Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Day At Elephant Island Winery!

Welcome to Elephant Island Orchard Wines...
There are no elephants and there is no island but the vanguard spirit does rein supreme here.

Classic wine making traditions fused with a dose of fun, a passion for fresh, local fruit and a love of challenge are the foundations of our wine portfolio.

Wines to amuse and to amaze...
Expect the unexpected and prepare for a flavor voyage!

~From The Elephant Island Website

A Day at Elephant Island Winery, 11x14" Ink on Watercolour paper, June 2011

This spring, I was hanging out in Cafe Nevermatters (known to me as Angelo's Coffee shop) when I had the pleasure of finally meeting Miranda Halliday face to face. Miranda's name has popped across my computer screen several times since returning to Canada since she is firmly committed to supporting the community of Naramata and other charities in various ways. (For Instance, Elephant Island Winery has a line of $25 bottle of champagne for sale, where 100% of the proceeds go to the Children's Hospital of BC. How could you not buy a bottle? I did!)

Miranda's grandmother was an architect and built this funky little house on the property she bought as a retirement investment. Miranda's Grandfather was convinced the property was a 'white elephant" hence the name "Elephant Island Winery. Even though the day I visited the winery the discorging was happening in the parking lot, I really wanted to paint this little building!

Miranda had seen my work in few charity auctions, and so she invited me up to Elephant Island Winery, (which she owns and runs with her husband Del), to see how some of the ways their fruit wine is made at Elephant Island. Luckily, my time in Naramata coincided with the rather exciting process of discorging. (Removing the sediment from the aged wine in barrels and moving it to bottles for a longer fermentation period. See? I'm learning!)

The dosaging of the wine- (say this word like you are French- dosaaaaging!)

So I spent a little time watching the dosaging and discorging of Elephant Islands' latest 'Pink Elephant' Champagne. I quickly ran around and snapped some photos of things I'd need later for information for a painting, and one of the girls working on dosaging (adding cassis to the apple wine with the syringe) happily explained what they were doing. It looked like a pretty fun process and she explained it enthusiastically! I didn't want to be underfoot for too long, otherwise I would have paparrazi-ed the place. I love that Elephant Island is a small family run business and still do things in small scale assembly lines. (Love that machinery too!)

I love the wine puddles!! I didn't paint them in this time, but maybe next time!

1. The bottles are first hooked up to a machine which pumps them full for sparkling apple wine. Then the workers add cassis with the syringe- often through a funnel because the wine tends to bubble over when the cassis is added. This makes big wine puddles everywhere!

For some reason I think it's totally appropriate that Elephant Island uses pinkish coloured machines.
This is Del, Miranda's husband, manning the machine.

2. Next the bottle are corked on the big pink machine.

3. After the corking, another little machine adds the wires that will hold the champagne cork in place.

4. The corked bottle is shoved into the holes of the next tiny box machine to add the foil that will cover the wire and the cork.

5. The newly bottled Pink Elephant wine is placed into wine boxes to be sold to people like me!

I'm excited about doing reflections in water!

It looked like so much fun that I wanted to get on some boots and rubber gloves and just be part of the fun.

On a personal note, I love Elephant Island wine, which is entirely made of fruit. Not only does it taste amazing, it's completely different from grape wine, so I love the fun of it. The blackberry wine is amazing! The dessert wines are awesome. But Elephant Island uses fruit exclusively, so this Okanagan girl is excited that there are still plenty of orchards around Elephant Island so the cherry trees of my youth are still around! Yay fruit!

The three bottles of wine my friend Eric bought on a subsequent trip to Elephant Island.

This painting will be made into prints and will be available through Cafe Nevermatters and Elephant Island Winery once I am organised (by the end of this week!) I'lll update this blog once I have more information.

Thanks again, Miranda!
Link to All things

Until then, I am just getting everything organized for the Cafe NeverMatters show, which will be hung on July 1st or 2nd.

See you there!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Vancouver Riots and Nathan Kotylak

The good kind of fan. This was taken on the day of game six. I love how the excitement of the Stanley Cup brought different communities together. I thought these guys looked awesome. I was sad this guy asked me not to do anything nasty to this picture, like draw something racist on his face. I was shocked he felt the need to mention it. I guess we aren't the harmonized society we'd like to think we are. Ps. Sikh guy, I love this picture. Thanks for posing for it.

I freely admit this is going to be a bit of a contradictory post. Here it goes.

