by Michael Armstrong

volume 2, number 2

There is a crow sitting on my computer made out of old vinyl records melted and wrapped around twisted and rusting rebar wire. Scavenged scavenger. Old things made new. Art. My crow is alive. It hunkers back and resists. Claims space. His demands are a scratchy old song.

It is the work of a Central Interior artist: Phil Morrison, whose work will appear in the next issue. We had a talk today, Phil and I and another dear friend on the thin ice of his driveway. An urgent hour in the spring sun. No time to go inside but swept up in a conversation that was melting our other ices. The politics of Creation and Exhibition. The problems created by artists' statements. The idea is to get the viewer/reader/audience to wake up and pay attention. To take each piece of art on its own merits and learn to ask their own questions of it. To begin a dialogue with the work that leads to understanding and, once in a while, epiphany. To do that, the artist must exhibit, publish, read, act, dance, sing, break out of that invisible box. The dusty pile of poems beside my typewriter or stored in my computer's memory. The corner of the studio. The rehearsal hall.

Every community needs outlets. Doors of perception. Exhibition halls, performance spaces, magazines, a cafe with a microphone and a hot cup of coffee. Somewhere the artist can meet the audience. Somewhere communication can be achieved, understandings come to, and once in a while epiphanies experienced. To paraphrase the words from a church billboard I passed last week, "Life is a verb." It is dynamic, constantly changing. Artists build mirrors but the world moves along relentlessly; combining, growing, always moving. Our mirrors need to move with it. That means our established artists need to be constantly renewing themselves and we always need new artists.

In the Central Interior, there are not many outlets, not many doors for audiences to step through. This is relatively new one. The artists in this on-line journal work to reflect themselves and their community. Another one is the Tuesday Rites at Books and Company, a series of readings sponsored by the Federation of BC Writers and Books and Company. It offers an open stage to writers every Tuesday night from 7 to 8 and a featured reader from 8 to 9. The featured readers are mostly local writers though once in a while we hear the voices of other or larger communities. These season features readers from Prince George, Vanderhoof and Mackenzie. In mid-May, bill bissett will come in from Toronto to share his voice. For me, art is about building community. Art allows us to see ourselves, to place ourselves, to contrast ourselves against another vision, another story. Outlets like ROW and the Tuesday Rites provide an opportunity for this.

Support them. Read. Listen. Don't stop growing. Wake up and sing, like my crow, in a scratchy old song.