An exhibit dedicated to the memory of Beverly Hromek, July 16 1955 – June 27 2022

Artist Statement
A bit more about this work…

During times of grief, a creative practice can truly be life-saving. Jolene has been a professional artist for over a decade, exploring these increasingly surreal dreamscapes and contemporary concepts in the traditional medium of oil painting. Jolene’s practice has always been rooted in mortality…knowing this life is the one opportunity we have to live as our most authentic selves has been the catalyst for her creative career. Lately this robot character has become a feature in her work. The ambiguity of this square robotic form allows viewers to relate and connect to this characters inquisitive and introspective nature, and potentially see a reflection of themselves in this work. Jolene has seen this character as a muse, or a guide, to these increasingly surreal otherworldly dreamscapes. By working with this more conceptual approach, Jolene has been able to tap into the creative process in a more authentic and inspired way. After the loss of her mother, and the preceding months of caretaking…Jolene had both the time and energy to begin processing her experience through painting. The act of moving paint is a form of meditation – bringing the artist to be fully present in the moment of creating. Through the process, Jolene became compelled to learn how to incorporate her mother’s beads by stitching them directly into her paintings. Bev was an amazing bead artist – making jewelry, beaded art panels and objects as far back as Jolene’s memory goes. This process of working with her mother’s materials and trusting inherited craft knowledge allowed Jolene to keep the memory of her mother close, and truly honour her life and her inspiration through this body of work. This work is an invitation for you to look for the seeds of hope through the darker chapters of life. Enjoy the simple things every day, indulge in the sparkly details, find joy and abundance in the moments you have…this is our chance.

Written by Jolene Mackie, June 4 2022
June 2022… This is the first summer in a decade I have let my garden lay fallow. This is also the season of my mother’s impending death. While the exact diagnosis is unclear – her condition has been slowly declining over the last few years…the last few months have been more rapid…with these last few weeks and days feeling even closer to the end.

I have strong memories of gardening with my mother as a child. Learning how to deadhead flowers, prune the suckers, what to weed, fertilize and water. We learned which bugs were good welcome bugs, and which ones were the pests, and which plants to place near each other in order to grow well, and repel those bugs we don’t want. When meal prep came around, she would send us outside for a handful of basil, or dill, or tomatoes. This instilled in me a connection with earth, sustenance and growth at a young age.

Once I had a place of my own with a little bit of yard space, I tackled the waist high weeds in the abandoned garden bed…and started planting seeds and seedlings. Along with the old faithful and familiar crops of my youth, I tried a variety of fruits, veggies, and flowers in the garden to see what I could keep alive…and I found some new favourites. I started keeping my own seeds from heirloom crops, and re-growing the plants I loved the most. Once we bought our own home, my first spring project was digging up a patch of grass to plant my garden. The magic of abundant growth from tiny little seeds has never gotten old. Over the years I have learned how and when to start seedlings indoors to make the most of the season. I find a lot of joy and grounding in gardening as an activity. I love seeing beautiful flower blooms, and I feel so fulfilled when I can throw together a meal with produce grown in my own backyard. I have such fond memories each spring – my mother, sister and I wandering the aisles of local greenhouses to fill our flower pots and garden beds with all our favourites…petunias, begonias, fuchsias…

This year I haven’t had the emotional energy to plant my garden. It’s fun seeing which volunteers are emerging…I have a huge bush of chamomile, viola is scattered everywhere…some spinach and some wildflowers are popping up…as well as just a couple sunflowers. But otherwise…she lays untended. Resting. For now.

As I prepare myself to visit my mother this afternoon, I’m reflecting on the things she has taught me. Her acceptance and open mind…her grace and resilience when faced with all sorts of hurdles in life..her unconditional love, support, and encouragement has been invaluable in building my own identity and values. More than anything, her joy and sense of humour has made the incredibly hard times feel not so bad at all. I feel like my capacity to produce and maintain has been stifled as I have been focused so much on soaking in these last few fading moments with my mother. And that’s okay. This fallow season will prepare the soil for a bountiful future. This struggle and grief has planted a seed in my heart. It’s a seed of hope and admiration sown into my soul by mum many moons ago.

I look forward to the day it will bloom… but for now…we continue to rest, and persevere.