environment

Polar Bear in Dark water

Dark Water 1 is an oil painting portrait of a beautiful polar bear swimming.  The water is dark, as daylight is diminished in the arctic fall.

Polar Bear in Dark Water. ©Christine Montague Available at  Artworld Fine Art Gallery  until July 20, 2017. 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

Polar Bear in Dark Water. ©Christine MontagueAvailable at Artworld Fine Art Gallery until July 20, 2017. 365 Evans Ave. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

But dark water has another implication. The earth’s bright white polar ice cap, which serves as a giant reflector for the sun’s heat, is being diminished by climate change from carbon emissions. The melting polar ice increases the darkness of the planet’s surface (hence “dark water”), decreases the sun reflected back into space, and increases the heat absorbed by the earth. More ice melts, which creates more dark water,  and so the loop continues.

This loop of sea ice loss and increased dark water endangers the polar bear. Although this magnificent bear is a highly intelligent (think great ape), top-of-the-arctic-food-chain marine mammal (the only bear that is such), and is a powerful swimmer (slightly webbed front paws, highly insulated and buoyant body), it is dependant on the frozen sea for hunting (only seal fat sustains them, not berries or birds’ eggs), resting, feeding (can’t nurse in water) and denning (necessary for mother bears with cubs, semi-hibernation, and to ride out storms).  The increase of the period of open water from spring to fall, and the distance between ice tops in winter, leaves the polar bear and its cubs vulnerable to starvation, attack, and drowning.

The polar bear in Dark Water 1 gazes back upon her path, her body twisted as if in question.

It is up to the viewer to imagine how far outside the picture frame the next ice floe waits, and whether or not, until this moment, her journey was a solitary one.

Clouds Over Lake Huron

Clouds over Lake Huron. Photo copyright Christine Montague Have you been to Lake Huron?  A stunningly beautiful, dramatic, (and sometimes dangerous) body of water, where any hint of land on the horizon is a mirage.

It is the third largest fresh water lake on our planet and the second largest of the Great Lakes.  According to a The Beach DJ, empty Lake Huron and all of North America would be in 1.5 meters, or about 5 feet, of water.

One look at the expanse of Huron's turquoise waters, not to mention its white sandy beaches (the wilder ones) , transports me someplace otherworldy, and oceanside.

Lake Huron is a marvel.

This past February, water levels hit a record low, for a number of reasons. The natural cycle of the lake level is a cause, but so also is the dredging done to deepen the shipping channel in the St. Clair River. The dredging has caused the flow of water from Lake Huron and Lake Michigan to accelerate into Lake Erie and Ontario, and to the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

The impact? Very simplified: fish population dwindles affecting fish populations, wildlife food chain, sport fishing and fisheries. Water warms up, algae grows. Water lowers affecting water supply to residents, particularly of Georgian Bay.

Finally, in April, a long-awaited solution was announced. Like anything in life, we take a long time wrecking something, it will take a long time to fix. It is all better explained here. http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/04/29/great_lakes_to_get_relief_from_low_water_levels_porter.html

Wishing us all, blue skies and more turquoise water ahead.

 

 

 

New Art: Polar Bear Dreams Swimming in the Night

In my new oil painting, Swimming in the Night, a polar bear swims among the stars. The aurora borealis (northern lights) glows in the sky beyond. The wistful feelings and the ambiguity of water and sky in my  Lake Dreams Series inspired this painting's mood and story.

Recently, I made the journey to the  Toronto Zoo for one last look at the elephants before they're sent away. (Read that story here). But what's a trip to the zoo without a visit to the polar bears?  I love polar bears, an intelligent, beautiful, and mighty creature.

Only one bear was out that day. As she swam idly in the pool below me,  she watched me out of  the corner of her eye.

In Swimming in the Night, the water my Toronto Zoo polar bear swims in becomes the night sky. Reflected light and water ripples become the northern lights and stars. A portrait of a very real bear (Thank you, Toronto Zoo polar bear), this oil painting is also a sad testimony that this spirit in the sky may someday be all we have left of this endangered species.

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My Salmon Runs to the AGM

Today I delivered my finished salmon "The Invasive Species" to the Art Gallery of Mississauga (AGM). Although,  it was officially unveiled 3 days ago on "daytime"  a Roger's television show, these are the first photographs I've publish of the finished sculpture. The rain finally let up enough for me to photograph the work outdoors. Here is the summary of my proposal:

Through my Salmon Run Project, I wish to provoke thought on how urban development has been "built on the backs" of the Credit River salmon.  The increase of impermeable surfaces such as roofs, patios, and roads means rain carries debris, oil, gas (from roadways) and silt through the hundreds of Mississauga storm sewers directly into the river.  This black and brown water stresses the salmon, kills the insects they feed on and buries their spawning grounds.  I will attach miniature houses  with acrylic gels (representing tar & oil) in clusters similar to those of an invasive species such as the zebra mussel.  These clusters will represent development that has the potential to impede, choke, and threaten the salmon with death, if not controlled. 

Salmon Run project: Invasive Species by Christine Montague

Salmon Run Project: Invasive Species. "Zebra Mussel" House. Detail by Christine Montague

Follow the Yellow Fish Road

Yellow Fish Road Photo copyright Christine Montague 2009 I just answered the door to a team of five middle school students wearing road safety vests.  My "blink" intuition (yes,  as in the  Malcolm Gladwell BLINK sense)  wasn't kicking in.  My brain could not equate the facts - students in safety gear, the lack of chocolate bar boxes and  school  not yet out (it's only 1 pm)  - and my experience, i.e.  they want money.

To my pleasant surprise, what these young people were selling, was awareness.

These young Mississauga Peel School Board Students working as "Trout Unlimited Canada" volunteers, were spreading the word "only rain in storm drains" .  They were giving  a friendly reminder , and an important one , too, that storm drains connect directly to our local streams, rivers and lakes.  As well, as part of the Yellow Fish Road campaign, they had just painted  a yellow fish by drain on the road by my house.

You may be enlightened  to learn , as I recently had, that in most cities, storm drains do not connect to the sewage treatment plant & that oil, salt, soap  &  fertilizer goes directly and untreated into your local waterbody!

What does this have to do with art?

Well, aside from the friendly, humourous and hopefully effective, creativity of the campaign, it is also another reminder to artists to responsibly dispose of our environmentally unfriendly materials.

And any campaign that has young people that might not normally paint, and have them think it is fun to paint, even it it just a yellow fish by the side of the road, is golden in my book.

For more information:

Yellow Fish Road

Trouts Unlimited Canada

Region of Peel: For Safe Disposal (unwanted chemicals, paints, oils) 905 791 9499

Report Spills & Dumping:

Into watercourses - Ontario Ministry of Environment Spills Action Centre 1 800 268 6060

Into storm drains - City of Mississauga 905 615 3000