Okay, so where were we?
Ah, yes, I had rudely let the season three finale of Glee interrupt my story about my (lack of) bicycle. And since then I also let two children with fevers, a work project, and countless other errands get in the way too. Geez – where are my priorities??
Let’s get back at this, shall we? I had walked away from the oh-so-cute retro bike with custom painting so that I could choose something more practical that fit better into my allotted “bike budget.” At this point in the day, I wasn’t about to head to more stores. Max, at this stage, was still very much enjoying his afternoon naps. He is also a very big and heavy boy and hard for me to carry so I wanted to get him back to the car before he decided to curl right up in a store and take his siesta. So off we went.
But as we were walking back to where the car was parked, I saw an interesting sign. It was right outside a beautiful little church in the Westboro area of Ottawa and it read: “West End Studio Tour.” This is a walking, biking and self-drive tour that artists organize, and where they welcome you into their studio and you can see where and how they work, as well as some recent pieces. It takes place every September, but only for a short period of time. I was very intrigued. The sign had a pocket attached to it; I pulled out a map with a list of artist studios from the pocket. I know what you’re thinking — it would be a real shame to miss such a unique opportunity …
You read my mind! So off we went.
"Soul of the Forest," by Alison Fowler
There was one artist in particular who I’d been wanting to meet for a while: Alison Fowler. Some of my friends had her work in their homes and it really spoke to me. I know her poppies are very popular, but I am especially fond of her tree trunks (see an example above).
But the way the map winded around the streets, it made sense to first pop in to see David W. Jones, Lynette Chubb, and Andrew King. By the time I was approaching King’s studio, Max was losing patience with this whole notion. It also certainly didn’t help that when I opened the ground floor door to get to King’s studio, all I saw was an enormous, steep set of stairs. Would Max make it?
Well, I decided to find out. And I am sooo glad I did! I am a huge King fan now. As soon as I walked into his studio, I recognized his work — I’d seen some of his paintings featured in Ottawa-area magazines and the Ottawa Citizen. He has a straight-edged, stark style that he usually combines with a bit of irony. And clever titles. I like clever titles.
"Peggy Arrives," by Andrew King
So I walked about his studio, admiring his work — most of it already stickered up as “sold.” He’s a great talent, with a kindness to him and a really interesting face (he looks so young, you can’t help but stare at his face and keep guessing what age he might be). In fact, I think I was brash enough to ask him and I think he said 36. But I digress … oh, and before I get back on track … I think he and Fowler are a couple. How cool is that?
Let’s cut to the chase, now. You and I both know that I don’t have a bike. And you and I both know that I darn well didn’t put my “bike money” into an RRSP. Yep, you guessed it — I bought one of King’s pieces.
But you wouldn’t even recognize it as his. It is in a radically different style and when I asked him about it, he explained that he’d completed a small series of paintings in this style when he’d been on a canoe trip. (Although, come to think of it, maybe it was a boat trip … the canvas is far too large for a canoe! Or maybe he works from photos after the fact?) There were no other pieces from the series and he’d heavily marked this one down in price — slashing it by more than half of its original price. I asked him why he’d reduced the price and he told me it’s because it was the last one left in the series. But I suspect it’s because he didn’t really like it, or at least he’s not particularly proud of it. Technically, it does betray flaws. But for me it was love at first sight. The feel of the Canadian forest just radiates off the canvas, and I am really attracted to the rich colours of the forest floor.
And this is why, my friends, when Hubby got back from his camping trip and asked me where my new bike was, I bit my lip nervously and told him that this piece was titled “Julie’s Bicycle.”
"Julie's Bicycle," by Andrew King
p.s. Max fell dead asleep in King’s studio and could not be woken so I had to carry him down those steep stairs. King was a total gentleman and carried “my new bike” out to the parking lot and to my car for me. Then I paid him with my “bike money,” which was all in twenty-dollar bills so it totally looked like we were conducting a drug deal in the parking lot and using a cute toddler as a ploy.