Monthly Archives: April 2015

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MEET TORONTO JEWELLERY DESIGNER PAMELA LAUZ

I had the pleasure of visiting one of Toronto’s hottest new jewellery designers, Pamela Lauz, this afternoon at her Carlaw Ave design studio and oh my, I felt like I’d walked into Aladdin’s cave…surrounded by beautiful sparkling gems, pearls, gold, silver, platinum all displayed in a beautiful gallery atmosphere.

20150429_140814I first met Pamela at last year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Show held annually at Nathan Phillips Sq. , when I was drawn to her booth by her delicate and dainty “Acorn” collection of earrings and necklaces. After visiting her online gallery and store, I was blown away by her architecturally influenced collections and range of materials, so when I was invited by Pamela’s sister and business manager, Natalia, to visit the studio I jumped at the chance to interview Pamela while I played “dress up” with some of her gorgeous pieces.

20150429_141049Do you select your own gemstones and how does that process work? Do you have specific stone requirements for completed designs, or do you pick the stone first then design around that gem?
PL: Genuine gems are at the heart of many our designs and I love to personally select each gem. Our custom designs begin with specific gemstones in mind, especially when restyling our clients’ treasured gems. When creating our signature collections, I think of how the gem’s colour and shape will interact with the design in mind – a true marriage of stone and metal.

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IMG_8377Gold, silver, platinum or other metals – what is/are your favourite materials?
PL: Every precious metal has its own wonderful properties and I enjoy working with silver, platinum and 15 different gold alloys.
Silver is a true white metal that allows us to create jewellery in a wide range of sizes.
Platinum is the strongest white metal and it provides the most secure hold on gemstones. When it comes to gold, 18K white gold is the strongest, most durable white alloy, while 14K yellow gold is the strongest yellow alloy. When it comes to colour, nothing beats the richness in colour that 18K yellow gold provides and we also have 3 gorgeous shades of rose gold.IMG_8257Costume vs. fine jewellery – what do you recommend fashion conscious women buy?
PL:  Jewellery and other fashion accessories look their best when selected to complement’s one’s own style rather than the current fashion trend. To me, jewellery is an investment to be enjoyed for years to come. For this reason an item’s durability is as important as its design longevity. Most costume jewellery available today is not as durable as well-crafted fine jewellery. Below, Natalia showed me a few choice baubles…

20150429_141002How does your earlier engineering career and passion for architecture influence your jewellery designs?
PL: Architecture is my main source of inspiration – I love to explore buildings and attend architecture lectures.
My engineering education helped me refine my attention to detail. Every aspect of a given design is thoroughly considered: from the comfortable fit of a cocktail ring to the perfect symmetry of a pair of earrings and the balanced drape of an asymmetrical necklace.
Moreover, jewellery is best enjoyed when designed to suit one’s lifestyle and this can only be achieved by thoughtful observation of my clients’ personalities and preferences. A great deal of thought is also placed on the tools and techniques to craft the best realization of a specific design.

20150429_141226Your designs have sleek clean lines and lack the fussiness so many designers have been incorporating into their current flowery collections. Do you feel your more classical themes will have a longer lasting appeal and wearability for your clients?
PL: Our clients share our affinity for contemporary lines and clean polished surfaces. We find balanced simplicity timeless.  However, we are lucky to be exposed to as wide a range of designs as there are aesthetic preferences.
Personally speaking, I am at my creative best when designing sculptural forms. I thrive in the challenge of distilling an idea into its key essence and interpreting it through subtle yet meaningful details.
I also enjoy collaborating with my clients in materializing their creative vision for their custom-designed jewellery and I welcome the opportunity to take my design aesthetic to different horizons.

TerraBracelet_FBDo you see any design trends as far as metals or gems for 2016? 
PL: Gems are a very personal choice. The larger gems are selected as a wardrobe staple and are considered an investment to be enjoyed for many years to come. These statement pieces suit one’s own colour palette and seldom follow fashion trends.
Our clients also like to represent their families through birthstones. To add meaning to their cherished jewellery, we frequently personalize designs like the Infinity pendant with colourful birthstones. On the metal front, I see a growing preference for rose gold, which looks fantastic and provides a unique warm glow on many skin tones. Yellow gold continues to be very popular and white gold prevails as the ideal setting for sparkling diamond jewellery.

