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ONTARIO…YOURS TO DISCOVER – so I did, and I learnt it’s a real fun place to live!

Thanks to my friends at Tourism Toronto, I was invited to attend the Celebrate Ontario Tourism promotional event held at Union Station this morning (#DiscoverON) and I’m so glad I put the alarm on for the early call.IMG_2085I arrived shortly after the Hon. Michael Coteau, Minister for Tourism, Culture & Sport opened the event with a brief address promoting “stay-cations” in our home province of Ontario, something I always love doing (ain’t that right, Port Hope?).  So I “hopped on the bus” and toured around the exhibits featuring the province’s top attractions.

First off, I indulged in a deelish butter tart offered by these charming pioneers from Sainte-Marie-Among-the-Hurons which is located only a couple of hours north of Toronto. www.hhp.on.ca20160527_093418 20160527_100514Next door, it was shark attack time! The fun and fabulous folks from Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada let me play with their friendly mascot Sharkee although I think they threw me in as tasty shark bait/breakfast ..LOL!  www.ripleysaquariumofcanada.com20160527_092149 20160527_092201I’m looking fwd to taking a tour of the giant aquarium, conveniently located at the base of the CN Tower, so I can post a blog editorial complete with photos of the real thing…ooooo scary!

While I was “chumming” for sharks, I ran into Lorrie Pella, VP of Visitor Engagement & Northern Mkt’g for Ontario Tourism www.ontariotravel.net  What a fun lady she is…here she is (below) with the equally fun and groovy Chef Scott Savoie, Founder & Chief Eating Officer (!) of Toronto Food Tours.  www.tofoodtours.com20160527_093508I ran into a couple of knights from Medieval Times, along with this gorgeous bird of prey who posed so elegantly for me. www.medievaltimes.com/plan-your-trip/toronto20160527_093903I swear I then saw Yogi and Boo-Boo take off with a picnic basket so I ran up to Ranger Sheila Wiebe at the Ontario Parks booth to see how I could help. She told me everything was fine and that perhaps I needed to learn all about fishing & camping – frankly, I consider Holiday Inns as camping ….but she introduced me to several of Ontario’s premiere camping locations, including one at Bronte Creek, not far from Toronto, where I could actually “camp” in a yurt (yes, there are flush toilets on-site so this city slicker could cope). www.ontarioparks.com20160527_09394920160527_094000 20160527_094009Ranger Sheila’s colleagues (above) were promoting this beautiful waterfall located up north in the region made famous by the legendary Grey Owl in the 1930’s.

Bringing me back to civilization, these guardsmen introduced me to the City of Toronto Historic Sites & Museums  www.toronto.ca/museums  This weekend is the annual “Toronto Open Doors” festival where the city’s finest old (and new) buildings open their doors to the public for free tours. What fun!20160527_094322(0) 20160527_100915Back to this century, I then hung out for a while with the folks from KX96 New Country radio, where DJ Tim Lawrence broadcast live from the show (centre pic). Here he is with tech coordinator Lucas, and further down, there’s the lovely Tanya (Mkt’g Consultant).  www.kx96.fm20160527_094643 20160527_094750 20160527_094854The ladies representing the Ontario Science Centre obviously love their jobs…and who wouldn’t with all that cool nerdy sciencey stuff?! I haven’t visited there since 1980 so I think it’s about time I get my geek on and pay them a visit. Another fun blog to plan, eh?  www.OntarioScienceCentre.ca20160527_095519Next up was…UP, the Union Pearson Express that takes passengers to and from the airport and downtown Toronto, by-passing all that horrible traffic.  www.upexpress.com   They were running a pick-n-win contest and although I didn’t win a free trip, I did win a lovely prize pack that included a yummy cookie, thanks ladies.20160527_100025 20160527_095718 20160527_100045One of the more popular stops was the City Sightseeing Toronto / Mariposa Cruises booth where they gave out tons o’ goodies and showcased many of the downtown Toronto attractions. Jeez, nothing like getting photo-bombed by SCTV’s own Edith Prickly, eh?  20160527_100253 20160527_100259 20160527_100506www.citysightseeingtoronto.com     www.mariposacruises.com

