Wiggly teeth, crackly grass

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, July 26, 2018

 (Top) Jessica Powers brings kindergarteners and seniors together to identify their “best parts,” while (bottom) Nancy Lindquist celebrates serendipity of mixed media in her paintings of nature. Photos (top left) by Warren Harbeck, all others submitted

Delighting in overlooked beauty, the topic of last week’s column, two of our coffee companions responded with their own encounters.

The first response is from Jessica Powers, of Cochrane, a kindergarten teacher at Elizabeth Barrett School.

“We did an inquiry project on beauty this spring,” she said. “It was an amazing project where kids got to delve deeper into the meaning of beauty. We connected with the seniors at Big Hill Lodge about what they think is beautiful.”

One of the joint projects was based on Wendy Ewald’s book, The Best Part of Me. “We brainstormed different ideas about why different body parts might be someone’s ‘best part,’” Jessica said. The students and the seniors even mounted a photo display of best parts.

One student identified their best part as “my teeth, because they are wiggly and I just lost one.” A senior identified his hands as his best part: “I was a paramedic for 18 years and my hands helped many people.”

Jessica credits her grandmother and mother with encouraging her sensitivity to simple beauty.

“My Grandma who lived to 96, as well as my Mom, always taught us to see (and hear and smell and taste and feel) the beauty in everyday things,” Jessica says “— listening to the snow crunch under our feet, the smell of the earth after it rains, the way the light hits a canola field in the evening. When life gets rocky, being able to appreciate the beauty in the everyday is like a life preserver in a stormy sea.”

The second response to last week’s column is from Calgary mixed-media artist Nancy Lindquist. Her delight in unexpected beauty is apparent in her current exhibit, When Enchantment Happens By, on display till Aug. 15 at The Gentry Espresso & Wine Bar, in Cochrane.

Unexpected beauty “has been an important theme for me in my photography and my art,” she says. “I am representing the beauty in very simple things – grasses, leaves.”

She waxes poetic over simple beauty: “Take your extravagant beauty, your loud laughing jewels (beauty for sure), and give me my everyday crackly-grass muted tones. Today the land’s humming soothes my soul.”

Nancy’s paintings reveal a particular kind of unexpected beauty. Utilizing a dye-sublimation process, the former clothing designer combines fabric, paper, acrylics, heat and pressure “to lend an unusual textural quality” that invites being viewed in person. “The melded layers give the perception of depth and hold mystery so that the longer one looks, the more one sees.”

A rewarding opportunity to experience that mystery in person occurs this Sunday, July 29, 1–3 pm, at The Gentry’s Meet the Artist event. See you there?


© 2018 Warren Harbeck

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