Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

This stunningly beautiful scene of “A Fjord” was painted by Norwegian artist Adelsteen Normann

April 15, 2019
A Fjord painted by Norwegian artist Adelsteen Normann

I discovered this beautiful painting on Twitter. Don’t know whether this scene represents a sunrise or a sunset between the mountains. Either way, the vivid colors on the horizon and in the sky, and their reflection on the water are spectacular! I did some research to learn more about this impressive artist and found some of his paintings at artnet and in videos 1 & 2. Click on the video description to read more about this master painter. Here’s an excerpt from this Wikipedia biograhy.

Eilert Adelsteen Normann (May 1, 1848 – December 26, 1918) was a Norwegian painter who worked in Berlin. He was a noted painter of landscapes of Norway. Normann was the artist who invited Edvard Munch to Berlin, where he painted The Scream. Normann’s fjord paintings are credited with making the Norwegian fjords a more popular tourist destination.

this snow buddha photo inspired a winter haiku

March 22, 2019

My daughter Shara and her husband Toby live on Lopez Island, WA. On Feb 12, Toby took this photograph of their buddha statue covered in snow. About a foot tall, it’s located in their back yard near the clifftop seats overlooking the ocean. It’s quite the view! I visited them in June 2017. Toby said: “We had quite a bit of snow here, it was really lovely just for that week.” He recently added the photo to his impressive collection on Instagram. I was inspired to write him a winter haiku on this first day of spring!

snowbuddha-web

a winter haiku

wrapped in white silence
contemplating nothingness
the buddha ascends

©Ken Chawkin
March 21, 2019
Fairfield, Iowa

Marc Chagall’s paintings contain beautiful colors of love and a joyful floating lightness of being

January 17, 2019

Homage to Chagall

homage to chagallAs a young man in my early 30s living back home in Montreal, I remember watching a stunningly beautiful film on Canadian television called, Homage to Chagall: The Colours of Love.

It’s a 1977 Canadian documentary film about artist Marc Chagall directed by Harry Rasky of Toronto. This inspiring film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1978 for Best Documentary Feature. The Directors Guild of America awarded Rasky with Outstanding Direction of a Documentary.

Synopsis: Imaginatively utilizing over 300 mosaics, stained-glass windows, murals and paintings, plus an in-depth interview with the famous Russian artist himself, Homage to Chagall is both a tribute to and a celebration of a life of intense productivity that encompassed everything from primitive mysticism to cubist intellectuality.

Sherway Academy Arts & Sciences recently posted the Chagall Documentary on YouTube for students to learn about this great artist. Read their description of his artistic bio included there. It concludes with this quote by Pablo Picasso from the 1950s: “When Matisse dies, Chagall will be the only painter left who understands what colour really is.”

The Colors of Love

This short YouTube video on Marc Chagall is a beautiful slideshow of his colorful paintings of love with an equally beautiful soundtrack, Serenade to Spring, Songs From A Secret Garden. Click on Show More to read a short biography posted there after a quote by Chagall that sums up his philosophy of life and painting: “In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

“In our life there is a single color, as on an artist’s palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of LOVE.”

Art History’s Greatest Love Story

Sotheby’s was going to auction off one of Marc Chagall’s paintings, Les Amoureux (The Lovers), which depicts Bella and Marc mid-embrace, masterfully capturing “the beauty of life.” Simon Shaw, co-head of Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide for Sotheby’s, interviewed Chagall’s granddaughter, Bella Meyer, who recalled vivid memories of the artist speaking about his love and muse, Bella Chagall. She said she never saw her grandmother, who had died before she was born.

When the painting was made in 1928, it was bought and kept by one family, and never shown to the public until this recent auction. Shaw says, “It’s very hard not to feel happy in front of this picture. It’s a work that exudes peace and happiness.”

Bella responds, “Peace, as you said, it’s most important.” For her, the painting is “a very tender yet forceful kind of celebration for the essence of life, the beauty of life.” Enjoy this informative video with closeups of the painting, Art History’s Greatest Love Story: Marc & Bella Chagall.

The image on the DVD cover at the top of this post is of Chagall’s 1915 painting, L’Anniversaire, also mentioned in the Sotheby’s video.

Creating from the heart, not the head

For a comprehensive biography of the artist, see Marc Chagall, which includes an animated slide show. A quote shown there describing how he worked as an artist says it all: “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works. If from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall.

