Cortes Art

Monica Nawrocki

Last year, the Credit Union asked me to put together “some sort of writing theme” for their display window. The exhibition featured a book collection by local authors. I probably missed a few, but still managed to fill an entire shelf. For the uninitiated, our island has a population of about 900 souls.

My favourite fiction reads by local authors this year were: Voyage of the Arrogant, Norm Gibbons; A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki; The Eye of the Day, Dennison Smith.

My partner, a dj on our community radio station, recently prepared a show spotlighting Cortes Island musicians. Her list totalled 15 artists after a five-minute brainstorm.

Local artists come in every age and give us amazing shows from every media. Private galleries dot the landscape, the island beauty often reflected in their creations. My best-loved show at the Old Schoolhouse Art Gallery last summer featured Cortes Island children. Teenager, Tara Warkentin, organized the event.

681px-Great_Blue_Heron_5158My favourite poet is Mary Oliver. She does not live here but would love Cortes Island. I cannot walk the shore of Smelt Bay without thinking of her herons – the preacher and the Chinese poet – greeting one another, then settling in with their own reflections to fish all day.

Excerpt from Some Herons by Mary Oliver:

A blue preacher flew
toward the swamp,
in slow motion.

On the leafy banks,
an old Chinese poet,
hunched in the white gown of his wings,

was waiting.
The water
was the kind of dark silk

that has silver lines
shot through it
when it is touched by the wind

or is splashed upward,
in a small, quick flower,
by the life beneath it.

My office walls, and the inside of my head, are decorated with lines by Coreen Boucher, Dayna Davis and other local poets. Here is the final stanza of Snow Geese by Elinore Harwood:

Unused wings in me move in longing. And in my throat
A pulsing: timid witness to the heart’s wild cry.

Are artists drawn here or does this place inspire creation? I don’t know. But I do know that art begets art and that is the best thing about living on Cortes. Inspiration at every turn: not only what I experience, but the gift of seeing beauty through the lenses of others.

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