Sunday, August 30, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
It's not every day a guy throws away a career in international banking to become a visual artist.
"Gaugin," the painter Ludolf Grollé retorts instantly when you make that observation. "He was a stockbroker. But he went to Tahiti, and I came to Winnipeg."
As he prepares for the opening of his self-mounted commercial exhibition next week, to which he has invited 250 business types, Grollé comes across as one of the most exotic, and colourful, flowers to take root in our hard-scrabble Prairie soil.
"His spirituality is represented in his paintings," says Lorelei Morrison, a Concordia Hospital nurse who has just bought two large-scale Grollé works.
"He's a very deep man."
A former controller with the financial firm JP Morgan in Amsterdam and Paris, Grollé is a sweet-talking, quick-witted, silver-haired fox, the kind of handsome devil who wears a German designer sport jacket, a Swiss Longines watch and American Lucchese leather boots.
He was born 56 years ago on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where his father, a Huguenot descended from French nobility (the family name is Grollé de Rochefort), ran a rubber plantation.
Raised in French and English (his mother was the daughter of a Welsh military officer), he spent his childhood in various countries before being shipped, at age 9, to public school in England, where he was, in his half-brother's words, a member of the "impoverished upper classes."
After obtaining his undergraduate degree, in French, English and philosophy, he considered the life of the starving artist, but his first wife set him straight.
He took a job as a bank clerk and worked his way up the ladder. At his peak, he was earning almost $250,000 a year and driving a Mercedes.
His career took him to London, Amsterdam, Milan, Madrid and several American cities. He dabbled in art all the time.
"I wish I'd been an artist at 20," says Grollé, who'd rather talk philosophy than arbitrage. "It took me to 50."
In 2001, having accumulated three ex-wives and two children, he met Winnipegger Diane Frances, an MTS human resources manager with two teenagers of her own.
The lightning of love struck again. By this time, Grollé had a portable consulting practice, so he followed Diane here. It was March 2002 and a trifle chilly for a mid-Atlantic sophisticate.
"I remember walking down Leila Avenue to the Garden City Shopping Centre," he says. "I didn't think I'd make it back alive."
He figures it took him five years to learn to love Winnipeg's discount-city charms. In the meantime, he started to paint more seriously. He set up a studio in the basement of his and Diane's East Kildonan home.
Grollé's metier is abstract expressionism in acrylics. He rarely use a brush; he prefers a roller and scraper to obtain a textured effect.
He does not make prints. Every work is an original. "I think everyone should have the opportunity to own original art," he says. "I want art to be accessible and affordable."
All his paintings mix just the three primary colours: blue, yellow and red.
"There is something about his art that speaks to people," says gallery owner Terry Lacosse, who has represented him in Winnipeg since 2006.
"He is influenced by the early 20th-century abstract expressionists, like Kandinsky and even Pollock."
Grollé is also very influenced by his business background, in that he understands pricing, marketing and self-promotion.
He already has dealers in London and New York. He sold a number of works through the Medea Gallery in Osborne Village in September 2007.
That year he placed several of his paintings in the Winnipeg Art Gallery rental and sales shop. One of them caught the eye of Diane Sparrow, co-owner of the Norwood Hotel and Inn at the Forks (and, along with her husband, Bob, a longtime Winnipeg arts patron).
"His forte is marketing," says Sparrow, who has bought several Grollés for the Norwood lobby. "He's quite inspiring. He sees the possibilities and opportunities for his work."
The Sparrows earned headlines in 2003 when they bought more than 100 original streetscapes by Winnipeg watercolourist Sharon Cory for the rooms at their newly opened Inn at the Forks.
Now they have partnered with Grollé and Lacosse for an innovative art exhibition. The opening, in the hotel ballroom Aug. 27, promises to be a swanky affair attended by many elite business people.
Using his Rolodex, Grollé has obtained business sponsors to underwrite the cost of the event, which he estimates at $20,000.
The exhibition will display 25 large-scale pieces, priced from $1,500 to $4,500, and 75 smaller works on paper, all for a flat $1,000.
Opening-night buyers all get a 25 per cent discount (hey, he's figured us out!), and he promises to donate 25 per cent of his earnings to charity.
Until Sept. 27, the pieces will hang in the hotel's restaurant, The Current. Management has even designed a menu to complement the visual art experience.
"This show is for all the suppressed artists of Winnipeg," Grollé says. "They have to make their own success. They can't just sit around and wait for it to happen."
