means using the skills and expertise of the previous creator,” Gallant writes. “I often describe this scenario as having an army of dead people working for me, as most of the items I reclaim already have 75-100 years of use before they come to me. I try to balance the notions of historical relevance, sentimental burdens and the freedom of working with something that has been discarded.” And Gallant has a very personal connection to the piece he made for us — a little story he reveals in this questionnaire.
Name: Jason “Lenny” Gallant
Homebase: Bethel, P.E.I.
What’s the story behind your name, Birdmouse?
We had a cat toy that was part bird and part mouse. The name does not have any more meaning than that. But it does allow me to try new ideas and mediums without having to adhere to a named outcome. And it’s weird. And that’s important to me.
How long have you been making art with wood?
I’ve been doing this work full-time since 2012.
What drew you to the practice?
Free time. Due to life circumstances I had many months where I was unable to work my job in logistics at a solar company. I wanted to make my career be what I naturally started doing in my free time. That turned into creating art from back-alley treasures. That was in Edmonton. Still loving it!
Let’s talk about your design! What inspired the concept?
The scene is a nod to my time “out west” where this ride all started. It’s where I lived in my 20s and early 30s, and where I met my wife. I went on numerous hiking trips in the mountains, something I definitely miss.
Is the wood in this piece salvaged? Any significance to where it came from?
The wood used is from the dining table my family ate around when I was a child. It brings up memories of boiled dinners, lobster feasts and homework! And of course the CBC was always on the radio or TV growing up.
What’s the project you’re most proud of?
My first solo art show was called Cost Of Living. Each artwork was inspired by and priced in correspondence to a monthly bill or expense. It allowed the audience to see what and how much work I needed to complete and sell every month in order to just get by — a peek into the life of a working rural artist. I compared Alberta and P.E.I. expenses, having works representing the same bills with different values and subject matters.
What’s your favourite place to see art?
Confederation Center Art Gallery, or in the middle of nowhere … by surprise.
Who’s the last artist you discovered online?
What work of art do you wish you owned?
ANYTHING from Christian Rex van Minnen.
Where can we see more from you?
This conversation has been edited and condensed.
Oak Bay sets aside $27,000 for Indigenous art at muncipal hall – Saanich News
Oak Bay’s newly renovated chambers will feature a new piece of public art commissioned from an Indigenous artist.
The district allocated one per cent of the budget for the hall renovation, $7,000 to public art. Combined with the annual public art allocation, the district has $27,000 to spend on a work for municipal hall.
The move to work with a local artist, specifically from the Lekwungen speaking people on whose land Oak Bay sits, was unanimous among council members.
“This is a rare opportunity to have the resources to do that and as the renovated municipal hall reopens, have that be one of the centrepieces,” Coun. Andrew Appleton said during council discussions July 12.
Still in the earliest of stages, conversation surrounded the how of the project.
Oak Bay is between arts laureates, but liaison Coun. Hazel Braithwaite said the public arts committee is taking on that leadership role.
Coun. Tara Ney lamented the district’s lack of policy or set protocol for engaging in such initiatives.
She voiced a need to create pathways for engaging so it’s not done piecemeal, and instead with confidence and in culturally appropriate way.
Mayor Kevin Murdoch, who is routinely in conversation with local First Nations leadership, said the district is doing well in the absence of policy, always seeking guidance and building relationships in small ways.
Council agreed working toward something more formal is something they could pursue.
“This does require more formality and we need to start to establish those connections so we’re consistent and so we’re completely aware and sensitive to their needs,” Coun. Cairine Green said.
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‘Lynn Valley LOVE’: artist collaborates with public to remember victims of stabbing tragedy – News 1130
NORTH VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Earlier this year, the tightly knit North Vancouver community was shaken after a stabbing claimed the life of one woman and injured six others.
One local woman says, since the incident, the community has had its security threatened, which is why she is behind the newly unveiled art project “to bring some love and positivity back into that space.”
Modern quilter, Berene Campbell, has worked on projects across the country and world, but her latest artwork “Lynn Valley LOVE Project,” was sparked by the tragedy right outside her home.
“This one was just down the road from my home. So for some reason, it just felt like I had to respond to that since I’ve done it for other communities. And now there was a tragedy in my own community. I felt like I needed to do something.”
So, Campbell went to work, collaborating with residents in the community and people across the country.
Today, if you walk into the Lynn Valley Library, you’ll be greeted with quilted panels spelling ‘LOVE’ “hung there to represent the general community to bring love back into that space.”
Banners made by hundreds are hung over the library stairwell.
“People do it to give back to the community to make them feel good [and] it’s also very healing for the participants to be creative and to make something beautiful and also to be a part of the bigger whole project and to feel a part of the community. So when you see that many people participating, it’s amazing.”
And Campbell says the turnout of participates was unexpected but incredible adding, she couldn’t have done it on her own.
“There’s something incredibly powerful about bringing multiple people together, and the healing of collective energy is much more powerful than one person making all of that work themselves on their own.
“There’s something just amazing about people working together for the greater good.”
VIDEO: Greater Victoria master carver says Indigenous art a way to restore culture – Oak Bay News – Oak Bay News
For internationally recognized master carver and lifelong artist, Temosen (Charles) Elliott, his art is a way of communicating with the public that First Nations Peoples are restoring their culture, once lost to colonialism.
A member of the T’sartlip First Nation, Elliott’s works are cherished in collections worldwide.
As a child he practiced art in many forms and when he attended T’sartlip Indian Day School, he won a drawing contest meant to advocate for awareness around tuberculosis.
It was through carving small pieces and drawing daily that he knew art would be a part of his life forever.
“Every evening in our family home, I’d wait until dishes were done and I’d sit down after dinner and draw and draw,” Elliott recalled.
His work can today be found at the University of Victoria, the Saanich Peninsula Hospital, Butchart Gardens and many more places across B.C. and in private collections worldwide.
“When you’re doing the artwork, you’re just putting the words to images,” he said, explaining that his work stands as a silent ambassador for First Nations Peoples.
Elliott has also mentored many emerging artists, including his own children and grandchildren who he said will carry on Indigenous artistry as part of their family legacy.
“I want younger First Nations Peoples to pick it up and do it, because it’s like speaking your language and holding your culture in place,” he said. “Don’t be discouraged; if you are, keep going because there are teachers around like myself who want to share their knowledge.”
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