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Mollie Kaye

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Focus Magazine Nov/Dec 2016

Sept/Oct 2016.2

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COVID-19 Pandemic

Navigating through pandemonium

Informed Comment








Development and architecture









Everything posted by Mollie Kaye

  1. January 2018 Could a victim-centred approach be a better fit in cases of sexual harassment and assault? TRUMP, WEINSTEIN, MOORE, FRANKEN, THE RCMP…Every hour, it seems, more are added to a dizzying list. But remember the 2014 Dalhousie Dental School case, where “gentlemen” students waxed horrific on Facebook about their over-the-top, sexually violent predilections? The men were initially suspended. Then some of the female students referenced in those ghastly posts said they preferred a restorative justice process—an approach that involves facilitated dialogues and co-created,
  2. SOMETIMES ABSENCE can give us a clearer vision of the truth than what is present. Scientists extrapolate from what is missing as much as from what is there; artists create impressions of life that supersede reality by choosing to omit certain details. Sculptor Guthrie Gloag is both an artist and a scientist, and in 10 full-scale wildlife pieces he’s offering at his second solo show at Madrona Gallery, he uses descriptive and narrative aspects of absence to create his imagery and telegraph his message. If we encounter an animal in the wild, we don’t need to see every individual hair or cla
  3. DANA STATHAM has packed a lot into the last year, most of it living—not painting. She’s very early into an artistic career that doesn’t, at this point, feel like one to her. The amount of time she’s been able to devote to her creative endeavours isn’t as much as she’d like, but she also fears making art into something she does to pay the bills. Right now, she makes her living doing something entirely unrelated, but has a designated studio space developing in the home she recently purchased and is renovating with her new husband. Stylistically, if artists E.J. Hughes and Maud Lewis had a “
  4. Mollie Kaye

