Cumberland Moonrise – Acrylic on Canvas
|Dimensions||24 × 36 in|
When I attended Vancouver school of art in the 1970s, we are in an old brick building in Gastown. I would set up my easel next to the telephone. People with Phone wanting commissions done. I would paint anything for money I was hungry. I remember doing a Portrait with some Chinese kids and I also did a Russian troika a slave pulled by horses for a Russian woman on Robson Street in Vancouver.
Then I got lucky Canada tungsten mining corporation phoned inquiring about an artist to go to the northwest territories to paint their mining operations in the northwest territories. They gave me $2500 to buy art supplies and a ticket to Watson Lake in the Yukon. The company bus picked us up at the airport and we drove 300 miles over three mountain ranges into the northwest territories, the site of the tungsten mine.
I painted feverishly for four months doing 53 oil paintings on wood panel. It was perfect. They had a shop where the woodworkers framed all the paintings for me. I also sold a lot of paintings to the minors and geologists at the site.
I would hitchhike rides on the company helicopter. I remember setting up my easel or exploration platform on a mountain side. It was spring and huge avalanches and tumble down the mountain side creating wonderful cross contours. The view spectacular looking down with the meandering Nahanee river, flowing off into the distance. That was the only painting I did not sell as I kept it for my father. Not only was it unique as an image but when the helicopter came in to pick me up it blue bit of tungsten or all over the picture. Flakes of metal Sean in the oil wet oil painting. Years later, when my father passed away, I got the painting back. A retired geologist from Canada tungsten mining purchased the painting, and he hangs it proudly on his wall in Komox.
With the money from the commission, I was able to buy my first house in Cumberland. I met a lot of people at Cantung who are there working to get down payments for a Pub in Northern Ireland a very expensive home in Switzerland, etc.
I also had a part time teaching job at North Island College. I only work part time so I could keep painting and developing my career as an artist. Once I got a body of work of the village, which had a wonderful history getting back 150 years. Cumberland at what at one time had the largest Chinatown north of San Francisco. I painted the old shacks in Chinatown. British Columbia was called the golden mountain by the Chinese. They came work in the minds and on the Railway neither fortune and then went back to China.
When I moved in Cumberland in 1980 cool miles was shut down. The town was dilapidated. Many of the old homes and buildings were post and beam and were rotting away. Houses were cheap. Artist and musicians were moving in as they could afford cheap properties and cheap rents. Every evening with a jam session. One night would be rock ‘n’ roll another night, Irish music, and lots of fiddlers. I learned ballroom dancing, and became a ballroom dancing teacher. And I also taught step parenting to single moms. I remember one story a woman who is a crown counsellor had an important court case. Her little boy would not get dressed for play school. It was an ongoing problem, and she was very frustrated. We came up to solution take him to play school in his pajamas. All the little girls laughed at him in his jam jams. He was ready for school every morning after that. Consequences. Timberland is perfect. Subject matter for an artist up in the hills tops were the Victorian houses were the doctors professionals and my managers live. Wonderful gingerbread houses with interesting façade’s. In the middle with the middle management with sturdy, middle-class homes and down below where the minors cabins called down camp. And then the swamp was Chinatown. The Chinese didn’t mind being in the swamp as it was perfect for growing vegetables, which they grew and profusion and sold back to the community. Chinatown had opium dens gambling houses and their benevolent society. The local police turned a blind eye on high to all these illegal activities. The little glass vials that contain the opium became collectors items.
I would use the race perspective. This was invented by the French impressionist. The idea was to pick the High Point so that you could have the foreground middleground background going off into deep space. In the foreground would be the big store. At one time, the big store was the most important retail store in Comox Valley. People flock beer to do their shopping. Behind the free store would be the the churches united church on one side, the Catholic church on the other side and the brothel next-door, the House of joy.
A Sunday morning hangover they would drag their sorry ass discreetly through the back door into the Catholic Church for absolution for the weekend sins. When I was Sunday school teacher, I Cumberland united church. I will tell the kids to ring the church bell I would say to them make it really loud and wake up all the drunks out there in the community. The little kids would pull on the rope and go flying up the bell tower screaming with the light. I was the only sunny school teacher to be fired in the history of Cumberland churches. I was at the Hyatt the time in the Baha’i believe in the seven prophets I was teaching the kids about Buddha and the babbling Brook, the Hindu gods in my favourite was Islam. I would tell him the story about the golden dome in Jerusalem, where there is a large rock with the inference of Mohammed‘s horse in the rock. This is where Muhammad ascended to heaven on his horse into the arms of 14 Bastille virgins. I did not to tell a story about poor Jesus nailed to the Cross, bleeding to death , the Romans shooting arrows into them to finish them off. I thought this would give the kids nightmares instead we may try playing at a beer cans. The powers that be we’re not impressed and they found another more righteous Sunday school teacher who taught the Christian propaganda.
Cumberland community how many war veterans. One of them whose nickname was Porky everybody at that time had a nickname in Cumberland. The mayor was called bronco. Corky had far as way through Italy, and had collected an amazing array of Nazi memorabilia swastikas iron crosses steel helmets, helmets with eagles and swastikas painted on their distinct shape. He also had several spiked helmets from the first world war., etc.. porky like Farley Mowat, who wrote the book we’re no birds, saying, went back to Italy, and toured all the sites where his comrades had fallen in the Italian campaign. Italy turned out to be not the soft underbelly of Europe as Churchill had predicted.
My first book was very modest. It was called 20 paintings and stories of Cumberland BC. I started with the early history and paintings of Chinatown Golden mountain. The shacks were utilitarian. They each connected up, so that people could move from cabin to cabin without getting wet.