Mahaloness

Contemporary artist specializing in full spectrum painting, mural, animation and digital hybrid art.


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The dream

And now back to my river adventure, a story told through the eyes of the wolf, and as an added bonus I have also decided to add ‘cuts’ so that I may parallel with now fictional characters who I was there with in real life. If this is confusing its okay, I will do my best to tel lithe story as coherently possible. Mahaloness

I had a dream I was a wolf. When I awoke I was dreaming that I was a man.
-GK
The dream…
The one lousy thing about being a lone wolf is a wolf can only survive if it is with a pack. This makes it a lot easier for a wolf to want to follow a group even if they are of a different species. I have found over the years that it increases the likelihood of survival, until that is the day comes when one can find their pack. I can run at up o 30 miles per hour, not that I know how fast that is, I am a wolf remember, all I know is I can cover a lot of ground, though I would like to point out at 30 miles per hour I can only run so far. When I am on the long haul I like to pace myself, it makes for a higher likelihood of covering a lot of ground while always keeping enough energy within for the ‘just in case’ scenario. I begin to follow the boats who are now quite a bit in front, enough so that the forest air once again consumes my nostrils, it is full of smells, fall is here, as the decay replenishes the soil, and the forest canopy slowly begins to reveal its skeleton, there is no such thing as being shy out here, it is survival of the fittest, and nature is as nature does.
Cut to boat
I am sitting on a jet boat looking towards the rivers edge, eyes peeled, I know he is out there, or maybe it’s a her, I can sense the wolf, and I have this feeling it knows I am here.
Flash forward to wolf.
After running and running and than running some more I stop for rest and a drink of water. The humans are fast, chances are I will not see them until the morning dawn. It is unusual for me to travel so much during the day, the night is when I am free to roam, and to hunt. The sun is falling. Guided by my nose and ears I must be on high alert as this territory has its wolf pack, I can smell them everywhere. When I do encounter them there will certainly be no time for an explanation.
Jump Cut ahead in time to Backcountry lodge
I am sleeping after the festivities, in dreamtime, where the story unfolds to a different beat as nighttime winds it’s way forward. In my dream I am running at top speed in a forest. The trees I am passing are a blur, leaving only streaks of light reflected as I dash past them. There is a subtle fog that clings to the forest floor, suddenly it is deafly quiet, not even a stir, not a leaf dropping, no wind, nothing, silence. I look up and the above me are green lights dancing across the sky, I seem to be in rhythm with the lights, they reminds me of something but in dreams it is hard to say what exactly it is. I also see a bright white light, I soon have this sensation that I am not longer in a forest but instead I have entered a portal, a long corridor with a light shining bright at what looks to be some kind of end point. The light is so bright I cannot look at it directly. I look down at the ground, I notice that I am running on what appears to be all fours, but wait a minute…..they don’t look human, what was a human hand now looks to be growing over with course dark hair, as claws break the skin and grow long and sharp. ‘what’s happening!?’ I look up and all around, the world is spinning and as it does I awake. I am sitting in a pool of sweat, though I do not sense fever, a chilled sensation runs up and down my spine, it’s morning, and I can smell coffee brewing, time to get up. I rise and get myself together, coffee it is and what appears to be milk, though I don’t remember milk being in a tapered brown bottle, it tastes sweet, it’s early and I am not exactly a morning person….

Note: so as I had said I am writing the story partially through the eyes of a wolf, I am waiting to hear from the film team, as this adventure which is real, was filmed, though within a entirely different context. I am an artist who submitted to a call about a possibly video being filmed for the Travel Alberta website. The story told here is a subtle variation on the real thing, and why you ask? Well, perhaps because I am an artist, I see the world in a unique way. Sure I will describe some of the moments as close to original as possible, but a lot did happen on the trip, some of which is not so important to the story and for other reasons, mainly personal, I like some I know do not want to be an open book. I think a little imagination is a good thing, it’s how I like to make art in general, I have my reasons, my vision, but I also like offer room for the viewer, the reader…I like to offer them room for there own imagination, it is the beauty of being human and we all have it in us.

