A Bit of an Artist Bio

I thought I'd write a bit about myself and what it has been like being an artist.

I have always enjoyed creative writing as long as I remember. In the seventh grade I won a writing contest put on by the Timmins School Board. In school I got into the habit of faking essays and book reports. I would even invent the titles and authors of books. Once my teacher failed me because she believed that I plagiarized my book reports from other sources. Even after I informed her that I actually created fictitious books that didn't even exist she still wouldn't believe that.

I wrote my first song in my early teens. It was a protest song. I may someday try to re-create that.
Fred Joly singing a song on stage
Canadian artist and songwriter Fred Joly

There were many years of my adulthood where creating art was not a part of my life, either I was too busy working, in prison or on the street active in addictions likely. Ironically, in was on the street in Montreal where I first come across an art studio drop-in place located at the St James Church. This is where I did my first painting. That was around ten years ago.

I stopped painting for a number of years after that but picked it up again at the CMHA in Aurora Ontario in a program they called Community Connections. They had an art studio started and I joined in. I produced probably about thirty paintings, wrote a dozen poems and shorts stories. I also used the space to write and practice six new songs. Some of them I later recorded and created videos for but they no longer exist to show you.

Last year I attended UBC's Writing course. That is a twelve week program run by the Arts & Humanities department. I was invited as writing mentor for the next term and they presented me with an award.

Six months ago I joined a couple other artists to create a new studio. Our Vancouver art gallery and studio is gaining popularity. We even have a new web site Recovery by Design.

Old Collection Recent Painting

I wanted to try out an old painting I did for my mother long time ago. I attempted this a few times but here's my latest version of the painting.
the painting Angel Guide
an acrylic on canvas painting

Why I Enjoy Painting

I have been practicing art in some form since childhood. I’ve always enjoyed writing stories and songs.

As an adult I started creating mosaic wooden jewelry boxes, coo coo clocks and crucifixes from small pieces of wood and sticks. About ten years ago while at a street art studio in Montreal and completely out of material, the studio manager slapped a canvas down in front of me and demanded that I paint.

“I don’t paint!” was my response, “They paint.” Pointing to the painters. Then I became silent for a very long time staring at this huge canvas of white space. I went for a smoke, or two. I grabbed orange, red, green and yellow acrylic, a medium sized brush and took my first dip. Gives me Goosebumps today thinking of how it made me feel. I got into a rhythm. I played a song with the drumstick and thought words in my head, my own thoughts. I wanted to cry so I painted an evening sky with trees in tears … green ones and red ones and yellow ones. I wrote a poem that went with to further describe these feelings and suddenly, a bit of weight was lifted off of me.

I started practicing what I describe as multi-dimensional art therapy. That is where I use various media (painting, stories, songs, videos, photographs … in a collection to express my inner-struggles and my inner victories. I can do this now with or without speaking a word. Creating anything is therapeutic, but there is nothing better for me then to spend an hour here and there exploring myself on the canvas. Without art, there’d be no point in living I suppose. It’s the only thing that can point me back to the light when I get down or get mixed around. I can talk to shrinks, yell at the guards or I can scream like a madman across the street; without resolve. Luckily for me I’ve discovered that I can slowly unravel the chaos, face my fears, deal with my anger, my sadness, bewilderment … I can express my awe of the universe, the wonders of love and life; that’s why I paint.

Behind His Mask

“Behind The Masks” – Testimonials of Those Marginalized by Income, got its name and was inspired by singer/songwriter Fred Joly who performed as the audit was being held, and also for those attending the audit closing dinner. Fred wrote the song Behind His Mask based on his true experiences. The playing of his song prompted Rapporteur Daisy Wai to remark that his song affected her as much as anything she'd heard that day. We have included an excerpt from the song below.

A Report on the Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition
(ISARC) Social Audit in York Region on April 20, 2010

Behind His Mask

Do you see the old the old man under the bridge?

Sitting there with a suitcase in his hand.
He’s been drinking there for years and years;
And whenever he’s tired he just beds down on the sands.
Does anybody know him?
Can someone please tell me his name?
Because whenever I see him walking through the city;
He keeps his head down in shame.
He’s a refugee.
Or is he just another shipwreck of society’s.
Looks like a rebel.
Penting up the angers from the past.
Into a twisted fantasy.
The empty bottles are just escapes from his realities.
Bums around wearing a loner’s mask.
The morning’s sun’s an awakening misery.
No doubt another aweful day.
Cramped from the cold misty whispering night.
He doesn’t want to go but he knows that he cannot stay.
Stumbles to the ground on his hands and knees.
There’s mud dripping off of his face.
Then a tear draw a line down his wrinkled cheek;
He cries out “Lord help me please!”
I’m a refugee.
And I’m running from the scorns of this society.
But I’m in a lot of trouble.
‘Cause I’m drifting at sea with a broken mast.
And everybody judges me.
As I’m trying to find my own destiny.
It looks about time to put on my “keep away from me mask”.
When I heard about the old man from under the bridge.
Died there just the other day.
I decided to show up at his Sally Ann service.
Where the Captain tried but he didn’t know how to say.
That’s there a new star’s light shining in the sky.
Because another soul has been set free.
The man spent his final moments scribbling in the sands.
“I think, I see, my liberty.”
Look way up at the refugee.
Can’t you see the castaway of society.
No wonder he was such a rebel.
Still hurting from all the pains of his past.
Living in a fantasy.
Trying to escape his own reality.
From up above beams down a man.
Behind his mask.

Canada's Defiance Against History 2.0

In the same way his father defied history by patriating our Canadian constitution (taking it away from the monarchy) so will his son, Justin Trudeau defy the world in forming a Canada 2.0. He will take our country away from foreign strangleholds and save our natural resources for future Canadians. The concept of creating an economy based on jobs that only foreign workers can fulfill is bad for Canada (good for the corporations though because of the vastness of a cheap and bonded labour force available to come here from overseas.

Canada, and the rest of the world for that matter, is presently in the hands of the bankers, oil companies, American government and other international corporations. They want all of our land and our resources, no matter what. The US government and the spirit of its people have throughout its history the policy to conquest, pillage and rebuild. Capitalism before responsibility for the effects of capitalism. The entire world has now shifted to that same end. Where is it going to stop?

It stops here, with me, right now.

Hope and Dreams

To have nothing to hope for is for nothing to be hoped for.

To stop dreaming is to stop living.

Even in my darkest day I can find hope. My weakest moment can manifest my greatest strength.

I've made big mistakes in my life but I am not alone in doing so. That is my only comfort is that I am human and fallible. I can never give up on myself even though it can seem like the only thing left to do. I am here for a reason and I must seek that despite how I think.