Time for a quick refreshment break and I found 2 awesome booths, first the Kawartha Ice Cream folks…love the chair, love the ice creams! www.kawarthadairy.com20160527_100936 20160527_101724…then on to the Hawthorne Food & Drink booth for a refreshingly cool glass of  rhubarb lemonade. www.hawthorneto.ca20160527_101051 And finally….the biggest/tallest attraction in Ontario (sorry, Niagara Falls) –  the CN Tower!  If you’ve ever taken the elevators all the way to the top, you KNOW how awesome the tower is. Betcha haven’t done the EdgeWalk?! Yes, you get put into an orange jumpsuit then hooked up to safety rails as you take a walk around the outside edge of the CN Tower waaaaaay up top. Definitely an OMG moment in anyone’s life.  www.cntower.ca  20160527_101137 20160527_101615Above, the tower’s Sales, Mkt’g & Communications Manager Krista Kalbfleisch chats with out of town visitors…the woman is definitely considering the Edge Walk – go for it, girl!

So I had a blast and am certainly glad I got up 2hrs earlier than usual to join all the other visitors to this special show-and-tell of Ontario’s leading tourist attractions. Congrats to all at Ontario Tourism and thanks to all the booth reps for extending such warm hospitality.
Check out ALL the Province’s many attractions at  www.ontariotravel.net 20160527_091823 20160527_092126Y’all come back now real soon….Sharkee’s hungry!!!

 

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REBARN OPENS NEW DOWNTOWN STORE, BRINGS MASTER WOODWORKING TO URBAN HOMES

Oh, I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay….. I know, I know – this is how most people imagine all Canadian woodsmen, but let me introduce you to Mark Livingston, Founder of REBARN, a true master craftsman who works with repurposed reclaimed wood from barns, railway ties, churches and other architectural salvage, turning them into works of art for installation in your home, cottage, office or store.20160521_142057 20160521_142412This new 2nd location for Rebarn is 1611 Dupont St (10 mins. from Dundas W subway) and has only been open for about a month – Mark and his lovely lady Lola Kerecki (an artist herself) are working hard getting ready for an official opening event – they will retain the original workshop on Alliance Ave to handle the high volume of commissions received since Rebarn has been featured on TV shows like Colin & Justin’s Cabin Pressure (see below) and Cityline.C&JMark sources “rescued” wood and then crafts stunning barn doors for home installation using authentic hardware (below) in various finishes and styles to suit every decor or theme. Sometimes beautifully sanded and finished to a mid-century modern feel, other times more rustic and raw in appearance, each piece of furniture offers unique charm and appeal.20160521_142123And using old railway ties, Mark creates stunning fireplace mantles and shelving that look good in any home (below).20160521_142404Mark’s in-store loo (still under construction) showcases this wonderfully whimsical countertop upon which a glass sink will eventually sit…20160521_142945_001You can choose your preferred hardware from a wide selection (some of which is shown below)…20160521_143533…but if you’re not looking for doors, you can find all manner of home decor accessories (see below) handcrafted by Mark and a colleague who specialized in woodburning.20160521_143136 20160521_143400 20160521_143326Don’t you just love this fun wee beastie? Much better to have a wooden moosehead than one that had to die, yes?20160521_143241And I spied this Noguchi-esque desk at the back of the showroom….isn’t it gorgeous?20160521_142552Lola has contributed a number of pieces to the store…love her moose painting on wood – see how she’s incorporated a western mountain lake scene into the body.20160521_142741I had fun playing with this giant mirror…20160521_142913…and spent time sitting on this bench embellished with the “bird on a wire” burnt into its surface.20160521_155541Rebarn can customize barn doors, mantles, furniture or simply supply hardware for your own projects so contact Mark for design ideas and a quote:  647-968-4004  or  info@rebarn.ca   www.rebarn.ca20160521_143208 20160521_143345Big THANK YOU to Lola and Mark for their hospitality…and good luck with the upcoming official opening party for REBARN!20160521_162701

