April, 2019

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Is it even possible to imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower?
It takes a leap of imagination to visualize something that doesn’t yet exist, such as the Public Art Gallery our group envisions building in the Cowichan Valley.  It can be both instructive and entertaining to learn how other ambitious projects were perceived in their time.  It may surprise some to know that when designs for the Tower (proposed for the 1889 Paris World Fair) became public, it was not universally welcomed, even hotly opposed by certain groups.

47 notable French artists at the time published an open letter protesting the yet-unbuilt Tower, stating:
“We have come, writers, painters, sculptors, architects, passionate enthusiasts of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, to protest with all our strength, all our indignation, in the name of the unknown French taste, in the name of art and of French history threatened, against the erection, in the heart of our capital, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower…”

Today (130 years later), such vehement resistance seems unimaginably short-sighted, even comical.  To be fair to the 47 artists who described the planned Eiffel Tower as a "monstrosity"; they may have been reacting to plans and drawings of an earlier version of the tower (designed by a team of engineers) that was distributed before Monsieur Eiffel added an architect to his design team, which resulted in much more flowing lines and curves.

Slated to be torn down within 20 years, the Eiffel Tower became of interest to the French Military in 1909 as a wireless transmission tower, and its future was assured.  The Eiffel Tower was finally given UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1991, and currently sees around 7 million visitors per year.

** And so it is, that a small group of far-sighted, determined individuals were able to leave a powerful lasting legacy for generations to come, just as we in the Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery group are determined to do.

How ubiquitous is the Eiffel Tower today?
Souvenirs of the iconic tower can be had in almost every form imaginable, from keychains to t-shirts and coffee mugs.

Here is one in my own home as a decoration on a fragrance dispenser in my livingroom.

This Art Exhibition was made possible through a collaborative effort by 3 groups:
CVPAG: Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery group
CERCA: Cowichan Estuary Restoration and Conservation Association
CVAC: Cowichan Valley Arts Council

Final attendance figure for the show was 858!
Thanks go to the many talented and energetic people who made this event happen.
click here for more photos
My trip to Florence, Italy
November, 2018

.  .  .
Episode 3: My Journey’s End Nears
by Donna K. Taylor of Duncan, British Columbia
.  .  .
It is now twelve days into my Florence trip and I have spent dozens of hours in the Museum of San Marco, Uffizi Gallery, Pitti Palace, Accademia Gallery, Bargello Museum, Duomo Museum, the Baptistery, Medici Chapel and the Churches of Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, Santa Maria del Carmine and Santa Trinita.  Many of the galleries, museums and churches have washrooms located in obscure areas so as not to detract from their revered valuable collections. I have searched out and found washrooms in near invisible secret doorways, up/down narrow staircases with scant signage and after long, hurried and isolated walks through crypts and cloisters.  Some washrooms are located near the building’s exit signs to encourage the swift passage of tourists outside, eyes blinking into the sun’s blinding light.  

Duomo (the dome of the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore) and Campanile (the Bell Tower)  

Today is the day, before my time in Florence runs out, to “Do the Duomo” and “Brace for the Bell Tower” (I later rename them “Dante’s Duo”).  The weather does not look good. I rush to the Duomo in Piazza del Duomo to visit Florence’s Gothic Cathedral. I have read that after climbing the 463 stone steps I will be rewarded with splendid panoramic views of Florence. I arrive one hour early in anticipation of the long lineups to find no lineups. The rain pelts down upon me while the wind whips my soaked rain-resistant jacket like the flags atop the buildings.  My socks feel soggy in my new waterproof running shoes while I wait one hour outside for the doors to open.  My city map and my book,“Art and Architecture” are safely enfolded in a plastic bag inside my jacket.  My initial light footsteps graduate into a slow, steady, trudge up the stone steps where I am rewarded by huge frescos of “The Last Judgement”and “Dante and the Divine Comedy” (the irony is not lost on me here).  The sun is shining now so I take splendid panoramic pictures of Florence.  After my descent, I join the other tourists outside sitting on stone benches resting their wobbly legs.  The Bell Tower will have to wait another day.

continue the article here
A day on a Billionaire's yacht

This is a situation that very few of us will ever experience, but where kids are involved, surely we can all empathise...

From an article in The Guardian:
"... a billionaire asked for help to restore a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting damaged not by sea spray, but by breakfast cereal.   His kids had thrown their cornflakes at it over breakfast on his yacht because they thought it was scary...and the crew had made the damage worse by wiping them off the painting.”
read the article here

Perhaps needless to say...surely this story serves as an excellent reminder of the value of having proper gallery space to display valuable artworks, such as the Public Art Gallery that the CVPAG group envisions building here in the Cowichan Valley.
Getting a coffee or something to eat at a little sidewalk café can be a welcome relief to a weary traveller. 

While visiting Rome some years ago, as I sat enjoying a coffee and sandwich, I found myself wondering why it was that the locals seemed to always eat and drink standing at the bar in this charming little café.  The answer became apparent on being presented with an unitemized bill that seemed much too high for what I had consumed. 

Anyone sitting at a table was charged exactly twice what they would have paid had they stayed standing (an unwritten rule that appeared to be well understood by the locals).  I found myself so annoyed by this that I was inspired to invent devices to help weary tourists from falling prey to this predatory practice.
(see below: patents pending)
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Sets Example in Arts-Based Wellness
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts became the first North American Museum to hire a full-time art therapist (May, 2017).
From the article:
"By creating art, participants have the chance to express themselves in a non-verbal manner. Then, by looking at and studying others’ art—the Quebec museum’s collection includes masterpieces by the likes of Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and El Greco, as well as an assortment of some 43,000 additional artifacts—patients are able to draw connections and identify themes that resonate with their own experiences."
- Meilan Solly for
Read more
Related news:
Montreal-based doctors can now hand out up to 50 museum prescriptions enabling patients and a limited number of friends, family and caregivers to tour the The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for free.

From the article:
“We know that art stimulates neural activity," MMFA director Nathalie Bondil tells CBC News. "What we see is that the fact that you are in contact with culture, with art, can really help your well-being."
- Meilan Solly for

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Friends of the Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery (CVPAG)

We are an organization of local artists and Arts lovers who recently formed with the intention of raising funds to promote and establish a public art gallery in the Cowichan Valley.  The Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery (CVPAG) is a non-profit society created with the ambitious goal of hosting ongoing international, national and local art exhibitions and associated programming currently not available in this region.

Join us now and have your say in changing the course of history in the Cowichan Valley.

Find Out More
tel: 250 215-2823

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Friends of Cowichan Valley Public Art Gallery · 1441 Haida Road · Duncan, Bc V9L 5P4 · Canada

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