The Show Must Go On :: When Health and a Busy Art Career Collide

Works in Janice Tanton's studio waiting to be delivered to OAG for CAMP
Works in my studio to be delivered to OAG for CAMP

This has been a wild and wooly month. After being diagnosed with breast cancer just before Christmas, we’ve had a roller coaster of emotion and action in the household, combining doctor’s visits, show openings, Leighton Colony residencies, tests and surgery. On Monday, January 21st, just a week ago – I had a modified radical mastectomy to remove my right breast and the Level 1 and 2 lymph nodes under my right arm, which also showed metastatic breast cancer. In a few weeks, I’ll have treatments to get on with, to heal and make myself well again. My goal is to return to my studio at The Banff Centre by February 4th, which is ambitious but attainable.

The same time I found out that I had breast cancer, I was also scheduled for a two month heavenly residency at the Leighton Artist’s Colony at The Banff Centre, in my favourite studio – the Gerin-Lajoie. The project of this residency was to develop some major works out of my residency and time in Haida Gwaii. Time is a pinch point for me now…I also had my first solo public gallery exhibition opening at Okotoks Art Gallery!….and another in Haida Gwaii at the end of February.

As the saying goes, “Something’s gotta give.” Blog updates have been the first thing to go through this crazy month…but today I’m back at the computer writing, and playing “catchup” with all the news….between healthy sleeps, healing and pain medication.


Kevin Nuxoll Setting up "ABUNDANCE" at the OAG for the CAMP exhibition
Setting up “ABUNDANCE” at the OAG for the CAMP exhibition
Kevin straps the tipi installation to the truck on a cold December morning.
Kevin straps the tipi installation to the truck on a cold December morning.

My first priority of course, was my health, followed by a quick decision to get all of the work for the CAMP show down to Okotoks. The staff at the gallery did an incredible job curating and hanging the work, and none of it would have happened without the support of Kevin and our family. It was an exhilarating experience to see two year’s of research and work leave the studio in Canmore and take a different form in Okotoks.

What first appeared to me to be a mish-mash of thought and style emerged as a wondrous and elegant exhibition in the hands of the curatorial staff at the OAG. I’m very grateful for their care and understanding of the work and the difficult time we were going through.  We were blessed that my adopted father, Elder Tom Crane Bear, opened the exhibition with a smudge and prayer. I felt very loved and cared for in the midst of all the emotional and health turmoil invading my body. My family, friends and colleagues are amazing and deserve full credit for the success of this work. I’m so grateful to have such a supportive community. Sookapi!

The exhibition hangs at the Okotoks Art Gallery until February 23rd, so be sure to make a visit to see this culmination of works, so relevant to our current times as we all struggle with the use of resources, temporary claim to land and space and culture. Our Canadian identity is becoming more defined as each day passes with the Idle No More Movement, and I’m so proud of my family in both cultures.

The show must go on, and we must dialogue, work together with respect and find common ground for success.


This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. François Vidal

    Dear Janice, I can relate to your situation. I was diagnose with aggressive prostate cancer last year. I can see that you are surrounded with lots of support, as I was, from family and friends. Today, the surgeon told me that I was in remission; good news (so far)!! So I’m sending your way these great vibrations…

    Keep well and get a great deal of “rest”. Your body and mind will thank you… :¬)

    Your Tweet friend François Vidal / Vidal_art

    1. Janice Tanton

      Francois – Thank you so much for sharing this news. That’s a lot to deal with, and I’m very pleased to hear that you’re in remission, my friend! Now get back to the canvas. 😉 The support we receive from family and friends is stupendous. I love being a human being.

  2. Rebecca Erickson

    Exhibition looks very interesting – wish I was out there to see it. Sorry to hear of your diagnosis, always a shock to get a serious health scare like that out of the blue. Glad to see your resilience, positive attitude and good sense of humour have surged to the forefront. Looking forward to seeing more pics of the exhibitions at some point.

    1. Janice Tanton

      Hi Rebecca. Thanks so much for your comment. I’ll post photos of the exhibition in the coming week. Just can’t sit at the computer for too long right now, and I need to get the photos downloaded from the camera.

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