 

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ARTFEST BRINGS EXCITING ARTISTS AND CRAFTSPEOPLE TO TORONTO’S HISTORIC DISTILLERY DISTRICT

Over the long weekend, my bestie, Erena, and I made a quick visit to the annual ArtFest crafts and fine arts market in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. We also visited some of the established art galleries located in the enclave of 19th & early 20th century warehouses and cellars. It was so crowded that it was hard just to get in to some of the tents so Erena and I focused on just a few.

Our very first stop was at Joseph Calleja‘s handcrafted silk & cotton scarf display The Toronto-based photographer & artist incorporates many of his own photos into the unique and beautiful prints in multiple colours, shapes and sizes. Some are pure silk, others a cotton/silk blend as well as long wraps in the softest of cotton. Erena purchased 2, one a vibrant pink and the other…the blue one she’s modelling below. www.callejascarves.com20160522_133428 20160522_133236I then noticed a very talented sculptor, Chaka Chikodzi, who hails from Kingston, ON, which has become quite the artists’ colony thanks to the great light quality in that area (about 3hrs east of Toronto, on Lake Ontario). This one charming piece of carved Springstone is a a guinea fowl and it really called to me. Perhaps next time he comes to Toronto, I will have the $s to make it mine!   www.chakachikodzi.com20160522_141408Erena and I wandered around some more trying not to trip over the cobblestones (hint: NEVER wear your Manolo Blahniks to the Distillery District!!) and saw lots of returning exhibitors from last year which I previously covered in my blog, so we sought refuge from the hot sun inside the Thompson Landry Gallery and discovered all sorts of amazing artists we’d never previously seen, for example Tommy Zen from Montreal. He is descended from several generations of Venetian cabinet makers and artisans, eventually discovering his own love for clay and ceramics. The gallery (there are actually 2 amazing Thompson Landry Galleries on-site, opposite each other) proudly displays his giant ceramics, each gilded with sparkling gold and vibrant colours. Below are 2 of my favourite pieces, each well over 6ft tall!!  www.thompsonlandry.com20160522_160806 20160522_161353Many more artists are showcased there including this massive 10′ x 6′ canvas of a raging bull (titled Turbo) by Dominic Besner (below). This was Erena’s fave.20160522_161251I also liked these pieces…what do you think?20160522_16131520160522_160924We then walked over to artagallery where I found some more gorgeous works of art that really resonated with me. I really liked these two, done by different artists, and I’m waiting for more info on them when the gallery ladies email me more details (sadly, there were no artist or painting promo materials available). www.artagallery.ca20160522_164359I also found these florals engaging…and happy!20160522_164730 20160522_164742….and Erena made a bee-line for the playful pieces featuring wildlife!20160522_164839artagallery offers some unique display settings, too – I really liked this rusted old boiler plating (below)20160522_164702The next Artfest takes place over the labour day long weekend (Sept. 2-5) in the same venue; if you’d like to check out the shopping, dining and sight-seeing opportunities at Toronto’s Distillery District, visit their website for hours & directions: www.thedistillerydistrict.com20160522_164631

 

 

 

70 DOWN RESTO-LOUNGE BRINGS AFGHANI-FUSION CUISINE TO YORKVILLE (TORONTO)

When I learned about the exciting, exotic and super-tasty menu on offer at the 70 Down restaurant/lounge in Yorkville, I couldn’t wait to go try for myself. Previously a late night lounge, the venue, located at 70 Yorkville Avenue, just W of Bay St, was recently transformed by owners (and brothers) Alex and Wali Seddiqi, who brought in two experienced chefs to completely renovate the kitchen and menu to showcase their family’s heritage dishes – Afghani classics with a twist of Greek and Mediterranean. www.70down.ca6_large[jPD6]Wanting to push beyond the conventional ethnic restaurants they encountered in Canada, the Seddiqi brothers created 70 Down as a hub for patrons of diverse cultures to feel comfortable and at home.