I know what he means. I had an experience of creating intuitively from feelings instead of mentally from thoughts during a first art class. Surprised, I wrote a poem about the creative awakening called ArtWords.

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works. If from the head, almost nothing.” — Marc Chagall

The Fiddler

homage to chagall-kultur dvdChagall’s painting of The Fiddler was also used on the film’s DVD covers.  My grandmother loved that painting because it reminded her of her earlier years growing up in Russia. She was a creative person who liked to cook, crochet, and paint.

I asked an artist friend if he would outline a copy of it on a canvas for her to fill in. I brought him to meet her first and they hit it off. When he offered to sketch the painting for her, she was delighted. She did a wonderful job of reproducing it. Unfortunately, after she died, by the time we went to her apartment, a new tenant was already living there, and the painting was gone.

Mental health tips from London’s leading art figures includes #TranscendentalMeditation

October 10, 2018

Wednesday, October 10, 2018: The Evening Standard GO London wrote a piece for , on how London arts figures look after their minds. They featured 9 individuals. Here is the introduction, and the 7th, Bea Colley, who benefits from her regular practice of Transcendental Meditation, and finds comfort in poetry.

Tips for a healthy mind from London’s leading art figures

Only in the last few years have mental health and physical health begun to be regarded on an equal par. Open conversations about mental health help to break the stigma, but they also remind us that it’s an issue that affects us all.

Self-care is too often relegated to the last priority in the midst of life in a high pressure city, long days at work and digital devices that don’t allow us to ever truly switch off. Opening up about how you’re really feeling is hard enough, and finding and taking practical steps to look after your body and mind isn’t straightforward either.

To mark this year’s World Mental Health Day, we asked leading London arts figures for their tips on self-care and keeping a healthy mind.

Bea Colley

A few years ago, during a particularly difficult time, I learnt Transcendental Meditation. It’s a practice that my parents swear got them through their teaching years and that celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey and David Lynch live their lives by. I know that if I can keep up the 20 minutes each morning and evening, the day will be brighter and calmer. Also, being a lover of poetry, I have a theory that a poem will always find you in times of need. Sometimes I head to Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library, pick up an anthology and wait for a poem to bring me comfort.

Bea Colley is Literature Programmer at Southbank Centre‘s London Literature Festival which runs October 18-28.

Excellent interview with @DAVID_LYNCH about #TranscendentalMeditation & @LynchFoundation

September 16, 2018

Huffington Post writer/interviewer Marianne Schnall produced this wonderful, comprehensive Interview With David Lynch: His Mission to Change the World Through Meditation. It was posted December 9, 2014 and updated February 8, 2015.

I can remember being absolutely hooked and engrossed into the surreal world of the cutting-edge television series Twin Peaks back in the ’90s. That was when series creator and director David Lynch became a household name and the show developed a massive and passionate cult following (which the show still has — there was much excitement over the recent announcement that Twin Peaks will return as a limited series with new episodes written, directed, and produced by Lynch to air on Showtime in 2016). In addition to receiving numerous Emmy nominations for his work on Twin Peaks, Lynch has also received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay for iconic films like The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive. All these years later, I found myself playing my own cameo in a seemingly surreal scene: hanging out with David Lynch in a hotel cafe in NYC, sipping lattes and talking about topics such as meditation, consciousness, the Unified Field, and “positivity moving at the speed of light in all directions.” What I experienced during our inspiring and thought-provoking time together is that while he is an explosive force of nature creatively, in person he is a gentle, soft-spoken, thoughtful, and deeply caring and compassionate soul. In addition to being a consummate artist in a variety of mediums (as well as being a film and television director and writer, he is also a musician, actor, author, and visual artist), David has one passion that is especially dear to his heart: the David Lynch Foundation, a non-profit founded by the legendary filmmaker to help people overcome trauma and transform their lives through the Transcendental Meditation technique. It began when he first experienced how dramatically TM transformed his own personal life experience, which he says granted him “access to unlimited reserves of energy, creativity, and happiness deep within.” But he says, “I had no idea how powerful and profound this technique could be until I saw firsthand how it was being practiced by young children in inner-city schools, veterans who suffer the living hell of post-traumatic stress disorder, and women and girls who are victims of terrible violence.” The organization was founded in 2005 as the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace to ensure that every child anywhere in the world who wanted to learn to meditate could do so. Now, the foundation has expanded and is actively teaching TM to adults and children in countries everywhere and offers a variety of pioneering campaigns and programs, including many innovative initiatives aimed at youth and a variety of at-risk communities. The positive effects of the organization’s work is backed up by measurable results and emerging scientific data and research, as well as support from celebrities and fellow TM practitioners such as Russell Brand, Howard Stern, Jerry Seinfeld, Ringo Starr, Ellen Degeneres, Lena Dunham, and Katy Perry. In the following interview, David Lynch shares the story of his own personal transformation and his belief in the power of meditation to not only positively affect one’s own enjoyment of life, creativity, and ability to cope with stress and trauma but also transform our “collective consciousness.” As he told me, “The human being is like a light bulb. If a human being is super stressed, depressed, and filled with negativity, this is what that human being radiates out into the world. On the other hand, if a human being is filled with happiness and positivity, this is what they radiate out into the world. We each affect our environment and that collective consciousness. The more people who are diving within and transcending and are getting that happiness and positivity, the better the world will be.”

