When someone you love is in a wheelchair, and when getting jostled hurts them, you become acutely aware of cracks in the sidewalk. This summer my father, Steve (Pisti) Hajnoczky was in Rockyview hospital for several weeks.
Visiting him there I’d walk past these seams in the sidewalk leading up to the hospital doors, noting how the smoothed surface would not only ease transportation, but also how the gestures and splatters looked like bold abstract expressionist paintings. Photographing the sidewalks was a great way to breathe a little art into the regular walks to and from the parkade.
My desire to make art, or to find it on the sidewalk, comes from my dad. One of my earliest memories is of him explaining different ways to look at a painting. My second book of poetry, Magyarázni, was inspired by him, and by a chest he carved with beautiful Hungarian folk-art motifs.
In addition to carving, sculpting, and painting, he loved to spot art everywhere—from his bed he appreciated how beautifully the sun cast shadows on the Rockyview, and he asked me to take this photo for him.
When chemo’s side effects prevented my dad first from driving and later from walking, it was my great pleasure to take him to galleries around town so that we could appreciate the shows there together.
When he couldn’t paint independently, it was a joy and honour to collaborate with him on his eyeSnowScape painting series.
We had the chance to show our work at Loft 112 and Shelf Life Books (with thanks to Lisa Murphy-Lamb, Adrienne Adams, and Will Lawrence). Getting the chance to meet and connect with other art and poetry lovers put my dad over the moon. I started my Instagram account @ateacozyisasometimes to share our collaborative pieces (website coming soon).
My dad and I made new works together, along with my sister Julya, up until his last days in July.
Since my father’s passing I’ve taken great comfort not only in appreciating his art, but also in reflecting on how he encouraged both my sister and I in all our artistic pursuits (check out her work @obscuralucida). My dad showed me that living a creative life is about taking the time to spot the beauty in the people and world around you, sharing your passions with others, and doing what makes life feel resplendent. Whenever I pick up a pen to write, a brush to paint, or the camera he gave me, I feel his love still.
Thinking about my dad, it feels like art is a gift we give each other. Let’s give generously.
Helen Hajnoczky is a Calgary-based scribbler and scrawler. Hajnoczky’s first book, Poets and Killers: A Life in Advertising, was nominated for Expozine’s best English book of the year award and her chapbook, Bloom and Martyr, was the winner of Kalamalka Press’ 2015 John Lent Poetry Prose Award.
Her newest book, Magyarázni, pairs Hungarian folk-art visual poems with written poems exploring first-generation cultural identity, and the experience of growing up with a parent who came to Canada as a refugee.
Follow her on Instagram at @ateacozyisasometimes.
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