Though I enjoyed getting caught up in fever that overtook Vancouver in the first six days of the Stanley cup playoffs, I am not a fan of organized sports in general. Hockey is a dirty game full of sanctioned violence and thuggery. It wasn’t so long ago that Todd Bertuzzi of the Canucks was encouraged by his teammates to punch Steve Moore in retaliation for a mean hit dealt to Marcus Naslund. And we all knew it was coming and cheered. When Bertuzzi hit Steve Moore too hard, he ended Moore’s NHL career. And we all booed. In this way I find hockey a little schitzophrenic and so I don’t really support the NHL in general.

Except the Canucks have played really well this year and this excitement swept over Vancouver. And Jerseys with “Luongo” “Kessler” and “H & D Sedin” were popping up all over the place. Fans attached flags to their cars and hung Canucks flags from their balconies. Conversations in supermarket lineups about how our boys were doing started to bring us all together here in disjointed Vancouver.

A painted window on the way to work.

As for me, I’ve lived for several years overseas and when asked here I am from, I say Vancouver for simplicity. But standing in Vancouver, it’s obvious I’m an outsider. No, I don’t know where that park is. I’m not totally sure where the Skytrain goes. I don’t know what all the great summer happenings in the city are. It’s been hard to make new friends here. This is a disjointed city, from what I have observed; more than half it’s residences come from somewhere else. Just look at how we form neighbourhoods by nationality. Vancouver is not “We,” it’s made up of “us” and a them and them and them.

So jumping on the Canucks bandwagon for me was a ticket to a party where I knew no one. It was that instant feeling of connectedness to a town which is famous for it’s hard, uncrackable shell. The Canucks lifted that shell and left us vulnerable. Open, friendly, excited and downright giddy. I really didn’t care if the Canucks won or lost I was just happy to be part of the team for once.

Even Lululemon got into the spirit and hosted good natured yoga practices to cheer on the Canucks on the lawn of their headquarters.

As a yoga practitioner, it goes against yoga philosophy to cheer for a sports team for the simple reason that if you align yourself with a certain group, you create and us and a them, when yoga is all about working towards union. If you see us and them, you see your group as more entitled and the other roup as being inferior, and in doing so you lose compassion for the other side. Whether it be Canucks vs. Bruins, men vs. women, blacks, vs Whites vs Asians vs. Arabs, or able bodied and disabled bodied, Christian vs Muslim, if we can’t identify with the other then we can’t feel true compassion and see this world as one. I get that, and generally, I agree with that.

But like I said, I’m not from Vancouver, and I haven’t lived in Canada for a long time. I have a hard time belonging anywhere and I admit it’s a feeling I long for. To belong somewhere. I haven’t felt this feeling in a seriously long time and so however constructed it may have been, I jumped on the Canuck bandwagon and rode it while it was going in a positive direction.

One the day of Game seven, I was working in the library downtown around the area where they set up the giant TV screens. It was a lovely party getting started outside as the students struggled to write their listening exams through the honking and screaming happening directly outside the library. (side note: out of 56 foreign students writing the exam, 21 of them wore Canucks shirts!)

Luongo, Kessler, Kessler and H. Sedin writing their listening exams to get into university.

Part of my shift was to sit outside the doors and make sure no crazy people tried to get into the examination room, as we were right next to the public toilets. Most people who came down were hockey fans needing to use the loo, fix the blue and green Canuck logos painted and peeling off their faces. Most people were excited. I calmed one older man down who was literally fretting and pacing we might lose this game, as if the Canucks were dying patients who might not make it through this next operation. Only once did a young group of men come down and I heard one laughing about two Bruins fans getting ‘the shit kicked out of them’ by a group of young Canucks fans. I did what most Canadians would do. I sat in my chair and gave them harsh dirty looks. What else can you do?

Positive pre-game excitement in front of the post office, where the riot apparently started a few hours later.

After work was over I headed to the non-alcoholized zone, where a lovely Indian lady peeked in my bag. But not my pockets, or my jacket pockets. Maybe I just don’t seem the type to riot, but honestly, I’ve had more thorough checks entering a shopping mall in Istanbul. I stayed for about two hours, taking pictures, enjoying the pre-game fun, sitting between family and young and old people, discussing our excitement for the game.

I can't help but look at the photo and know some of these people were about to make bad, bad choices. Unfortunately, the powers that be put the big screens on to the news before the game started, and the news showed footage of the 94 riots. A large part of the crowd cheered. That's when I decided not to stay too much longer.

