Out & About – Camera

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This past weekend I went and saw The Cool School at Camera, which is part of the Stephen Bulger Gallery located at 1026 Queen Street West, Toronto. Produced by Morgan Neville and Kristine McKenna and distributed by Arthouse Films, the documentary looks at the importance of the Ferus Gallery and the nascent modern art scene in Los Angeles in the late 1950s and early 1960s.  I highly recommend watching this film if you are interested in American Expressionism because The Cool School provides an alternative scene of the movement showing what was happening in L.A. during the same period of time and how that scene evolved into distinct movements that were entirely avant garde, by artists such as Ed Kienholz, Wallace Berman, Craig Kauffman, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha. Centred around Walter Hopps and the Ferus Gallery the film delves into various aspects of the art scene in L.A. and how influential it was to become.

This summer Camera is screening various art documentaries for free at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. There are two more movies in this series:

August 13th, Standard Operating Procedure

August 20th, Exit Through the Gift Shop

August 27th, Smash His Camera

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Out & About – Shakespeare in High Park

Last week, Christina and I ventured to High Park to see Hamlet, presented by the Canadian Stage and directed by Birgit Schreyer Duarte. After a wonderful dinner at the tree house (a.k.a. Christina’s place), we walked over to the park and joined the crowd of people ready to see one of Shakespeare’s best-known tragedies. After finding good seats, we settled in for the long haul, with the play running approximately an hour and forty-five minutes and with no intermission (an endurance test, to say the least).

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The set was minimalist and lent an air of modernity that was peppered throughout the entire production, from the costumes to many of the directorial touches (did Ophelia really need to get “naked”?). The play was a condensed adaptation that stuck, for the most part, to the original but for this viewer there was something that was lacking.

But I don’t want to be entirely negative. The actor playing Hamlet, Frank Cox-O’Connell (below), did a wonderful job portraying the complexities of the role. While traditionalists may have been turned off by the more contemporary touches of this pot smoking, grieving-turned-slightly mad Danish Prince, I enjoyed Cox-O’Connell’s take on the role. His acting was a convincing mix of a roguish youth mourning the loss of his father, a confused and angered son, dealing with his mother’s quick marriage to his uncle, and a conflicted young man wanting to revenge the death of his father but navigating the ethical and moral terms of this plea of violence from the ghost of his father.

Hamlet’s relationship to Ophelia, in this version, was slightly uneven and confused. Playing opposite of Cox-O’Connell was Rose Tuong as Ophelia. I wanted to like Tuong in her role but no matter how hard I tried I thought she was the weak link in the production with her over the top performance and uneven approach to her role. I blame these two faults on the director who seems to have wanted to create a buzz through some of her choices with Ophelia. By this I mean the overt sexual gestures, for example Ophelia taking of her nickers, and when in her mad state, after the murder of her mother, she tears off her clothing (leaving Ophelia in nude undergarments, which was not at all shocking and left me wondering – WHY?). This last point was especially at odds when Gertrude speaks after Ophelia has committed suicide:

“. . . When downe the Weedy Trophies, and her selfe,
Fell in the weeping Brooke, her cloathes spred wide,
And Mermaid-like, a while they bore her up . . .”

(Hamlet, from the original act 4, scene 7)

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Other notable performances besides Cox-O’Connell’s were by Kaleb Alexander who plays Laertes and Nicky Guadagni who plays a gender reversed role as Polonius as mother, instead of father to Laertes and Ophelia.

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Every summer I look forward to Shakespeare in the park and, as you can tell, I was pretty disappointed with this production. I may have to go and see All’s Well that Ends Well to hopefully even out the experience.

Out & About – Withrow Farmer’s Market

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On Saturday, I ventured out to the Withrow Farmer’s (and Maker’s) Market. Located in Withrow Park, the market runs from 9 am to 1 pm on Saturday. This was my first time actually going and, unfortunately, the “maker’s” are only there twice a summer, so I lucked out on choosing this past week to go (the maker’s will be back later in the summer).

Here are some snaps of the vendors and their yummy goods.

Cookstown Greens Booth

Cookstown Greens Booth

Summer is here. Nothing beats farm fresh tomatoes from Cookstown Greens.

Summer is here. Nothing beats farm fresh tomatoes from Cookstown Greens.

St. John's Bakery

St. John’s Bakery

Fiddlehead Farm

Fiddlehead Farm

Fresh basil

Fresh basil

Vendor selling Montfort Dairy products

Vendor selling Montfort Dairy products

The cheese selection from Monforte Dairy

The cheese selection from Monforte Dairy

Haystrom Farm

Haystrom Farm

Goodies from The Bus Kitchen Bakery

Goodies from The Bus Kitchen Bakery

Banana Cream Brioche with Chocolate on top from The Bus Kitchen Bakery

Banana Cream Brioche with Chocolate on top from The Bus Kitchen Bakery

The Live Music

The Live Music

Knotted Nest's Booth

Knotted Nest’s Booth

Wonderful crayon holders from Knotted Nest

Wonderful crayon holders from Knotted Nest

I Heart Ontario Button's from Knotted Nest

I Heart Ontario Button’s from Knotted Nest

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

Bath Bombs

Nathalie Roze's colourful booth

Nathalie Roze’s colourful booth

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Out & About – The Hearn

On June 26th, Clare and I went to check out the final day of Luminato at the derelict Hearn Power Station. Here are some snaps from that day.

