I have really nice next-door neighbours – I overlook St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Bloor St East and today I joined the staff, Board of Trustees and members of the congregation as they unveiled the beautiful bronze sculpture by leading Canadian artist Tim Schmalz, called “When I Was a Stranger”. Here, let Pastor Barry Parker do the honours….

20161013_110700 20161013_105652As Pastor Barry suggested, come visit, sit a spell and take a selfie with Jesus!

Artist Tim Schmalz is an accomplished sculptor and has undertaken many religious commissions which you can see on his website: www.sculpturebytps.com Below, Tim explains more about his work for St. Paul’s

And below, Bishop Peter Fenty (Bishop for York-Simcoe and the Diocese of Toronto) offers up a prayer

Immediately after the speeches, visitors started sharing their selfies, like this lady here…20161013_110740….and there were lots of photos being snapped for the Church newspaper and local media….20161013_111036 20161013_111050 20161013_111341(0) 20161013_111505The gentleman who modelled for the face of Jesus came by to lend support & congratulate Tim (below left)20161013_111257And this is the result…the serene face of Jesus, bowed in humility, full of warmth and love. 20161013_111248Inside the church lobby, there was also a display of paintings by local artists Ruthia Pak Regis and Matt Wood…..nice to pop in and warm up a bit.20161013_110821 20161013_110843 20161013_110855Thank you to Exec. Pastor Joyce Badley for her kind invitation to join the celebration today, and to Assoc. Priest Sandra Seaborn for sharing additional information about the event & other church activities.



Amethyst and Tahitian pearls


Several months ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Montreal-based, award winning Canadian jewellery designer GLORIA BASS (pictured below R with her assistant Marie-Josee) who was hosting a special 2-day spring trunk show here in Toronto.20160515_133859(0)Her sumptuous big statement necklaces, delicate stacking rings, ballsy bracelets and elegant pieces featuring stunning Tahitian pearls in a rainbow of natural colours captivated my imagination…..I wanted to play dress up: perhaps as a Maharani or a Tsarina, a princess or the queen of the south seas, perhaps? Oh, the feel of the cool gemstones and 18kt gold against my skin transported me to exotic lands as my imagination ran riot!

A glass of chilled champagne and shared laughter soon brought me back down to earth as Gloria told me about her design esthetic, her favourite materials and finest precious gemstones, and how she wanted to personally bring her glorious (no pun intended) jewels back to Toronto’s discerning fashion mavens.20160515_133757 20160515_133746I’m thrilled to announce that we will have another opportunity to experience Gloria’s superb handcrafted designs this November 27 & 28 when she again hosts a special Christmas trunk show in a “pop-up” retail location in the heart of Yorkville.Nov Trunk Show adI asked Gloria if she would kindly share a little of her design philosophy and life story with my readers prior to the big Toronto event so scroll on down to meet Gloria Bass…banner1What first inspired you to take up jewellery design – was your family involved in jewellery or fashion?  No, my family was not in either the fashion or jewellery business but I always enjoyed working with my hands. When I was a teenager, I made my own clothes and did all the handicrafts – knitting, crocheting, needlepoint, etc. Early in my marriage, my husband and I spent two years in Southern California where I took a course in making jewellery. I went on to take private lessons for a short time and fell in love with it.Photo1What was the very first piece you created and sold?  I can’t remember the first piece I created but I do remember the first sale at a gallery!  Upon returning home to Canada, I set up a workshop in my house. When I had produced enough, I went to see someone at the Canadian Guild of Arts in Montreal and an exhibition was mounted for me. I remember coming in to the gallery the day before the show opened and was told that a gentleman had just purchased one of my bracelets. That was enough to send me flying……and then I found out that it was Peter Bronfman!

What are your favourite materials to work with – gold, platinum? And favourite gemstones?  18 karat yellow gold is my favourite material by a long shot! I love the rich colour and the metal responds the best to hand fabrication.Photo (1)My personal favourite gemstone is red! Rubies and red spinels. But I love all coloured stones – even though some are difficult to work with. Diamonds always add the final touch and lately, I work with a lot of different colour fancy diamonds.Ruby fringe with pearlsYou use a lot of Tahitian pearls in your designs – do you think pearls have been given a bad rap (grannies love their pearls) and do you think young women should embrace them like diamonds and other precious stones?  I most certainly do!!!! There are so many types and colours of pearls today. Pearls just light up a face and look good on everyone. I do so many different pieces with them – some very modern and cool!collection-gloria-titillium_15Do you have any favourite designers (current or historical) whose work you admire?  I think the Cartier and Tiffany pieces from the Art Deco period are sensational. That type of craftsmanship is very rare today. I identify with Suzanne Belperron’s esthetic taste. I also like the work of the German house ‘Hemmerle’ as well as de Grisogono for what they do with colour.

