Original submitted photo and resulting painting. | 'Not For Sale' | 40" w x 30" h - acrylic on canvas | by Brandy Saturley, 2014
Janice & Graham answer some questions...
Where do you live in Canada?
Where were you born?
J: Hollywood, California
G: Saskatoon, SK
Why did you decide to make Victoria, BC your homes?
J: I have dual citizenship; my parents were Canadian. They moved to sunny Santa Monica on a whim as young newlyweds, and feel in love with the scene. After retiring, they wanted to return to Canada, and dragged us teenagers — kicking and screaming — with them. It didn’t seem like it at the time, but it truly was the best thing to happen to our family. I definitely identify as Canadian, although SoCal will always have a little piece of my heart. Initially for me, Victoria was a place to go to university that was close enough to my parents to do laundry on the weekends, but far enough away that we didn’t see each other every day. I stayed because it’s beautiful, not too crazy, and close enough to wilderness when I need to get away.
G: When I came out west I spent ten years in Vancouver working in Film & TV/Theatre. Upon spending a summer in Victoria for a contract I fell in love with it. The opportunities it afforded me after my contract ended kept me here. Then I met Janice, and I go where she goes and she is pretty solidified here for now.
Graham, I have three days in Saskatoon, where should I visit that will paint the most complete picture in my head about the people and the land?
I haven't spent a lot of time in Saskatoon in the last ten years. The Mendal Art Gallery, which I think has moved locations recently so I can't speak for the new location, and The Western Development Museum are the two places that were big parts of my childhood growing up and remained as inspiring upon my last visit home.
What are your professions?
J: Graphic Designer
G: Theatre & film director and acting instructor
What is your favorite pastime?
J: Ballet. And knitting.
G: [grumble] ... "I don't like favourites..."
If you could spend a night playing darts with any Canadian of note (dead or alive) who would you challenge?
Of note to those who knew him, Graham's grandpa — because he was an awesome storyteller.
Would you like to share one of Graham’s grandpa’s stories with us?
I didn't know my father's father, as he died when my father was seven. My mother's father, William Catterall, was one of my best friends growing up. I remember distinctly one time when I was off sick from school, and I was tormented by a short story (The Swan by Roald Dahl) I had read the night before. *Continued below.
What animal do you associate with Canada? And would you ever keep one in your home?
The mythical Wendigo. Heck no, we wouldn't keep one in our house! There are different celebrated names for mythical creatures that come out of the North, but I believe Wendigo is the oldest and most revered. Bigfoot and sasquatch had a larger impact on the mythology of Northern Saskatchewan, but that has as much to do with being a child of the 70s as anything.
What is your favorite food?
Too many favourites to choose just one.
What is your favorite CDN place?
Point-No-Point on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, where we said "I do."
Mounties, hockey, maple syrup, beer, maple leafs and eh…do you partake? Do you wish Canada would get over all the stereotypical icons of Canadiana?
Sure — we partake! The risk is limiting ourselves to such narrow definitions of "Canadian." We are more than our collective icons.
Favorite Canadian music? Artist?
J: I don’t tend to see talent — whether it’s artistic or otherwise — in a nationalistic way, but I guess the ballerina Karen Kain stands out for me personally as a true Canadian ballet star. We have an original painting by Canadian prairie painter Robert Newton Hurley, that hung in Graham’s family home. I treasure it for that reason, but also because it reminds me of my mother, who was also born in Saskatchewan. The simpleness of the artist’s strokes speaks volumes. I also adore Douglas Coupland and his literary no-bullshit worldview.
G: Hurley paintings, which are in our family collection. Farley Mowat, Peter Gzowski, The Friendly Giant, Ernie Coombs, Billy Smith, Lanny McDonald, Sandy Tobias Offenheim, The Littlest Hobo, Alistair Macleod, and my sister Sara O'Leary.
What does being Canadian mean to you?
We equate being Canadian to being extremely privileged — politically and economically.
Should we change the Canadian flag or anthem? If so, what would your pitch be?
Let's take the reference to God out of the anthem. And find a way to include all races. Our anthem should be less about 'standing on guard', more about looking out for one another.
Art appreciation: I noticed that Janice is wearing an I love NY t-shirt. I love it too, can’t be beat. Do you think Canadians engage in the conversation, creation and appreciation of art enough? Or is there work to be done?
There is lots of work to be done! We all define art differently. The hope is that everyone finds joy in life, whether it's through art appreciation and creation or some other creative pursuit.
*Graham: Would you like to share one of your grandpa’s stories with us?
I didn't know my father's father, as he died when my father was seven.
My mother's father, William Catterall, was one of my best friends growing up. He worked on the railroad most of his life, but was retired by the time I was becoming cognizant of the world. He was a voracious storyteller, and spent an hour or two everyday in the cafeteria at the Co-op chatting with his buddies. I was there as often as I could be as well. I remember distinctly one time when I was off sick from school, and I was tormented by a short story (The Swan by Roald Dahl) I had read the night before.
I spoke with my grandfather about this as there was a particularly terrifying scene in which some jerks leave a kid on the railroad tracks and let a train pass over top of him. My grandfather laughed, and his friends laughed, and then he explained to me how it was an impossibility as the trains have counters, an arm that hangs down from the undercarriage and strikes the railroad tiles. This allowed the engineer to know how far the train had travelled, and the relative speed of the engine.
While I didn't disbelieve what he told me, this didn't exactly set my mind at ease. We headed out to his car and we drove down to the railyards. He showed me what he meant on a stationary engine, and I was sufficiently fascinated with visual mechanical explanation. I still wondered if the boy would survive being that close to a moving train or if he would get sucked in by the sheer force of the overpassing train. My grandfather gave me one of those looks and told me to follow him.
We headed up to one of the main platforms where trains came through. He talked to a man about something and then he came over and picked me up and we walked over the the edge of the platform. He told me that a train would soon be passing by at full speed and that I was to keep my arms tucked into his sides. I could see the train coming from a ways away out towards the edge of the yard. It had five or six cars attached. I was frightened and excited. When it was close enough that we could see the engineer through his window my grandfather told me to take a deep breath and hold on. Even as my breath hit the bottom of my lungs the train was upon us, and all the air came out of me all at once again. It felt to me like someone just shot me in the face with a firehose and that my skin was flapping in the wind somewhere behind my ears. And as quickly as that sensation came, it passed, and I was perfectly fine, and the train was close enough to touch. Which of course I didn't. I held on to my grandfather. I lived inside the exhilaration that was existing so close to such a powerful force. I still live there when I close my eyes and remember my grandfather.
As we walked back to the car, and then drove back to the Co-op my grandfather spoke of the dangers of such fast moving and powerful equipment, and how one should never underestimate the risk involved with such childish impulses as exemplified in the story I had related to him. I contemplated whether I should ask about why the boy who had survived this harrowing experience later tarred and feathered himself before throwing himself into the pond, but I decided not to ruin this moment with further inquiries. About a week later my grandfather came to our house and picked me up to head down to the Co-op. He told me he had read that story I was talking about the week previous. He figured I might have a few questions that I hadn't asked yet, and said we could talk about it over pudding or a soda. I was very grateful.
One the most important lessons I learned from my grandfather is, presence is one of the most important attributes a person can exhibit to their friends. It's awfully important to storytelling as well.
We thank you for your 'presence' and your storytelling Graham, it appears that your Grandfather left a big impression on you which in some ways may have lead to your love of telling stories through the use of film and theatrical performance as your medium. Share on.