Marianne Schnall: Tell me a little about your journey that led you to found the David Lynch Foundation and just in general how you wound up at this place, your own experience with Transcendental Meditation.

David Lynch: I started Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1973 in Los Angeles, California, on July 1st on a beautiful Sunday morning, about 11:00. I loved my experience with Transcendental Meditation. I loved my experience, I just loved it. And I’ve been meditating twice a day for 41 years now, never missed a meditation in those 41 years. I went to Fairfield, Iowa, one time to visit a high school where the entire school’s teachers and students practiced Transcendental Meditation. While I was there on a cold and raining night, I was invited to a high school play and I thought maybe it would be one of the most boring nights of my life. I went to a little theater that was packed with people. Then on the stage came students, high school students, and they put on a play that blew me away.

A lot of things about the play impressed me so much, but the main thing was a glow on every face — this glow of consciousness, of intelligence, of happiness. None of them were actors. They were high school students. They weren’t going into acting, but they were so beyond good and the timing of everything was so good, the humor of everything, where it was supposed to be humorous, was so good. It was tight. And it was performed so beautifully. There was some kind of extra thing coming off them that was thrilling. After that, I thought every actor, every actress, should learn Transcendental Meditation. It’s that thing, that charisma, that magic thing that was coming off the high school students.

Around this time, I started hearing about different schools around the country. I started hearing about students bringing guns to school and then more and more through the years, about more and more violence in schools, metal detectors, no learning, fights in the school, a lot of depression, a lot of pharmaceutical drugs, a lot of illegal drugs — the whole thing that by now everybody’s heard about. And I thought, Wouldn’t it be great if students knew about Transcendental Meditation? And one thing led to another and this foundation got born in 2005.

(more…)

Artist Ananda Kesler is featured in The Hawk Eye: Abstract art as meditation in action, by Bob Saar

July 11, 2018

Last week I received an invitation from Ananda Kesler to the official opening of her art exhibit, “Longing for Another Realm,” at the Art Center of Burlington. I passed it on to my friend Bob Saar who writes for The Hawk Eye, and introduced them via email.

Intrigued, Bob went to the Art Center to interview Ananda as she was putting up her paintings for the show. They shared a deep conversation and he wrote an amazing piece for the newspaper. Titled “Abstract art as meditation in action,” it made the cover of the WEEKEND Section C1, Thursday, July 5, 2018. Bob was kind enough to put it together in a PDF for us to share. I know the print is small, but if you can expand your page (command and shift +), the text will become easier to read.

The opening sentence really captures the essence of Ananda and her work. It is the essential message, the seed containing the whole tree: “Ananda Kesler pursues her art in search of the one realm within which all things are connected.”

Bob discovers Ananda’s eclectic upbringing, starting in Israel and immigrating with her family to Fairfield, Iowa when she was 12 years old. She told him about her education. Ananda attended MSAE, started college at MUM, then switched to U of I where she graduated with a BFA. She continued her studies in art and textiles at various art schools in California, Thailand, and Italy. Her work has been featured in many shows and articles.