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Nothing can harm me at all
My worries seem so very small
With my waterfall
I can see
My rainbow calling me
Through the misty breeze
Of my waterfall
Some people say
Daydreaming's for all the
Lazy minded fools
With nothin' else to do
So let them laugh, laugh at me
So just as long as I have you
To see me through
As long as I have you
Don't ever change your ways
Fall with me for a million days
Oh, my waterfall
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Barlaam and Iosaph the Allegory of the Tree (c. 1200, but I'm guessing here)
So, this is the wackiest bit of info I have come across in a while.
Seems that, in the later days Byzantine Empire (this would be around 1080--the Byzantines, centered in Constantinople/Istanbul lasted from about 300 to 1400), a monk set down the story of Barlaam and Iosapha, in which Iosapha, a seeker of wisdom, comes across Barlaam, who, thorugh a long series of 10 parables, converts him to Christianity.
The story first seems to appear in Christian lore around the 3rd or 4th century AD, with variants on it showing up around 700 as well.
Eventually, both Barlaam and Iosapha, while never formally "cannonized", were recognized as saints by both the Eastern (Orthodox) adn Western (Roman Catholic) branches of the church, and given their own days in the calendar.
What's CRAZY about it, though, is that the story is actually just a western twist on the story of the Buddha, with Iosapha's name being a Eurpeanized version of "Boddhisatva" (one who is on the path to enlightenment or Buddha-hood), and the ten parables Barlaam teaches him being barely changed variants on ancient Hindu life, death, and rebirth stories that formed part of the Buddha's teaching.
So, weirdly, Buddha is actually a Christian saint as recognized by the Church and, presumably, the church either doesn't know this, or chooses to ignore it.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
If it weren't for the Chic Gamine show at FrancoFolies last week (which literally gave me chills), I'd say this was the best show I'd seen in a while.
rain, always rain and the
black-sweatered beggar across the street,
head-shaven handsome, lets it
fall and doesn't bat an eye, ignores
his empty change dish and the rain and
seems like the cross-legged
siddhartha of the plateau while
on the coffee shop radio émilie proulx sings
toute seule, toute seule and
traffic doesn't pause to
notice this or the stoic
shrouded in mist our
senses grown dull even as the
blue-sky edges out again and
alan's ghost walks past me now,
messy-haired, bearded and smiling
smiling, nodding say hey buddy,
hey, keep going, it's good,
tell them, everyone you see,
it's gonna be
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
you disgusting son of a bitch
it ain't worth it
and how desperate are you
that you do desperate things
rationalizing like a bug
that sees something
and moves there with no
consideration of between
the fire in your eyes
that blinds you from within
first posted August 7, 2005
Two Days of Quottawatonez--A Sampling of quotations
Sure, it's a radical philosophy, but that's only because it's not discussing what IS, so much as it's discussing what OUGHT to be--what we ought to be as people. Men and women of vital reason, action and philosophy.
There's no goal other than your very actions, so that the way you think it is, the way you shape it and create it--it's magic.
We've been cut from the Source, we're alienated, but everything goes in cycles and we're heading back towards Something.
I want "zeal" to be in (Prairie Enthusiam and ALfA philosophy) as well, because that's important. We're people with zeal, we're zealous, and it's because our cause is just. We might control the world one day with this, but it'll be as leaders, not as rulers. And since work is holy, we work with zeal, seeking health through all of this. Ultimately, that's what it's about--seeking health, since Art Reinforcement is a system of wellness and well-being.
(Quotes by the good rev. dr. dr. dr., with a few embellishments by blizzo)
"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself." -- Walt Whitman
Monday, August 10, 2009
after the glass broke
almost 4 months ago
still on the sheets
in this small room
the flickering triumph
of a dying light bulb
dances with the shadows.
the thunder cloud’s ovations
I like to hear the storm
bloom in the darkness
and purple the sky
stems and petals on fire
with falling water
I yearn for
I wrote mine back in January, but never got around to publishing them. And I forgot all about them until today, cleaning up my desktop. So here they are.
1-- I seldom go more than a few minutes without getting giddy with happiness, interspersed with frequent grumpy periods.
2-- I have never been overseas, though I've covered Canada six or eight times (except for the tundra) and most of the U.S.
3-- I've learned to take pride in any kind of work, no matter what it is, and no matter who sees it. (I didn't always know this, and learned it mostly through errors--sometimes BIG errors.)
4-- I have been writing a novel for 7 years. It's almost finished. It's about treeplanting, love, life, cancer, money, loss, God, the environment, mythology, war, the passage of time, and why it might be okay to believe in a lie if it makes you a kinder, happier, healthier person.
5-- I have fairly serious back problems due to many years of tree planting and competitive volleyball. In December, my roommate came home and found me on the kitchen floor, grey and sweaty and completely unable to move. In retrospect, it was kind of funny, though at the time it clearly wasn't.
