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The ongoing covid pandemic has been the best of times and the worst of times for artists. Best - because we have had more time to paint and create and reflect these troubled times in our work. Worst  - because opportunities to show and sell our work have been severely curtailed. Nevertheless, I have persisted! In these past two years many paintings were created, several group exhibits were achieved, and many jars of jam were made! Keep reading to see what I have been up to. 

The 2020 Vision – Women Artists in Western NY exhibit of over 180 women artists that I coordinated at the Castellani Art Museum opened on February 19, 2020 to a crowd of over 770 people! Surely it was the largest art event of 2020 in Western NY. Then, instead of being open for six months as planned, the gallery closed after only three weeks due to covid restrictions.

Disappointed but undaunted, I used my grant money from Arts Services Initiative of Western NY and worked with filmmaker Aaron Ettestad on a video version of the exhibit which you can see here on Youtube  
Watch Here

My other gallery work to assist artists to be able to sell their work has just restarted in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. I manage the art gallery in Good Eats Café, on Bell St N. owned by my sister Karen. It offers excellent gallery space in a high traffic café and bistro open 7 days a week, morning noon and night! The gallery had closed for a year because of covid restrictions but I am happy to say we are now open and booked for new, monthly art exhibits until summer of 2022. Exhibit space in downtown Ottawa is near impossible to obtain, so Good Eats is really doing artists a big favor with its gallery program.

Visit Here

These past two years, I have continued to cook up a storm painting the foods my family and I prepare as a metaphor for our need for comfort, as memories of better times, to show resilience and as examples of beauty in an anxious world.

Here we see: ‘A Vegetarian Contemplates Dining Alone’, (16” x 20” oil on canvas, $704) based on a photo reference sent by my nephew Adam Beaudoin who toughed out nearly two years of considerable isolation in Berlin. I admired his resilience demonstrated by his table setting for dinner by himself, and I added the crumpled napkin as a reminder of the tension of that time. 

In spite of, or perhaps because of, the covid pandemic forcing us to be home more, I think many of us have taken time to cook and enjoy meals at home. I continued working on a long-term project called ‘Lunch’ – paintings of that unfussy, basic meal we often make for ourselves, reflecting our lives at a home and during a specific time and season.

For example, here is ‘Julia’s Lunch’, a picture of what my granddaughter was eating at two years old, including a piece of chocolate, which was her favorite food at the time. (8” x 10” oil on canvas. NFS)

And here is an abstract portrayal of ‘Ken’s Lunch’. He usually just tosses carrots, olives and cherry tomatoes on a white plate and I just floated them in space for this painting. From a distance it looks like an abstract but look closer and you see the food. Fun! (8” x 10” oil on canvas. $176.)  

Happily, thanks to the unsung heroes of the vaccine development and production world, the health risks to our families and communities are decreasing, as measured by my Jam-Production Anxiety Quotient -- I made more than 80 jars of jam in the summer of 2020 and this summer only made about 40 jars.

Here we see ‘Fields of Jam’, (24” x 30” oil on canvas, $1584) part of the ongoing tendency towards a surreal approach to the meaning of my food paintings. It also continues my ongoing positioning of food into agriculture backgrounds.

Thankfulness for agriculture and the gifts of hard-working farmers was another theme in my paintings during these past couple of years. During the worst of covid fear I focused more on buying direct from farmers at their roadside stands. Here is, ‘Roadside Stand Carrots’ (looking amusingly as if they actually were on the road) (12” x 12” oil on canvas. $316) and ‘Spring Farm Basket and Fields’ (16” x 20” oil on canvas. $744)

Opportunities to visit family have been curtailed and made more difficult, but there really is no stopping a determined mother and grandmother. In spite of quarantines, changing regulations, mercurial border guards and covid test results that arrive late, I have been able to see my family in Canada several times. By buying a short-lived cottage, was able to be in Canada to help out my grandson and his pal with online school for three months this spring. I am proud to report that my intellect is still sufficient to succeed at senior kindergarten and Grade 2 French Immersion.  

The border closure and accompanying rules have been unfair, not fully based on science and quite politicized. I have joined many Canadians and Americans in protesting, begging, demanding sensibly opened borders with sensible, science-based rules and reasonable, reciprocal, flexibility. I have written scathing, heart-broken, sensible, referenced letters, articles, opinion pieces on both sides of the border. Doing so has made me feel better, but to what avail??

Well, oddly, that little cottage fiasco and writing copious letters have led me back to writing children’s books. I am now writing 26-30 stories for one book about small and large, important events in Canadian history, for middle-school children, as told by Gnomes, who may or may not be reliable narrators. Canadian history told from the perspective of Gnomes who saw it all and sometimes changed the course of history, will give a picture of how Canada developed. Or at least I hope it does. And really, given recent findings of Canada’s hidden history, realizing that there are other viewpoints to historical reporting is a good lesson.

Publishing a substantive book in Canada requires an introduction to an agent or major publisher. I am looking for an agent and a book publisher now. If you happen to know someone, I would appreciate your referrals.

Here is a little Gnome who inhabited my cottage daffodil garden, ‘Digger Greenthumb’ (8” x 10” oil on canvas, NFS)       

During a visit to my son and his family in Port Elgin Ontario, a strong wind knocked over the large Rose of Sharon tree in their backyard. I cut stems for a bouquet and painted the blooms as another symbol of survival. On a recent visit I noted the Rose of Sharon tree growing again from the buried roots. 

Rose of Sharon’ (16” x 16” oil on canvas. SOLD!)

This spring as hope for vaccine adoption by everyone bloomed, I started painting flowers. First came, ‘Flowers for a Good Grief’, my own strange flower arrangement of the flowers Lori Caso and Marolyn Corriere gave me after the death of my mother, Patricia Marcotte. (24” x 30” oil on canvas $1584). It was followed by ‘Tulips’ referencing photos by National Arboretum horticulturist David Kidwell-Slack and children’s book author Graeme Gilmour (20”x 40” oil on canvas. $1900). And then my sister Ann in Victoria British Columbia, where spring and summer come early, sent me photos of her arrangements of ‘Tree Peonies and Tulips’ (11” x 14” Oil on canvas. $338) Spring, and creating these colorful paintings, really lifted my spirits.

Flowers for a Good Grief
Tulips

Tree Peonies and Tulips

I am a ridiculously infrequent newsletter writer. My last newsletter was in 2018. I really intend to write twice a year and we will see if I actually do it. Meanwhile my focus continues to be on family, painting, writing, and trying new avenues to get people to see, and preferably purchase, my work. To that end, please forward this email to ANYONE who might be interested in art to liven their home and office. If they write me, I will put them on my newsletter list.

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And in between newsletters you can find all my paintings at www.michellemarcotte.com and please friend my art Facebook page Michelle Marcotte Artist. My email address is marcotteconsulting@gmail.com. During these past two years I have created many more paintings than this newsletter mentions. You can see them on my website. By watching Michelle Marcotte Artist on Facebook you will see the newest work while it is still wet and available for purchase.

Thank you very much for reading, for laughing and sending me photos of food you have prepared.

Michelle Marcotte

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