The Little City - August/September 2018

I first came upon it a few weeks ago ─ barely visible from a distance and unidentifiable.  It kind of telegraphed a sense of order, just enough to pique curiosity. 

Like so many things on The Spit, it was worth the trek along the sand, pebble, rubble beach in my clip-slippery bike shoes to get there. You don’t have to go that way.  It’s just that my curiosity drove me onward without considering less complicated alternatives. I was already on the beach below the newest incarnation of the Magnificent Pile trying to get a shot of it from the lake side when I received the ‘telegraph’.

And then:

I left this tucked into the back, facing the rubble cliff:

Here it is, a little easier to read:

26 August 2018

A swan pair flies
overhead.
He’s in front, honking to her.
Is it to make sure
she is still there?
She’s not answering from
her nearly
beak-to-tailfeather
position.
Or is it the other way ‘round?
She, then he?
And then there is you,
small city of wonder…
Oh, and another swan
alone this time,
the honking not quite
so confident.

As distractingly wonderful
as those three were,
you are here beside me,
a begin-again
experiment
in
harmonious high density
living.

Ten days later:

For a moment I am transfixed by the encounter of this Google Earth likeness. I am a benevolent introspective giant here.  The impending sky, the juxtaposition of the rubble cliff and its meaning, with the orderly elegance of the vulnerable little city, and the promise that it might offer, all held in a single gaze.  A small shiver of recognition passes through me.

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7 September 2018

Hello again, hello,
charming city of
harmony
with your perfect
value scale balance:
white to grey to black
and
back again.
You’ve grown so, and now
you have yourself
an orange brick
delimitation.

Keeping out
or
keeping in?

Perhaps a frame to show you off
to best advantage
by
its colour difference
and precision placement.

‘Ah, you cannot know the
answer’ says the pen. ‘You
can only guess and spill my ink
with your speculation.’
‘You’re wrong.’ I say ‘It’s only play.’

Some days I love not knowing
answers.

Also on this day, the tower builder arrived and was instantly hard at work and keenly focused just down the way.  The temptation to approach was huge.  But I knew that knowing would change everything.  And so,

07 September 2018

I thought I was
unshakeable
in
my commitment to
anonymity.
Today is a little shaky.
The pen is sniggering
at my distress.
The builder is over there as
I sit safe-distanced
by the little city here.
Shall I leave this note page
here or there?
There, would only be
a sort-of half
revelation.
Is there such a thing?

I visited the little city again the other day.  It has developed urban sprawl with low-rise additions at its periphery. Still charming. And yet somehow its magical intimate ambush eroded with this suburbs hint toward real-city evolution. There it was, a nudge toward the commonplace world I inhabit and me, deeply reluctant to leave enchantment behind.

Until next time. 

The Stealth Art Collective

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Ostraca, Ekphrasis and the Magnificent Pile Part III !!!

Yes! Three exclamation marks for Part III. It is the beginning of so much more to this story. This time I broke a rule I have kept for 10 years -- the one about staying anonymous.  Although, I only bent it a little.

Here’s what happened:

Since the towers were so obviously (to me) the work of the same creative mind and muscle, I wanted to play fair: a) ask permission to use my photographs of the towers on this blog, and b) ask whether the builder(s) would like the work credited or to remain anonymous.  I left a note:

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The hoped-for answer arrived in a day.

The builder is Robert.  The imagination, the design, the engineering and execution make him an extraordinary artist. He was too modest to self-identify so, I’m taking identification license. Robert, the builder, is an artist. Better ─ artist-engineer.

Within a few days, the Magnificent Pile, had changed its crown to this:

From the lake side

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From the land side

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And Next to it, Robert had flung:

 

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Although it was considerably smaller than the tower, it had so much energy at its heart, enough to hold its own next to all that grandeur next door. 