My brother and I had this great idea of one day opening a fine dining modernized Afghani cuisine restaurant, Alex recently told me. We were inspired by the great history of our country and noticed there was nothing like it in Toronto; the demand and opportunity was there as the city is known for its diverse and multicultural community.5_large[MLPr]This unique approach to food, ambiance and art/decor all contribute to creating a sense of modernism while retaining the essence of the Eastern/Afghani heritage the brothers brought with them to Canada. Appreciating the growing movement of healthy lifestyles and sustainability, 70 Down consciously integrates local and organic food into the menu.7_large[LAdc]

As Alex goes on to explain: We are totally blessed to have a fusion between two totally different types of chefs. Chef Hamayuun has been in the industry for more than 25 years and highly experienced in the culinary field specializing in traditional authentic Afghani food. Chef Sebouh is a highly skilled Armenian chef specializing in Greek cuisine. So we get to blend old school and modern style cuisine for our diners.

There’s a stunning patio fronting onto Yorkville Avenue providing great people-watching opps, but discreetly sunken slightly below street-level so that you’re not bombarded with traffic noise and exhaust from passing cars. It’s truly a perfect oasis of calm and serenity for sharing cocktails and nibblies with friends…or that special hot date!20160421_190627On Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, 70 Down presents live entertainment courtesy of some of the city’s most exciting jazz, soul/R&B and Latin singers and musicians. Starting at 7:30pm each  night, the shows run until approx. 10pm and there’s never a cover charge!  20160422_200223The servers and bar staff (below) are friendly and eager to please, and able to make recommendations for your appetizer and entree choices (I always recommend the hummus…the best I’ve had in years!)20160422_202742The late night club life returns to 70 Down Thurs. through Sat. nights when the venue turns into a hot dance cave and hangout where the millennials blow off steam from their heavy work week. 70 Down offers VIP table & bottle service with special packages available for groups – details can be found on the website. 4_large[60H4]70 Down is ideal for private functions, corporate events (they can host up to 160 for cocktail receptions) and celebratory soirees. Send your enquiries to info@70down.ca or call 416-323-369670DownYorkville_Logo-2

www.70down.ca

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KANGA AUSSIE MEAT PIES CELEBRATES 2nd ANNIVERSARY IN TORONTO…YUMMM

I was thrilled to celebrate KANGA AUSSIE MEAT PIE’s two years of feeding Toronto’s hungry tummies when I dropped in to enjoy a couple of meat pies and some Lamingtons, too!

I must admit to a twinge of homesick blues as I walked thru the balloon-bedecked doorway….growing up DownUnder, meat pies were a staple on every school kid’s menu. Our school tuckshop doled out thousands of them at lunchtimes over the course of a year and I can still remember the glorious fragrance of fresh baked pies coming from the kitchen wafting through the class windows. That memory came back the minute I walked into Kanga!20160516_11425320160516_114921(0) As I walked in, my salivary glands were working overtime and Erynn welcomed me with a big smile from the front window….20160516_114306I immediately made myself at home with a steaming “traditional” Aussie pie topped with ketchup, or as we call it in Oz, tomato sauce. 20160516_115854 20160516_121732 20160516_121847….and soon made short shrift of the whole thing. Believe me, if I wasn’t out in public I would have licked the plate, too!!! The crust was flakey and light, just the way they make ’em back home.  And of course, no Aussie meat pie is complete until you finish up with a Lamington…..yummmmmm.20160516_114942 20160516_115545Erynn and Megan had lots of Kanga fans dropping in to wish them a happy anniversary, including these two lovely ladies who tucked right in…apparently they’re frequent flyers here at Kanga!20160516_122511Thanks for the great DownUnder hospitality, Kanga, and I can’t wait to come back for more.Logo card

