All the Art of Summer


As summer waves her slow goodbye, I need to take a moment and give thanks for all of the art I've experienced these past two months. I have seen and heard beauty that will fuel my creativity and passion this coming year. My work with The Bleeding Heart Art Space will be stronger for the art this summer has brought. Perhaps you'll enjoy some of it, too. Our tour begins in Sandpoint, Idaho, then moves west across the arid Washington desert into Portland, Oregon. After a brief break, we board a plane to Santa Fe, New Mexico and finally, drive west to settle oceanside, in Vancouver, BC.

Sandpoint, Idaho

Sandpoint, a mere stopover on the long family drive to Portland, became the shining surprise of this summer. A small lake town, it is full of happy hippies, organic veggies, antique and thrift shops, tasty, cheap restaurants, and a fair amount of art. And, for some reason, Subaru Outbacks. It was here that we first witnessed the overuse of the word 'Artisan' this summer, but perhaps it belonged here most. One man sold artisanal cheese at the farmers market where every vegetable stall was arranged like a floral bouquet.

The same farmer's market had a pottery stall, and this is where I fell in love with my mug.

I'd been looking for a good, handmade mug to replace my crumbling Krispy Kreme standby. I found it from Whiskey Jack Pottery in Sandpoint. A bright turquoise rim to accent the red-brown base. A perfectly shaped handle. I'm sipping coffee from it now, and have most days since my return. I'm very thankful that a true artisan took the time to make a coffee mug so beautiful – to make it art. Perhaps art is best this way, freed from the walls?

Portland, Oregon

I'd say the real art of Portland is to be eaten. From crazy Voodoo Doughnut to hundreds of food carts lining entire city blocks, there is beauty to be savoured in Portland. It was inspiring to see the love each chef put into their creations. I could taste the art in a cup of Barista coffee. What could be more creative than blue cheese and pear, or strawberry and basil ice cream from Salt and Straw (actual flavours may stray from my shoddy memory)? Slappy Cakes let us be the artists, with a giant pancake griddle in the middle of our table and bottles of batter in hand.

There were more traditional art forms to see as well – the kind you'd hang on your wall. Alberta Street (strikingly close to Alberta Ave) was the most colourful and creative neighbourhood we visited. Blocks and blocks of boutiques and galleries made wandering aimlessly a joy.

If you visit PDX, be sure you get to Alberta Street.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

My trip to Santa Fe for the Glen Workshop, a week of 'art, faith and mystery', requires a post of its own (and mark my words, it will get one). I attended this workshop, put on by Image Journal, as a poet (a decision informed by circumstances I'll save for that other post). I spent my mornings with 14 other poets, and each day got to hear their wonder-full words. I was introduced to the poetry of Amy Newman, my workshop leader. I bought her book, Fall, made up of dozens of poems reflecting on the myriad meanings of the word 'fall' found in the dictionary.

I came to love poetry at the Glen – and even to understand it a little bit more.

On our day off, I walked Santa Fe's Canyon Road – a mere mile-long stretch housing a hundred galleries! I've never seen anything like the quantity and quality of the work there. One stand out were the bronze sculptures of Kevin Box, made to look light weightless origami. You need to see his work. Go ahead and look. I'll wait.

The Chuck Jones Gallery (and Centre for Creativity) was showing paintings and sculptures by Dr.Suess alongside animation stills and work by Jones himself (creator of Bugs Bunny).

Even the buildings are art in Santa Fe – smooth adobe structures the colour of tanned sunburn, accented in various shades of teal trim.

To mention only these things, and not the overflow of beauty that poured from every Glen Workshop participant I encountered, feels unjust. But for time, we head for the coast.

Vancouver, British Columbia

My family and I finished our journeys in Vancouver for a longer stretch – to relax. For us, relaxing means shopping without buying, except for an 'artisan' coffee or treat along the way.

Our suite was equipped with a full kitchen, so I flexed my own creative muscle there, armed with the rare treat of 'artisanal' ingredients from the local organic (read: expensive) market. It's still cheaper than eating out, I assured my conscience.

Granville Island didn't disappoint with it's explosion of arts and eats. We had enough days to visit twice and take it all in. It was there, at OPUS Art supplies, that I spent my birthday money on a screen printing kit, dreaming of future projects.

On our last day, we finally bought some art. Nothing large – just prints – but the perfect set of animals-dressed-as-people drawings by Vancouver artist Andrea Hooge. We were first drawn to her market booth because my wife said a picture of a cat looked just like me. I'm not sure how to take that, but you should definitely check out her work online. Or next time you are over at our place.

And finally home

As wonderful as the summer was, it is receding into a sparse handful of memories. We are home, having returned to a city full of its own beauty and creativity. The kids and I have made our first screen prints. I've received a call from the Art Gallery to renew my membership.

Friday night, I got to see shared beauty on display at our first Arts Potluck (read more soon), and after visiting all those wonderful cities I am glad to live here. I am glad to create here, among friends. Really, I am.

If you are not, then do something about it. Seek out Edmonton's arts. Find beauty. Create some of your own.

Visit your own city.

Blog for Bleeding Heart!

You have something to say–why not say it here? Email your blog post idea to and let's chat.