PLauz_Infinity_5gemsIf you could design a commissioned piece for any celebrity (or royal family member), who would that be and what would you design?
PL:  I’d be honoured to create jewellery for Cate Blanchett (below) who is not only a brilliant actress but also a theatre director, wife and mother of four. She portrays a wide range of personalities with outstanding versatility but also with fine taste.  Outside movie sets, I admire Ms Blanchett’s timeless style and effortless elegance. These are qualities that inspire me to create designs that bring forth one’s confidence, transcending trends and time.

blanchett blanchett2Any upcoming trunk shows or special events where we can see/buy your stunning designs?
PL:  Our studio on Carlaw Avenue in Leslieville is always open for visits to view our signature jewellery or to discuss a custom design or restyling project. We will participate in the Cabbagetown Arts and Crafts Festival on Sept 11-13 and then at the One of a Kind Christmas Show from November 26 to December 6th.

Pamela also specializes in re-designing and re-purposing clients’ much-loved existing pieces so I decided to take my humongous 1980’s smokey quartz cocktail ring and ask her how she would re-design this stunning stone into a more fashion-fwd gold setting. She asked me all sorts of questions about shapes and how I would wear the ring and she came up with a brilliant new setting, turning the emerald-cut stone on its side, with a wider band…..that will be my Christmas pressie to self at the end of the year.

20150429_133406 20150429_133827 20150429_134057Before leaving, I was treated to some deelish cupcakes (thanks Pamela & Natalia)…

20150429_141128….and got to check out Pamela’s collection of Jeremy Guy contemporary abstract sculptures (below) – I love these tactile pieces (Nova and Mobius, respectively) and I hope to meet and interview the talented artist soon. http://jeremy-guy.com/

20150429_140838 20150429_141112Pamela also showed be a special treasure she found on a recent visit to China – this stunning silver necklace (below) from the Miao hill tribe, made from one single length of silver. OMG, it was amazing to see it and hold it in person!

20150429_145850If you’re looking for unique jewellery for yourself or as a gift, Pamela has 2 great offers currently available:

Happy Mother’s Day: Receive 10% off and receive free shipping  https://www.pamelalauz.com/MothersDay2015
Give Mom a special gift and save 10% on pre-tax purchases of $150 and over. Enjoy this offer by entering promo code “MOM15” at checkout.
As an added bonus, we will ship your order for FREE within Canada!  There is no minimum purchase required to receive free shipping.   Offer available until Sunday May 9th, 2015
OR
Receive a FREE Tungsten Band  https://www.pamelalauz.com/free-tungsten-band
Receive a FREE Tungsten Band with your wedding ring or custom design project – a $250 value!
These cutting-edge rings are made of tungsten carbide, the most durable jewellery alloy. They are highly scratch resistant, virtually indestructible and will look new for many years to come – ideal for everyday wear.  We’ve got many great modern designs to choose from.
This offer is available exclusively at our studio and online store with a minimum pre-tax purchase of $1,000 until May 31st, 2015.  

Pamela Lauz designs can be found at select boutiques but I encourage you to visit Pamela’s website for pictures of her designs and information on her custom wedding bands, re-setting service and commissioned work.  You can purchase directly online or in person at her studio. https://www.pamelalauz.com/

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OH WHAT A THRILL! The Mavericks deliver a new album & new tour

Twenty one years ago, I found myself sitting nervously in a Toronto hotel room waiting to interview a new band that had been tearing up the country music charts with an album that I loved. I could sing all the lyrics to every track, and I had the worst crush on their lead singer. The door opened…my heart pounded…and in walked The Mavericks, sadly, sans their brilliant vocalist Raul Malo who was resting his throat prior to their concert that night. Intellectually I understood, emotionally I was crushed, but after a few minutes of joking with drummer Paul Deakin and their then guitarist Robert Reynolds about their hit album  Oh What a Thrill, I was soon at ease and having a blast interviewing these two Mavs.