    Guthrie Gloag

    "Black Bear," driftwood, wood screws Learn about Guthrie Gloag's life and art here
  5. Posted April 10, 2020 Painting: “Bernice Kamano” oil on panel, 28 x 22 inches, by Elfrida Schragen Elfrida Schragen’s art show is online now, with all proceeds helping those in deep need during the Covid-19 crisis. Go to story
  6. “Lorna Crozier—poetess” oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches Portraits of Victoria women raise funds for Our Place AS I COLLECTED MY PICK-UP ORDER of groceries last week at the new Save-on Foods at Pandora Avenue, I was amazed to see what looked like over 100 tents, erected for many blocks along the boulevard, centred around Our Place. To adhere to provincial social distancing requirements, all homeless shelters are currently operating at a fraction of their initial, pre-pandemic capacity. Hence, the immediate support and protection of this vulnerable population has become a grave co
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    PROGRAMS IN EARTH LITERACIES’ mission is “to ignite our sense of connectedness with Earth and nurture a spirituality of Earth care through learning circles.” Program coordinator Gertie Jocksch says this is what inspired the 12-year-old nonprofit to bring environmentally-focused singer/songwriter Sara Thomsen into town to give a benefit concert and workshop for the Friends of Bowker Creek Society (FOBCS). Sara Thomsen “We’ve never done this before,” Jocksch says of the concert, a new venture for Earth Literacies that organizers thought would be “a perfect fundraiser
  8. IF YOU'RE LOOKING FOR AN EXCUSE to rock your style, get a little fancy, drink some good wine, and enjoy the company of some of Victoria’s most exciting and respected visual artists, plan to attend the Victoria Visual Arts Legacy Society (VVALS)’s annual awards event. Mary-ellen Threadkell, vice president of VVALS, says it’s an annual celebration of both the legacy artists that make up Victoria’s past and present landscape, and those five hand-picked art students who are emerging as community-builders and exceptional artists at five local colleges. VVALS awards a $1000 bursary each year t
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    DR. JANET RAY is a physician who works exclusively in mental health and substance use at an acute medical detox unit in Victoria for VIHA. She doesn’t have an art background, and she’s stretching herself to take on the role of organizer for a unique and discussion-provoking Victoria art exhibit curated by Melissa Lem, physician and board member of Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE). Green Party MP Elizabeth May will be the keynote speaker at the opening of “Life in the Sacrifice Zone” on April 6; Lem will also speak about why CAPE physicians are alarmed about fr
  10. MAKING CHORAL MUSIC relevant to people who might not be seeking it out has become job one for the leaders of many of our local choirs. While opera features costumes, sets, and plot lines to entice folks, choral music is not typically heavy on visuals. In a stroke of brilliance, Brian Wismath, artistic director for Victoria’s Vox Humana Chamber Choir (VHCC), is staging a wonderfully unique and visual choral music experience in late March: a screening of the celebrated 1928 silent film classic The Passion of Joan of Arc, accompanied live by the film score (“Voices of Light” by Richard Einhorn),
  11. Victoria band West My Friend provides a welcome balm for our world-weary souls. “GUILELESS” is defined as “honest, innocent; not able to deceive.” As an American ex-pat who keeps up with all the news down south, guilelessness is a balm for my soul. The three musicians who form Victoria’s fanciful folk band West My Friend seem to embody that word, and their lyrics telegraph it as well. For me, these musicians are ideal examples of top-notch, Canadian-grown youth: intelligent, talented, creative, hard-working—successful and savvy, but without guile. West My Friend (WMF) recently
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    EVENTUALLY, I’d like to see a day where inclusion and respect are simply second nature to us all, and we cease sorting or labelling with prefixes like “gay” or “queer.” For now, though, these self-affixed identifiers seem a required part of an evolutionary process by which previously marginalized artists can claim their rightful place at the table. Hence, Intrepid Theatre is presenting its sixth-annual OUTstages, “a decidedly queer theatre festival,” founded by curator Sean Guist, who was recently appointed Intrepid’s co-artistic and marketing director. Guist notes that when OUTstages beg
  13. The YCSO performing at Pagliacci’s The very darkest, shortest days of the year may be past, but it’s still cold and dark. Klezmer music is helpful at this time of year. It’s the soundtrack of hope mixed with angst, of bright darkness and dark brightness. It’s never all one thing; klezmer bakes life’s contradictions and oxymorons right into the music. So why not wallow joyfully with the Yiddish Columbia State Orchestra (YCSO), Victoria’s own klezmer combo, at their official 20th birthday party at Hermann’s Jazz Club on January 16? The YCSO ’s founder, vocalist and accordionist
  14. Victoria Children’s Choir director and founder Madeleine Humer is passing the baton. DUCKING INTO THE WARM, crowded, Christmas-music-and-conversation cacophony of a Downtown Starbucks on the dreariest of December afternoons, I spot a curly-haired woman seated at a table. I’ve never met her, but I’ve seen that head from the back, conducting some impressively polished performances of the Victoria Children’s Choir (VCC). Madeleine Humer—“Mads” to the kids who have sung for her—and I exchange a wave. I’m here to ask why, after 20 years as VCC’s founder and artistic and concert choir di
  15. CHINATOWN might still seem a little rough around the edges to some, but back in the ’80s, it was a lot rougher. Montreal-based artist Nicholas Vandergugten was born into that scene; he and his brother spent their early childhood folded into what he remembers as a world of “crazy characters”—a “man’s world. Luis [Merino] and Darcy [Gould] and Harry [Shafer], all these big male personalities vying for their place; it’s problematic. I felt there was a lot of competition as well as love and admiration, a lot of big egos mixed with sensitivity.” Nicholas’ father, Bert Vandergugten, settled the