You’re coming into Toronto at the end of November for a special 2-day “trunk show” in Yorkville – what new pieces are you creating especially for this show?I’m making an amazing pair of earrings using over 23 carats of sapphires ranging in colour from almost white to yellow to orange. Also, I have a fabulous ring with a 22 carat opal and a pavé of multi-colour stones, a ring with a labradorite scarab, and a lot of pieces with my signature “coil” work. And always….new additions to my endless stacking rings (pictured below)!!s-rWhat trends (or colours) do you see for jewellery and accessories going into 2017?   I don’t follow trends too closely although I think big pieces that make a statement are always on my radar. I will continue to make pieces that are wearable on a daily basis but just not mainstream.Image-1 Pearls_watermelon tourmaline & green diamondsAny advice for young designers looking to go into the jewellery or gold-smithing business?  It’s a tough world out there and there is more competition than ever now. If one has the passion and drive, one can succeed.

Thank you, Gloria.  I encourage you to visit her website to see the beautiful, innovative designs that have become her signature www.gloriabassdesign.com   In the interim, enjoy some of her outstanding work here….. necklacesIMG_7098Even men can wear pearls…as cufflinks (below)MG_01062or opals, too!MG_00412

Gloria makes sure our men look elegant, too.IMG_7311See how women are wearing Gloria’s designs….
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Toronto Trunk Show

Sunday November 27th & Monday November 28th

10am to 5pm

24 Bellair St, Yorkville




What a lovely way to spend Thanksgiving….cruising around Toronto’s stunning Lake Ontario harbour and islands, watching the planes come in and snapping away like a crazed tourist! I love taking quickee “stay-cations” or playing hookey mid-week and taking off for a calming boat cruise through the islands. Today is Thanksgiving Monday in Canada and everyone is busy roasting turkeys and shuffling between family homes with pumpkin pies and bottles of wine. Me? Well, I’m thankful to have access to simple pleasures like harbour boat cruises and the nice folks at Toronto Harbour Tours didn’t disappoint  www.harbourtourstoronto.ca20161010_132506Captain Dylan (pictured above) and Cruise Director Mike welcomed me aboard then cast off for a 1 hour tour – unlike Gilligan and his 3hr tour, there was little chance of getting shipwrecked. We cast off our boat, the Shipsands, and headed out into Lake Ontario, past all the condos and restaurants…..

What a beautiful city and waterfront we have. I sometimes forget the beauty that’s just minutes from my front door.20161010_12391920161010_123542 20161010_125024My sailing buddies were a fun bunch showing their out of town friends around the city.20161010_124201

20161010_13075920161010_131345As our boat was returning, we caught this scary plane landing…must have been Sully at the controls!

Whew, that was a close call. More picturesque photo opps….20161010_13211020161010_132012…then aloha and farewell to Capt. Dylan and Mike (who’s being dive-bombed here by a rogue seagull)20161010_132513The fun didn’t end there…I remembered there was an artisans’ market further along the harbourfront so I set forth to forage for food and oh boy…peameal bacon on a kaiser roll – my favourite!!20161010_135605And dessert courtesy of Carla’s Cookie Box! Yummmmm20161010_140814

So Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all my blog readers…wishing you lots of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pies…burp!



