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Gwen Tuinman

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reflection

First Art Piece

I read an essay recently in which the writer reflects on the first piece of art she’d ever bought as a young woman. The purchase of this large gaudy painting, she declared years later, made no sense then or now. She deemed the colours too bright, and the subject matter unaligned with her cultural identity. By the final paragraph, however, she concludes that the painting reflected her mood at the time of purchase.

It got me to thinking about the first art I’d purchased. It’s become such a part of my environ that I haven’t considered it for some time. The piece is a stone sculpture by George Henry. I acquired it around 1978 at the gallery in Whetung Ojibwa Centre of Curve Lake, Ontario.

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A Return to Contentment

Why I woke up thinking of Popham’s Shoe Store this morning remains a mystery. I haven’t bought shoes there since I left my hometown forty years ago. Theirs was the only shoe store in town. During my public-school days in the early seventies, their shoe selection for children seldom changed. I learned to tie laces in a bow by practicing on black velvet saddle shoes with leather detailing around the eyelets. From kindergarten to second grade, I wore the exact same shoe in incremental sizes. In third grade I chose big girl shoes and repurchased that style until fifth grade. The pattern continued until I graduated to adult sizes.

The arrangement satisfied me. I was content. No one at school teased me because, with the exception of a few well-off town kids, we were all in the same boat. I usually had three or four school outfits, and play clothes for at home. Hand-me-downs, let out waistbands (and shirt buttons removed then sewn on further to the right) were the norm not the exception.

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Getting Things Done

As a creative person, I’ve historically found administrative to-do lists terrifying. I’d start off gung-ho, then turn into a morose Hamlet-type. “To get it done, or not to get it done. That is the question.” All those unticked boxes came to symbolize shame and guilt. They mounded up so heavily I couldn’t lift them. Why try?

In retrospect, each administrative task I listed was made of a subset of smaller tasks that could have comfortably been completed had I tackled them over a realistic timeline. But that would have been too kind.

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