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canadian artist

The Cost of Living

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The Cost of Living

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Future. Thinking. Planning. Daydreaming. Fantasizing. Well, it's here now.

Even though Lenny had some large scale commissions under his belt, like this one, and this one, and this one, he still didn't consider himself a "real artist". It wasn't until he was awarded a creation grant from Innovation PEI in January of this year that he was able to dedicate two whole months to create a full art show that he felt his work could be respected on a professional level. And it is Here. Now. 

Lenny will be displaying four pieces as part of a group exhibit held at The Guild in Charlottetown, PEI, from August 8 - September 3, 2018. He will be displaying his work along side these talented artists: Donnalee Downe, Kelly Caseley, Alexander Reuss, A Powerful Machine (Monica Lacey & Devon Ross), Carina Phillips, and Millefiore Clarkes.

photo: Mike Riley

photo: Mike Riley

The four pieces are from the larger show titled The Cost of Living. Lenny and I came up with this idea for an art collection about 3 years ago. I remember sitting in our sun porch having that kind of brainstorming session where each person keeps building on the other person's last statement until it grows into this beautiful idea. You know the type of conversation I mean? It happens often when a friend has a funny concept/joke and it keeps spiralling until you're all laughing so hard you are crying.

photo: Lans Photography PEI

photo: Lans Photography PEI

So here is the idea we had and the art show that now exists:

The Cost of Living
This visual arts collection, titled The Cost of Living, shifts the viewers’ awareness away from art as aesthetic, to art as livelihood. It does this by using its pricing/value to reflect monthly bills. Each monthly bill will be displayed alongside the art piece, as its price. A regional element will also be included, comparing the monthly cost of living for the artist, in Prince Edward Island, to that of a working individual in Edmonton, Alberta.
The outmigration of PEI’s youth is an on going concern of our island communities and economy. I want to create a visual representation of the differences in the cost of living from one individual living on PEI to one individual in Alberta. This comparison will display the difference of the monthly production of art necessary for each person to live. The artwork's size, complexity, and aesthetic will be the indicator of value. It is difficult to comprehend, for example, an office manager’s monthly workload. This will symbolize that workload as visual art. I selected Edmonton, Alberta, because I lived there for about 10 years. It is not meant to summarize regionals incomes with any scientific accuracy, but rather a comparison of one individual to another, living in different places with different occupations. I had a random facebook friend volunteer their actual bills for this concept.
My abstract designs are influenced by my natural surroundings from my past or present: landscapes influenced by the ocean, forests, mountains, and cityscapes. The Cost of Living collection will compare imagery between PEI and Edmonton, Alberta. Imagery representing each “cost” or "bill" will also be in each design. For example, the “Mortgage/Rent” art piece will evoke a sense of shelter and/or home. And the “electricity” bill will remark on power or electrical current.
photo: Heather Gallant

photo: Heather Gallant

We are working out the details with a hip new venue in Charlottetown, PE, to display this show in its entirety. But in the meantime, we hope you can view the four pieces on display at the Guild from August 8 - September 3, 2018. The opening reception will be held August 8th from 7-9pm. The selected pieces from the show will represent two household payments for each place: Mortgage and Home Heating.

Thanks to This Town is Small, more real artist things are happening! Lenny was able to have pieces of his artwork critiqued by other professional artists as part of their "Crit Nights" to foster creative growth. And he has been awarded the opportunity to mentor with professional artist Jessica Winton as she creates her work titled "Waterline" to be exhibited at Art in the Open this August 25, 4pm - midnight.

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Top Ten Birdmouse Designs 2017

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Top Ten Birdmouse Designs 2017

Here it is, our self-judged, self-awarded list of our top ten designs of 2017. (Keeping in mind that photography plays a large role in these decisions. There are some really great pieces that we only took really crap photos of!)

#10. Copper Headboard

Our clients already had custom copper details throughout their home in Alberta. They provided us with some leftover sheets of copper to include in their custom headboard.

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#9. F.L.O.A.T.

I selected this relatively small wall hanging due to its unique sculptural style. Not only is the frame bulging away from the wall, the artwork continues to reach out of frame, toward your eyeballs.

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#8. Hover and Loom

Selected for their high impact, central image. Designed as a two piece series with a futuristic mode of transportation theme.

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#7. French River Cottage Coffee Table

There is just something about those curved corners and that black and white detail that compliment this gorgeous cottage. Read more about this cottage and book your stay here!

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#6 Shattered

Circular wall hangings are always popular, but this one has a special combo of straight lines + curves, wood tones and colour, making it a beautifully balanced piece that is an all time favourite.

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#5 Places to Stay

A long, wooden landscape playing out across a century old walnut pump organ key cover. The handle is kept intact alluding to its past utility. The scene changes from playful, curving, and whimsical on the left to dark, rugged, and moody on the right. A spectrum of each of our own mental landscapes. They are all potential places to stay. Available in the Quirkshop.

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#4 Wood River Dining Table

This table started out with some big challenges - there were issues with finding wood of the right thickness and the tree trunk legs were making some noise for us. In the end, with a little magic, it all came together beautifully for a really great family who came out to our Quirkshop to provide input into the design elements. 

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#3 The Geo Table

So nice, we made it twice! This table was inspired by a previous dining table we made last year (which you can view here). This one had the added detail of a geometric strip composed of pump organ wood - to highlight the design of the pendant light hanging above the table. The second table is available in our Quirkshop online or IRL.

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#2. 2017: The Year of the Block

This piece is located on Main Street in Montague. It took up a lot of the first half of the year and is composed of ~2300 reclaimed wood blocks. You can read more about this public art installation here.

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#1. The Quirkshop + Kickstarter

This was pretty huge change for us this year and we look forward to developing our quirky little art gallery next year and expanding into our 7 acre property. Thank you to everyone who helped us get here and who came to visit us! 

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And our daily reminder that "We're Open!" in our Instagram Stories was pretty popular for a while! I know we had a lot of fun coming up with new ways of letting you know we were open (the yodelling was my personal favourite).

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this another great year at Birdmouse. We are looking forward to 2018 when Lenny will exhibit his very first solo art show. He will be designing and building the collection through January and February of 2018 and showing the collection in March (location TBD). It has a very interesting message that we look forward to sharing in the New Year. Let's go for another spin around the big star!

Honourable mention to the "Snug" Desk - this post's title image.

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