It’s a small (art) world

It never ceases to amaze me that there are so many funny connections made at art shows, of all places. This past weekend, I was part of a group of artists (predominantly graduates from the Alberta College of Art and Design) who put on a “Handmade Here” show in the Triwood Community Hall in Calgary.

Garden Sculptures made by Jackie Morton

It was a group new to me, but a fabulous find through another artist here in Canmore. In between lulls in customers, I got to talking to the people in the booths around me. It turns out the person right next to me (selling these really cool garden ornaments made out of sculpted concrete) knew my father in the 1980s. In fact, she worked for him! We had a lot of laughs as we caught up and compared stories about those days and now, and the incredibly varied paths that brought us both to this particular art show and sale, selling our creations side-by-side. I love it when that happens.

Another woman found my booth and was quite taken by the whole block printing process. To be honest, I don’t find that many people who know much about my particular chosen art form, since block printing (or woodcuts, or linocuts) are not really mainstream. But, this woman knew a lot about them. I found out why…her son, another Calgary ACAD graduate, studied block printing at school and loved it. She also always loved this art form.

This son? He went on to become a children’s book illustrator, with a really great style. She and I chatted quite a while, and I loved how excited she got talking about all the cool things her son the artist did. I get it. I am a mom proud of my kids, and I have a mom who feels the same about me. It was so delightful talking to her.

So, after the show I thought I would look him up. In fact, he’s done everything his mom said, and more! I loved his website, and here is the best part: we have read his books at home, and my two elementary-aged sons LOVE his books. He is Jeremy Tankard ( and his “Boo Hoo Bird” book is a classic that makes my kids HOWL. (It’s all about a bird that gets bonked on the head while playing ball with his friends, and the cute and silly ways they try to make him feel better.)

A clip from Jeremy’s website showing “Boo Hoo Bird” a favorite in my house

Of course, I couldn’t just stop at admiring his website, I had to email him after reading a quote on his bio: “He’s a talented little oaf.” – my mom. I told him how much I enjoyed meeting his mom and finding out that HE was the author/illustrator of the books we enjoyed so much at home! He emailed right back saying, among other things: “My mom is awesome. And really, moms should be your biggest fans.” I agreed.

After the show, it was back to my art studio to unload all my stuff (actually, one young girl passing my car in Calgary while I was packing up after the art show and trying to shove everything back into my very full car, commented aptly: “You have a LOT of crap!”). When my studio partner, Barb, saw me struggling up the stairs with boxes, bins, easels, carts, etc. she promptly stopped in the middle of oil painting, put on her coat and helped me schlep all this gear up our three flights of stairs (over and over again) until everything was safely put away.

Barb’s “Attitude Snowman” that found his way to her before I did!

Did I tell you I adore her? And you know how we met? At my first Canmore art show. She came to my booth, saw my work and declared she was the recipient of a carving of mine at Christmas from her sister-in-law. This sister-in-law happened to be one of my lovely Calgary neighbors who commissioned me to do carvings for HER family the previous Christmas. And, she gave one to Barb, before we ever met!

Of course, we got to talking, emailing, then met for coffee, and well … I guess you could say the rest is history. I would be surprised, but you know what? In my world, it kind of works that way.

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