6-- As a passionate military historian, I have a lot of respect for the sacrifices made by the individual soldier (living with PTSD, for one), but I think the leadership of both sides, in any war, ever, are absolutely 100% wrong. And I count both Hamas and the government of Israel in that 100% wrong company.
7-- Moving to Montreal was one of the two most difficult things I've ever done. (My first few seasons of tree planting was the other.)
8-- Sometimes, during the course of my day, I try to think of clever Facebook statuses to write when I get home. Frankly, it's because I want to impress you with my wit, so that you'll like me more.
9-- I have seen the very best and the very worst in humans. At different times, I've seen both in myself. That's why I try (key word TRY) not to judge.
10-- I miss my family, and all my friends in Winnipeg. I wish I could see them more. I miss the Label Gallery, and all the great people I met there.
11-- Recently, I taught myself to play drums (Josey Krahn taught me, too), and I played in two bands-- The GodKings, and Winnipegasus. Playing drums is one of the funnest things I can imagine, and I was lucky that a bunch of really talented musicians let me bungle through my learning process with them.
12-- I think that humility, and the ability to laugh at yourself, are essential tools for survival, especially if you want to have new experiences.
13-- I like a lot of really weird, complex, inaccessible music (Sigur Ros, Ethiopian jazz, 14th century Latin mass) and a lot of really crappy pop (Britney, Elton John, Nelly Furtado).
14-- I am one of those rare people who loves public speaking and finds it terribly easy. I often find it easier than one-on-one conversations.
15-- I have learned to read, write and speak basic French in the last year and a half. Key word: basic.
16-- I'm almost never bored. Seriously. Never. I don't know why.
17-- I teach English to French-speaking stockbrokers and bankers by day. At night, I wash dishes in a restaurant where I'm one of two anglophones, and one of only two or three heteros. If the music were any louder, it could probably be called a gay bar. (note: this is now out of date).
18-- If you wanna see my blood boil, ask me about my views on the state of contemporary art criticism.
19-- I think it's an insult to all Canadians, and to the values that make our country so special, that we still pay ceremonial homage to the queen of England. You can also make my blood boil by raising that subject. I'm actually getting upset just typing this.
20-- I've been a vegetarian for 8 years and counting. And no, I don't miss meat in the least.
21-- I owned a car once, over a decade ago, and hopefully never will again. And I have had a TV for about 2 or 3 of the last 15 years.
22-- I'm a deeply spiritual person, whatever that means. I try to respect every rock, dog, human, spider and plant that I encounter as though they are the incarnation of God--which they are. In that vein, I think organized religion has become the antithesis of real spirituality. Tradition makes a great teacher, but a lousy master.
23-- Adopting two stray cats (thanks to Winnipeg businesswoman and social activist Christine Common) was one of the best things I ever did. Tricksy and Frances, my two cats, bring me endless joy. People often tell me that makes me a "cat lady", and I sort of always like it when they say that.
24-- One of the goals of my life is to help re-unite English, French, and Aboriginal Canada through my writing. And no, I'm not kidding. I wish I were. It would save me a lot of frustration.
25-- It's hard to write 25 things about yourself without seeming pompous, opinionated, and self-absorbed. If you read all this, then you're probably my friend.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
The last surviving veteran of trench warfare in WW I, Private Harry Patch, has died at 111 years old.
Wounded twice, and decorated for his service, Patch fought at the Somme and Passchendaele, battles where between 500,000 and 600,000 soldiers were killed. The war ended for him on September 22, 1917, when, already injured, a shell exploded next to his trench, killing three of his best friends and wounding another. From then on, he always referred to Sept 22 as his "personal Remembrance Day".
For most of his life, Patch never discussed his war service until, in the late 90's, it became apparent that he was one of the few surviving combattants. At that point, he became a vocal spokesman for peace, calling war "organized slaughter", and encouraging Remembrance Day ceremonies to honour the dead from both sides of the conflict.
In 2002, he attended ceremonies for the German dead, and laid a wreath to honour the men he had fought against.
"War is not worth it," he said. "Not one single life is worth it. It is the most horrible, awful, hellish thing mankind can do."
Thursday, August 6, 2009
on a plane ride
that lets go
flat and expanse
is worry without life
Wires shoot from my eyes
he worries and its blurry
reflections of the King
Lights shoot from my eyes
as wires tighten
straight back to the sky
and the sky tells me silence
The palate is coloured
and the train tells me violence
It is you that knows
it is you the hollow
visions of a blood blue sky
Visions of zero
signals and heroes
It is you that is coloured
true, pure and shallow
And the sky preaches
and the sky preaches