Bob mentions the meditating Fairfield community and MUM and writes, “Her unconventional education — rooted in eastern philosophy, spirituality and metaphysics — led her to search for the intersection of form, beauty, and the mysteries of the esoteric and unknown. Her abstract paintings have been described as invoking feelings that have yet to emerge as language.”

I like how Bob set up the topic of control in life and in painting, and how Ananda’s approach is the opposite. This idea illuminates her practice. Towards the end of the article she explains: “I practice painting as a kind of meditation in action,” from which he derived the title for the article.

She then describes what the process does for her: “I let the process of mark-making take me on a journey into the unknown.” This next part surprised me: “The marks teach me patience, teach me self-forgiveness; they are a constant reminder of how to abdicate control.”

Enjoy this brilliantly written and insightful article.

Ananda Kesler THE July 2018

KBUR also interviewed Ananda Kesler. See Dive into Another Realm.

Ananda’s description of her process, and the difference between feelings expressed in art, which are pre-verbal, and words, remind me of an experience I had during an intuitive art class I had taken years ago in Vancouver, Canada. See ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening.

A related topic, on the difference between words and art, is played out in the movie, Words and Pictures. The story, set in a New England prep school, was actually shot at St. George’s School, an independent boarding and day university-preparatory school for boys in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a.k.a., Hollywood North. A poem, Who Are You?, is central to the film. I posted it, with the movie trailer, and a magical coincidence told by an English teacher from that school on a radio talk show I had heard while living there. See A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are, to find out the connection, and what famous actor he meets while walking in the woods during a lunch break.

A Whisper Across Time: My Family’s Story of the Holocaust Told Through Art and Poetry, by Olga Campbell

May 1, 2018

I wanted to share something special with you. A friend of mine had been repressing, then actively processing an inherited trauma for most of her life. By educating herself, seeking professional help, writing and creating art, she has been able to make sense of it all. She just published a book about her powerful healing journey. She hopes it will resonate with those going through a trauma-induced grief, deepen our understanding and prevent such future catastrophes. I’ve seen the book. It’s a stunning artistic record of her ongoing transformation. Here’s what she sent me.

A Whisper Across Time book coverA Whisper Across Time is the story of one family’s experiences in the Holocaust. Olga Campbell tells a very personal and moving story through prose, art and poetry, creating a multi-dimensional snapshot of family losses and inter-generational trauma. Campbell’s art and poetry reflect the theme of sorrow and sadness created by this dark period of history. This is a story of remembering and healing. It is also a cautionary tale asking the reader to look at what is happening in the world today. Part memoir, part poetry, and art, A Whisper Across Time will make you stop, feel and reflect.

Seventeen years ago, after listening to a radio program about second generation Holocaust survivors, Olga Campbell experienced feelings she had spent a lifetime repressing. Her experience of grief, sorrow and sadness had their origins in events that happened to her family during the Holocaust. She started to confront these feelings by creating a solo multimedia exhibition in 2005 called Whispers Across Time. 

A year ago she felt compelled to write her family’s story. It felt as if her ancestors were whispering to her, encouraging her to do this. A Whisper Across Time is the result of these whispers.

Olga Campbell is a visual artist living in Vancouver, B. C. Her art work includes photography, sculpture, mixed media painting, and digital photo collage. She is also the author of Graffiti Alphabet. See more of Olga’s work at www.olgacampbell.com and olgacampbellart.

Olga has been practicing Transcendental Meditation since 1967. She became at teacher of Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh, India in 1970 and is a recertified Governor.

In her book she writes: “This personal journey was at times very difficult. However, there were and continue to be experiences in my life which make it easier … This daily practice of meditation for over half a century of time, has been transformational and life-affirming.

Praise for A Whisper Across Time

Olga Campbell’s poignant tribute to family murdered in the Shoa is a personal triumph. With words and art she has created an emotional response to a psychologically wounded mother and her inadvertent legacy of trauma. Her enormous artistic talents and insights provide not only a measure of healing but also of faithfulness to memory — the lives unlived are not forgotten. This is a precious contribution to the literature of the Holocaust and to resolving the consequences of catastrophic trauma. — Dr. Robert Krell, Founding President, Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre

A Whisper Across Time is a profoundly moving experience. It is a healing ritual, a Shamanic soul retrieval, a celebration of life, and a gift of gratitude to the family Olga Campbell never really knew. She reminds us that it is never too late to heal the sorrows of the past or to protect the future from the dangers of forgetting.Ann Mortifee, Performing Artist, Writer for theatre, ballet and films

A Whisper Across Time by Olga Campbell is now available in Vancouver, BC, Canada. To order a copy, contact Olga at olgac1@telus.net. The cost is $25 US plus $6 shipping and handling.