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Story Shift

The journey down the river is a story. It is my story to tell and as such I have decided to tell this next
portion from the perspective of a wolf. If I told the story detail by detail it would take me a year. A lot happened in three days of filming at Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures. I also have multiple stories to tell and have determined that the reality side of things, or at least how we live day to day, the headaches, the heart aches, the trivial, the mundane, there are many ways to describe it, that this is the story that is best left to be taken down stream and never to return. Th story I am going to tell from this point on is the ethereal experience I had there, I do not want to say that those there alongside me are no important to this story, they all are, and I acknowledge each and every person that was present. However I cannot speak for them and as such I am now writing this as a fictional story, perhaps even contemporary folk lore perhaps is better fitting. I think form a storyteller point of view the story takes a new twist by introducing the wolf character, that I have brought into my story from time to time. I will do my best to write on behalf of the wolf, and there were many there with us, so to be clear the wolf I will be writing for is the same wolf who is my totem animal. Just so there is no confusion, I went to a shaman, he put me into a trance like state and we journeyed together and discovered that my spirit animal, my totem animal is a wolf, a lone wolf. The shaman told me to go to places and spend time there, ‘wherever there are wolves go there’, and so I have. To date I have been to locations both in Alberta and British Columbia, and the States, and in every place I did not see the wolf. What is interesting about this is that when I was in those places, I was searching, searching for signs, and signs I did see, yet still no actual wolf. It dawned on me one day, that I am the wolf, and that those places I have explored I was at home, the wolf did not need to show itself, they acknowledged me as one of theirs and we respect one another well. The reality of my river trip will be a 3 minute video for Travel Alberta, the experience for me is mine and no one else’s, to those who were there I thank you for your beautiful, wonderful, presence. The knowledge and wisdom gained is still sinking in. So without any further confusion I would like to proceed, I will leave this entry with a disclaimer.
The characters of this story are from this point forward fictional. I cannot think nor do I know what others think, or what there experience is, I can only wrote from my experience and therefore this is a fictional story. Perhaps if you happen to catch me around a fire I can share some of the background story, for the sake of Mahaloness it is better off that way. Thank you for your understanding and for reading and following the Mahaloness blog, those other bloggers out there I do read and look at your sites when I have time, and to you I say keep up the Mahaloness,the radness, the light, the dark, the storytelling, and anything I have missed.
FotoMahaloness -wolf spirit 12×12 acrylic on wood framed panel, 2012 Athabasca River inspired

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Arrival

The boat lands we have arrived. The water nearly flat all the way across, bank to bank, thoughts flowing northwards to river rapids not too far down stream, class 6 I am told, I look forward to experiencing. We offload from the boat, crew a little tired though spirits high, we load some gear on an ATV and walk up a muddy path to the lodging with the rest. The forest is something else here, it is peaceful, just turning, the smell of Fall fresh as Summer transforms. We head up a muddy pathway in a row, excited am I, is everyone, we are here, what will ne in store? As we enter the grounds of the backwoods lodge the forest opens up, there are several cabin structures, a storage shed, and kitchen and gathering mess hall, with bedroom attached. After a quick debriefing we settle into our respective dwellings, the boys all together, the girl in her own. This is always a good idea to separate the girls and boys, keeps things chill. As we settle and take in or new home for the next several days, any thohghts of th city are long gone. There is access to the Internet, though only once and while, we all agree to stay wifi free, ‘let’s take this in’ is the mindset now. After getting acquainted with the new place I decide to head down to the shore to do a river’s edge doodle sesh. It is wonderful and tranquil, a chance to connect with this place, just myself and the land, the river, though not too far away the boats and Darcy, Randy and Cal taking in the beautiful evening, and a reassurance to me as I see several wolf prints nearby. I breathe in and out the river gently flowing by, smooth, evening sunlight dances across the plane, sunset soon to arrive. I love to make art in these kinds of settings, I really get in touch with a place when am in process, many realms to tap into, the visceral replaces the mind. I wind down and take a moment to just sit, the air is warm, the smells divine and than a firework sound crackles in the dimming sky, its tome to head up. I head to the kitchen, my nose leading me there, the ladies, Shirley and Barb in final preparation, let tell me it’s time to ring the bell, an iron triangle to be exact. Ding ding ding! ‘it’s dinner time!’ time to feed our bellies, yum! We are all present, everyone getting acquainted with each other, this is going to be great, the excitement level rises. After meeting and eating, it’s time for a fire and few cups of merry, the bonds made strong, new friendships made, we celebrate into the night, stars filling the forest framed sky, wow, what a wonderful life. One by one the crew hits the hay, remember these are gypsy souls, and we all know how that goes, nodding heads and slight tipsy heads do prevail. Following shenanigans and laughing states, its time to crash, lights out, the morning soon awaits.