A couple of months ago, I was pushing my cart up the aisles of my favourite supermarket and kept running into the same lady reaching for the same products. We both laughed “we gotta stop meeting like this…” then began trading nutrition recommendations and handy menu suggestions as we hit the fruit & veggie dept. together. She was delightful and had a wicked sparkle in her eyes. I had just met fashion powerhouse and stylist to some of Hollywood’s great old-school stars, FLO BARON.  bf1b00_fc6f7ba492fd4571b29f6d13d52d74d3-mv2Flo and exchanged phone numbers and promised to meet for tea, and within the week I found myself sitting in her super glamourous Yorkville condo surrounded by artworks collected over many years and her elegant black and white furnishings. Very Busby Berkley, very Flo Baron! Flo not only loves styling women in fashions that compliment and enhance their body shapes, she also offers opportunities to purchased some pretty stunning designer lines from the States. She has an adjoining private “salon” and holds court each week with an exclusive group of clients, putting together their outfits, accessorizing and offering wardrobe tips.20160819_134852I asked Flo to share a little of her background and fashion career and she revealed some wonderful stories and anecdotes that I’d like to share with you here…..

Although her family wasn’t involved in the fashion industry, Flo Baron always knew she was destined for a life surrounded by beauty, design and creativity. As a young girl in Chicago, she dreamt of fabulous fashions and always appreciated the feel and look of fine fabrics. Flo won a scholarship to secretarial school where she excelled but fashion always beckoned, perhaps she would become a model. Her idol was Jinx Falkenburg (pictured below), one of the highest-paid cover-girl models in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s.Jinx Faulkenburg In the early 50’s, Flo answered a newspaper ad from a modeling school who wanted someone to teach make-up, personal grooming and dress styling to women going into the corporate sector for the first time (yes, these were pre-Mad Men times). She landed the job and taught hundreds of young women how to present themselves in the most fashionable manner for their 9-5 jobs as well as cocktail parties.

Moving to California with her husband in the mid 50’s, Flo’s life took an exciting turn when she landed a job in the dress shop at the legendary Beverly Hills Hotel. She helped style Hollywood’s most glamorous stars of the day including dancer and movie star Cyd Charisse, Dorothy Lamour, Elizabeth Taylor and even Zsa Zsa Gabor who would frequently drop in and demand Flo bring her everything on the racks in her size! “Polly Bergen walked in one day wearing a full length mink coat. She put her arm around me, winked and whispered “I did it all by myself!” What a fabulous lady she was.”bh hotelSome years later, after a brief stint as a production secretary on a popular TV show, Flo became intrigued by interior design and decorating. “I love anything with an artistic value, anything that was created by an idea in somebody’s mind.” So along with a friend, she soon launched a home accessories and bathroom design business. Flo loved intricate fixtures and bathroom furnishings so she soon had every garage mechanic in San Fernando Valley working with her to handcraft her metal bathroom, tabletop and furniture designs. After the successful debut of her line at a Los Angeles trade show, she opened her own factory, hiring a workforce of skilled craftspeople to produce her line which was sold in the US,  Canada and internationally. After 40 successful years, Flo sold that business and in 2005, she moved to Toronto to be closer to her daughter.

Over the past ten years she has developed relationships with a number fashion designers from New York, California and Canada. Flo has brought back these lines with her to share with friends and personal styling clients. Due to her background in fashion, décor and design, Flo has developed a loyal following of clients who look to her for guidance with their clothing choices, as well as purchasing unique and affordable fashions that she personally curates for each client’s wardrobe. “I love helping women discover their true inner beauty and elegance by enhancing their appearance with clothing and accessories that are not only timeless but very affordable.”

20160905_144857 20160905_162628When you visit Flo Baron’s style studio, you will enjoy a personalized wardrobe consultation, and get to try on various fashion pieces and accessories to enhance your own personal style.  Whether you need something casual, a business outfit or an elegant ensemble for that swanky soiree, Flo can put together a head-to-toe look that will make you feel like a million dollars…but with a much more affordable price tag. She has also just launched a “young & chic” division catering to the younger fashion followers and coordinated by her assistant Michelle, seen below assisting another client. 20160905_144916One of Flo’s clients is the Canadian actor, playwright and entrepreneur Nonni Griffin seen below getting the full Flo experience!IMG_20161005_162252 IMG_20161005_161907 IMG_20161005_164509If you want to learn more about this wonderful and talented woman of influence, please visit her website: www.flobaroncollection.com

And check out these gorgeous scarves for fall that just arrived in the salon, as well as some great bling to accessorize your own outfits.20161007_130144 20161007_130610 20161007_130622 20161007_130628 20161007_130637



