Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Midlife Musings: On Fire - and Tea, Toast & Trivia

Two opportunities arose recently that offered unique platforms to share several thoughts about the aging process, particularly from a mature female perspective. The first was the opportunity to submit a non-fiction essay/story to a book publication about the challenges I faced while working UP into 'A Man's World'. The second was an opportunity to discuss the broader holistic perspective that a woman does gain with age. 

The first, 'Midlife on Fire',  shares the perspective from 20 women who really do 'tell-it-like-it-is', for better and worse. A mature woman, with a wealth of lived experience, does have an enhanced ability to evaluate both positive and negative circumstances. For those who'll consider it, older women offer a lot of quiet wisdom to an evolving humanity. 

The second opportunity was as a  guest on the 'Tea, Toast and Trivia' podcast, hosted by the ever-affable Rebecca Budd from Vancouver. Rebecca and I chatted about a wide range of topics, and touched on the aging process. How do older dames stay 'grounded' in a world that seems increasingly 'adrift'? Have a listen here.

There is plenty of discussion on social media these days about 'the patriarchy'. In my wide-eyed youth, in the late 1950s and 1960s, I was well aware of this reality, but, (aside from my own observations of how men did seem to hold greater monetary power everywhere), little was done or said amongst my female peers to challenge or usurp this entrenched 'authority'. - 'It was just Life. It was just the way things were'. (As an aside: I never did resonate with my early indoctrination in Christianity with its dominating Holy Trinity who were completely devoid of anything to do with 50% of the species .... ie. the Feminine! - What's up with that??!)

Well, seemingly, we've come a long way, sisters ... 

Today, regardless of the congratulatory noise and media hype, the primary issue between women and men continues to be: 'equal-pay-for-equal-work'. The rest of the hype, to my mind, is somewhat irrelevant. (As example, it is impossible to equate the innate upper body strength of men to the innate pelvic design of women. We are simply constructed differently. Biological Fact. The unfortunate and diverting fall-out from many of the bold and current challenges to 'the patriarchy' has been the wide-spread invention of numerous 'sexual identities' across a wide 'sexual spectrum' ... Good grief: what a a waste of energy!) -- Why? Because the primary issue continues to be - Economic Parity - 'equal-pay-for-equal-work'. Women have still got some ways to go on this front. Working women continued to be paid far less than men for EQUAL WORK.* Until women, (and the wonderful men who support working women), get this equation sorted out, we all continue to exist within 'the patriarchy.' When the data and statistics change, we're making progress. Until then, it's just more distracting noise as far as I am see ...

Pick up MIDLIFE on FIRE HERE-- And listen in to Rebecca's and my chat on Tea, Toast & Trivia HERE. (Available as well on Audible, Spotify, iTunes, iheartradio, etc.)  Enjoy!


* https://canadianwomen.org/the-facts/the-gender-pay-gap/

*  https://data.oecd.org/earnwage/gender-wage-gap.htm

Thursday, October 21, 2021


Design and Made by Nusi Quero

As a practicing artist of 40+ years, it is very seldom that another artist comes along who innovates beyond the known-conventions of ‘making art’. When one does, other artists, regardless of their discipline, immediately sit up and take notice. It’s the sheer audacious ORIGINALITY of that hitherto unknown creator that shines like a beacon …

Predominately, there are two principal artistic modes used for interpreting ‘reality’ – realism and abstraction. For those determined to relay what their eyes see outside of themselves, the on-going aim is to meticulously recreate perceived objects in Time and Space.  For those determined to relay what they feel and think about assorted IDEAS in Time and Space, explorations - (using assorted mediums, methods and geometry) - are quintessential until the finished ‘abstraction’ resonates with the artist. Both are now accepted means of ‘interpretation’ that articulate the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ worlds that we all inhabit. Examples follow:

When an artist, especially a young one, suddenly emerges BETWEEN these two ‘disciplines’, it’s really worth a second look.  

Grimes' 'tattoo'

Nusi Quero is the name ...

... and ‘fractal-generated fluidity’ seems to be his game.

This Floridian-born, California re-settled, lapsed-graffiti-artist and former architectural student first came to my attention a month ago when he was linked to Elon Musk’s punky-goth wife, Grimes, as a collaborator on her nasty-looking back tattoo. 

That body marking, in and of itself, did nothing for me  -  BUT - I was intrigued by the ‘realistic precision’ of that scarring ‘abstraction' ... 