I left this:

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3 June 2017

Oh what a THING you are today
With your First Nations Eagle heart
     In pride of place.
Your improbably graceful curls and curves
Who knew that concrete blocks and bricks
     can sway
     can dance
     can undulate so?
The Romans and the Greeks have nothing on you.

In return, Robert sent these:

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Credit:  ©Robert Zunke
Credit:  ©Robert Zunke
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Credit:  ©Robert Zunke

Until next time. 

The Stealth Art Collective

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While We Were Absent

Just before my long hiatus I received this beautiful image "Poem in Ice" taken January 1, 2015 from Kris Ito.  It makes perfect timing for a small digression from 'The Magnificent Pile'  and a perfect bridge, for beginning again.  Thanks Kris!

January 1, 2015 © Kris Ito

January 1, 2015 © Kris Ito

Here it is in October 2014,  freshly written and left at my favourite talk-to-The-Spit site – below the lighthouse, a little over the rubble cliff edge.

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To The Leslie Street Spit,

Almost mid-October now (I’m glad all your notes have gone – too much to read!)
Thanksgiving weekend to be more accurate.
No matter the amount of wiping, your surfaces
still bleed the ink.  It’s just too cold for the dew to
release on this breath-visible morning.

It felt imperative today, absolutely appropriate, to
come
and
thank you for your existence, your magic,
your small-gap revelation of the universe,
a little like Oz, not the sham of him. It’s the glimpse
behind the curtain…a moment so brief, it can be
easily missed.

Creative spirit and instinct mingle here. I’ve not seen it
so clearly anywhere else before.  I love you for this
and for all you draw from the natural world, from
the human world, from me and the pen.
You are indeed a temenos, a holy place, in the best
possible sense.

Thank you for the slim edge that you are, where the
natural and the deconstructed built worlds dance –
and the monarchs, this morning, so many exquisitely
beautiful monarchs.

With profound appreciation,
                               the pen and the camera and me

 

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'til soon.

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Spit-love and Wild Art

 

Our Spit-Love story’s anniversary is today, ten years today. A good day to begin telling our story, yes? And I am delighted to be the one in our small collective of artists to tell it.

I’ve noticed during our time together ― The Spit and mine ― that most visitors, especially the camera bearing ones are interested in this urban wilderness for its wild life, the conservation efforts. Visitors without cameras might be carrying fishing equipment if you are out early enough to catch them, or they are earbuds wearing walkers and joggers.  Oh, and the cyclists. 

The results of a Google search confirm this.  Compared to recreational and wild life interests, there is relatively little to be found about wild art, about the creative instinct and its dance with us on The Spit.  This has pride of place on the Stealth Art Collective’s list of what we love and what excites us about The Spit.

In the beginning using photo documentation, our purpose was to track the creative instinct as it reveals itself in the spontaneous, anonymously made artworks to be found there.  We’ve not been to another place where you can get this close to a clear uncompromised view of the creative instinct at work. 

In this wild, messy urban location, there is absolutely no incentive to make art: no curator, no art enthusiast to please, no critic interested, no formal institutionalized setting for display. Certainly, no prestige. Urban-world ideas of what is precious and valuable and conventional definitions of what is art  are impossible to apply. And, except for once in 2014 ―  that’s a story for another time ― there are no financial rewards, and yet…

I had experienced The Spit for years before 2008 but on April 14 I saw it differently. At the furthest point, below the lighthouse I saw this:

I felt a shift in perception. It was one of those rare experiences when the universe seems to open her curtain just a little to reveal something important, enlightening, some truth. 

And so it was the first day of the next ten years. 

Immediately we made a rule of conduct.  If we were tracking the creative instinct, then we could not intervene, we would only document what we found.  And just as immediately, we broke our rule. Not our fault. The creative instinct coaxed us to play.

There was something irresistible about crowning it with a stone spine. Perhaps it was for us a way of marking the beginning of something significant.  You never know when something is beginning until hindsight kicks in. We’ll return to this fine rebar creature in its many incarnations later in the story.

Until next time. 

The Stealth Art Collective

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