Olga’s book launch and art exhibit will take place Thurs, Nov 15, 2018 at the Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery. Art exhibit will continue to Dec 9.

Whisper.jpg

News Coverage for Art Show and Book Launch

Coinciding with Remembrance Day, various CBC Radio and TV hosts spoke with Olga Campbell about her book and art exhibit. As part of her Sunday November 11 show, Sheryl MacKay of CBC Radio’s North by Northwest had her on the show. Fast forward to 1:45:12–1:57:03 to listen to artist Olga Campbell tell her family’s tragic story from the Holocaust in a new book of art and memoir and poetry. About 5 minutes into the interview Olga mentions that in addition to processing her grief through art, she’s “been doing Transcendental Meditation for 50 years, so that’s really helped.”

Gloria Macarenko of CBC TV’s Our Vancouver introduced A Whisper Across Time as “a breathtakingly beautiful book.” Watch the interview (5:14): Using art and poetry to work though repressed memories of the Holocaust’s impact.

Olga Livshin wrote an excellent review of Olga Campbell’s art show and book launch in the Visual Arts section of the Jewish Independent. Whisper Across Time was published Friday, Nov 23, 2018.

Awards for the Book in 2019

Whisper Across Time won the da Vinci Eye for the current Eric Hoffer Award season. The da Vinci Eye is given in honor of the Leonardo da Vinci and awarded to superior book covers artwork each year. This is a special distinction beneath the Eric Hoffer Award umbrella. The book is still being considered for category, press, and grand prizes.

Whisper Across Time also won the Ippy Award for independent self-published authors. Olga’s book was selected for one of the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards in their Outstanding Books of the Year under the Freedom Fighter category. Olga will be attending the May 28 gala event in New York.

Cynthia Ramsay, editor of the Jewish Independent, reviewed Olga’s book: A Story Told in Art and Poetry. Here is a PDF of the JI article as it appears on page 44 of the April 12, 2019 issue under Books.

New David Lynch MFA Screenwriting students use #TranscendentalMeditation to unfold creativity

February 11, 2018

KTVO’S Aish Menon reports for ABC 3 & CBS 3.2: MUM students use Transcendental Meditation in new screenwriting program

Leonard Cohen said there’s a crack in everything–how the light gets in. It came thru him & lit up a broken humanity.

September 10, 2017

True to the end, Leonard Cohen‘s work charted the arc of his career, between life and death (Sept 21, 1934 – Nov 7, 2016). His search for redemption also influenced his fans. Cohen’s evolving understanding of life, beautifully expressed through his music, shone a light through the cracks of a broken humanity in a dark suffering world. He never claimed to have found all the answers, but seemed to have reached a kind of inner peace toward the end of his life, between himself and his God.

There is a repeated stanza in one of his songs, Anthem, that conveys the redeeming acceptance of light illuminating the darkness, compassion and love overcoming bigotry and hatred: “Ring the bells that still can ring/ Forget your perfect offering/ There is a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in.”

There may be a crack in everything, but how does the light get in—from without, or is it released from within? I’ve often thought about the profundity of those lines, and there have been many interpretations of what he may be implying. See mine below.* I think he sang about finding that divinity within and among our broken humanity. I wrote this tanka in honor of Leonard Cohen.

Leonard Cohen’s music lit up a dark world
A tanka in honor of the poet by Ken Chawkin

Leonard Cohen said
There’s a crack in everything
How the light gets in

It came through him and lit up
a broken humanity

Of course there is a kind of irony here when he says, “Forget your perfect offerings,” since he labored for months, sometimes years, on getting the lyrics to his songs perfect. At some point, though, he must’ve given up, admitted his imperfection, and sent them out into the world. As Leonardo da Vinci once said: Art is never finished, only abandoned. Other famous artists and writers have said and done the same thing.