Kanga Aussie Meat Pies, 65 Duncan St (south off Queen St W, just W of University Ave), Toronto.
Check their website for all the different pie flavours they offer: www.eatkanga.com20160516_121425PS: Look what Megan gave me as a surprise treat to go…OMG, I’m in Lammie heaven!20160516_130115(0)

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MONTREAL JEWELLERY DESIGNER GLORIA BASS BRINGS STUNNING COLLECTION TO TORONTO POP-UP BOUTIQUE

The other day I received this invitation (below) via email and being located only a few blocks from my home, I decided to visit the pop-up shop in Yorkville and meet fine jewellery designer Gloria Bass. I’m sooooo glad I did!gloria-bass pop upJust extended for one more day, the pop-up is located on the West side of Bellair just past Sassafraz, in the Ritchie Estate Jewellery store at #24, the walls are lined with display cases filled with Gloria’s exquisite jewellery. My photographs don’t do the “wearable art” justice so I borrowed a couple of shots from her website (linked at end of story) – I encourage you to visit online for descriptions of each unique piece, handcrafted with the finest gems and metals (18ct gold) and South Sea pearls of varying sizes and colours. Gloria’s signature filigree gold wire accents and clasps are intricately woven into each piece.20160515_133740 20160515_133746 20160515_133755collection-gloria-titillium_15For over forty years, Ms. Bass has channeled her passion for design and her skills as a goldsmith, to steadily build the reputation of Gloria Bass Design. As the soul of the company, her sensibility can be found in every Gloria Bass Design creation.20160515_133905(0)Based in Montreal, Gloria (above Right, with her charming assistant Marie-Josee, above Left) and her team of highly skilled assistants and craftsmen continue to serve an international clientele. The pieces of jewelry produced in her workshop are the outcome of her curiosity, creative talent and thought. They evoke sensuality and elegance.  The unique Gloria Bass Design style is easily recognized in each stunningly beautiful and quality-made piece of jewelry. The world’s most voluptuous pearls and breathtaking gems are combined with distinctive goldsmithing techniques to become wearable, and at the same time, extremely comfortable pieces of art. Insistence on precision and detail, and the use of the finest materials, ensures superior quality.s-rThe exhibition and sale has been so popular that Gloria is extending the pop-up for another day (Monday May 16) before returning to Montreal, so if you’re in Toronto, please make sure you drop in anytime tomorrow between 10am and 7pm to see the magnificent statement necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and men’s cufflinks. 24 Bellair in Yorkville….and be sure to tell Gloria and Marie-Josee I sent you.      www.gloriabassdesign.com/

 

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URBANSOURCE CREATIVE CATERING SPONSORS TORONTO UNITED CHURCH’S HEART & VISION AWARDS CONCERT

