All that Jas
By Heather Browne

All that JAS!

JAS? Or Jazz? Or the Juried Art Salon? In fact the Salon boasted art, words, song and an accordion to dissemble the attendees from one venue to another on Opening Night. It was a moveable feast. My first encounter with the Salon now in its 6th year was not to be my last. Who remembers much, really, amid wine and dips and interesting faces? But images linger amid all that jazz.

The fifth place winner’s entry Conversations with Time was a must see for this art seeker. Certainly, it was as compelling if not as distancing as I first intuited. As Laurie Sponagles’ Artist Statement confirmed, the absence and presence of the human form was pivotal for her. Surely in her charcoal drawing someone had just left the room and the chair longed for a return.

The Wilson Room conveniently had St. George’s Cathedral dome for a backdrop. To its right Passion displayed itself— Jan Swaren’s Number 1075. Her acrylic on canvas flooded with flower, calyx, and leafing. Her artist’s statement read “born in France, educated in Canada” and concluded that Jan was studying the undulating movements of light. Was it poetic narcissism that attracted me? Was I looking for a “meeting of minds?” And how could one revel in this semi- abstract, pastel movement as readily as in Sponagle’s exquisitely anchored charcoal chair?

Let me say I was quickly developing empathy for the judges Sylvat Aziz and Shayne Dark. Fortunately for me they had awarded (and studied) the paintings Joyful Darkness and Differences as well as Lamont and Bresson’s photography. And had determined porcelain was a great medium for Bernadette Pratt’s cobbling, felt for Lafarge’s effigy.

My conundrum for a People’s Choice called for a lunch. When all else fails: eat I say. So I picnicked on the table provided, oh carefully, when a patron (and poet) introduced himself by admiring another oil, far wall, and contributed that one could feel the desert heat in it. Yes, I said. How else do we respond to the visual but through the emotions? I am hot; I am cold. I feel loss, connection, discovery, comfort, ruin. Hadn’t Jan Allen’s poetry address mined just that query?

Hunger appeased I surveyed Love Discarded and wished to be five inches taller so I might read easily the “beautiful (found) love letter” on 7 five by seven inch vellum papers. Trevor Teglas’ red paint underscored these handwritten pages. This red bar trained my eye to notice other uses of the rectangular (weren’t the judges wise in this placement?) One piece using bands of earth- tone pigments elicited the greatest sense of viewing pleasure. So Pleasure I named it. (My program in hand reveals no title by this name, so I must return to verify the sensation, the moment.)

(Too much Jazz at the JAS one has to ask?)

Across from the Library Sally Chupick was setting up easel and board. She was taking some sun and directed me upstairs to Kingston Art Council gallery. I was there to rediscover a black sculpture with recesses of cobalt blue by Hanna Back. How it had invited my hand! But what was my attraction to this award winner?

I felt it has something to do with memory.

CBC Radio recounted this week that the human mind is bent on forgetting. This human trait is due to the way we are wired for memory the narrator said. His thesis was that Google holds our memories for a very long time, distorting our sense of the very limited human capacity to remember. Hanna Back’s form jogged my memory. Surely I was recalling a personal place, a locale studying The Blue Within. I was as held by this work as birds must be when using light and dark geographic landscape formations for marking their way home,

When I left, Sally’s painting included Saint George’s dome. Did she have work in the JAS also I asked? AEmilia the Brave she said. Immediately I saw the sun-loving Ameila.

Art is visual and the jazz comes after the fact.


Heather Browne is a published poet and short story writer from New Brunswick who has recently settled in the Kingston area. She finds art is instructive in understanding her own work. Her most recent work is The David Verses, poetry depicting King David’s time as well as our present time.



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