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

Happy Long Weekend

Today is a civic holiday here in Canada. I’ll be out helping a friend install her upcoming exhibition Us (& It) at Ryerson Artspace at the Gladstone, 1214 Queen St West here in Toronto. The opening is on Thursday, August 4th from 7 to 10 pm. I hope to see you there.

Clare Samuel, from Us (& It), 2016.

Clare Samuel, from Us (& It), 2016.

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.

Back in Toronto – So Far

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In one of my first posts I made a list of what I wanted to do this summer, see here.

So far I’m not doing too bad with the list.

I am planning on going to Toronto Island during the August long weekend with Christina.

I’ve ridden along the Lower Don (see here) and walked up along the Don Valley Trail from Pottery Road to .

I went to Shakespeare in the Park to see Hamlet (more to come on this next week).

I’ve gone to the Withrow Farmer’s Market, see here.

I have not had as many picnics as I would like, but there is still plenty of time.

And I have not found a place to volunteer, nor have I found a knit-nite to join. But all in all, I am doing quite well with my list.

 

 

 

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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Living Below Ground – The Maytrees

For my fiction reading I primarily rely on the simplicity of book exchange boxes or what is also known as Little Free Library movement. In Kingston there were several that I would use and when I moved to Toronto I was a bit concerned that there wouldn’t be any in the neighbourhood. Turns out I had nothing to worry about. There is not only one, but two just up the road from where I live (one is geared for adults and the other for children).

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Book exchanges are a great local and community orientated way of sharing books. The idea is that you bring unwanted books to exchange for others. These individual boxes are placed on peoples front yards and each one I have encountered and used has been as individual as the owners who placed them there. Today’s “Living Below Ground” comes from one of the books I got at a book exchange box in Kingston and brought with me to Toronto.  The basement is a minor detail in the narrative but the way Annie Dillard describes it makes me want a basement just like the one described – open to the sea. Here’s an excerpt:

“When he first moved in after their wedding, Maytree got to work enlarging the beachside crawl space. Now they had a wedge-shaped basement furnished with a galley and head. He finished it off by installing many-paned French doors right on the beach. When storms came, he removed both doors so the seas could pour in without breaking glass. In ordinary weather, friends entered the front door, went downstairs, and opened the French doors to the beach.”

Annie Dillard, The Maytrees (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007), 47-48.

The joy of a book exchange place is that your choices are limited to what is available, thereby taking the stress out of choosing your next book. And, if that wasn’t enough,  you are sharing the books you have read with others.

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 

Things – Picnics

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Summer is all about picnics. When I lived in Australia I came to truly understand the joy of eating al fresco. You don’t need much, a blanket, some food and something to drink, and throw in some friends and you have the making of a great meal and a nice time.

So, what makes good picnic fare? Simplicity, I say. No need to go overboard. Cheese, baguette, olives, avocado, nuts, fruit, and lemonade. Done. Use the lids of Tupperware as plates, pack cutlery, bring a cup, and voila, you don’t have to throw away anything (I tend to go with the pack in, pack out mentality).

 

Picnic facts from living abroad:

In South Korea you can order take out to be delivered practically anywhere.  I’ve seen pizza delivered to picnickers in a downtown Seoul park. How does one even place that order. “Please deliver the food to the third tree down from the bench, by the entrance.”

In Sydney, Australia picknickers will put up wee fences, staking out their area in a large picnic area when there are large events going on.

When having a picnic, Australians also know how to protect their wine glasses from tipping over. You can buy wine glass holders that are staked into the ground (genius, really) and hold the stemmed glass upright, away from accidental knocks.

In Paris, I you can picnic pretty much anywhere. My favourite was on the Pont des Arts bridge.

 

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But, the best picnics are those where it is a potluck kind of situation. Invite a bunch of friends, find a piece of grass, preferably with a bit of shade, and bring out the food and share in the joys of eating with friends outside while we still can. Summer is way too short in Canada.

Back in Toronto

I have lived in Toronto several times over the course of my life, each time was connected to school. This will be the first time I have lived in the city sans school and I am really looking forward to creating a life here.

I have made a list of things I want to do over the course of the summer:

-go to Toronto Island (I have never been)

-explore the Don Valley River trails (I have been walking in the Yellow Creek ravine and loving it)

-go to Shakespeare in the Park

-start volunteering (still deciding where, I’ll keep you posted)

-check out the different Farmers’ Markets in Toronto, starting with Withrow Farmers’ Market since it is in my new neighbourhood

-reconnect with friends

-find a knit night to join (I miss the knit night at Knit 1 Chicago)

-have all the picnics here, here, and perhaps here

For now, I want to get settled and get serious, serious about finding some full-time work in the field.