Throughout October, URBAN GALLERY is pleased to showcase two Toronto artists whose journeys into distant landscapes where light and shadow ignite the senses allow the viewer to experience life with heightened awareness and inspiration. This wonderment helps to reveal the genuine beauty of living life in the moment.  Last night, the gallery hosted an opening party where both artists welcomed friends, family and potential new art collectors to their show.  VISTA TRAILS and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LIGHTruns from October 6 to October 29, 2016, featuring Annie Mandlsohn (Painting, Sculpture & Mixed Media) and Robert J. Brodey (Photography)20161006_174000 20161006_182228For over 30 years, Annie Mandlsohn (pictured below with a gallery visitor) has exhibited her artwork across Canada. She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (B.F.A.) from Concordia University in Montreal specializing in visual arts and music, and also holds a Master in Environmental Studies Degree (M.E.S.) from York University in Toronto.20161006_173911Annie has lived and worked in urban, rural and remote areas of the country, and has travelled across Canada, USA, Europe and Japan. Her love of faraway places, often where tourists do not go, leads her to experience various cultures and adventures she encounters, finding unique journeys guided by an inner compass. The beauty of nature and the spirit and power of landscapes are reflected in her work (samples of which are pictured below)20161006_173806 20161006_173427 20161006_174131 20161006_174015VISTA TRAIL framed Pastel 19x16 MOUNTAIN LAKE Collage Indian and Nepalese paper abalone beads 24X34 MandlsohnI got a chance to chat briefly with Annie before losing her to a crowd of art fans!

Robert Brodey is a Toronto-based writer and photographer whose longing for new places has sent him travelling around the world, writing and shooting for the likes of Street Kids International, Outpost Magazine, The Toronto Star, and The Houston Chronicle. Below are a few of Robert’s stunning portraits and landscapes featured in this current show…20161006_17103620161006_171045 20161006_171139I have always been attracted to movement and change.  I love the element of surprise, the contrasts, and the rush that comes when all the senses light up. For me, what is distant holds a degree of mystery and stokes the fire of imagination and curiosity. I need to experience it.  In that way, travelling is a conscious seeking — for different cultures, different landscapes, and, yes, sometimes even different light.     Robert J. Brodey

Here, let Robert tell you more about his work himself……

Artist, actor and poet Philip Cairns in front of Annie's artwork

Artist, actor and poet Philip Cairns posed in front of Annie’s artwork

Gallery curator Allen Shugar (R) talks with Annie's fans/collectors

Gallery curator Allen Shugar (R) talks with Annie’s fans/collectors

Gallery assistant Kelly chats with performance artist and art lover David Roche

Gallery assistant Kelly chats with performance artist and art lover David Roche

There are always scrumptious treats at Urban Gallery's artist receptions!

There are always scrumptious treats at Urban Gallery’s artist receptions!

Annie was interviewed by Mark Hasan of KQEK.com arts blog

Annie was interviewed by Mark Hasan of KQEK.com arts blog

20161006_182328VISTA TRAILS and THE GEOGRAPHY OF LIGHT2 runs from Oct.6 to Oct.29 at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto  For gallery hours, visit: www.urbangallery.caUG-Letterhead-BC






laffing 2


Back in the 80’s when I managed Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Klub in Toronto (and was the agent for all the comedians), one of my chores was booking and running the Monday “Amateur Night” shows.  So many comedians who are now well-known came thru my office door back them, many more were hopelessly untalented or those who did show promise just never got the breaks. One Monday night regular always stuck in my mind – David ReubenRuby_1 Dec 2012Back the early 80’s, Dave was trying to find his comic voice and develop his stage personae. Every Monday morning, I would get his phone call asking for a spot and I would give him his 5 minutes to try out new material and work the not-always-kind amateur night audiences. He may not have been the funniest guy on stage back then, but he certainly was the most polite and pleasant person to deal with – no ego, no “fronting”, no entitlement attitude.  He soon became my favourite.  In the late 80’s, I lost track of Dave after I had left Yuk Yuk’s and started my own comedy agency & promotions company, but in the early 2000’s, I heard that he had started The Comedy Greenroom, a website offering all sorts of valuable gigging information for comedians as well as promoting shows to the general public. What a great idea!  He also became a regular performer and producer of Ein-Stein’s Happy Hour comedy showcase on Sunday nights at the popular University of Toronto hangout. I recently caught up with Dave and asked him about the upcoming milestone for the weekly comedy series as well as how his career has gone over the past 30 years since we worked together.

