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Free Rain Opening Talks

2009 July 20

Opening talks from Joe Clare and James K-M, with smudge ceremony from Leonard Cardinal of the Enoch Cree Nation.

Full text of James K-M’s remarks:

They told me when I arrived in Edmonton about a week ago that it wouldn’t rain until the mural was finished, and, in fact, the last brush stroke went on yesterday afternoon. Edmonton sure got lots of free rain, and wind, last night and today. And, you may know, that the name of this mural is Free Rain. I see the abstracted shapes in the painting as rain-like, though it is equally valid to see these shapes as suggesting other objects in the physical world. As rain I see the shapes falling in four directions; up, down, side to side.

There’s a few people that I’d like to thank, first and foremost Joe Clare. Joe, you have my utmost respect and admiration for your persistent and selfless creativity and generosity and which led to giving this mural to the people of Edmonton, and beyond. Thank you Joe. Those of you who really know Joe Clare know that he also lives quite a rigorous life, and he surrounds himself with like minded people who I’ve had the priviledge of working with on this project, namely Graham Burns and Mike MacLean. They worked tirelessly and sometimes from early morning to sundown and are mainly responsible for the precision and labour of love you see here today. My profound thanks to you Graham and Mike. And to Ron Snider who was always available and photographed every little step of the way so you could all follow the process as it unfolded. Thanks also to John of Black Gold Limousine who picked me up from the airport in high style. Also, to my wife Carol for your love.

Finally, I want to get personal and mention a debt that I have to the Native people who we live beside wherever we are. I stopped painting in the late 80’s and worked with digital art until about 3 years ago. What precipitated my return to painting in 2006 was an extended visit to the Blood reserve in Southern Alberta which was followed by some very meaningful dreams. These dreams usually included Native Elders who directed me back to painting, in no uncertain terms. I am grateful that, as a result, by returning to painting, I’ve managed to retrieve my own physicality. To quote the irrepressable Marshall McLuhan who was born here in Edmonton, “a culture which loses its physicality breeds serial killers.” Please make of that what you will.

Since 2006 I’ve had two solo exhibitions both of which were officially opened by a Native representative of the region. Today we have invited Leonard Cardinal, an Elder from the Enoch Cree Nation who will now perform a smudging ceremony. Welcome Leonard Cardinal.

Thank you.

James K-M, July 19, 2009

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