It’s hard to imagine a Hamilton arts community without Lisa Pijuan-Nomura. As the founder of Girl Can Create, Lisa is an accomplished storyteller, whether it be through theatre, visual art, comedy, dance or song. She can frequently be seen onstage performing an original work, and her art can be found either at her own studio, or at galleries and restaurants across the city. Lisa also shares her passion for art with others as an instructor and creativity coach.
Lisa’s latest show, Pity Face, which details her personal experience with cancer, is playing in a double-bill at the Staircase Theatre alongside Tor Lukasik-Foss’ Seven Songs from June 26-29 at 7pm.
I posed 60 questions to Lisa, and asked her to pick and choose which questions she wished to answer (minimum of 15).
1. What are three things that make you love living in Hamilton?
I love the arts community and how supportive we are of each other. I love that I live five doors from the rail trail. I love that I can be creative and be surrounded by inspiration in the people who live here and the city itself.
2. Describe your artistic style in three words
Quirky, Fun, Vintage.
3. Name your favourite venue in Hamilton.
I am and have always been in love with The Staircase. I am interested in animating old buildings and Colette and the team there do an amazing job of that. Whenever I am there, I am always impressed by the diversity of programming. Bravo to them!
4. Who are your role models?
Gilda Radner, Maira Kalman, and Lynda Barry. All funny women who walk the fine line between hilarious and tragic.
5. What makes you the happiest?
I am happiest when I am surround by those that I love especially my son Max and my husband Dave. Put me in the middle of a party with old people and babies and art and good food and I am crazy happy.
6. What makes you the angriest?
Hate. Intolerance. Seeing what has been happening in Hamilton with hate groups meeting on Saturday mornings in front of City Hall is unacceptable.
7. Name the first play that made you love theatre.
I loved anything thing that made me laugh and cry. I also was crazy in love with musicals that took me out of my ho hum life that I lived as a kid in Brampton. West Side Story is one of my favourites. I watch it a few times every year. So good.
8. What is your favourite smell?
Fresh oranges, mint and lavender.
9. What is your least favourite smell?
Old cat breath.
10. What is your favourite word?
11. What is your least favourite word?
12. Would you ever create a self-portrait?
I would and I have. If you want I can send you one! I don’t know if it will be good though!
13. What is your favourite animal?
I am a crazy animal lady. Give me a farm with cats and pugs and pigs and horses and I will be very happy.
14. What animal scares you the most?
Not keen on large spiders. The little ones are good, but the large ones. No thanks.
15. First thing that comes to mind when you think of Hamilton.
I think of community.
16. Three books that you read that have really made an impact on you/your life/your career.
Suddenly They Heard Footsteps by Dan Yashinsky is a book about storytelling in the 21st century and it really inspired me to look at my practice of creating and telling stories. Anything published by Lynda Barry. She is someone who inspires all kinds of creativity in me. Daniel Pinkwater’s work, especially The Snarkout Boys and The Avocado of Death. It showed me that being quirky and weird could be a real thing also, that b movies are exceptional part of our culture.
17. What is the title and author of the book closest to you right now?
A Mind Spread Out on The Ground by Alicia Elliot
18. Name the artist whose work you most admire.
I have been in love with the work of Maira Kalman for a very long time. Thoughtful, fun and whimsical art that makes my heart happy.
19. Who are the three historical characters that fascinate you the most?Frida Kahlo, Gertrude Stein and Josephine Baker.
20. Where was the last place you traveled for work or pleasure?
My family spent some time in Mexico, which is one of our favourite places to go. Between the food, the people and the history, it’s an amazing place.
21. If you could board a plane today, where would it be taking you?
My little family has been dreaming of going to Japan for a long time!
22. What musical instrument do you secretly long to play?
I have an accordion but I don’t really know how to use it. My dream is to play songs and tell stories at the same time. It’s going to be a thing that I do in 2020.
23. If you had a motto, what would it be?
Live out loud. Be good. Be real.
24. Where did you go to school?
I am a theatre college dropout. A lot of my learning has been through doing stuff that I am passionate about as well as working with amazing mentors. I have been very very lucky that way.
25. What relatively normal piece of clothing do you believe you look ridiculous in?
Shorts. I really don’t think anyone ever needs to see my knees. They were badly designed in my personal opinion.
26. Different career path you could have gone on?
I wanted to be a mortician for a while. Or a psychiatrist.
27. What is your ancestry?
My family comes from Spain. My father’s family from just outside of Barcelona and my mother’s family from a border town called La Linea de Conception.
28. What were your first three record store purchases?
Depeche Mode Greatest Hits and The Cure.
29. What are your three favourite films?
La Lectrice, Delicatessen and Amelie.
30. What is your major character flaw?
I sometimes can’t say no.
31. What character flaw in others can you not stand?
I am not a fan of mean people or bullies. And dishonesty really sucks.
32. How do you know when you can trust someone?
It’s kind of like a spidey sense. Just a feeling, and the more that I get to know them, the more i can trust them. If i can’t trust people, it’s a bit issue.
33. What is the best way to die?
In your sleep.
34. What are you the most proud of?
I am proud that I have created the life that I wanted. Sometimes I don’t quite know what I am doing, but somehow it all works out and I just really continue following my dreams of creating art, sharing creativity and teaching art to both kids and adults. I am also very proud that my son is growing up to be a pretty amazing young person. I am finally proud that despite having crazy amount of anxiety I still move forward.
35. What are you the least proud of?
My lack of self control. It’s better now that I am older but I seriously can’t say no to a good cream puff.
36. What was the luckiest moment in your life?
Meeting the man who is now my husband.
37. What was the unluckiest moment in your life?
When I was diagnosed with cancer.
38. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made?
In Grade 12, I miscalculated my classes and found myself one class short so I couldn’t graduate. I hadn’t remembered that in a very long time but recently watching a show with a graduation made me rather weepy and I remembered why. I honestly think i blocked it out of my memory for a long time. It was a real big drag.
39. What is the best thing about your work?
I like making people laugh.
40. What is the worst thing about your work?
I like making people cry.
41. Name three things that have no monetary value that you own, but you love dearly and will keep forever.
I have some fabric from my mother in law whom I never met. I don’t know if I will ever make the quilt that I dream of making, but if I do, I will make it from those beautiful fabrics.
I have some photos of my father and me when I was little and I love them.
A letter from my grandfather that outlines some of his most important bits of advice which include Turn off the lights when you leave, always have a quarter for the phone, and Defend your life with all of your strength.