What prompted you to start The Comedy Green Room website?
Having started comedy in 1983, well before the Internet, I compiled a list of comedy venues in Canada, the USA and internationally. Being fascinated with technology I took some courses in HTML and learned the basics of web design. Let me stress the basics! Always one to help his fellow comics I decided to start a comedy website with a list of comedy clubs, festivals and performers. The name The Comedy Green Room came about because my favourite times in comedy are hanging out in the “Green Room” backstage before and after shows.CGR_logo 2007[2]What information does it offer comedy fans and comedy professionals?
www.thecomedygreenroom.com offers comedy fans info up and coming comics as well as professional comedians around the globe. Many of today’s comedy stars were on the site before they became house hold names.  For professionals, the site offers info on comedy clubs, festivals and open mic rooms. The monthly newsletter is sent to comics and comedy fans in Canada, the USA and Internationally.

Over the years, you’ve done stand-up comedy yourself as well as acted as a talent scout for new comedy stars; do you prefer performing yourself or being the person who brings the stars to the public’s attention?
Performing is my first love and always will be. As they say in the movie Punchline! “Comedy is my Mistress” and I have sacrificed so much chasing this dream my whole adult life. This past September 7th marked 33 years of battling the comedy addiction!  But in reality, I wanted to be a stand-up comic since I was 5 years old and saw my first stand-up comedian on the Ed Sullivan Show on a small black and white TV. Nothing beats the immediate gratification of having an audience laugh in a live setting.  And since starting The Comedy Green Room, I have taken on a mentor roll myself to many of Canada’s young comics. Many have gone on to great success in Canada and the USA. This gives me great pleasure and pride; I guess maybe I should have been a teacher which was an idea I had in University until I got sidetracked by life,ruby-dec_2010The Hogtown Comedy Festival [2002-2006] started by myself, Arie Kizel, and OJ Kness was a labour of love that showcased up and coming Canadian comics, helping launch their careers. The Toronto Comedy Guild [2001 to 2005] run by myself and Steve Rivers gave young comics a chance to perform in bars across Toronto. They made $20 for the night which gave them bus fare and some self-esteem.  Ein-Stein’s Comedy night has been running since 1996 and was started by Arie and the venue’s owner OJ. I started performing there in 2000 then started producing the show in 2003 after both Arie and OJ asked me to help out due to family obligations.
It’s a weekly show that I book, promote and sometimes host. I’ve help hundreds if not thousands of young comics by giving them a venue to start out in and explore comedy. The only thing asked of them is to be polite to the bar staff, show up on time, and get off stage after their allotted time.  Sometimes easier said than done!

Who has been your most exciting connection/addition to the site (and why)?
The most exciting connection was when Jennifer Lee Pryor called me about a year before Richard passed away and said that Richard loved the site, wanted to be on it and wanted to meet me. I walked around for two weeks 3 feet off the ground.  The Pryor’s allowed me to use a photo of Richard from his 1972 appearance on the Tonight Show which you will find on the home page of The Comedy Green Room.  We were making preparations for a fundraiser for Richard and a meeting with him about the time he passed away.pryorThe second most exciting thing was being invited to Johnny Carson’s home town of Norfolk Nebraska to be an adviser on the Johnny Carson Comedy Festival. I got to tour the Johnny Carson Museum, visit his childhood home and the auditorium named after him. A great thrill for the kid who would sneak downstairs to watch the monologue and the comic on The Tonight Show every night at 11:30pm.
The third most exciting thing was the ability of The Comedy Green Room to bring stand- up comic Paul Adams and father [comedy writer for Bob Hope] Charlie Adams of the UK to Toronto for The HogTown Comedy Festival. Paul ended up living in Toronto for 18 months.

