Rubbing Elbows with the Art World

Late in November, I accepted an assignment to write an article for the Bruce Trail Magazine and website.

I’ve written frequently in my blog about my love for this 900 km wilderness trail and now I was being asked to write a profile about a hiker who had recently won the award for Top Fundraiser and Top Hiker in the 3rd Annual Bruce Trail Hike-a-thon.

I couldn’t resist.

I wanted to meet the woman I would be writing about, so she suggested we meet in Toronto at the studio of the artist who was donating a piece of his artwork to the Grand Prize winner.

So it was that three days before Christmas I was venturing downtown, to an area of the city which was largely unfamiliar to me, to meet several strangers, one of them the Canadian contemporary artist, Charles Pachter.

Now, I don’t know anything about art, the art world, or its various shakers-and-movers.  I would go as far as to call myself ‘art stupid’.  Art galleries make my eyes glaze over, and on those rare occasions I’ve been persuaded to go to an art gallery, I was more likely to be people-watching than admiring the artwork.

Having said that, I was more than a little dumbstruck on this particular December morning. Foolishly, I had not researched the work of Charles Pachter beforehand.  If I had, I would have immediately recognized the distinctive style of this artist before I walked into his studio.

I may not have known his name, but I was familiar with his work.

charles-pachter3

The moose is an iconic symbol of his work and his versions of the Canadian flag fly in various embassies and government buildings, both in Canada and abroad.  In fact, if you own a Hudson Bay Company pillow with a moose silhouette on it, you own a small piece of Charles Pachter.

I admit to subscribing to the stereotypical description of an artist – withdrawn, introverted, and modestly soft-spoken.  Charles Pachter was none of these.  He was in fact gregarious, chatty, and full of amusing stories which entertained us for an hour.  I could have listened to his stories all afternoon.

charles-pachter2
Charles Pachter with Ruth Moffatt, lucky winner of a Pachter limited edition.

I chose this particular photo to accompany my article for the Bruce Trail magazine because it couldn’t get more Canadian with the multiple Maple Leafs, moose silhouettes, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau all gracing the background.

We were graciously allowed to tromp through his home with our wet snowboots on to see the view from his rooftop patio – complete with a Charles Pachter moose statue in the corner.

charles-pachter

So, instead of working on my Bruce Trail article which is due next week, I’m playing with this blog post because my muse is still mute and words just aren’t coming to me without a battle.

I’m hoping for a little Charles Pachter magic to rub off on me.

 

126 comments

  1. I really enjoyed your post. The expression of your encounter and how your experience of art through unbiased eyes is very intriguing. Having labeled yourself as someone unfamiliar in art and portraying your interactions with it as you have; truly shows the mind expanding power of art. To come in contact with art is obviously not just about perception of artwork itself, but the creation of such works and the people whose visions inspire others. Art really is about people and the sharing of experience and culture. Well done.

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  2. Great blog and photo, JoAnne. When I got to the very last sentence I thought you wrote ‘my muse is just not coming to me without a BOTTLE’ vs battle! Had to laugh when I reread your words. Congrats on the publication.

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  3. My son’s nickname is Moose, ever since high school. He’s not particularly large nor quiet, but he is calm. I picture a moose being calm unless rutting season. No, I haven’t seen more than a half dozen in my life but they all stood still for periods of time. I liked seeing Pachter’s gallery and always enjoy bright vivid colors in artwork, Joanne.
    I hope by now your writing Muse gave you a “nudge!” 🙂

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    • Yes, I did 🙂
      I released it yesterday, but I haven’t received confirmation that it was received. I’ll follow up tomorrow if I haven’t heard. I’m kind of picky on details like that when I know there is a deadline involved.

      Liked by 1 person

      • A property owner in my neighborhood sold his property or something changed because they tore down the building that was there and replaced it with this contemporary, modern architectural apartment building that I’ve hated since its completion. It just doesn’t fit the area. However the mall across the street got a new face-lift last year and is leaning toward that modern look so it may be that in time that building won’t stick out like a sore thumb to me, but for now it does.

