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Man of the Month Before- Norman Foote

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

February’s Man of the Month was:

Norman Foote

Here’s a little bit about him:

Norman Foote’s musicality and humour is like no other. He is a masterful entertainer who uses original composition, props and comedy to engage and spontaneously interact with his audience. Norman has received several awards including Socans Best Songwriter, NAPPA and Parent choice gold awards. His songwriting credits include Disney Records, CBC, Shari Lewis, Koba/Nelvana (Little Bear), National Film Board, BC Cancer Board and several others. His performing history has taken him throughout the world to theatres , festivals and with symphony orchestras.

And here’s how he answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What inspires your creativity?

A new set of strings on my guitar is very inspiring to me. To hear them ring out so clear motivates me to play.

Such a broad question…many things inspire me. Everything has the potential to inspire me…it is whether I take notice. Musically, both comedic and dramatic slices of life inspire me to write and begin a process of creating a song or comedy piece. It may be one catch phrase that will set me off on my habitual songwriting, or it may be a heart felt line that lends itself to a rhyme. So much of creative writing, no matter how simple it may seem is a way of getting yourself into a better space. Songwriting is not a pretty sight often. I can carry ideas and bits of melodies around with me for years.

What inspires me the most and makes me the happiest  is seeing the  growth of my 5 children and two grandkids. Ages form 6 to 32.  I now do many shows with my 17 year-old daughter Maria who sings like a bird.  A total inspiration…when she is not giving me a dirty look!

How have you reinvented yourself thru your creativity?

I have often written my way into a new way of thinking and like everyone I have my favorite songs that feel so good to hear over and over.

Based on response to your creativity, how do you involve others?

I am a true believer in collaboration in songwriting. Many ideas can be basically clever but not enough to blossom into a song. Then some one else comes along and takes it somewhere where I never would have gone and puts the idea over the top.

What is the wildest journey your creativity has taken you on?

the creature from the vacuum

the creature from the vacuum

Being an entertainer for young and old has taken me throughout the world and put me into countless wonderful and not so wonderful situations. I can testify that showbiz is not glamorous. One day doing a command performance for the Prime Minister …and the next day in a mall in Grand Prairie with a sign in the parking lot “puppet show today.” There I was on a 4 by 8 shag carpet stage in the middle of the mall by the food court. The only person in the audience was my cousin who I hadn’t seen for years.

One wild period was my Disney years (91 to 96). They were very busy years, touring over 200 dates a year throughout North America and producing videos out of Los Angeles. Not only was I starting a new family but also trying to prove to Disney that I was worthy of ongoing investment. When they realized I wasn’t, the deal was over and I was happy to record for other labels…and my own.

What is your most memorable moment in the act of being creative?  

My first show with the Vancouver Symphony stands out in my mind.  My parents always wanted me to be a high-school band teacher. Something I didn’t want to do but I thought I would see where that could take me so I applied to UBC’s music program after graduating high-school in 1972. However, I failed the music entrance exam and didn’t attend…much to the disappointment of my parents. I never looked back. So, having my music played by all these fine symphony orchestra musicians, superb arrangements and my parents in the audience was rewarding both musically and personally. It proved to me that there is more than one way to get there.

Peak to Peak Launch, Whistler, BC

Peak to Peak Launch, Whistler, BC

With musical director and arranger Bill Sample we created a unique concert experience with a full symphony.  We have performed the show with symphonies through North America.  With this show I do feel that showbiz is amazing.

Now when I think about it , my first duo in New Zealand (1975) or could it be the first coin thrown into my guitar case as a young busker in Sydney Australia back in ‘76.   This month’s show, February 10, 2010, for the Olympic  torch in North Van was very memorable.

So many memorable, creative opportunities I am thankful for and hope for many more.

What’s next for you?

A full tour schedule both in theatres, festivals and workshops.  Another CD.  TV and voice work in an animated series I am developing with a local producer…it’s top secret. Ok, it’s about a young sasquatch boy who is trying to fit into society and shows his new found city friends the ways of the forest.   This idea has been brewing for a while and is now taking shape. I have my fingers crossed.

And here’s something that inspires his creativity:

Jane Goodall

Al Simmons

Bruce Greenwood

Dolly Hopkins

these people inspire me!

Check out Norman Foote’s website: www.normanfoote.com

Thank you Norman! You make showbiz amazing!

Woman of the Week before the holidays- Maya Ersan

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Presenting:

Maya Ersan

Here’s a little bit about her:

Maya’s work is predominantly centered on developing methodologies and practices of collaboration. Working with drawing, puppets, sculpture, animation and performance,  She is interested in how memory is constructed, how it can be erased and rewritten.  Visceral and collective memory, memory that has been silently passed down through generations, amnesia (non-memory) are central to her work.

Maya Ersan

Maya Ersan

Born in Istanbul and raised in Istanbul and North Cyprus, Maya moved to Vancouver in 1998 to persue a degree in fine arts at the Emily Carr Institute. Following adventures along the west coast, a ceramics residency in Medicine Hat, Alberta, six months at the Banff center for the arts, Maya Co-founded Media Undefined, a non-profit creating community engaged media in Vancouver. Media Undefined produced a number of projects about the living history of East Vancouver, putting into action imaginative ways of making community engaged art. Maya’s page on Media Undefined

In 2006 Maya Moved away from Vancouver, back to Istanbul. After a research position with the Istanbul Biennial, a short animation film made at the NFB, she is now working and living in Montreal and produces projects regularly in Istanbul.