The comedy industry in Canada isn’t necessarily a funny business as there are some pretty nasty characters out there with personal agendas that go beyond entertaining the masses.  Have you encountered any of these negative beings and how have they impacted your career? Or have they just made you stronger and more determined?
I have been a fighter since I was born as a preemie at 4lbs. Many people say I am the toughest person they know.
Comedy has been an up-hill battle for me from the moment I stepped on the stage at the original Yuk Yuk’s on Bay Street in Toronto in 1983. I was the crowd favourite on Monday night’s CHUM104 amateur night and became a cult figure filling the room to capacity weekly. However, Mark Breslin, founder of Yuk Yuk’s did not think I was funny. In fact, he said, “You have no talent, you’re a terrible writer but the audience love you.” I was advised to give up stand-up comedy. My response was – see you next week! But the next weeks piled up and I was buried on Amateur Night for 10 agonizing years until the management of Yuk Yuk’s agreed to give me a showcase. Again, I was slapped in the face by being put on 15th out of 15, but I killed that night and have the tape to prove it. But Mr. Breslin again said I was not good enough to be on his regular shows at Yuk Yuk’s.
I left Yuk Yuk’s that night in1993 and have never performed on their stage again. I worked on my act and writing for 7 years (shades of Dangerfield) and came back as “Ruby, the Darkest Mind in Comedy” in 2000. But this time I was determined to do it my way and most importantly have fun. All the good things in my career have happened because of my attitude of having fun and being nice to other comics.
I have made peace in my mind about the 10 years of not being wanted by Yuk Yuk’s, but, in my mind I was the one comic in the Canadian comedy boom of the 1980’s who was not given a chance. Yet, I was the hardest working and toughest of the group.  Sometimes it hurts that I have been shunned by people & organizations in the Canadian comedy community such as the Canadian Comedy Awards, Just For Laugh’s, critic Glenn Sumi, Absolute Comedy, The Humber Comedy School to name a few. But, I guess when you are your own man these things happen.
Over the past 16 years, I’ve fought ageism in comedy as many young comics will not put me on their shows because they feel I am too old. Yet, I am the favourite comic of Ein-Stein’s where the audience is a University of Toronto crowd. I have killed at college and multi-cultural shows – I am everyone’s crazy uncle who says the wrong thing.

Who have been your biggest influences and supporters?
Kenny Robinson (pictured below) has been my biggest supporter and booster in the Canadian comedy scene since we met 33 years ago. He has fought for me to be his opening act many times and went against other comics to defend my right to be in this business. Kenny has also argued for me with bookers and club owners. He was the only Canadian comic who agreed to be on www.thecomedygreenroom.com when I started the site on New Year’s Eve 2000. Everyone else I approached said it was a stupid idea or they were afraid to be on the site because it might hurt their career.KennyThe late great Sam Kinison (below) was also a great supporter of mine. When he saw my act he said to throw it out and start from scratch and find a unique voice. Best advice I ever got.SamHappy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein’s Bier Halle in Toronto is s celebrating a big anniversary later this month – how many years have you been running the site and promoting live shows?
The weekly event has been running since the fall of 1996 and was started by Arie Kizel and the owner of Ein-Stein’s, OJ Kness. For many years, it was the only Sunday night open mic in Toronto. I first performed at Ein-Stein’s in 2000 and came on board as the producer in 2003.EinsteinsAny advice for stand-up comedy up-and-comers….?
Work hard, perform, write, be polite and do not burn bridges.

And how do we buy tickets to the big anniversary show?
In keeping with the history of Ein-Stein’s there is NO COVER to get in and seating is first come first served. We ask that a donation be made to The Foundation for Nutrition and Inflammatory Bowel Diseases in Children www.nibdinkids.com because laughter is the best medicine!
Happy Hour Comedy @ Ein-Stein 20th Anniversary Show – Sunday Oct. 16th 8pm
Host Mr. Ronnie Edwards: Performers include Terry Clement, Darryl Purvis, Blair Streeter,  Mike McGregor, Monty Scott, Dean Young, Tyler, Morrison, Darren Frost,. Dave Patterson, Dave Sokolowski, Adrian Sawyer, Pat MacDonald, Jennifer McAuliffe, Caitlin Langelier,  Sarah Ashby, Dena Jackson, Patricia Severn, The Nat Turner Revue……and many more surprise guests.Happy Hour_imageEin-Stein’s, 229 College Street, Toronto. No cover but we encourage donations that will benefit www.nibdinkids.com



More film festival fun in Toronto with Nollywood stars

On Wed. Sept. 14, Nollywood filmmaker OMONI OBOLI had her first public screening for her film OKAFOR’S LAW at the Scotiabank Cinemas in downtown Toronto where she was joined onstage by co-star UFUOMA McDERMOTT for an audience Q&A afterwards. 20160914_224701Looking lovely in one of the gorgeous gowns supplied by Gail McInnes of Stylist Box, Omoni fielded numerous questions about her career and meeting the challenges of being a female director in a predominantly man’s world. 20160914_224645 20160914_224703 20160914_224649Ufuoma (above) sported a short sparkly cocktail dress that twinkled brightly on the stage.