Artistic Genius—Two Creative Approaches

There is a story about Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. They happened to be in Paris at the same time and decided to meet at a certain café. During their conversation, Dylan, one of the first to sing Cohen’s song “Hallelujah” in his concerts, asked Cohen how long it took him to write it. Cohen was embarrassed to tell him the truth so he lied and said 2 years. Then Leonard asked Bob how long it took him to write “I And I“, and he replied 15 minutes. I think he said he wrote it in the back of a cab. Cohen later told this story to an interviewer and confessed that it took him more like 5 years to write that song. He never could complete it, even after 30 verses! Their styles reflect the different philosophical approaches of ‘first thought, best thought’ versus ‘revise, revise, revise’.

You can read the fascinating history of that song in Alan Light’s book, The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah”. Malcolm Gladwell, in Season 1, Episode 7 of his Revisionist History podcast, discusses the history of “Hallelujah” with Alan Light, around 20 minutes into the conversation, for about 10 minutes. The theme is about two kinds of artists—those who seem to create spontaneously, and others who labor for a very long time—the differences between Mozart and Beethoven, or Picasso and Cezanne.

See Leonard Cohen’s website www.leonardcohen.com with links to more.

As  a footnote, I just tweeted (9-19-2107) Leonard Cohen’s biographer, Sylvie Simmons, asking her what he meant about the light getting in through the cracks, and she pointed me to Allan Showalter’s website, Cohencentric: Leonard Cohen Considered, and this post: Leonard Cohen On “The Light” In Anthem That “Allows You To Live A Life And Embrace The Disasters And Sorrows And Joys”.

Leonard later spent time in Bombay, India having conversations with Ramesh Balseka, a teacher of Advaita Vedanta. It made a profound impression on him; his life-long depression had finally lifted. He also befriended an Indian gentlemen, a fan, Ratnesh Mathur. You can read about their relationship and see photos on Cohencentric. Also read this BBC report: When the light got in for Leonard Cohen.

Murals mark 1-year anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death

Montreal murals of Leonard Cohen

Montreal murals made by Gene Pendon (l) and Kevin Ledo (r)

November 7, 2017 is the 1-year anniversary of Leonard Cohen’s death. To personally commemorate this date, Sylvie Simmons tweeted a picture of herself standing in front of a large mural of Leonard Cohen painted by Kevin Ledo on the side of a 9-storey Montreal building close to where Leonard kept a home. It was the center piece for the fifth Mural International Public Art Festival in June. The Montreal Gazette’s Bill Brownstein had written an article about the making of it. He also mentions another mural, a tribute to Leonard Cohen made by artist Gene Pendon, which was painted on the side of a 20-storey downtown building, as part of Montreal’s 375th billion dollar birthday bash. The Globe and Mail described them in detail: Leonard Cohen and a tale of two Montreal murals. ET Canada reported on the official inauguration today, a year after Cohen’s passing. Josée Cloutier posted photos of both murals in one tweet, shown above.

CBC broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel tweeted that the photograph of Leonard Cohen, which served as the basis for the large downtown mural, was taken by his daughter Lorca. Interesting that Leonard named his daughter after the famous Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, who had greatly influenced his work. “His books taught me that poetry can be pure and profound – and at the same time.”

The M.A.C.’s Exhibition on Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything

The Guardian published Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything – Montreal’s tribute to its favourite son. The new exhibition was conceived as part of the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations – but has morphed into a thorough investigation of all things Cohen. On 9 November, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (AKA the Mac) will open the doors to Leonard Cohen : une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything, a tribute to the artist, poet and musician, filled with multi-disciplinary works inspired by Cohen’s songs of life. This special exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art will conclude 9 April 2018.

The show takes its title from Cohen’s song Anthem, which contains the famous line “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” The song also inspired artist Kara Blake’s piece for the show, an immersive installation called The Offerings. “The song apparently took Cohen 10 years to craft and is just one example of his many artistic offerings that get inside the beautifully flawed nature of being human,” says Blake. “I wanted my piece to present visitors with a sampling of the creativity, wit and insight Cohen has gifted us with.”

Julia Holter contributed a cover of Cohen’s Take This Waltz, which will play on rotation in the Listening Room. “I enjoyed getting into the feeling of this passionate, seductive, demented waltz,” says Holter, who incorporated field recordings she made during a visit to the Greek island of Hydra, where Cohen had a home. “Being there was incredible,” she says.