Boy, what a busy time UrbanSource Creative Catering is having…last week they catered a number of high profile events and last night, Monday May 9, they kicked off the week by providing the post-concert reception for attendees, VIPs, the entertainers and the esteemed winners of the annual Toronto United Church Council’s Heart & Vision Awards.20160509_220232The 8th annual concert honoured Roberta L. Jamieson, President of Indspire, Canada’s premiere Indigenous-led charity, and the first First Nations woman to earn a law degree in Canada, and Marie Wilson, one of the three commissioners on Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Musical entertainment was provided by: Alana Bridgewater, star of We Will Rock You, Christa Couture, Canadian Aboriginal Music Award winner, Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman, Billy Newton Davis, Juno Award winner, Nukariik, Inuit throat singers, and Jackie Richardson, Gospel, Jazz, and Blues sensation
The evening was hosted by Hon. Bob Rae, lawyer, mediator, speaker, writer, and Ontario’s 21st Premier.
Proceeds from the concert and gifts to the Community Relief Fund support the Council’s partnership programs through which local congregations rebuild and equip their church facilities to enhance community social services.20160509_205741The hors d’oeuvre menu included Angus mini beef burgers, Cajun salmon cakes, Moroccan chicken rouelles (below)20160509_205639Also making an appearance: Urban’s famous Arancini risotto balls filled with luscious gooey buffalo mozzarella cheese and served with roasted chipotle pepper sauce (below)…20160509_211300….as well as Pear and Stilton Tartlets (my new favourite), and a Crostini Duo consisting of roasted grape with burrata, basil and balsamic drizzle, and fresh Bosc pear poached with port and cinnamon, with ricotta and candied walnut both served on toasted honey crostini.20160509_205617 20160509_211318As usual, Urban’s friendly staff (hear, resting up prior to service) kept everyone well fed and watered….20160509_210348…and here’s Sales & Events Coordinator Jean-Marc (below R) with bartender Yaz (below L)20160509_210011Chef Lyndon (below R) kept his kitchen staff hopping…preparing so many plates of treats that they could rival that legendary loaves-and-fishes event…20160509_20570520160509_205852The most popular treats of the night where the mini-burgers….they disappeared quickly off each tray as soon as they came out of the kitchen!20160509_220414And the dainty dessert trays were also a huge hit.20160509_205556 20160509_210259Compliments were freely offered by all attendees who were rarely seen without some yummy treat in their hands (and mouths)! 20160509_215435And the modest understated decor, also provided by Urban, was perfectly suited to the occasion.20160509_211531 20160509_210157Thanks to all involved and if you’d like to learn more about the Toronto United Church Council, please visit them here: www.tucc.ca/

And for all your catering needs…and then some! …..please contact UrbanSource Creative Catering here: www.urbancatering.com/20160509_221735

 

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URBANSOURCE CREATIVE CATERING SPONSORS FOOD & REFRESHMENTS FOR INSIDE OUT 2016 Toronto LGBT Film Festival Launch Party

This past Friday evening, URBANSOURCE CREATIVE CATERING, one of Toronto’s leading catering companies (established 31 years ago) sponsored the sumptuous repast at this year’s INSIDE OUT/LGBT FILM FESTIVAL (May 26-June 5) VIP launch party hosted in the St. James Cathedral Centre.

I arrived just as Urban’s friendly kitchen staff were plating the hors d’oeuvres (below) and prepping the wine bar20160506_172802 20160506_172808 20160506_173226With the help of Urban’s Sales & Business Mgr. Wayne Abell (below, 3rd from L) I was able to wrangle the kitchen staff out front for a special photo opp (below)….20160506_174157(0)…and then enjoyed the fun as guests filled the party room, enjoying the photobooth and great music.20160506_180303(0) 20160506_173949 20160506_180244The delicious hot & cold hors d’oeuvre included pulled pork sliders, Cajun salmon cakes topped with comeback sauce, Arancini risotto balls (or as I like to call them “cheesy balls”) filled with gooey buffalo mozzarella cheese served with roasted chipotle pepper sauce (below, enjoyed by guests)…20160506_180903 20160506_184613….Greek potatoes with feta, olives, pickled onion and tzatziki, garnished with chives…don’t they look pretty? (below)20160506_181037 20160506_181043(0)…and also Moroccan Chicken Rouelles topped with mango salsa, Pissaladière Blanco on herbed Provençale crust  and Spanish Tortilla with roasted peppers, egg, potato and Manchego cheese topped with tomato jam. Yummmm,  guests couldn’t get enough of the tasty treats so the kitchen staff kicked it into high gear….20160506_182652 20160506_182704Even the press photographers were delighted by the food service (below)20160506_180221Wayne enjoyed networking, too – here he is at the photo wall with Inside Out’s Brad and Scott (LtoR)20160506_174825That photobooth was a real party favourite with guests dressing up and acting silly. Here are a few perfect examples of the perfect party guests….20160506_18145620160506_182837 20160506_182959…and of course, I just HAD to get into the act, too. Always the party princess….!20160506_173648_001Apart from all the fun and frivolity, there were the more serious chores of announcing this year’s film line-up, the complete InsideOut festival program and shout-outs to esteemed supporters, sponsors and guests, MC’d by Todd van der Heyden, news anchor with CTV News Channel.20160506_184218 20160506_184222Urban’s service volunteers really enjoyed their jobs, such as Neal (below) who had two lovely ladies flanking him and helping serve the wine.20160506_180453