        That high rise though unique fits its area; at least it looks like it belongs there. 🙂

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  4. What an interesting experience for you Joanne! Not sure if you got your walk in with all of this blasted rain but hoping if you did, it gave you the inspiration you were looking for.

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  5. As I’m late to the party, I can only echo what’s already been said: What a super opportunity, one I’m glad you took; thanks for the introduction to his work; you’ll do fine; I’d love to read the article, too. Some of this work would be perfect for our cabin in Wyoming, but at that price, I’ll have to simply admire from afar! Cheers!

    janet

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  6. As an English woman I have never heard of Charles Patcher nor seen the moose symbol, so I thank you for broadening my mind. I rather like the moose on top of the diving board. Thinking about it we rarely hear anything about Canada unless there is a visit from Trudeau to Europe as happened recently. The world is shrinking from a news point of view, to Europe and the Middle East – that’s all we ever hear about. Oh, and of course the tweets from that chap across the pond.

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    • Staying under the radar seems to be a Canadian thing. You know the saying – no news is good news 😉
      Interestingly, one of Pachter’s recurring themes is the Queen and the Royal Family. Probably one of his most famous is a painting of the Queen on … you guess it, a moose.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh wow! Your daring do and love of a challenge aren’t slowing down at all are they. Accelerating ferociously in fact. Good luck but then you’re such a good writer you’ll do a great job. 👍

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    • Thanks Su, I appreciate the encouragement. It could be a little intimidating to have a former professional writer like you read my copy 🙂

      I cringed when Pachter asked if I was a journalist. Yikes – I’m only a lowly blogger 😉

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      • Imposter syndrome!!!! We both seem to suffer from it (like so many people — especially women) and it is corrosive. I read your blog and “lowly” is not a word I would use. If you think about it, you are a journalist. You publish a journal and a ton (or tonne, if you’re metric) of people read it. Have faith in your abilities. Right, now that you’ve had the pep talk, you’ll have to excuse me while I go give it to myself. 🙂

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        • omg – as soon as I saw your “imposter syndrome” I realized that’s EXACTLY how I feel!
          Instead of feeling all positive because I LIKE what I’m doing and therefore put real effort into it, I talk myself down because I’m not a *real* writer / journalist / photographer.

          WHY DO WE DO THAT?!!!

          Thanks for the pep talk. I think I’m going to go “strut my stuff” for a while 🙂

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          • You’re welcome. I’m not sure why we are so good at putting ourselves down. In NZ we do have a culture of beheading tall poppies. I think it’s partly a legacy of quite a socialist colonial past that preached an ideology of equality. But women seem to be even more inclined to imposter syndrome than men, and it is debilitating until we can recognise it and stand up to that little negative voice in our head.

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            • “Culture of beheading tall poppies” is a great expression … and women, sadly, are particularly good at that. Not only are we tough on ourselves, but on other women we think have become ‘too full of themselves’.
              I had hoped this tendency would have died with our mother’s generation, but from what I see on social media, young girls are equally as brutal on each other.

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              • That’s true. I’m horrified by the things I see on social media generally, but some of the terrible things friends’ daughters experience .. it’s beyond belief. I suppose I thought that, being of a feminist generation, things would continue to change for the better, but feminist seems to have become a dirty word. I guess that’s what happens when we don’t teach history and young women don’t realise that the things they take for granted were fought for by older generations of women.Sigh!

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    • Thanks John. It never occurred to me that anyone would be interesting in reading my article profiling a local hiker. You’re not the first person to mention it.
      Thanks for the interest 🙂

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    • Thanks Donna. I’m actually starting to feel a little humbled here now. It never occurred to me that anyone would be interested in reading about a local hiker.
      I better make it really good then 😉

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  8. How wonderful! Good luck with the article. I know you’ll do well and I look forward to reading it. Your blog turned me on to my own Bruce Trail Adventure and for that I am forever in your debt! Happy New Year Joanne!

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  9. Oh how fabulous to have the time with this talented artist. I don’t know much on the subject either but your afternoon sounds intriguing. Hoping your muse shows herself soon. So frustrating when the words won’t come.