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Water Flashback

As I continue with my river journey, down the mighty and humbling Athabasca so to do I begin to realize just how much that trip reset my synapses, and renewed my peace of mind….

I look out to the water and flashbacks stream inwards, of the at the last 2 years and the logged hours of time being near the water. Beginning with Lady Pacifica, the Pacific Ocean, and her endless lessons, sitting in her silence as she lapped the shores of Maui. Swimming in the currents like a turtle, letting her carry me down the shoreline, never in fear only curious as to what was all around me, closing eyes and healing the mind body and soul. I am at home on the water, I love it, it is three quarters of my body, a similar ratios of land to ocean, and now here again we trace, on water, the Atahbasca, boasting Boreal Forest, serene wilderness, abundant lessons for those who would like to explore, the presence of the land, the water, soothing soul, and downloads made as curious mind wanders in the timeless ethereal realm where visions come to the willing. The sun beams down, we are heading to the backcountry lodge of the Grand Rapids Wilderness Adeventures, following our visit to the Cal’s paradise, the river begins to show signs of boulders and swift currents, Darcy always on the look out, gliding his vessel through the water, as crew rest before our arrival. Looking out at the shoreline, looking, searching, the reflection a beautiful thing that cleanses the inside turmoil that I have found myself in. I am searching, searching for something new, tapping into the flow of the river, and the sky, clouds dancing as birds make their own patterns, though closely associated with the lay of land, the river, connected, which is what one will likely feel on a journey such as this, the beauty stunning and bringing silence before words can begin to explain. Here we all are this group of wondering gypsies on these boats, our mission to make a video presenting this place, an art exploration, that I hope the world will enjoy. Huge erratics, remnants of glaciers past, and the soil glacial till, loaded with stories eft in stones. The wolf site inside the forest wall, watching us as we travel North, deer running with doe, the reminder of the other beings who hold space alongside of us, how truly gracious I feel, when the ego takes a check and clear vision is revealed. Soon we reach the backcountry lodge, well soon enough anyway, the river journey was a long one, nearly 200 km of river can be travelled by boat,the distance we traveled I am not clear, far enough that there are nearly almost devoid of human touch, the footprint grown over, and river left to be a beautiful flowing sinuous sparkling entity and trees dance in the subtle breeze as sun falls soon to be sunset, it is here I surrender to her flow, and the next phase of this journey begins.
FotoMahaloness Cals to GRWA backcountry lodge and river doodle on a jet boat and some really fresh wolf tracks.

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Exhilarating Mahaloness

In the city a million things bug me. Along the shore of the Athabasca, majestic by zero stretch of the imagination, here along the rivers edge clear I am. My time so far with this group has been exhilarating, simply put. Coming here I had been through my fair share of ups and downs, I was dealing with my life back in the city, my gypsy life, I came to Athabasca by suggestion, a few emails and a meeting later, a car ride and a few other things in between and this is where I am. It is a blessing that I am here. Around me there are many things going on, a film crew, a fellow co star I have not known for very long at all, and on my mind my gypsy lifestyle and somewhat complete and utter stubbornness to make art, no matter what, all of it is lovely. I listen to Cal speak of the land, his life, this place, it’s history, and the fog I carried from the city in my head begins to dissipate. I am experiencing curiosity, like being a kid again when I would ‘get’ lost in the forest, roaming around, naive to the dangers, they didn’t exist, and here I stand in a forest thicket, and a similar feeling. Fearlessness. I enjoy the edge, being on the edge and occasionally going past personal comfort zones because thats when the magic happens. It is not something I want to condone, I have had my fair share of hardships, danger, and tests. In one way or another those tests brought me here, standing here in the forest with Ania and Calvin, we walk on and Calvin leads us to a burial ground, upon first glance it looks like a group of fences that were left here, Cal explains where we are, it is a burial ground of a group of First Nations people, I am silent. There really are no words to describe the sensation I felt as I touched a tree growing from one of the grave sites, I placed my hand on it and connected with the tree, a tree that is connected to the grandfather who was laid to rest underneath.
Note: I want to say a lot about this part but I find it difficult to find the right words, only because it is my experience, I don’t really know what everyone else felt, I forgot about myself, my bullshit, and was present, these are the moments I live for, they never last long, they are the unexpected and turn out to be defining moments along my path.