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Michel de Broin, One Thousand Speculations, 2013 (7.9 metre in diameter ball made up of 1,000 mirrors)

Michel de Broin, One Thousand Speculations, 2013 (7.9 metre in diameter ball made up of 1,000 mirrors)

 

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(I am the worst. I didn’t note who did the work above)

Pierre Huyghe, Untitled (Liegender Frauenakt), concrete sculpture, bee hive, bee colony, 2012.

Pierre Huyghe, Untitled (Liegender Frauenakt), concrete sculpture, bee hive, bee colony, 2012.

 

Out & About – The Lower Don Valley Trail

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Last weekend I hopped on my bike and explored a bit of the Don Valley Trails. I started at the Corktown Commons and what is known as the Lower Don Valley Trail. There was a construction sign saying the path was closed but there were enough riders coming down the trail that I took a chance, and I was glad that I did.

When I lived in Toronto before, I didn’t take advantage of all of the different green corridors that the city has to offer. The Don Valley is one of those spaces that I am sure I am going to make use of, especially since I’ll be living near the middle section of this trail.

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Parts of the trail are going through construction (hence the sign that everyone seems to ignore), but overall it was a lovely ride with mostly flat terrain. I made my way over the river (on the bridge above, left) and on the other side went under the Bloor Street viaduct (above, right) just as the subway was passing overhead. When I got to Pottery Road, I crossed over but got on to the road to make my way to Bayview Road so I could get to the Evergreen Brick Works and use the Beltline Trail to the David Balfour Park, where I then made my way back to where I am currently staying. It was a great ride and I hope to explore the upper parts of the trail when I move into my new place in July.

Out & About – Distillery District

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When I was doing my MA I worked at the Distillery District  in the archive of a small photographic collection. I got to know the area quite well. I would frequent Balzac’s for my tea fix (back when they served Mariage Frères tea) and Brick Street Bakery for various nosh needs (they make amazing baked goods and their sandwiches are so tasty). So I was excited to head down to check out the area.

 

Shopping (or window shopping in my case)

Blackbird Vintage is a treasure trove of interesting items, I especially like their take on vintage and adore their selection of cards and candles.

Distill Gallery is a smartly curated shop that carries “well crafted design” in various forms, from clothing, books, and the home. I was smitten by a selection of plant hangers (I’ll return to this topic in the near future).

Bergo Designs is a feast for those interested in great design in home products. Looking for those stylish Scandinavian salt and pepper grinders you ALWAYS see on Instagram, look no further. They have expanded since my last time visiting and now include children’s toys and games.

SOMA Chocolates is a place I always visit when I am at the Distillery. I love the look of the shop and the people who work there are so nice and helpful. But what keeps me coming back . . . their amazing products.  I like to buy their chocolates for special gifts and I love that some of the bars are imprinted with maps of Toronto. How great is that?

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Soma prepares their chocolate on site and there are windows that allow you to see the machines they use. I treated myself to my favourite “Old School” chocolate made up the old fashioned way with two ingredients – “partially ground Papua New Guinea cacao nibs and whole crystals of organic cane sugar.”

The Sports Gallery is a great shop for those sports fans out there. I am not really what one would call a sports fan, but I used to work in their archive so I have a soft spot for this place. Plus, who doesn’t love vintage prints of sports? I know I do.

 

Art

When I was a grad student, one of the major regular draws to the Distillery was for the various art galleries. That seems to have changed, with galleries moving to other areas of the city. I was pleased that Corkin Gallery was still there. When I was an undergraduate this commercial gallery was located on John Street and was called the Jane Corkin Gallery. I would religiously go to see her exhibitions, getting my first real taste for Canadian photography. Her current exhibition, on Barbara Astman, did not disappoint with a variety of Astman’s work from different periods in her career.

 

Eats and Treats

After taking in some Canadian content, I was a bit peckish so I headed over to Brick Street Bakery for a nosh. While I stuck to a cheaper (but oh so yummy) option of a sausage roll warmed up to perfection (and at a reasonable price point of $3.40 tax included), they have great homemade sandwiches that are so big you can either share them, or have a small dinner.

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While, I stuck to my tried and true, getting a bite to eat at the Brick Street Bakery and a lemonade at Balzac’s, there are heaps of restaurants I would love to try, including:

Boku Sushi

El Catrin (the patio was hopping when I walked by)

and

Pure Spirits Oyster House & Grill

 

Address

The area comprising the Distillery District is quite big and goes from Parliament Street on the west, Mill Street on the north, and Cherry Street on the east (the train tracks make up the southern edge). They have various festivals during the summer and a great Christmas Market come winter.

Directions 

Out & About – Intro.

Map of the city of Toronto and suburbs, published by The Harold A. Wilson Co., 1902.

Map of the city of Toronto and suburbs, published by The Harold A. Wilson Co., 1902.

The joy of living in a city like Toronto is getting out & about. This is a regular feature that I want to use to share my experience of living in Toronto with you all. First things first – as I am keen to tell my student’s, we all have biases here are mine when it comes to exploring:

  • I love going to galleries
  • I enjoy nature walks or exploring
  • If I need to drive to it, I probably won’t since I don’t have a car
  • If there is food involved, count me in

So you can see that I don’t tend to gravitate towards sports or music events, and shopping is done out of necessity not as a pleasure activity. That said, I want to embrace all that Toronto has to offer (albeit on a budget scale) and I’ll try to side-step my biases when I am out & about and expand my notion of Toronto.