Dearest Readers,

Ottawa is an interesting city but a difficult one to describe. The term “government town” might be its most apt moniker but what does that really mean? Friendly people in suits everywhere and public works of art on every block? Clean streets? Busloads of tourists? All of the above are true and yet there is something else here that I don’t know how to name. Probably because I don’t yet understand it.

Yesterday afternoon I spent a few hours at the Canadian War Museum doing research for GITA. The building, a concrete fortress with a rooftop field of wild grasses and poppies, has a fin that arcs skyward like a hand-sweeping salute. The small windows on the outside of the bunker-like walls spell out “Lest we forget” in Morse Code.

Inside, I wandered through the exhibits, taking in the the sights and sounds of┬áCanada’s war history. In addition to the tanks and helmets, guns and uniforms, there were paintings done by “war artists” around every corner, nestled between the battle accounts and the “Did you know?” facts. Outside of the exhibition areas there were still more paintings hanging on the empty thick-slabs-of-cement walls. On the inside of the “fin” there were great, nude plaster casts of human gods in various states of agony and ecstasy. Stunning.

War artist. Can you even grasp the meaning of these two words sitting side by side like that? A true oxymoron. It is a boundless meditation for I cannot stop thinking about it.

According to Wikipedia, “official war artists are normally appointed by governments for information or propaganda purposes to record events on the battlefield.” But why through art? The Canadian Encyclopedia tells us that First World War artists “produced a visual record of war that was second to none.”

Okay, so a war artist clearly has a function and a purpose. Does the work I’m doing on GITA make me a war artist? I suppose it might. But I don’t quite feel that I live up to the name. Probably because like this city I’ve tried to describe, I don’t yet understand it.

Inspiring Message of the Day: “Of all our dreams today there is none more important – or so hard to realize – than that of peace in the world. May we never lose our faith in it or our resolve to do everything that can be done to convert it one day into reality.” Lester B. Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize winner, 1957; Canadian Prime Minister 1963-68