But about an hour before the game started, the feeling in the crowd began to shift. The place was filling up and we were losing sight of the big screen. Someone short like me really didn’t have a chance. The father next to me was shouting at everyone that they were rude if they tried to push past him and his ten-year old son, using the son as an excuse to have more space in the crowd. The poor kid, with his peeling face paint and flag tied like a cape was embarrassed, yelling at his Dad that he could see where there was no way he could. This was a nightmare for him. So I chatted with him to calm him down as he got jostled and elbowed, asking him about his favourite players and what he thought of the past six games. But when I started getting elbowed and jostled, it was like my body made the decision to leave and suddenly, with no thought from my brain I was out of the crowd and my eyes were looking for an exit.

Taken a few days earlier when I was excited about the games. Not so funny now.

First I went to the library, which was fenced off at this point, but there was an openable gate there. When I asked if I could get out that way, an unobstructed stroll out of mayhem and to my bicycle, I was told flatly by security, no.

“So you are telling me I have to go push against the crowd out there to get out?”

The answer was a firm yes. Sigh. My mind had caught up with me and wasn’t looking forward to inserting myself into that swelling crowd again.

These people made their own paper-mache hats. The good kind of energy!

Long story short, it wasn’t pleasant, but I happened to get in the middle of an Indian family with several teenage daughters who were also trying to get out. I held back the crowd and pushed the girls in front of me so they wouldn’t be separated from their family. In exchange, I joined their posse to get out. A chubby man with an extremely flabby protruding stomach pressed so hard into me from behind we had full contact from my shoulders to my bum.

“You aren’t a fraterist, are you?” I joked. He looked extremely embarrassed but since I could see it wasn’t him doing the pushing I took deep breaths and focused on getting out of the crowd, and not on his genitalia mashed against my butt cheeks. I decided to chalk it up to taking one for the innocent teenage team in front of me. It wasn’t pretty though. The game hadn’t started and we were pushing against the group pouring in, a few choice words thrown our way simply for trying to get out.

We surged against the crowd a few times and I lost my breathe twice as I was mashed between the man behind me and the Indian girl in front of me. But soon we were out of the crowd and I was free to circle to block back around, hop on my bike and ride the seawall to my friend Eric’s house in relative peace to watch the game with a bottle of wine and some good people.

We lost the game. As we swilled wine and ate sushi, we acquiesced that the Bruins played the better game. But it was a beautiful night and Eric has a great view, we all stepped away from the TV and onto the balcony to watch the sunset. But instead, we watched plumes of black smoke rising from downtown Vancouver.

Plumes of smoke over Vancouver post game seven.

What came next was horrific. Idiotic. Moronic. Stupid. Embarrassing. Shameful.

Vancouver was grief-stricken.

A tank outside the library the day after the riot. There was a prom going on across the street hence the girls in prom dresses posing next to the tank.

One of the messages scrawled on the plywood covering broken windows downtown.

After spending so long overseas in less developed countries I have generally witnessed one thing: The more privileged a society you are, the more angry the youth you seem to have. Why are Canadian youths so angry? Why would this happen in a place like Canada? The early rioters that have been identified come from well-off families. Yet I’ve been in India where the people have every reason to be angry and dissatisfied with life and instead they sit down with the patience to sit through a three-hour Bollywood movie filled with singing and dancing and happy, beautiful colours. People throw their energy into surviving. That night Vancouver looked like a spoiled Veronica out of an Archie comic- stamping feet and throwing a tantrum because we didn’t get what we wanted. A cup that means very little. Not world peace, not equality, a metal cup.

Tonnes of Canucks fans donned their jerseys again and came downtown to clean the streets after the riot. These are the good people.

What I’d like to say is that bystanders egging on rioters should be ashamed. Just because you didn’t try to set a cop car on fire but you cheered and told someone to do it, means you are disgracefully guilty. Shame on you. The rioters should be held accountable, without a doubt. And I encourage anyone with a photo to send it into the police (even though I don’t think you should have still been there snapping away in a riot. You were obstructing the police from doing their job. ‘Nuff said.)

But where I get queasy is where stories like Nathan Kotylak, a seventeen year old water polo athlete with a promising career in front of him gets caught up in the mob and tries to light a cop car on fire. Nathan possibly threw away everything he’d worked years to build in fifteen seconds. His father, a well-respected physician accompanied him to the station when he turned himself in. He’s trying to make amends for his moment of disastrous stupidity.

I say, bravo, Nathan Kotylak! Without condoning the original offence, I see a young man doing his best to turn this around. I see a family doing it’s best to support their son in the face of all of this. Bravo family. I don’t see a family making excuses for him. This is truly brave, in my opinion. This will be a turning point in this young man’s life and I hope Vancouver as a community can support his efforts to make these wrongs into rights. As for the lynch mob who have chased Nathan’s family from their home, you are no better than the rioters. Please leave the judging and punishment up to the courts. Otherwise the dirty side of this situation continues. Because if we are incapable for forgiving, we are incapable of moving on.