We reunited with the the rest of the crew, who I will say are very Mahaloness. Here in the forest, everyone with a different story of why they are here, they created their own stories, yet here we stand in this place, together, without judgements, new people brought together, and that’s why life is truly a beautiful thing. Nothing else up this moment in my life seemed very important, I was just happy to be present. We soon headed to Cal’s place, and one of the nest entrances I have seen in a while, a dandy and a separate blog entry, foto special. This place reminds me of a dream I once had of settling in or near a forest, next to the water, and the when that time comes and my dream transforms into reality I will smile and remember these moments, the ones that got me through the times when life didn’t seem so beautiful, we all know those ones….

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8:08

My alarm rings shortly after 8, 8:08 to be precise, I wake up take a couple naps and shortly thereafter wake up again. It is a lovely day already, the sun shines through the cracks of the drapes, the weather looks to be setting up nice. Note from the wise, when in Alberta anything can happen, you have to plan for everything and anything, especially this time of year. I feel confident I brought the right gear, I think about the early explorers, they didn’t have the luxury of time to contemplate whether or not they had the right stuff with them, I have the feeling that the early pioneers had their fair share of hardships, and that goes for the First Nations people, different times. This is not to say we will have it easy to, I know that some of the folks on board have fear of water, and even one who cannot swim, an unnerving feeling if you are on a river boat in a new place for the first time.
I am not a morning person, in fact I would go as far to say that the morning and me are hardly pals, until I get that first cup of coffee that is, and than things begin to warm up. I make my way to the the Super 8 breakfast room, and I have to say it is a pleasant surprise. I feast on mini wheats, bacon, cookies, coffee, and raisin bran, I also think to myself that the early explorers certainly did not have such luxury, I count my blessings, and put one more cookie in my pocket wrapped in tissue, and finish up. Soon we are all together in the lobby, excitement rising, the group appears chipper, adventure awaits, we set out like gypsies, caravan style and make our way to the rivers edge, where we will rendezvous with GRWA folks. I look out of the car window and take in the surroundings, this is new territory for me, and to be honest I purposefully did not research it online, I want to experience the experience, without preconceptions. To be perfectly clear I initially thought I was being taken down river rapids in some kind of rubber dingy, little did I know what I was about to meet. I am a man of extremes, I like to push my comfort zones, I always have and in all likelihood I always will. That is what it takes, for me, I want to dive in and soak it up, every last morsel, even when I appear to be a grumpy typical miserable artist, I am in all actuality soaking it up, that’s what Mahaloness is after all. We are getting close, the sun sends streaks of light shooting through the forest, Mother Earth is the ultimate artist, the secret to making nature art is letting her guide you and show you what to do, this is also a component of Mahaloness, the ability to let go of the baggage and tap into the source, the current, the wave, the ripples, it is all one and the same to me. At last we arrive at the boat launch, as we unload and walk down to the rivers edge, film crew in perfect silhouette, here we go, the next stage of the journey is a boat ride down the mighty Athbasca, it’s one thing to drive down a highway, you see what you see, and everything flies by at the speed of light, a blur at best. I peer down and Darcy is taking his boat for a quick warm up, the water calm, like glass, a perfect reflection between sky and land courtesy of river. I breathe in and out, the smells is what first captures me, it is difficult to say what exactly the smell is, it is the wilderness, the smell of freedom and simplicity, the land, the water, a paradise that few have the opportunity to experience, even if in close proximity, no this place is special, it calls you and if it likes you it brings you in, that is something I have discovered traveling to these kind of places, it either wants you there or it doesn’t, there is no in between, even paradise has its scary underbelly, here I sense that I am not the high and almighty, this is bear country, wolf country, moose country, just to name a few, here on the banks you and I are small and the land and the river don’t care who you are, if you are not fully in it, you are certainly at her mercy, a humbling feeling comes over me. At the launch site we say our hellos and the filming begins, first up Ania, haha, I mean I am happy she went first, she is a trooper and her first on camera interview with Eppo behind the lens goes well. She laughs, she smiles, her curiosity clearly visible to the camera, I feel a sense of relief considering I did not know her well and had provided her with very little insight as to what might happen, and she went with it, this was going to be a magical one, I could sense it. After Ania set the momentum I stepped into camera frame and Eppo fired away with some questions, I was a bit nervous, though I felt I was in good hands and opened up, the interview went well, I really liked Eppo’s question about water, ‘what does water mean to you? ‘ or something along that line, the answer for me is easy, flow, and that’s just what we were going to to do. We finished up the interviews, packed up our stuff, had a quick debriefing from our fearless leader Darcy and away we went. I felt as if I was in heaven, all my worries melted in the the rays of the sun and the boats made there way downstream, the river journey begins…