  16. The building is for sale; performers and audiences are hoping for an arts-friendly buyer. WHEN HERMANN NIEWELER died in June of 2015, his beloved jazz venue nearly perished along with him. The addresses of 751 and 753 View Street, owned and managed by Nieweler since the 1980s, had housed the iconic street-level Hermann’s Jazz Club, a licensed veteran’s club next door, and a succession of nightclubs upstairs. For a few years after he died, his children couldn’t agree on what to do—with the two-storey building, or the businesses housed there. The jazz club had no secure future.
  17. Jimbo Insell is grateful for everything, especially his creative life. “WELL, MAYBE IT STARTED THAT WAY. As a dream, but doesn’t everything… Somebody had to dream about it first. And maybe that is what I did. I dreamed about coming here, but then I did it.” ―Roald Dahl, James and the Giant Peach I PEER IN THROUGH THE DUSTY GLASS of an ancient Chinatown door as Fisgard Street and its red silk lanterns darken against a dusky summer sky. A faint glow at the top of narrow wooden stairs eerily illuminates about 20 mannequin torsos ascending the treads like a faceless, legless
  18. Pushing towards greater authenticity, Adams is determined to write more of her own songs. JUNE SUNLIGHT FLARES off the white-winged, bobbing butterflies busily pollinating the crops in the front yard of a James Bay heritage house. As I ride up on my bike, Victoria jazz vocalist Susannah Adams emerges from the front door, which features hand-painted doves. She gestures for me to join her at a shaded wooden picnic table set with refreshments. This tiny gem of an urban farm is her husband’s creation; rabbits, ducks, quail, and chickens provide a steady percussive backdrop of clucks, c
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    IT SEEMS TO BE A SPRING FULL OF MAJOR ANNIVERSARIES; several Victoria arts groups are celebrating the passion—and tenacity—that has kept them convening and creating together for decades. Fired Up! is one such enterprise; the ceramic artists’ annual spring collective show is now 35 years old and thriving. Samantha Dickie, one of eight “core members” exhibiting work at Fired Up! this year, says the theme, MONUMENTAL, is in reference to “the nature of the collective, the calibre over the years. The whole group is proud that it’s such a long-standing exhibition and show.” Dickie’s contemporar
  20. “WE TELL OURSELVES STORIES in order to live.” Joan Didion said this, and it’s not hyperbole. Brain scientists, behavioural psychologists, and spiritual gurus all concur that storytelling is a fundamental aspect of our human experience. It’s the way we make meaning and sense of our experiences, how we learn and teach. There is both huge value and darkness inherent in the way we frame and tell our stories. Depression, at its root, is directly connected to stories we tell ourselves—as is every peak experience we celebrate. The fact that there’s a local organization dedicated to the conscious
  21. A Victoria vocalist brings his stylings to the spotlight at JazzFest. ON THIS CHILLY SPRING EVENING in Fairfield, my interview subject and I are scanning for a spot to sit down in a busy coffee shop. There’s a table for two that’s free; I move to claim it. Aaron Scoones pauses and smiles wryly. He observes that my silver-cased MacBook, which I’m about to flip open, will be one of eight, all set on tables, white Apple icons glowing in chorus. I didn’t notice. Makes me wonder what else I don’t notice about what’s going on around me. Scoones and I are both musicians, but clearly,
  22. In Syria, Sari Alesh was a professional violinist. War changed all that. Grace, gratitude, and wise pragmatism permeate every word carefully chosen and softly spoken by 34-year-old Sari Alesh. He’s on the phone with me after walking home from the bus stop in a wild, mid-February snowstorm. The uncharacteristic weather has put our town in a tailspin, but for Alesh, it’s just one minor inconvenience in a life shot through with devastating losses, deadly hazards, and tragic interruptions. Alesh came to Victoria in 2016, one young man among the hundreds of Syrian refugees who fled
  23. Your once-sleepy Tuesday nights may never be the same. AFTER YOU COME THROUGH THE OLD CREAKY DOOR on Broad Street, climb the wide, steep staircase, and exchange your $10 for a green paper drink ticket, you gain entrance to a vibrant, candlelit “Speakeasy.” A small stage with red velvet curtains frames some “hot jazz” musicians: banjo, trumpet, and sousaphone—plus a percussionist playing a washboard affixed with a plethora of Spike Jones-esque noisemakers, including a small pot lid and a rubber chicken. The musicians all wear garb that hails from the days when men changed their coll
  24. Modern day minstrels, the Banquo Folk Ensemble is about to release another CD. BASKING IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST’S balmy insistence that October is still summer, I’m on the patio of the Steamship Grill on Belleville Street, anticipating my lunch meeting with Amy Reiswig. You know her as a veteran writer for Focus who adroitly covers local literature (alas, you’ll find her farewell contribution in this month’s edition), but did you know this multi-talented woman’s musical sideline has her wearing Elizabethan gowns and rockin’ out on potato slicers as a professional percussionist in a
  25. Performance venues are desperately needed—what about your place? IN NOVEMBER 2004, I was new in town, and needed a favour. I approached a couple I’d recently befriended at a James Bay Irish music jam and asked if they could provide overnight accommodation—and host a concert—for international Irish music stars John Doyle and Liz Carroll. Their lovely home had a spacious living/dining area, under-utilized in-law suite, and close proximity to acres of free parking. I knew it would be the ideal venue for a house concert, but I had to talk them into it. Fourteen years, dozens of concert
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