I began to investigate further …

Currently, Nusi Quero is experiencing some global acclaim within a fringe of the ‘haute fashion’ world as a bold innovator who sculpts what are essentially bodice garments onto nubile nymphs. The ‘garments’ themselves are provocative, bizarre - and titillating. Well-placed luxurious metal swirls amplify the seductive curvatures of the female forms. Some bodices border on a kind of kinky S&M ritualism. However, the garments really are applied-sculptures that revere an idealized female form with a new kind of mythical power and potency. They bespeak of a new interpretation of the ‘female form’ that jettisons it FORWARD as a harbinger of an evolving ‘futuristic imperialism’. These  fetish-ized girls are generally portrayed as alluring bejeweled nymphs - (often with exceptionally long “I-don’t-use-my-hands-for-anything-except-theatrics” fingernails). These dazzling damsels are seldom depicted as mature QUEENS in any sense of the word. Rather, they are crafted as seductive PRINCESSES. (That’s a small jejune flaw that can be rectified, or built upon, later.)

Empress Mask by Nusi Quero - $8000

Inherent to Quero’s exuberant extravagance is a demanding 'cry for attention', not only the wearer, but for the artist himself. 

Quero definitely wants seduced viewers to RESPOND to the intricate perfection that exudes from these stylized creations. The body-cladding certainly does elicit ‘shock & awe’.

For myself, (as a mature and elderly women within the field), as much as I do find Quero’s execution and interpretations both exceptional and extraordinary, I sincerely hope that he doesn’t stop here and become forever snared in the fidgety world of ‘fashion’. There is a very unique and emerging talent in this young man that could EXPLODE onto much greater and dynamic ‘social’ art works.

This young fella has oodles of talent. The question is: can he step-it-up to step-out of his current interest in vapid Game-of-Thronesy punky-baroque 'elitism' and enter other artistic realms that manifest his evolving understanding of the FUSION of the two primary disciplines of ‘realism’ and ‘abstraction’? 

If he can, and if he does, he could well become the in-demand Julie Taymor of his generation - or even GREATER ... Definitely ‘One-to-Watch.'

Follow  - Nusi Quero - on Instagram, his preferred platform.  Read his 'voice' in links 1 & 2 below. Link 3 has been posted on his Twitter account, it's a mind-blowing clip!

1. http://www.cor-mag.com/2020/12/21/nusi-quero/

2. https://expo156.tumblr.com/post/618713572514643968/the-ornament-of-our-enigmatic-desires-interview

3. "Multi-track audio-reactive body-dysmorphia-simulator DEMO" - You definitely want to see this clip! 


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

5-Star Book Review: STICKS and STONES by MLHolton

Thrilled by this first formal book review by the former CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington of my new short story collection, STICKS and STONES, published in The Bay Observer in Hamilton, a former print and now fully on-line news resource for the Greater Hamilton Area. 

STICKS and STONES will be available as an ebook on Oct 16th via Amazon and non-Amazon platforms. A paperback is coming in the Spring of 2022. 

Here are Mr. Steven's choice words: 

Sticks and Stones, the new collection of previously unpublished short stories by prominent Burlington-born artist/writer/filmmaker Margaret Lindsay Holton, is surprisingly unsettling.

That it would be unsettling is no surprise: the author clearly articulates in the introduction her objective to entice readers away from their settled beliefs and ideological certainties into unfamiliar cognitive spaces in the hope that more empathetic and fluid communication might develop across today’s social and political divides.

The surprise is in just how many different and unexpected ways Holton finds to destabilize the inherent cognitive bias of the reader. Poetic word choices, plot twists, and shifts in perspective are to be expected in the short story format, but Holton combines and recombines these with familiar settings and seemingly familiar characters to the point that even the most ordinary scenes can become hallucinatory experiences.

Holton’s sensibility as a visual artist is evident in the extraordinary number of indelible images that these stories evoke. However, I feel I must refrain from describing in too much detail any of these striking moments lest their impact within the reading be diluted.

The collection includes ten stories, mostly set in the Golden Horseshoe region. Some are simple and touching sketches, some involve fantasy and romance, and some are disturbingly puzzling, while others are puzzlingly disturbing. To reveal more would just spoil the fun.

Although these stories are all newly completed, Holton explains in the introduction how their original drafts were written at various stages over the past forty years, and how the experience of the 2020/21 pandemic inspired her to revisit these works. These reworked stories resonate deeply in this period of isolation and uncertainty. They evolve with a kind of organic accuracy that amplifies an on-going contemplation of the grandeur and significance of the passage of time. (Worth noting, this ability to ‘mark time’ parallels her deft handling of multiple generations throughout her 2019 award-winning novel, TRILLIUM, a 250-year epic saga set in the Niagara Peninsula.)

Sticks and Stones offers the reader an insightful glimpse of the aesthetic voice of Margaret Lindsay Holton. It rewards the reader with several enduring images and provokes profound questions as it subtly reflects on the beauty, horror, heroism, and hubris of our shared experience, especially during this unprecedented pandemic. It is a good read. I highly recommend it.

Ebook, 107 pgs. - Paperback, 126pgs, - via Acorn Press Canada.