InsideOut would like to thank….
Food and drinks generously provided by Urban Source Creative Catering, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, and Steam Whistle Brewing. Party Sponsors: Urban Source Creative Catering, Steam Whistle Brewing, Barefoot Wine & Bubbly, Jack Daniel’s, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire.
With tunes by Blockorama: DJs Craig Dominic, Blackcat and Nik Red; performances by House of Monroe; video projections by Roxanne Luchak, an art installation by Leuwebb and photo booth provided by Monocle Booth.

For information about this year’s film fest screenings and events, visit www.insideout.ca/

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SCENT OF JASMINE Image for CONTACT May 2016

PHOTOGRAPHER MAHA MUNAF SHOWCASES HER STUNNING STREETSCAPES OF DAMASCUS for the 2016 SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL

On Saturday May 7, URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East in Toronto, hosted a special opening reception for photographer MAHA MUNAF whose stunning B&W and sepia-toned photos of street life in the city of Damascus as well as the countryside in Madagascar are part of the city-wide annual 2016 SCOTIABANK CONTACT PHOTOGRAPHY FESTIVAL. Here are just a handful of images from Maha’s “Scent of Jasmine” exhibition from yesterday’s launch party…02-Aleppo 05-DamascusMaha graduated as an architect in Jordan in 2004 but had a passion for capturing snapshots of life around her with her camera. She soon found that being a female photographer in a conservative society was challenging but Maha took her camera and took images from colorful India all the way to the Everest Heights. “There are so many places to explore and stories to be told.”08-MadagascarMaha always had an eye for art; as a little girl her notebooks contained sketches of fairy tales and places she would soon come to visit. Experimenting with her camera, Maha saw the world differently through her lens, a world with no limitations. Now, having relocated to Toronto, Maha is excited about starting this new chapter; so far she’s been part of two group exhibitions and presented her solo photography exhibition “Forgotten Memories” as part of last year’s Festival which was very well received. She is now looking to do more with her photography – to inspire, grow & get inspired herself.

Artist Statement:  Photography is a way to tell a story and evoke a feeling. I utilize my camera as a tool to create imagery that awakens a deeper meaning beyond the obvious visual: an object through texture, a person through gesture or a place through light. My focus is bringing my subjects from ordinary to extraordinary.

Urban Gallery soon filled with admiring fans and family, including Maha’s brother, Mohanad, and sister Maryam (below) who looked at her work with such pride.20160507_144343 20160507_144424Gallery guests were soon picking out their favourite images and hopefully there’ll be lot of red dots (sales) alongside the photos by the end of the month-long Festival!20160507_14394820160507_14411220160507_14511020160507_150950It’s always nice when friends drop in with flowers!20160507_152402 20160507_152528Urban Gallery curator Allen Shugar (above L) shared a toast with Maha’s brother (centre) and another gallery guest.
There are also a number of full colour photos (below) taken during Maha’s travels through rural Madagascar.20160507_144051

20160507_144054For Gallery hours and additional information on Maha’s “Scent of Jasmine” showcase, please visit www.urbangallery.ca  or Maha’s own website: www.mahamunaf.com 20160507_145026 20160507_151842 contact20_logo-300

 

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URBAN LAMPSCAPES OFFERS UNIQUE DESIGNS FOR CONDO, LOFT & HOME DWELLERS AROUND THE WORLD

