Saturday, 30 April 2011

It Takes a Life (or, My Brother is an Artist)

(please note: I have yet to research how to do watermarks. if you love any of these images, contact my brother Jesse at for permission to use them)

There are a couple of people I know who are artists. Not on the side, not having pretensions to art, not as an aspiration to a lifestyle, not as a job. It is who they are, living and breathing.

My brother Jesse is one of them.

Jesse writing out the info for his works before the opening

Growing up, he always doodled, always sketched, but has come to painting only just recently, and it's where he's found his voice.

He started to paint a year and a half ago, and has no training other than practice, passion, an excellent eye for composition and colour, and the little local "working with oils" course I gave him as a Christmas present last year. When I dream about being rich (idly, unfortunately :) among other things, I dream about being able to give him a studio and supplies, and shoving him in there with the imperative to "go, paint". He brings beauty to the world.

from the opening at the OPIRGBrock Infoshop

He has a wonderful sense of place. There are some artists who create idea art and whose art can only exist in public places. I once saw, at the Art Gallery of Ontario, a large installation (a word I'm getting a little tired of, honestly) of cheesies under boulders. Pieces like that are most definitely art - I love the public opportunity for interaction that these provide. It provoked much discussion amongst the people I was with, it was a statement of the human impact on environment and how we interact with our surroundings, and I still think about it.

But it wouldn't fit in my living room and I didn't want to take it home with me.

pieces I would like to take home with me

We all have vertical spaces in our homes and we like to put things on them to look at. Some of them are prints, some are photos, some you can see the brushstrokes - the fingerprints of the person who did them. Mr. S. and I have things on our walls, from friends and strangers, that still take my breath away or make me smile every time I walk down the hall or sit in our living room, even though they've been up there for years. And that's the power of good art - art that speaks to you.

"The Dreamers"

That's what Jesse is good at. His work is humane. It is grounded in what he sees around him and how he sees it. When I asked him about a particular piece and why he did it that way, he said very simply "because that's what it looks like there". Here's the painting:

"Approaching Dusk" Rodman Hall, St. Catharines, Ontario

I love it.

There is a show of his work in a small community centre in St. Catharines, Ontario for the month of May. It's at the OPIRG Brock Infoshop, 10 Summer Street, St. Catharines, Ontario. They are open Monday to Thursday from 10am - 4pm.

"God's Love," a hailstorm, Stewart Road farm in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Thank you Milica, Kasia, and Lisa for helping organise and set up, and Safiya for being cute

The opening was last night. It was exciting and I'm excited for him, for this first opportunity for his work to be in one place, to be accessible. He is generous and has a sense of humour about the whole thing - two of the paintings actually were gifts to two friends, but they wanted to give them back to him to be hung with the others. So Jesse let them each set the prices on those two pieces (which of course they set really high 'cause they don't want anyone else to buy them :)

this painting is for sale, at a price set by Jesse, not covetous friends :)

If you're in the area, please drop by, take a look, and sign his book. Or, if you're interested in any of his work, please feel free to contact him:

Jesse Lepp

My brother, the artist.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Takin' it to Town...

Zinadine has a grunty-growly thing that he does when he wants something, and wants it badly. I don't remember Safiya doing the same, so maybe it's a boy thing, and maybe it's just him :)

I was putting groceries away when he spied the plum. Never seen one before. Shouldn't have know that it was edible, but boy did that boy want it. Now, we're a lot more relaxed about food with this one than we ever were with Safiya, but still...should I peel it? Is it even ripe?

Whatever. The boy did not care. Grrrrr. Want it. Grabby grabby. So of course, I gave it to him, if only to see what he would do with it. And he took. it. to. town. Skin, didn't matter. Juicy, didn't matter. He yelled at me when I took it away to take the pit out. It was a both-hands-stuff-in-mouth kind of experience.

I love watching him, experiencing the privilege of watching another kid grow. I love watching him watch his sister, his open-mouth-face-lit-up laugh when she does something that he thinks is awesome. I love that he pauses nursing late in the afternoon and casually signs "Dad", as if, "I was just thinking about him...." I love that he dances to his favourite songs (Queen's "Under Pressure" and Regina Spektor's "On the Radio") as if he's just discovered dancing. I love may many things about him and about having two kids.

It's been almost a year since my last post. Truth be told, besides the greatness that is having the boy and our little family, it's been a hard year. And my camera died in the middle of it, so the record of Zinadine's first year is going to be a little spottier than Safiya's. Call it second-child syndrome.

There have been more than a few times when I thought "I should write that down". I guess I wasn't ready. Well, time to think of a new banner, time to share some pics, time to use my words again.

Hello there.