Omoni then greeted fans outside the theatre, posing for selfies for nearly an hour!20160914_23063120160914_230858 20160914_23071920160914_231409And so did Ufuoma!20160914_230817Omoni was joined by TIFF/City to City Programming Associate Olena Decock, who also moderated the Q&A session, for a few photos, too.20160914_231857The fabulous Uche Jombo (below) then joined us …20160914_232443….and then once the moviegoers had left the theatre, we decided to have some fun and play!20160914_232726

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

Tomi Adeoye kicks up her heels

20160914_232512The cinema’s cocktail lounge was closed and deserted so our little group took advantage of the cool lighting and views across the city of Toronto.20160914_233722 20160914_233600 20160914_233750 20160914_233900 20160914_234318 20160914_234735My one quick photo opp with Omoni….it’s been fun working with her and her cast during TIFF. This woman is a real pro and I was honoured to be a part of her film fest experience.
20160914_234813We found a lot of cool spots to take pics so every few feet it was a case of “strike a pose”!20160914_235441 20160914_235036 20160914_235323I love this pic of Ufuoma (below)….very moody, very “film noir”.20160914_235501We had waaaay too much fun but fortunately we were all able to sleep in a little in the morning after.  It’s been a blast working with these incredible women from Nigeria’s flourishing film community and I look forward to continuing the relationship once they head home. 20160914_235603 20160914_235606















Yesterday, Nollywood’s finest converged on the TIFF Bell Lightbox – HQ for the annual Toronto Int’l film Festival – where a panel of filmmakers representing Nigeria’s sizzling movie industry spoke about their films being showcased at TIFF this year, as well as the challenges involved in attracting international audiences and distributors.20160913_115247Award-winning writer~director~producer and actor, Omoni Oboli, arrived for her official portrait and a digital interview prior to joining her panel colleagues. Here she’s greeted by event security – 2 of Toronto’s finest – and she couldn’t resists grabbing a quick selfie!20160913_114614She was then escorted into the studio & green room for her official portrait.. Below,I caught her coming out of the photo booth…can’t wait to see the gorgeous portrait on the TIFF website.20160913_115909She met up with the other panelists (below) before being led into the studio that was packed with international film journalists and news outlets!

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Don Omope of FilmOne prods/Distribs.

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Naz Onuzo of Inkblot Prods. & Niyi Akinmolayan of The Arbitration film

Olumide Iyanda

Olumide Iyanda

Moderated by TIFF creative director Cameron Bailey, the panel introduced themselves and their films, then took questions from the media. I was able to grab a few screen-caps via the green room monitor, as did other publicists.

20160913_134449 20160913_135957 20160913_13502620160913_140546After the press conference, the filmmakers enjoyed an ad hoc networking session in the greenroom where they were greeted by Toronto’s favourite son of Nigeria Masai Ujiri – the President and General Manager of the Toronto Raptors basketball team.  Here Omoni spent some time with Mr. Ujiri sharing tweets and Instagram posts.20160913_142959 20160913_143008 20160913_143107We managed to grab a quick interview for Omoni with CBC Television (Canada’s national broadcaster)20160913_144839 20160913_144926Then more friends to greet and important contacts to be made!20160913_130430(0)20160913_12090420160913_144549Thank you to all the friendly and professional staff and volunteers who guided Omoni and myself thru the press conference process. TIFF is truly a world-class festival that treats its guests with such warmth and respect.



