Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda: A Review

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda offers a fly-on-the-wall perspective of one girl's struggle to discover herself given the fragmented clues she possesses of her past. Adopted from a Mumbai orphanage by a biracial couple living in California, Asha returns to her birthplace to further her journalism career and acquaint herself with her extended adopted family. The conflict she endures throughout her upbringing in California follows her to Mumbai and leads her to the truths about her birth city, motherhood and herself. Those of us growing up in two cultures will find solace and comraderie in the familiar elements. This tapestry of stories is as rich and flavourful as a steaming cup of masala chai.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Man's Best Friend: Art Exhibit

CityScape Community Art Space is currently exhibiting Man's Best Friend, presented by The North Vancouver Community Arts Council, until May 28, 2011. I attended the opening reception on Thursday April 28 at the invitation of local artist Zahida Jaffer, one of the 11 artists showcased.

The name of the exhibit brings to mind images of our canine companions so walking into the space you may be caught off guard by the polar bear, orca, giraffes, cheetahs and sea turtle making their way along the walls. Artist interpretations of "the ideal of peaceful coexistence rather than the need to dominate and control, between humans and creatures that may otherwise be thought of as a threat, a product or insignificant" were depicted in oils, acrylics, ink and photography. These interpretations were as varied and unique as the media.

The focus of this exhibit is, of course, significant to our time. My favourite pieces were the ones that blatantly ridiculed human actions in the name of fashion and convenience. David Camisa, the local artist who initiated this particular exhibit, painted a trendy woman walking an alligator on a leash, almost flaunting it like an accessory. It made me smirk until I realized it's not so far from the truth. I commend Camisa for accomplishing what I believe he set out to do; I felt like a heel in my leather jacket.

Zahida Jaffer's spin on the call for Man's Best Friend evokes a different kind of awareness. Baula (top right) calls attention to the beautiful sea turtle who, though able to withstand its environment since the dinosaur ages, is likely to be extinct within the next few years. Her thoughtful creation of this image is described in her blog . It really made me think about this admirable creature that thrilled my daughter at the Vancouver Aquarium last month - will photos and paintings really be all we have left to pass on to the next generation?

That was a lovely trip to the North Shore; I will be on a look-out for more artist events happening in that area - watching the mountains get bigger and bigger as I drove closer put a smile on my face and I thought how lucky I am to be blessed with Nature's exhibit whenever I remember to open my eyes to it!