Pre-order e-book on Amazon – https://www.amazon.ca/Sticks-Stones-Canadian-Short-Stories-ebook/dp/B09DTRYCGZ   - Paperback coming January, 2022.


Robert Steven is former President and CEO of the Art Gallery of Burlington, and the former Executive Director and Curator of the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie.


Monday, September 20, 2021

GROUP THINK - sound thoughts by mlholton


Back cover of CD - GROUP THINK

As some of you know, music is my first love ... I like what music DOES to humans, how it enters the entire mind and body and makes us 'move' - either in thought or through body motion. It permeates nearly ever facet of our lives and gives us SOOOO VERY MUCH. 

I was fortunate to receive piano lessons as a child, guitar lessons as a teen, and some global musical history while at university. Music is 'in me' as it is 'in' all of us.

Today, I am happy to release my latest album - GROUP THINK - with an explanation. GROUP THINK represents my continued experimentation in the electronic musical sphere. And yes, I am a late entry ... 

For far too long, I was dismissive of this sub-genre of musical construction. But, over time and after continued listening, I have turned 180 degrees and now prefer it, generally, over all other kinds of music. To my ear, it is just soooooo contemporary and 'here'. It speaks to TODAY while offering inventive and, in the main, hope-filled imaginings for a unified TOMORROW.

I first became 'taken' by this kind of music after listening (for hours) to the creative mixes, tones and dips of an extremely talented Toronto-based DJ - Richard, the Medicineman. I was continuously impressed by the way he EDITED, connected and DROVE his 2.5+ hour-long radio sets. The mingling  'sounds' were often new to my ear, the beats were 'on point' and, clearly, a globally-attuned mind-set underscored the efforts. From there, I started to listen to many of his recommendations. I fell in love with this new and creative way of putting 'composed' and 'found' SOUNDS together. 

To date, I've created and produced three full-length albums. The first, SUMMER HAZE, is just me and and old classic upright from the farm. I sat down one Saturday, decades ago, and turned on the tape-recorder and proceeded to play for an hour or so. All of it was improvised. I like to think of it as my 'Keith Jarrett' moment. Anyone who's listen to his Lausanne album KNOWS what I mean! - (Only a few copies of 'Summer Haze' remain in my inventory. Contact me directly for a Collector's Copy. It is not available on-line.)

My second album, CANADADA: TAKE TWO, veered far away from traditional instrumentation as I became increasingly seduced by the the novelty and facility of Apple's Garageband app. CANADADA: TAKE TWO was done in celebration of Canada's sesquicentennial in 2017. On it, I alternated my older  spoken-word poetry to complimentary musical 'electro-pop' pieces that I had painstakingly laid down, assembled and mixed. It was a big leap for me. Tracks were inter-cut with my own recorded tracks on a variety of different instruments - piano, guitar, drums and gamelans ... People seem to like it. :)

GROUP THINK, this last album, is a accumulation of continued experimentation on Garageband. It's not ambient, per se, nor is it jazz, per se, nor is it entirely improvised. Overall, it is an exploration of where I am going, with 'suggestions' or 'sound thoughts' about where I think we, as humanity, are going ... I KNOW it will not be 100% to everyone's taste. It's not 'classical music' in any traditional kind of way, (except for periodic beat structures) . Rather, GROUP THINK is a response to WHAT and WHERE we're AT these days - for better and worse. HAVE A LISTEN!

NB: Only 50 copies of a Collector's CD have been produced through AcornPressCanada. I do intend to give away copies during my OPEN STUDIO on Saturday, Oct 16th, as a part of Canada's provincial-wide Culture Days. To listen for FREE, (x3 - with the hope that thereafter you can bring yourselves to buy or donate something), is now offered on Bandcamp.  Note, new VIP annual members also gain access to CANADADA:TAKE TWO - and - they get the satisfaction of knowing they are supporting my continued evolution in the musical sphere. 

Some years ago, I was totally knocked out by Shane Carruth's 'score' for his best known movie, Upstream Colour. I was further impressed that he had done the score himself. This is my aim too - to one day create a feature length MLH visual to an MLH audio. IMAGINE that! Ha! Yes, it is a goal ...

For now, TUNE INTO GROUP THINK - be sure to read the cover & liner notes to get a better sense of what I hope to accomplish with this latest creative effort. Thank you and I do hope you enjoy it, even parts of it. :)  mlholton 

 - p.s. All the albums have my artwork on the covers. All were done as paintings first ... :) 

MLH Discography

2014 - Album 1. SUMMER HAZE, Piano Improvisations performed on a Bell Upright

2017 - Album 2. CANADADA: TAKE TWO - spoken word & garageband antics 

2021 - Album 3. GROUP THINK - sound thoughts ...  by yours truly