Most recently she has become a co-founding phantom of a Montreal based live visuals and projection design studio called Mere Phantoms.

And here’s how she answered my 6 questions about creativity:

What inspires your creativity?
All life forms : humans, animals, and plants. I’m pretty easily impressed when it comes to animals and plants.

Human creativity too is astounding to me; both in its positive and negative manifestations. I find a lot of inspiration in going and seeing shows, performance, art that you happen upon (we always need more of this) what people will create when they mean to express their humanity is amazing. I’m inspired by the works of many writers. Language is particularly prone to abuse,  it can be manipulated because of its structure so when I read work by people who provide language for what we already know intrinsically, that’s fuel for me.

Also: play time. I find that useful thinking happens somewhere between the brain, the body and whatever else we got.

How do people respond to your creativity?
I am lucky that most of the reaction is positive. When you create work that is community engaged it’s important to get response from people that you made the work with.  I really enjoy collaboration and joint ventures and the best response is when artists that you respect want to collaborate with you.
In terms of performance-based work, the reaction has been great, which encourages me to create more daring projects.

What is the wildest journey your creativity has taken you on?
There’s many. I think coming to Canada to go to art school would be high on my list. There is something very trippy about growing up somewhere else and then living in North America. It’s strangely familiar, because you’ve seen things in films – mundane everyday things, like people walking with a paper-bag full of groceries.

During my first year at school I got a gruesome stiff neck for a few days, I hadn’t figured out how to deal with this so I just kept going to school. My photography Prof at the time got fed up with me showing up at the darkroom 3 days in a row, in obvious agony. On the third day he told me to get my coat, escorted me out of the school and drove me to a near by clinic!  On the way he asked me “did you just open the atlas and pick the furthest point you could go to??” I hadn’t thought about it like that and I had never felt so far away. This was 1998, pre – 9/11, so a Turkish student straight off the plane at Emily Carr was a rare thing. He could tell how dazed and confused I was.

Who loves you for your creativity?
My mother Amal, who has believed in every wild idea I ever had, and has taught me to never take shit from anyone (including myself!) My sister Alev, who is an inspiring, daring artist. My father who is practically crazy, but understands the essence of what I create. My extended matriarchal family, they have always been amazingly supportive in every way. My partners in crime ☺ ; Jaimie Robson who I worked together with for years in Vancouver and Jenny San Martin who is currently my business partner. My partner Kurt who is always entertained by my weird inventions, creations, and nesting experiments.

In terms of audience very diverse people. I collaborate with many artists, from diverse practices, and this always opens up ways of reaching people and bigger networks.  I also prefer working in spaces open to public, or galleries / artist run centers that have a particularly close relationship with the communities they are located in. I have met many people that appreciate what I create that are just passers by, residents, non-artists, etc.

In which ways do you see yourself as Breaking New Ground?
I’m venturing into a way of working that is completely new to me. The idea of running a company (production studio) is still a bit strange. It’s such a different way of thinking about the world at first glance but once I got into creating a business plan, I started seeing the connections between what is considered a “successful” business and who is considered to be a “successful” artist.

Also I’m very claustrophobic by nature. So I need to step outside of what is familiar regularly. I’m skeptical of fields that create their own internal lingo.  Contemporary art can be funny, you’ll always see the same 50-100 people at the openings, and the rest of the population have no clue what’s going on. Modern art can be funny because you’re always gonna get the same shows of mostly dead artists in the museums, no matter where you are on the planet, and community art can be funny because most people think it’s mosaics. Fortunately there are many people venturing into ways of working that disregard this crude categorization.  Mixing, combining, creating: art, dissent, culture, business, community.

To me breaking new ground is about taking the world apart and putting it together again the way you think it should look, and I try and do this constantly, with every project.

What’s next for you?

puppetmasters at work/play

puppetmasters at work/play

My focus at the moment is Mere Phantoms. I’m developing a new performative work; it’s called “Infested”. It takes place in a sixteenth century Ottoman place. During a magical ceremony that is supposed to give the weakened emperor the strength of

a stallion, the spell goes wrong and all the creatures in the palace become hybrids. The humans, plants, and animals that were previously living within their own realms now have to find a way of ruling the Empire together. That’s the premise of the story; in each performance the outcome will be a bit different, as it will involve improvisation. We’ll be using shadow puppetry and live animation.

With Mere Phantoms we’re also working on a line of projected wallpapers. I’m very excited about this project; they are a series of looped animations that are designed as wallpapers that literally bring walls alive. We’re launching this project in December of this year at the Souk@sat in Montreal.

I’m also working towards a project in Istanbul in 2011. This is to officially launch a residency space in Istanbul, a project that has “secretly” been going on for a number of years.

And here’s something that inspires her creativity:

Scott London’s interview with David Abram. I find this interview very inspiring in the way Abram thinks about his craft, his curiosity about his work and where this open minded and cross disciplinary attitude has led him in his practice.

Thanks Maya! Keep venturing into the unknown…we love it!

“These gals are shaking the Tree, gathering up around them the fruits of creativity.”