Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Crows in Plain View

These days I wake up in the morning to the noise of a “murder” of crows. That old English collective noun designating a flock of crows is more than apt.
Several crow families have chosen this part of the riverbank for their homes, and they let the world know where they live, vociferously and at great length, especially early in the morning.
They also have designated some of their number as outlooks – warning all and sundry about the approach of any cat or dog in the vicinity.  In fact, I think they have decided that I, too, am a threat, cawing away whenever I step outside the back door.
Every once in a while they spot an aerial enemy, usually a traveling bird of prey - a hawk or an unwary owl, who has perched for the day in a branch of a tree on the riverbank, probably resting on its migratory route. Then the “murder” begins in earnest. The local crows call in all their nearby relatives and thus begins a cawing, screeching, campaign of terror. The flock surrounds the poor unfortunate creature, dive-bombing it, until they drive it off its perch into the air where they pursue it mercilessly, attempting to force it onto the ground, where they will peck it to death.

The first time I witnessed this tragic ritual, I had stepped out into the back yard, hearing an incredible cacophony of sound. Over the river flew a great, flapping black cloud of screaming crows. The cloud circled several times, and then turned and flew over me, and as I looked up at the phenomenon, I saw in the centre of this black swarm, a white face looking down at me with two great terrified eyes. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was a vision that I will always remember.
I realized after this strange image passed overhead, that the crows had flushed a snowy owl. The whole crowd swirled on down the river and disappeared from view. I hoped that the owl got away, but its chances of getting back to the north were probably pretty slim.
That image – the flying face – has sometimes shown up in my work.

Pat Courtnage also has a fascination for crows. She has found interesting ways to express this:

Pat is having a sale at her studio - but these collectibles are different!
Sale of Vintage Clothing & Accessories
 Saturday, May 15, 10 – 2 pm
Sunday, May 16, 12 – 2 pm
164 Langside St. at Sara
Buckskin jacket to mink stole, casual to elegant
Shoes, bags, hats, scarves, jewellery
For more info contact: Pat 453-3819
Coming up on the evening of Friday,  May 14 and Saturday, May 15 is the annual Wolseley Arts Festival.This year it has a classy new name: Envision, and will be held as always at Robert Steen Community Centre, and will feature all kinds of art - music, dance, visual art (painting, photography, pottery, glass, etc)
Several Artists In Plain View will be showing work: Pat Bragg, Jane Gateson, Katharine Bruce, Kathleen Black, Gloria De Neve, Nancy Blokland and Jo'Anne Kelly.
Come out and get cultured in Wolseley!

Bev Morton at the Wayne Arthur Gallery at 186 Provencher is offering a new concept:
Come into the gallery and write a poem about a piece of art in the gallery.
Contest starts May 2 and runs until May 25.
Come out to the gallery on Friday, May 28 at 7 PM and read your poem and listen to others.
Contest open to all.
Prizes: Drawings by Wayne Arthur
Judge: Laurie Harper-Winning, an avid reader who is knowledgeable about Canadian literature, an experienced Toastmaster judge and the President of Sherlock Holmes Club

For instructions, contact Bev by e-mail: or phone: 477-5249

The contest is open from Sunday, May 2 to Tuesday, May 25.
The judge will read the poems and announce the winners here at the gallery on Friday evening, May 28 starting at 7 PM.
Check out the website:
Take Note! The next In Plain View Studio Tour will happen on the weekend of June 5 & 6, from noon till 5 each day.
Check out our website for information about the artists:
There will be some changes on the tour, so check out this blog for updates.
One change will be Katharine Bruce's location. Since the building where her studio is on Partage Ave. E., won't be open for the weekend, she will be showing at her home in Wolseley, 153 Canora St, not at her studio on Portage Ave.
Speaking of Katharine Bruce. She will be holding painting workshops all this month. These will be at her studio on Portage Ave. E. Here are the particulars:
KICK ASS Painting Workshop with Katharine Bruce

138 Portage Avenue East (studio 709)
$65   plus small fee for supplies

How aware are you when you are creating? feelings? movements? markmaking? choices? Do you feel stuck, repetitive, even lazy at times? What influences you and why?
Need a little jolt? some new energy? some new ideas for your work?
Everything in this workshop is geared to help you become more aware of your energy, what you are choosing for your life, your work, your art and how to change it if you want to.
We will do some Qi-Gong exercises, meditation, sound-movement markmaking, work on a collaborative painting and create a large individual canvas painting, as well as have some relaxed discussions.
Do you dare?

May 12 class full
May 16
May 20, 21, 27, 28, 29,30 available
also: two day workshops available
call Katharine at: 204-786-3052 or email:  for more info (groups of 4, any day of the week)
Here are a couple of Kick Ass paintings by Katharine:



Out and About, Yahoo!

It is action time for Pat Bragg who will be out and about, loving the spring, promoting and selling her photographs.
In addition to several commissions, she will be participating in the Mother’s Day Art Sale in Warren on May 8th and 9th, the Rendezvous Canada Uniquely Manitoba Gift Show at the Centennial Concert Hall on May 10th, the Wolseley Arts Festival, May 14 and 15, and of course the In Plain View Studio Tour on June 5 and 6. In July the Pine Ridge Hollow Market Garden starts up again and the River and Osborne Farmer’s Market on Thursday evenings. Pat will be at both of these venues off and on.
Pat’s latest works feature unique presentations of flowers, gardens and winter landscapes. She is also helping capture the essence of people in personal portraits.
She is looking for a full flax crop in bloom, hopefully next to a flowering canola crop this summer for a series of photographs she has in mind. If anyone notices this setting please give her a call at 254-1184 or email at and she will dash out in the early morning to shoot. She has heard that flax crops may be scarce because there is an issue with our flax crops (overseas markets are not buying) so if anyone is growing flax, let her know!
Kathleen Black reminds everyone that Medea Gallery is having a wonderful Spring Exhibition Opening of "DRAMATIC MOMENTS" this Sat. afternoon, May 8.  Come enjoy the new dramatic art and enjoy some fine cheeses and a glass of wine.
Kathleen Black has some new fabric paintings on display. Check it out. Mother's Day is coming!


Jane Gateson is involved in the Norman Art Group Annual Juried Show and Sale at George Waters Middle School, 190 Ferry Road, Sat. May 15 from 11-4 and Sunday May 16 from 12-4.
Guy St. Godard is in the Conservatory Gardening Show this Saturday at the Mennonite University on Shaftsbury
Yolanta Sokalska writes: "Recently, we finished creating Awards for Manitoba Magazines' Publishers Association.
They chose ART pieces from our studio as prizes  to the Manitoba Magazines' winners.
The celebration was hosted in Forks Hotel in April 2010."


Anonymous said...

Enjoyed all the info in your email - especially your description of the crows. I too hear a lot of commotion from crows on the Red River. The day your email arrived, I had noted a great noise in the fir trees on the east side of my garage- went out to see what was causing it, didn't notice at first, but the cawing continued, and then spotted a great horned owl with its back to the trunk of the tree, and facing me. It was being off and on attacked by the crows, from the sides, and its head was constantly swivelling. I took digitals which turned out pretty well - this kept up most of the day, but the next morning was quiet and the owl gone. Your explanation of the white owl, probably is why the great horned owl was staying put until night.

Best, Marilyn Stothers

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.