Tuesday 25 August 2015

On Expanding my Consciousness with Tony Cepukas

Recently I had to put Belinda to sleep.  She was a cat I'd had for 20 years and who wouldn't allow any other animals in the house.  But she was in rapid decline.  Just a few days ago I went to the Court Animal Hospital to replace her and came home with two adult cats who are too fond of each other to be separated.  I called a friend and said, "I'm living with two black gentlemen."  He said he would have to tell an acquaintance of ours who's an inveterate salacious gossip.

On Saturday, August 22, 2015, I called NAC to ask when their next show would be.  I was told it had just started and featured mosaics.  I said I would be right over.  I was glad to get out of the house in order to give my two black gentlemen a chance to settle in, as they have been hiding under my couch.

I took an indirect route to NAC, once I got off the bus.  First I went to the bank, as I am short of cash.  Then I went to the Arts and Crafts shop at 7 James Street and arranged for a small showing of some of my latest pictures, which have a connection with Goddess worship.  Then I went across to Christopher's, where I got an occult magazine, "Watkins Mind Body Spirit," and a horoscope magaine.  Next I got a Senior 10 Ride Card and bought two books at the Write Bookstore.  One was on French New Criticism, which by now is at least 50 years old, and the other was on the Druids by a Greek contemporary of theirs.

Altogether I felt that I had a very wide range of interests and was reaching out to the world around me in many directions, without leaving my comfort zone.  But when I got to Tony Cepukas' show, "Shine On, You Crazy Mosaic," I found that the artist was living in a completely different world from mine.  We have this much in common, that we are both self-taught artists who took up art in retirement, but most of his cultural references are to rock stars and cult cinema -- a world into which I had never ventured and which I was hardly even aware existed.  When I spoke to him I felt I almost had to apologise for my ignorance.

On entering the Dennis Tourbin Members' Gallery, I was startled to see a series of mind and body baring portraits in mosaic with names inscribed on them, but the only name I recognised was Obama.  I had to ask the artist who the other men were -- mainly rock stars and one cinema actor.  With my cult of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Handel, Mozart, and Wagner, I go in for a completely different kind of music, and I had never even heard of cult cinema.

I was impressed by the passion bordering on violence he put into these portraits but felt more at ease with his mandalas and depictions of flowers, which are more like what I do myself.  There were two mandalas I particularly liked and wanted to buy.  One had a pair of cherubs at the centre and the other a rooster.  In contrast to the portraits there were quite serene -- "emotion recollected in tranquillity."

I asked the artist where he got his art materials and how he put them together.  He said he'd ordered his boards from an art supplier in Montreal who does free shipping, which as a piece of information I was glad to get.  To get his mosaic chips, he buys dishes at such venues as garage sales and breaks them up.  My cherubs and rooster must have come from commercially produced plates, as they are quite traditionally realistic, insofar as that can be said of cherubs.

I can't seem to get away from collage, in one form or another.  I like its combination of the realistic and the fantastic, however it's put together.  Of course his chips were stuck together with grout and white glue.  Where Tony Cepukas says "Shine On, You Crazy Mosaic," allegedly with the song "Shine On, You Crazy Diamond" in mind, my message is "Dream On, You Crazy Approach to the Real World, and Take Me Into a Fairy Tale."

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