I’d like to welcome new client URBAN LAMPSCAPES and introduce you to their stunning customizable range of lamps with street-art inspired designs and colours. www.urbanlampscapes.com/SLIDER X6b (1)A couple of months ago, I met Charles Ezerzer, CEO & General Manager and his co-founder, Artistic Director Joe Ponciano when I attended the annual Toronto Interior Design Show and was stopped in my tracks by the collection of art/lights in their booth (below)…..DSC07961…I found their lampshades intriguing and edgy – perfect for the urban loft dweller or condo resident! They even showcased flat wall lamps that look like illuminated posters.DSC07964DSC07965I was hooked on Toronto-based Urban Lampscapes products and quickly set up a meeting to chat with Charles and Joe to discuss introducing them to my interior designer and decorator friends as well as share their lighting concepts with all my artsy-fartsy friends (of whom I have many!).  I recently suggested that Charles offer some insights into his company’s concept and design esthetics so here’s what he told me:

What inspired you to create the business Urban Lampscapes?
I think it takes more than a single moment to compel someone to do something unusual and risky. For me, one of those moments was as I sat in yet another airport waiting for my flight home with my best friend, Joe Ponciano (Urban Lampscapes’ Artistic Director), when I realized we had been traveling together for more than 20 years wandering along the backstreets and main thoroughfares around the world in search of our shared passion: street art. Between us, we had shot over 20,000 images at that time. With him being the more talented photographer with an eye for details and myself being more creative and design-motivated, I thought we should share our work and mutual passion within a business infrastructure so we started implementing our customizable lamp business in 2014.IMG_1599IMG_1377IMG_1632Instead of simply offering a set standard series of lamps and shades, why did you feel it was important to offer customizable DIY lamps for you customers?
We could have simply offered a set range of lampshade designs and we may do a limited line in the future, but for us we’ve learned how different people’s tastes are, especially when it comes to art. We want to give each customer the same experience as if they are buying a print from a gallery except this serves a dual purpose; art piece / designer lighting.gallery_aw100025_tb_1Who are your customers?
Urban Lampscapes’ primary customers tend to be individuals who like to express themselves, be creative and look for different unique accessories to fill their homes. We’re seeing lots of downtown condo and loft dwellers across a broad age range – teens to the groovy 55+!IMG_3324ABOUT_2Do you think lighting is an under-utilized décor accessory?
With today’s new technology and energy-efficiencies, it has become more important than ever to ensure that one is contributing to a greener world. With LED lighting becoming more affordable and reliable, home illumination is being re-thought and better designs are emerging. Urban Lampscapes materials and designs are specifically made to take advantage of LED technology. Remember, lighting directly impacts how you set the mood in a space so it should be given considerable thought.gallery_aw100018_fl_1gallery_aw100183_tb_1You attended a trade show in China last month (April) – were you inspired by any local street art there?China is one of the hardest places to find street-art because as soon as it goes up, a fresh coat of white paint is immediately applied over it. It doesn’t mean we didn’t get any great images but it is harder to find. As for design, it’s always inspiring to see what creative style is being combined with traditional style to create something new. (below, Joe & Charles @ far east trade show).IMG_1508IMG_1640IMG_1578IMG_1644Do you have plans for other int’l travels to discover new street art?
We are always on the go, adding to our collection and discovering new works that push the limits of street art and the boundaries of creativity. Below, here’s Joe posting in front of a wall hoarding during the recent China trip.IMG_1665 (1)Do you ship your lamps to customers around the world or just in Canada?
Yes, we ship all over the world – we make our lamps dual voltage so they can work anywhere. All you have to do is log onto to our website, choose your base shape & size, your shade design & size then click-click-done! Easy as sitting on a park bench and texting with your Smartphone!computersWhere do you see the business expanding in the future? 
Currently, we’re happy to work with customers who want their own photographs or artwork, and have also been asked to start offering our work as prints, especially by corporations looking for corporate gifts or incentives which is all in the works. We’ve previously undertaken customized work for corporations and will be expanding our commercial trade division as well.

Want to learn more about this exciting new concept in art~lighting? Visit www.urbanlampscapes.com/ and browse through their catalogue.try this