Apples etc. is Gathie Falk’s memoir, a lively, personal, and yet unsentimental reflection on nearly ninety years of art and life. Falk tells of growing up in small Mennonite communities in the 1930s and ’40s. These were hard years, as her Russian immigrant father died just ten months after she was born. While the family struggled financially, Falk recalls cabbage rolls made by hand, a backyard skating rink, and music lessons paid for by an anonymous donor. Her apprenticeship, she says, was a long one. After working a series of menial jobs, she trained as a public school teacher, which led her back to the art classes she’d given up as a child. It has now been fifty years since Falk’s art career was launched, and her “veneration of the ordinary” has sustained her through the deaths of beloved friends and relatives, a short-lived marriage, broken bones, and debilitating pain. Interweaving stories about her community, her family, and her daily rituals with anecdotes about her major artworks, Falk paints a portrait of a life well lived.
Gathie Falk is one of Canada’s most heralded visual artists: she has won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize; she has been honoured with the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada; and her work is featured in major galleries across the country. From performance works involving eggs and bird feathers, to paintings of flower beds and night skies, to celebrated sculptures of fruit, men’s shoes, and dresses, Falk’s chronicles of the everyday span more than four decades and a variety of media.