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  10. In one of the big Irish pubs downtown, they have a stuffed moose which you can kiss for luck. I guess belly up to the bar, Joanne. Good luck and inspiration await! 😀

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  11. What a wonderful opportunity, Joanne. I am sure your article will be great. You are a wonderfu writer. Will you post a link for us to read your article?
    Happy 2017!

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    • I know! I love that moose. He had a moose sculpture in his studio which I couldn’t take my eyes off. I later looked it up online for a price …. yikers, almost $10,000! Guess I’ll be taking it off my wish list 😉

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  12. A rare opportunity. Good for you. I’m glad you stepped into it. I’ve also recently entered the ‘art world’ and it is a strange and confusing place, but the passion of the artists for their art is a breath of fresh air.

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    • That’s exactly it, Ed. The art world is a strange and confusing place. I simply don’t understand how the creative process works and where their inspiration comes from. I guess if it was easy, all of us would be doing it.

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  13. How lucky are you, even if you are not normally a lover of art galleries this looked like the perfect day. Great story and the rooftop view is fabulous and I love the moose. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2017 xx

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  14. Oh aren’t we upper crusty rubbing elbows with a famous artist, LOL 🙂 What an awesome story Joanne and I am sure the words for your article will come to you about 20 minutes before the deadline 🙂

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  15. What a great opportunity and nice writing project! What a treat it must have been to meet Charles Pachter.

    I’ve never been very good with deadlines (or, maybe I’m so good at deadlines that I wait until the very last second), so I feel your pain. Sometimes I find that just starting with no real plan is best. Then I can go back and clean it up so it all makes sense… hopefully. Good luck and have fun!

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    • What made it such a wonderful treat was that he was so personable and entertaining. I almost didn’t go because I felt rather awkward about walking into a situation where I didn’t know anyone. I’m glad I ‘felt the fear and did it anyway’.

      Sometimes with writing I just have to start throwing words on the page and worry about making them coherent and cohesive later. That’s the approach I’ve taken with this project and I have a draft that’s not too bad.
      I really dislike doing things at the last minute and I need lots of runway to let ideas percolate. Right now my draft is percolating 🙂

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    • I too like his art … and she is a VERY good hiker.
      The good news is that I don’t like to leave things to the last minute and I have been tossing words on a page. So I have a decent draft … it just needs to ‘simmer’ for a while 🙂

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    • Luckily I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like leaving things to the last minute. I’ve been playing with this article for a while so I’m not completely dead in the water. Mostly I’m struggling with a title now.
      Thanks for your encouragement. I’m sure that once the dam breaks, I’ll have ideas oozing from my pores 😉

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  16. I love it when life surpasses our expectations. Thank you for sharing this, Joanne. We all approach things from the wrong angle or unprepared. It’s nice to hear about an event eotking out better than a story where it all goes off the rails. Good luck with that article.

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    • … and I LOVE your art!!!
      I was definitely pretty thrilled by this experience. I must say however that the moose sculpture in his studio that I fell in love with is COMPLETELY outside of my snack bracket 😉

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    • I can’t say that art is something I really give much thought to. Occasionally I will run across something that catches my eye, but I certainly don’t “collect” anything.
      It was fun to peer into another world, if only for a short period of time 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I know how that is…sometimes even if you are writing about reality, you have to think of a way to frame it. That came up with my Geeks of Doom articles which I have let fall into oblivion due to a lack of inspiration. Congratulations! Sounds like a fun project! Hope we can see the finished product!

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    • Lack of inspiration is a big problem. It’s relatively easy to write up an article full of facts, but a lot harder to craft a story around those facts. I can see how you would have the same struggle with your Geeks of Doom series.
      This has been an interesting project and just one more thing to stretch my ‘creative muscle’ 🙂

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      • I know! I interview people and then I wait for their stories to ‘speak to me’. Sometimes it’s easier than others and sometimes it just doesn’t happen at all so I’m just left trying to pretty up some bland facts as best as I can. Right now, I’m having trouble even finding people who’s stories are peeking my interest which is why I haven’t written in a while. Hopefully it’s just a holiday slow down and I’ll resume shortly.

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