Quebec: Journeys Never End

As I traveled through Quebec this week (for work), I was reflecting upon the Chicago paddling community. Chicago provides awesome training for paddling adventures. The paddling community here is lucky to have a variety of padding venues, clubs, and instructors. Part of the “Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary” story is revealing the journeys that are inspired from this community.

For the past few weeks, Andrea Knepper and I Have been heading to Yorkville, Il. Here, the Marge Cline Whitewater park was built on the Fox River. Only one hour from Chicago, the whitewater creates excellent opportunities to practice with long boats in current.  



Montmorency Falls, Quebec

Andrea Knepper    

Artcanoe Friday Flicker: Sarah Hartman

Sarah Hartman is featured in this week’s Friday Flicker. Owner of Midwest Paddlesports, Sarah teaches SUP and kayaking to all ages and abilities in a variety of venues around Chicago. She completed a 60 mi crossing of Lake Michigan and a solo expedition to Great Slave Lake. This summer she will be kayaking in Alaska and working on her ACA Level 4 instructor cert. In the coming months, Friday Flickers will feature short bits of interviews to reveal the story behind, “Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary”.

Take Me Back: Summer Sensations (Friday Flickers)

A few days ago, I went to the Soup and Bread benefit night at the Hideout pub. My friend, Chuck Sudo, editor at the Chicagoist, was moderating a discussion with three artists from Chicago. The discussion theme was how does living in Chicago influence one’s art. Tony Fitspatrick, graffiti/collage/tatoo artist, said that everyone has their own Chicago. We all have a story or memory that we want to get back to whether it is last summer or that certain neighborhood corner market that no longer exists.  As I work on Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary, I am reminded of why I want tell stories. It is the act of making stories that keeps me engaged. Part the challenge will be if the stories I tell will take us back or forward.

I’ve decided to start a new series of teasers for Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary(to be released in 2016). Enjoy the first in the series.

Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary: Bonnie A. Perry Film Trailer

I am working on the trailers for Paddling in Spite of the Ordinary. Below, is a video still shot from one of my recent edits. The film is going to take the form of a series. Each of my subjects will have their own segment or episode that will capture their story.

These last few weekends have entailed tweezing out the story. Follow-up interviews have revealed important dovetails that will nestle among the paddling footage

Maine Screen shot

Bonnie A. Perry, Paddling/Coaching, Maine, 2014.

A Story about Believing and Digging in on the Creative Drive

For a variety of reasons, Fulbright grants, study abroad, volunteer service gigs, traveling, I stopped making art for ten years. I took up kayaking after learning that a lump I had removed was benign. Six months later, I was kayaking every weekend, I got a grant to study in Japan, and stayed in hostels in Alaska.  As I began to attend kayak symposiums, take kayak lessons, and generally mess around in my kayak, I discovered that learning to kayak had opened up creative flows that I had not accessed for a while. Kayaking taught me new ways to learn, accept feedback, believe in myself and grow. While my path back to creating art has been slow, saw tooth path, it is the kayaking community that helped lead me down this creative journey. This learning process gave me the confidence to re-kindle my love for photography and film.

After getting a grant to take some digital photography and video classes at Ringling College, I bought a new camera and started shooting. My main photography subjects are the urban Chicago watersheds. I find the best times to shoot are during the gray muddy days when the sun occasionally flare its blood orange rays through January charcoal skies.

As I continued to develop my kayaking skills, I enrolled the Documentary Studies program at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. My Duke mentors have guided me through writing a pitch, scripting/format ideas, grant ideas, and work flow.

I am often asked how do I find the time do this project. I don’t watch a lot of T.V. or movies. I don’t know who are most popular Hollywood stars. I do watch outdoor adventure films and documentaries. Right now in my free time, I listen to music for soundtrack ideas. Writing down goals, Google calender, keeping a journal, and using Evernote help keep the goals and ideas organized. Evernote contains grant links, crowd sourcing ideas, and future documentary ideas (journey to Finland to research a letter from my Swedish-speaking Finn relatives).

Mostly, it is the family, friends, and kayaking community collaboration and support, that keeps my creativity flowing. I find that my conversations with the community often lead to ideas about marketing, editing, and the documentary story.



Sarah Hartman talks about the paddling plan for the day. Lake Michigan, October 2014

Bonnie A. Perry and Andrea Knepper, Chicago skyline, Oct. 2014.





Summer Filming

I have been filming almost every weekend for the last 6 weeks. My subjects have been very busy with their paddling schedules. Since Bonnie Perry, Andrea Knepper, and Sarah Hartman, are all involved in different opportunities this week, I used various strategies to collect footage of these happenings.

I met up with Bonnie for a couple of days while she worked with John Carmody of Sea Cliff Kayakers. I mainly used the GoPro and another action cam on my deck for on the water shots. I pulled out the two 4/3 cameras for various shots on the beach during lunch and surf sessions.

This week, while I was filming in Maine, Andrea was leading in Washington paddling expedition for Gitchi Gummee participants. I gave Andrea a camcorder for her and the participants to document the expedition. Greg Anderson, a guide from Anacortes Kayak and local Evaston resident, has also generously agreed to supply shots.

When I get back from Maine, I’ll be working with Sarah to gather shots and stills from all the Chicago community kayak events. During July and August, Sarah is helping with the Yorkville Whitewater Festival, Team River Runner, and the local Forest Preserves paddling event.

Sarah Hartman: Great Slave Lake Expedition


photo by Sarah Hartman

photo by Sarah Hartman

photo by Sarah Hartman

photo by Sarah Hartman

Over a week ago, I spent a Sunday morning with Sarah Hartman at the Geneva Kayak Center. We drank coffee while she ruminated about the preproduction questions I had sent her. Sarah mentioned the moments when she realized that she needed push herself more and the folks around her who served as important mentors. Sarah emphasizes that within her own coaching she wants folks to maximize their paddling safety and skills no matter what boat they are paddling.

Sarah shared her Great Slave trip log and journal with me. It describes the great planning/training and careful deliberation of a go/no go decision after her trip partner, Tom Bamonte, had to withdraw his participation from the trip. Sarah decided to go solo and had an amazing trip.

I look forward to visiting Yorkville to do more filming and paddling with Sarah in the coming weeks.