Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Art and Fire

Spanish Banks, 8x8
original painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Driving back home from our community garden in Coquitlam last Sunday evening, my husband and I noticed a thick cloud of smoke over Port Moody.

Our first thought was a dreaded forest fire, but it didn't look like that. The source of the smoke was clearly somewhere in the old part of the city.

Checking the online news as soon as we got home, we found out that a block of beautiful old heritage buildings was on fire. Sadly, it included a beloved local bistro where musicians, artists, writers, and all kinds of art lovers have been gathering to socialize and share their love of art and good food. At the time of the fire, a group exhibit was hanging on the walls, including several of my paintings.

The first concern was, of course, checking and thanking the fortune that no one was hurt by the blaze. Unfortunately, the buildings were badly damaged, the businesses suffered a terrible loss, and a few residents lost their homes. In the light of all this devastation, nobody dared ask about art. Words of sorrow and support to the affected flooded the internet and the police and firefighters were left to do their job.

I silently mourned my paintings, fully aware of how small my loss was compared to the big picture. And yet, I have to admit that it hurt to say goodbye to my darlings. 

The next morning, we learned from the onlookers that the art seemed to have survived the fire and a few hours later a call came to pick it up. The firefighters had entered the damaged, unsafe building and saved the art.

I rushed to my car as I was and arrived at the location which looked as if a bomb had gone off. Roads blocked, the structures chared, the street surrounded by the police tape. 

In the midst of destruction, I found the paintings carefully stacked by the wall.

Incredibly, aside from the heavy smoke odor, my pieces didn't suffer a single scratch. There were slight water stains on some of the rescued art, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. I had had paintings returned from professional art galleries in much worse shape.

Other artists showed up and we helped load the art in the cars and left the area. It didn't feel right to linger but I regret not being able to give my thanks to the wonderful firemen who saved our art and took such gentle care of it.

Back in the studio, as I was trying to wash off the smoke smell from my paintings, I made a mental list of the fire-smart practices that I follow. They suddenly seemed even more important.

1. Fire extinguisher placed in a location easy to reach. Check the expiry date to make sure it's functional.

2. Smoke and chemical fumes sensor/alarm installed in the studio and tested regularly.

3. The exit door easily accessible, clear of obstructions.

4. Combustible substances stored safely in an air-tight container and according to the manufacturer's specifications.

5. Computer and cloud data backup, including the comprehensive art archive, refreshed monthly and stored in a fire-proof safe. A second copy of the backup is created quarterly and taken to the safe deposit box in the bank.

All this is essential, but what gives me the most comfort art-wise is the fact that whatever happens, my paintings can't possibly all burn down. Thanks to my wonderful art lovers, they are spread around in homes, galleries, and collections all over the world.

I give my gratitude to all of you who are a part of our expansive art world.

Enjoy the summer and stay fire-safe!


Monday, 15 July 2019

Artist on Vacation

VanDusen Waterfall, 10x8
original plein air painting by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Here's something new I am doing this summer. I've promised myself a longish vacation. I will be making art and doing other things I love, but without any planning. I will let my creativity fly without any structure or expectations. 

No art events, no to-do lists, no obligations. For two months, it's all about freedom. 

Painting plein air at one of my favorite locations, 
VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver

This may come as a surprise to non-artists, but running an art business, despite its delightfulness, is a lot of serious work. Summers are typically loaded with artsy events and projects and for many years my summers have been flurry or activity. 

I loved my artful summers but I've noticed that the bulk of time somehow gets gobbled by those side-chores that are not so easy to love - packing, loading, driving, unloading, following someone else's instructions, displaying, cleaning up, etcetera. Not to mention loads of administrative tasks that follow everything that we do, including figuring out who wants us to do what and when. 

This year I am taking a little break, but thanks to the wonderful galleries that represent me, my art is as always available to the art lovers and there is more to come! 

Come September, I will be in full gear, rested and refreshed for my solo show and workshop in beautiful Nakusp, BC. Check out my website for details.

Are you wondering what artists do on vacation? 

This artist likes to visit beautiful, inspiring places and hang out at home. I'll spend blissfully unstructured time in the studio, do some plein air painting, hike, garden, check out art museums, and goof-off with my hubby.

Visiting the amazing Audain Art Museum in Whistler,
getting inspired by the visiting collection
from the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

I can't tell you how great this feels. I hope you make some time this summer to take it easy and do whatever you feel like doing!

View from my home studio.
Beautiful things inside and outside!