For Holter, being invited to contribute to the show is the perfect way for her to give back to an artist she was introduced to as a child and who inspired her love of poetry. “What was special about Leonard Cohen’s work was its calm mystery. I think that can be an inspiration to the world right now,” she says. “The world needs this subtle beauty right now.”

Leonard Cohen biographer Sylvie Simmons

As part of the week’s celebrations, Eleanor Wachtel interviewed Sylvie Simmons on CBC Books Writers and Company, for broadcast on Sunday, November 12, 2017: Remembering Leonard Cohen: biographer Sylvie Simmons on Montreal’s beloved poet.

I enjoyed reading Sylvie’s wonderful biography, I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen. It will be published next year in a new French edition with an added afterword that will be included in a revised English edition by McClelland & Stewart.

The afterword is Cohen’s response to the question about what was the driving force that propelled his output. Simmons calls it Traveling Light, and quotes Cohen’s answer in this interview for The Senior Times: Biographer Sylvie Simmons pays tribute to Montreal’s favourite son.

Leonard Cohen was very active towards the end of his life. Due to his declining health he tried to bring as many projects to completion as possible. One of them was his last album, You Want It Darker, produced by his son Adam Cohen. A new poetry book, The Flame, will be released next year.

The Flame: Poems Notebooks Lyrics Drawings

On Oct 1, 2018 CBC q host Tom Power interviewed Adam Cohen on the legacy of his father Leonard Cohen. It’s been almost two years since the passing of Leonard Cohen, but we’re about to hear from the legendary singer and poet again. The Flame is a posthumous collection of his final writing that features never before published poems that Leonard Cohen wrote in the final few years of his life. The day before it’s release, Adam Cohen returns to q to talk about mourning his father’s life and and celebrating his legacy on the morning of the book’s release.

*My reply to Quora question about the crack and the light

Quora posted this question: What did Leonard Cohen mean by his lyrics: “There is a crack, a crack in everything/ That’s how the light gets in?” About a dozen people posted their suggestions. Here is my reply:

I agree with a number of interpretations posted here, quoting William Blake, the Kabbalah, and other esoteric sources, to explain what Leonard Cohen may be referring to in that line. They all make good sense to me. I also think that the light, of clarity, understanding, call it what you will, comes from within, not without. Metaphorically we may imagine light coming into a dark broken place from outside. But it can also light up the darkness from inside, if one knows how to turn on the switch. Another interpretation then, is no matter how broken, incomplete we are, with the proper approach, meditation technique, one can transcend, go beyond our limitations and just Be, experience that unbroken inner light of pure consciousness. With repeated exposures to one’s inner divine nature, the outer vessel, our body, can begin to heal, mend the broken cracks, and become whole. One way to experience this inner and outer development is with the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.

Speaking of cracks and light, the Japanese art of kintugi turns damaged bowls into something even more beautiful. See my Japanese style poem, kintsugi tanka: japanese pottery inspires poetry.

Cliffhouse and Arbutus blossoms inspire haiku by Ken Chawkin and paintings by Betsy Randel

May 15, 2017

Today, I posted this haiku and the story behind it with these images on a website page about Arbutus Tree blossoms. I kept expanding and refining the story and decided to post it here as well. It’s approved and ready to be shared: Arbutus Flower Inspires Haiku.

The Cliffhouse Cottage deck

About 20 years ago, a friend of mine took me on a holiday weekend getaway to Galiano Island. We stayed at The Cliffhouse Cottage. It was beautiful there! I remember sitting on the deck at dusk looking out over the tranquil ocean. Everything was completely still. Quiet. I heard a small sound, like something had fallen from somewhere, and wondered what it was. I bent down and found a small white flower beside my chair. It resembled a tiny bell. I then looked up and saw a cluster of flower blossoms in the tree above me. My friend said it was an Arbutus Tree. That experience inspired this haiku.

Cliffhouse Deck at Dusk

Tiny bells call me
Arbutus blossoms falling
Sounding the Silence

© Ken Chawkin

The poem was later included in a grouping titled: 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen, and published in The Dryland Fish, An Anthology of Contemporary Iowa Poets, December 12, 2003.

Galiano Island Art Cards by Betsy Randel

My friend, Betsy Randel, made these beautiful watercolor cards of the Arbutus Tree and Cliffhouse. You can see them, and more, with related poems, in the Island Life Art Cards section of her website, Art that Heals.


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