Megafotomahaloness -moments of magic #1 through infinity

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Mahaloness goes exploring to GRWA

In order to retell this story I will be writing it in multiple parts, I could go for one foul swoop but like a movie I would be skipping too many details, and let me tell you every detail to this story wants to be told. So without further adieu, I invite you to enter this journey, one that took me to what is for some lucky folks a not so distant land. I returned just yesterday from the trip to the Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures backcountry lodge, north of the town of Atahasca on the Southern edge of the Boreal Forest of Alberta. I find myself sitting in a coffee shop writing these words, I will do my darnedest to tell this story as well as I can. I have to admit that finding the right words is proving to be a difficult task, I have a deep intensity within me that perhaps only a trip to the backcountry can give you. On the river’s edge of the Athabasca lies GRWA, where Darcy and Shirley own and operate the lodge that caters to Eco tourism, and if you are into wilderness and adventure this is a great place to explore.

Gypsy proverb “when the river bends, bend with it.”

So the story begins.

It all begins one fine day when I receive an email from an old friend, in his message he writes that a video production company is seeking an artist they would like to document for a Travel Alberta campaign, my spider senses rising I reply to my friend and that leads to eventually being casted by Clauida Neff, thank you, as the artist for the journey. I also put out a call on Facebook, the production company wants me to bring a friend, and this would lead to my co-explorer, Ania. To be honest Ania and I did not really know each other that well, this would all change, as we set to embark on a journey North. Where we are going I have never been. I prepare for the voyage, the usual packing of the kit, while my wondering mind imagines what is about to take place. After a really short sleep, I awake the next morning and my pal Ian gives me a ride to the production house where I meet Claudia, Ania, Ryley and some of the crew. I can sense that none of us really know what is about to happen. We meet and greet and eventually we pile into out respective vehicles, and ahoy we go. Ahead a long drive North, not quite far north but certainly just north enough to experience some precious wilderness, Mother Earth’s creation, the land I am not always privy to living in the city. Just to getting there is a journey, and as such this entry is dedicated to, it sets the tone. The ride consists of a long drive through cities, car sales centers, towns, satellite cities, pasture land, past oil wells, pulp mills, skies filled with puffy grey white clouds, fluffy cumulus, ominous presence and eventual deluge, making seeing difficult, white knuckle, remember to breath kind of stuff. As we head through oil country, or at least that seems how most people know it, the anticipation rises, I keep myself in the moment by taking shots with my handy docu device, which is key to retelling an adventure like this. First stop the town of Athabasca, for an overnight before we set out in the morning. For me the land I am about to visit is similar to time travel, where I am heading is an ancient place, where fossils lay silent yet hold 250 million years of story, and the great Boreal Forest Begins, where early explorers followed their dreams, and Pioneering hunters and trappers courageously faced their days. I spend the first night with Ania and the the crew consisting of the director extraordinaire, Eppo Erkes, Sean Henning camera, DOP and artist no doubt, Brad Schewagga, or Be rad, B camera and grip, Justan Ross, sound, and the intern Ania Wolksa, actually Ania is hardly an intern, she was my co pilot, and marvelous co Talent. We bonded that first night, after some shopping the team was introduced and a cheers set the tone for the days to come. Following beer and protein, we hit the hay, call time was right around the corner and one more nights sleep would be a good thing before we set out on our adventure on the Athabasca River to the Grand Rapids Wilderness Adventures backcountry lodge.
FotoMahaloness -the journey begins, images of the country I live, once outside the city one will find farmland, and the what is known as Big Sky country. Additional fotos courtesy Ania Wolska
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