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Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Three Out of Four Ain't Bad

Recently, I attended an art show of a friend who I hadn’t seen in years.

When we were kids, her little brother was my best friend and we raced around the neighbourhood together exploring every climbing tree, ditch, and blade of grass. We bombed down every monkey trail in Crescent Drive Park, wiping out only occasionally. Those were my tomboy days, when dresses, skirts, and leotards were anathema to me.

Seeing her incredible art, covering the gallery walls, I couldn’t help but marvel at how similar our two families turned out to be. Out of us four kids, three of us followed a creative path. She’s an artist and my brother and I are writers. My best buddy growing up, her brother, is the odd man out. He’s a bond trader. Yup, couldn’t get much further from being artistically bent, than managing a mutual fund.

When I looked around the gallery, there were close to a dozen striving artists with their work proudly displayed for all to view. Artists and sculptors have galleries, writers and poets have bookstores, musicians have coffee houses, and yet we all have the same dream. To freely create the art that drives us. And perhaps, if we’re lucky, make a living off our creative endeavours. But, like so many others before us, we have day jobs that support our passion.

Pretty sure my old pal, the bond trader isn’t working a night job sculpting statues, to fuel his passion for bonds.

So how did it happen that three out of the four of us ended up on an artistic journey?

If I look at our families they were more dissimilar than similar. Their parents were both teachers and remain happily married. My mom was a social worker and my dad a financial planner. Do I need to say more? They amicably, and most likely gleefully, divorced when I was three.

Did we attend the same Church? Nope.

Did we play on the same sports teams? No way. (Truthfully? I started on the boys' soccer team when I was 6, until someone pointed out that I was not, in fact, a boy. That was a huge deal in the '70's. Begrudgingly, I joined the girls' team. Tomboy, remember?)
Cresecent Drive Park, Fort Garry
What we do have in common is our community.

We went to the same schools for most of our adolescence and were cocooned in the heart of Fort Garry where the arts flourished and were strongly supported. It was a time where being in the school musical was cool and band wasn’t a complete social death knell. In elementary school, some of the neighbour kids were even on a local children’s television show, Let's Go.

Canada is a strong supporter of the arts and Winnipeg stands out amongst other bigger and wealthier cities as the little city that loves its artists. From The Royal Winnipeg Ballet to The Winnipeg Art Gallery; from The Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra to The Manitoba Opera; from The Guess Who to Neil Young; and most recently from Maria Aragon to Sean Quigley. From amateurs to professionals, the list goes on and on. Winnipeg has always been a nurturing place for creative hearts to grow up and dream big.

And it all starts with the courage to dream, the belief that we can succeed, the passion for our craft, and most importantly the support from our families and communities.

Then the baby steps begin.

A small gala opening, could lead to a feature at an acclaimed art gallery. An article published in a writing guild magazine, may lead to a book deal. Open mike poetry nights, at local bookstores, might lead to a signed contract.

So thank you family, thank you friends, thank you Fort Garry, and thank you Winnipeg.

Thank you for not rolling your eyes when we said we had this dream. Thank you for supporting the arts in our schools. Thank you for coming to every piano recital, Christmas concert, art show, dance competition, and fringe play. Art, in its many forms is important and your support tells us you think our work, our passion, is important too.

Just one last favour. Can we borrow 10 bucks?

Merry Christmas.

P.S. If you’re looking to buy something special this Christmas, why not check out the work of my old neighbour friend, Karen Robb.  Click  here: 

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