Last night, Nollywood filmmaker and superstar OMONI OBOLI presented her dark romantic comedy OKAFOR’S LAW at the Toronto Int’l Film Festival with a stunning red carpet event full of talent, glamour and sparkle! The packed house was vocal in their approval and enjoyment of the film – you haven’t been to the movies until you’ve shared a theatre with Nigerian film fans…they responded loudly to all the onscreen action with laughter, applause and gasps. The Toronto crowd loved the film, adored their actors and weren’t afraid to show it. As soon as Omoni stepped out of her car (below), a cheer went up from the line-up of eager fans who had been waiting hours to see their idols.20160912_200658 20160912_195543These adorable young fans (above) were first in line when I arrived earlier at the Isabel Bader Theatre and they were thrilled to bits when Omoni came over to say hi and take selfies with them.20160912_200728Next to arrive was the stunning Ufuoma McDermott (above), looking extra sparkly in a long blue gown (scroll down to see how glam she looked on the red carpet). And then the big man himself arrived, Richard Mofe-Damijo or RMD as he’s known by his fans.20160912_204321 20160912_204234Above, Richard joins Omoni (right), along with another stunning Nollywood VIP guest on the red carpet. And below, Omoni walks the red carpet for her photo call with the world’s media, including several Toronto-based Nigerian and African media outlets.20160912_201007 20160912_201637 20160912_204406(0)Below, Ufuoma proves that this “baby got back” showing off her fantastic physique! We’re thinking she would be ideal to portray Serena Williams in her bio-pic….hopefully  someone is writing the script now!20160912_201359The red carpet got very crowded with Omoni’s cast & crew, and many of the Nollywood filmmakers and actors participating in TIFF’s “City to City” program showed up to support her film.20160912_20474420160912_201409 20160912_204536Prior to the screening, the always charming Cameron Bailey, TIFF’s Creative Director, introduced Omoni and her cast and crew to the stage (below)….20160912_210537

Photo courtesy of Mo Vernie

Photo courtesy of Mo Vernie

…then afterwards, everyone came out on stage to rousing applause and cheers, and for a fun Q&A with the audience (below)20160912_230707 20160912_231220Then outside for lots more interviews and photo opps with the fans!20160912_233511 20160912_233611Above, brilliant cinematographer Yinka Edwards was grabbed for a few words with TV news cameras – Yinka has 3 films participating in TIFF…wow! And he is such a humble man…I’m sure he was a little embarrassed by all the applause and media kudos. Bravo, Yinka, well done.

Omoni joined the throngs of fans outside for more selfies and socializing, meeting up with old friends and even a few relatives…20160912_234010 20160912_202259Here are a few more fun pics from last night, including Patricia Bebia Mawa of AfroGlobal TV/Silvertrust Media (below)…20160912_204753 …and Vivianne Collins who hosted the official Red Carpet TV for Okafor’s Law – here I caught her setting up before all the stars arrived. 20160912_200113Ufuoma hung out with writer/director Lonzo Nzekwe, sharing social media posts (below)…20160912_203104And of course…it’s all about the shoes, ladies, right?!  Check out this sparkly gold pair worn by Tomi Adeoye, production manager for the film.20160912_201100So you have just 2 more opportunities to check out this fun movie during TIFF: Wednesday night Sept.14 at 8:45pm & Sunday Sept.18 at noon, both at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto. All details & ticket sales can be found at www.tiff.net

Follow Omoni and her cast via Facebook.com/OkaforsLaw



Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY turned up the a/c for the launch of GRACE DAM‘s hot solo exhibition “The Artist Unmasked” which runs until October 1st.  Family and friends turned out on the sultry Saturday afternoon to celebrate her show and sale of paintings that reflects the complexity of life, the challenge of relationships –and the connections between earth and sky.20160910_144606“My approach combines figurative and abstract elements to explore the emotions and meaning inherent in my surroundings. My subject matter, sparked by the mood and politics of the day, is then researched and studied before I attempt to capture it on canvas. My message may appeal or it may provoke –my aim is to tempt the viewer to linger long enough to tease out the meaning.”    Grace Dam

20160910_14143620160910_14172620160910_141452Fellow artist Erik Chong and his wife Jeanette (below) arrived to show support…20160910_143352…as did good friend Linda Kaplan, shown below with Grace.20160910_143150Grace’s husband, Howie, admired her work…20160910_141635…as did her lovely daughter Hillary (below)20160910_141932Below, Wayne Abell of UrbanSource Catering and KJ Mullins, publisher of Newz4U.ca were happy to come out and celebrate Grace’s grand opening….20160910_142304

The Wait 48w x 36h Oil diptych Canadian Icons (Niagara Falls diptych) 48 x 60 oil on canvas Image THE MASK by Grace Dam -oil on canvasFor further information on Grace’s paintings and gallery hours, please visit: www.urbangallery.ca/20160910_144606