Many years ago, my husband and I went on a trip to Europe for vacation. Paris, France was one of the stops on the tour. While in Paris, we visited the Tuilleries which are situated in the back part of the gardens of the Louvre Museum. One of the buildings is called the "Jeu de Paume" and, at that time, it housed many of the Impressionists works. Those works are now housed in the Musee d'Orsay. There were many large famous beautiful canvases in the Jeu d'Paume,but the piece that held me and called to me, was this piece called "Little Dancer". She left me mesmerized - I remember being awestruck by the beautiful expression of hope on her face. I later discovered that Degas had created more of these fantastic dancer sculptures with fabric/ tulle dresses and real hair. Some of them even wore ballet shoes.
This weekend in our fair city a new Art gallery has opened. Its name is the Art Gallery of Alberta. The building is the creation of Randall Stout. It was the vision of some community people, who believed in the importance of the arts in a community. The gallery has taken 5 years to complete and millions of dollars to build. It is a truly amazing building to see. The swirling curves are meant to represent the "Aurora Borealis" or northern lights.
Can you guess who is waiting for me to come and visit her?
None other than "La Petite Danser."
For the opening show, the art gallery has brought in a collection of Degas ballerinas, bathers and people at the Opera (54 pieces in all). The piece d'resistance for me, is the ballerina sculpture! She arrived with her own police escort. The new building has all the necessary requirements to keep her safe during her stay. I know that I am going to love seeing her again. It has been a long time...
I learned some interesting things this morning, while I read about her and her sister sculptures. During Degas life, the little dancers were made of wax and wire and fabric - They only became bronzes after his death.
One of the dancers was first shown in 1881, at a Parisian Art Exposition and her initial viewing was less that stellar- She was, in fact, panned- Degas' work was considered too avant garde. Yet recently,one of these beautiful dancers sold for 13.9 million. I doubt that Degas could imagine such a price would ever be paid for his work.
So what is art and what is it worth?
The Sunday paper (Edmonton Journal Sunday February 1, 2010) had a piece that reflected on the value of art to The Haitian people- Art is an integral part of our community culture.
"Haitian art is what makes the international eye see us". Every Haitian is an artist. Art, it is us, what we are. Even our children are artists." Joseph Gaspard from College Saint Pierre Museum.
It is quite a dichotomy to be trying to save lives and feel the need to save the art too. Still, by saving the art, one touches the essence of what is bright and beautiful and hopeful in life. It also reflects the range of life's experiences and provides commentary about the world around us.
I don't have a clear answer to this question of the importance of art and the pursuit of artistic endeavors, but I do know the pleasure and the emotional connection that I have with Degas little dancer. She has begun to fuel my inspiration and desire to create again.
I have seen other art pieces that haved also evoke a powerful emotional response. One such work is "Forest BC" by Emily Carr. Her totems and her forests are amazing - a recording of perpetuity of British Columbia forests and First Nations people on the Western Coast of Canada.
In a couple of weeks, Vancouver will be the host city of the Winter Olympics. The Olympics will celebrate the athlete and the hope of the global community. Where do art and sport converge? That is a post for another day...
You may be wondering if I am going to write anything about quilting, or why I am being so reflective about art today. Certainly, I am looking forward to visiting the Art Gallery of Alberta to see the show of the Degas pieces,some Goya prints and Yousef Karsh photos. Today. they had timed visits and expected over 5000 people - too crowded for me but soon...
So where did I take my need to feed my creative soul? Well, right here in Blogland. There are so many wonderful quilters and other artisans using fabric, paper, beads, yarn and other textiles to express themselves and their ideas.
This past week I have been visiting some of the close to 1000 blogs that are participating in the One World One Heart blogging festival. You can find it here Lisa Swifka is the host and this is the fourth year of this event.
Go on over and have a look- there are many fantastic blogs to view, and lovely giveaway prizes to be won.
In the meantime, I am still reflecting on possible quilt patterns for a new quilt. This coin quilt pattern has risen to the top of the possibilities.
I have a number of sea and nautical fabrics that might make a lovely version of this quilt. This particular quilt is one that uses batiks- some of my favorite fabrics. It belongs to a friend and was given to him, as a retirement gift. My husband has the mate to it. It is a large twin sized quilt.
The art gallery show has given me some inspiration. I did actually quilt this week. I made some more wonky tile blocks- I now have enough for quite a large quilt- over 80 blocks. Should I make two couch quilts or one large quilt??? Hmmmmmm...
I also looked for a half apron pattern- sort of like a crafter's apron with pockets. My first home economics project in Grade 7, was an half apron - I think it is still around, but I haven't found it, so I was looking for a paper pattern for the measurements. There were a couple of patterns on the internet, but not exactly what I had in mind...
This week I will attend a professional learning workshop where the topic will be on engaging students in writing by using picture books. Soon, I will be writing about my students again- it will be report card time.
February is here... I hope that it brings you something that feeds your creative soul.