Pig Tails

Nikita Krushchev

The Artist

The Beatles

Cool Shades

kathy in long coat

kathy



karthy BW

Kathy's Bio

Growing up outside of Windsor Ontario on Lake St. Clair it was decreed that I was destined for the lively arts in the first grade. My teacher and classmates gave me the nickname The Artist. Mine was a visual childhood--I was always drawing, painting, cartooning. There were aural moments, too (mostly when I was listening to pop tunes and making adults scream). Television was omnipresent- one in almost every room. Cartoons and old movies transfixed me then, as they often do now. Newscasts demonstrated many forms of bad behavior by adults whom I wanted to watch but didn't want to know. At the age of nine I witnessed the worrisome spectacle of Nikita Krushchev slamming his shoe on a table at the U.N. while shouting, "We will bury you!" A giant air raid siren was erected in our idyllic village and we were taught to "duck and cover," then march home to basements or bomb shelters.

The most stimulating thing about Windsor was that it was across the River from Detroit. That fabled city had ben a lure ever since my first visit to the Tutankhamen Exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts. As a young teen I sat under Diego Rivera's murals of Detroit's auto factories while eating oatmeal cookies and felt mystical stirrings. My first loves were the French Impressionists. Then I was seduced, willingly, by Surrealism and Dada. My Mary Cassatt knockoffs still hang in my parent's bedroom. An hybrid original--Magritte meets Dali--can be contemplated in the bathroom, where we all think many aesthetic thoughts. I visited galleries everywhere to see everything. I read, drew, and painted. The addiction had taken hold.

In my teens, I listened to Motown and the British Invasion on the Motor City's ground-breaking FM radio stations and danced after school on CKLW TV's Swinging Time. (Fame would soon be mine, I was certain.) Through my adolescence and into my twenties I was running off to Detroit often. And whom did I see there? Only the best. The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Patti Smith, all on their first tours. Iggy and the Stooges scattered the birds from the trees in a park on Woodward Avenue. Alice Cooper played our high school for pennies a song . And there were art shows, dance performances, theatre, shopping, spontaneous adventure--it was all there. There were crushing disappointments, too. I could have bought an Andy Warhol flower silk-screen print-- for peanuts--from J.L.Hudson's Detroit furniture department; but, alas, never did. (The phrase "I'll buy it later" has often been my downfall.) Clothing was a language, accessories a dialect. I wore Mary Quant, Betsey Johnson, and thrift store finery. Travel was broadening, so at age 16 I got a Ford Mustang. With wheels, I was free.

In Detroit I attended the Society of Arts and Crafts (it's now the College for Creative Studies), graduating with BFA degree, and a major in print-making. (There were some who said I'd never amount to anything. Guess I showed them.) I spent a good part of that four years in white gloves, my nose inches from prints, drawings, perusing photo collections in the vaults of the Detroit Institute of Arts, schlepping through the Detroit Zoo, and dashing pell-mell to the International House of Pancakes. My education was boundless; my hunger for knowledge bottomless. I explored painting, sculpture, printmaking, jewelry-making, photography, yoga, vegetarianism, Indian dance, and marriage. Whee! I became a member of the Theosophical Society. Movies became films . I exhibited my work, and sold it, too, in the US. and Canada. Art was my life, and my life was Art.

After I got my degree (and my divorce), I left for Toronto, Ontario. York University offered me a bursary to do an MFA in photography. But it was Open Studio's atmosphere of free creativity that won me over. Being around working artists thrilled compared to academia at York. I made prints, studied Josef Alber's Interaction of Colour, and scored the rent by teaching night school art classes. I explored Ontario and Quebec's remote reaches, taking off in my trusty '66 Dodge Valiant to photograph, draw, and paint God's wonders.

I'm a city girl, no doubt about it, but the strongest influences upon my art come from Mother Nature and her creations great and small, from the moss and lichen under my feet to the sky over my head. My work springs from both my personal dream world and my conscious life, often reflecting the moment between sleep and wakefulness. When I work, it's in a flurry. Mania overtakes me. Deadlines and dreams ignite inspiration.

Some gypsy element in my Romanian blood has given me a lifelong wanderlust and appetite for music. I started to sing in Toronto; later, I took the music on the road and traveled through the Rockies to the West Coast, Vancouver Island, the Gulf Islands, and then up to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Our Gypsy caravan was an old G.M. van, with a bed built over our PA system and instruments. I've hiked and camped, scaled mountains, traversed the rainforests and deserts of North America coast to coast with my camera and watercolours. I lived on the West Coast for four years where I sang original songs with several groups, then returned to Toronto to keep the music going for another couple of years.

Later I settled down (as all wild things one day must) after eloping to Rome. (Linguini! Lollobrigida! La Dolce Vita!) We spent six weeks taking in art, architecture, and landscape while drinking and eating our way around the Northern half of Italy. A year later we darted around England, doing much the same in car little bigger than a hedgehog. Travel, deadlines, and dreams worked to ignite inspiration.

I continue to travel, alone, or with my daughter, dog, and friends, exploring wild areas. Recently spending two weeks apiece in Newfoundland and Manitoulin Island. Nature and music never fail me.

  Visual artists who have influenced me: Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, Sandro Botticelli, Keith Haring, Josef Albers, Eva Hesse Diane Arbus and Imogene Cunningham.

Kathy Vatcher

Lenard Cohen and Kathy Vatcher


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