A Muslim girl adds a prayer to help Vancouver heal, with a little peace sign.

As for me, I won’t be part of this lynching. Though you and I both agree that your actions were stupid, I stand up and applaud you in your apology to Vancouver, Nathan. And I hope when this is over and you’ve done your community service (because you know that’s coming) and taken responsibility for the damage you have caused, you still have the chance to become the leader you are already appearing to be.

The new kind of Canucks fan.

Let’s help him heal, Vancouver.

Link to Nathan's apology.

Well-written response from a police officer on scene.

Globe & Mail article: The sad, painful truth about the Vancouver rioters’ true identities

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Angelo's Coffee Shop!

Over second and third cups flow matters of high finance, high state, common gossip and low comedy. Coffee is a social binder, a warmer of tongues, a soberer of minds, a stimulant of wit, a foiler of sleep if you want it so. From roadside mugs to the classic demi-tasse, it is the perfect democrat.
~Author Unknown

Angelo's Coffee Shop! 6x9", June 2011

Ahh, I have toiled many a cold winter's day in Naramata chatting with Angelo at Cafe Never Matter's coffee & Bistro, Looking at this exact view- Angelo behind the counter, doing his thing, me at the table directly in front. Since winter is the slow season in Naramata, Angelo never minded me bringing my laptop over to the shop, having a cup of coffee and occupying a table for hours in order to get some work done. but truth be told, I did very little work in Angelo's coffee shop since we both ended up chatting the winter hours away, often between a scone Angelo decided needed to be shared.

Luckily, Angelo likes my paintings, which were hanging in the coffee shop at the time he purchased it last summer. He asked me if I'd like to have another show at Cafe NeverMatters in July, so for the month of July I will be occupying the walls of my favourite coffee spot in Naramata! This also means I've got a trip back to the Okanagan planned for the week before the Canada Day long weekend!

Last year I had my Turkish paintings up, and though I will have some Canadian repeats of last year, I've been trying to get more Okanagan prints up for this year. Two weeks before the show, I'm still painting! But I'm almost there. I hope Naramata likes what it sees!

I took this picture in a hurry, the morning I left for Vancouver. I just wanted enough information to do a little painting of Angelo in his coffee shop.

For more information on Cafe Never matters, Click Here.

See you in July in Naramata!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Queens of May!

'But I must gather knots of flowers,
And buds and garlands gay,
For I'm to be Queen o' the May, mother,
I'm to be Queen o' the May.'
- Alfred Lord Tennyson
The Queens of May! 11X14, Ink on Watercolour paper

As some of you may know, I am working hard to fill the walls of Cafe NeverMatters in July. Since I exhibited in the same cafe last year (which was then known as the Village Grounds) I'm doing my best to get some new work out so the people of Naramata can see some new paintings this year.

So after work I come home and paint, and when I'm not painting, I'm at work, and if I'm not exhausted I fit yoga class in there. But sitting and painting for long periods of time can be a little boring and sometimes I get bored of listening to music, or the radio. So for these special times I watch movies or Tv on my laptop. This month I've been watching/listening to the Tudors, and the lives of Henry the 8th and all of his unfortunate wives!

So it's not surprising that when I finished my last raft painting on May Day that I would be inspired both by all of the fabulous costume design of the Tudors and by the May Day celebrations in my home town. (Except these queens are young grade six girls and get to keep their heads when their reign of a year is over!)

May Day happens over Canada's Victoria Day Long weekend in May (Queen Victoria's Birthday). I have participated in May day as a flower girl, a Maypole dancer, a pole sitter (to make sure the maypoles wouldn't fall over) a contestant in the bike decoration contest and as a spectator.

In fact, I found this little video below which shows the celebrations of May Day and was pleasantly surprised to see the Soap box racing takes place next to the house in which I grew up- But then the next shot of the parade you can see my sister and I taking photos- I'm the one in the blue shirt!

I may do one of Maypole dancing but I haven't come up with a sketch I'm happy with yet. I decided wanted to do a painting that didn't involve a landcape and I wanted to capture the fun moments of May Day, which is really a celebration that summer is just around the corner. It's the first sunburn of the year, the first dunk in the lake even though we all know it's way too cold, dancing the birdie dance with your community of Naramatians at the Queen's Ball in the early evening. It's a great little celebration to acknowledge Naramata's colourful past. As I sit and write this from the depths of big city Vancouver I can tell you it's something hard to come by these days and it's quite special.

See you at Cafe NeverMatters in July!
340 Robinson Ave, Naramata
Phone 778-514-0054