Skip ahead two decades and here I am again interviewing the band, this time for Cashbox Canada magazine. Paul Deakin and keyboard player Jerry Dale McFadden talked about their new album, MONO, and their April 24th concert in Toronto. Now, with numerous music awards including Grammys under their belts, I was wondering how life and the music industry had treated the guys – read my interview here:  http://bit.ly/1bodHT0

Mono Cover Art SmallSo here we are on Friday night April 24th, at the Phoenix Nightclub in Toronto – my photographer Gabriella Luchetta weighed down with an array of cameras and me carrying a ton of memories of great Mavericks concerts and recordings. Sadly, the club promoters did not think things through….the audience was mature so you don’t expect 50 and 60 year olds to stand for 4 hours on a concrete floor – but the Phoenix did. Fortunately, the head of security responded positively to my plea for seating (I still have a bum knee from a winter ice slip-n-fall) and led me to the special section for those of us with “challenges” which, as you can see below, was quite delightful!

DSC08546Not to worry, my focus was the stage so I turned my back on this horrible sight and ignored the constant tinny thunks as empties were hurled into the bin alongside my chair!

First up, the opening act and oh boy, what a fantastic artist we got. The Whitney Rose Band marched onto the stage and kept us entertained for about half an hour with some sizzling country tunes. The talented and pretty young Canadian country music artist Whitney Rose (below) held the audience in the palm of her hand, performing tracks off her new album Heartbreaker of the Year, produced by Maverick’s leader Raul Malo. She apologized profusely to those in the front row for the shortness of her skirt, adding a cheeky “you’re welcome” to those wolf-whistlers further back!  www.whitneyrosemusic.com

??????????????????????????????? 20150424_203007The Mavericks then took the stage and spent the next two and a half hours driving us all crazy with hit after hit, new tunes off MONO and even some Patsy Cline and Neil Young covers, too.20150424_231829The energy from the band was infectious, especially when keyboardist Jerry stepped away from the keys and danced across the stage to audience cheers (below). Macho guitarist Eddie Perez strutted and posed with a little wink-wink to the audience, and drummer Paul twirled his sticks wildly in time with the back-up musicians (horn section, accordion, upright bass).

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???????????????????????????????But it was Raul Malo who everyone wanted to see and hear. Malo’s voice – tinged with more than a hint of Roy Orbison’s bright falsetto – is phenomenal; he’s been called one of the greatest voices in popular music by many music journalists and critics.  And when he stood alone at centre stage singing The Mav’s early hit, “Oh What a Thrill” followed by  Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”, the entire audience swayed in unison with many a tear-filled eye fixed on Malo.

??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????The Mavericks ended their show with a frenetic series of rock, New Orleans voodoo boogie, Tex-Mex and dance tunes filled with solos for each band member, and the crowd was well and truly spent. The audience of silver foxes was partying like it was 1999 – arthritis be damned!  The new CD, Mono, sold like hotcakes and everyone was grabbing t-shirts, bandannas and pins from the merchandise sales table. For more information about The Mavericks and their new album, Mono, please visit their website:  www.themavericksband.com.

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??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????I loved being there with The Mavericks.  Then sad concert was over….hope they come back real soon.

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Another story/concert review will appear in the May issue of www.TheRider.com 

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MICAH BARNES intro’s “NEW YORK STORIES” CD WITH CONCERT MAY 3RD

Am always thrilled when old friends do exciting new things and my friend, the extraordinary singer/musician MICAH BARNES is launching his latest CD, New York Stories, with a special concert this coming Sunday May 3rd at 7:30pm at the Glenn Gould Studio250 Front St. West in Toronto. Micah will be joined by musicians Daniel Barnes, Russ Boswell and Michael Shand, and his very special guest artist, Jackie Richardson.

Micah barnes concert 1Influenced by the musical sights and sounds of The Big Apple, the title track has already hit #1 on the iTunes Jazz chart and earned Micah the 2014 Indie award for best Jazz Artist in Toronto. New York Stories is being hailed as Micah’s finest work to date and an instant classic. The new CD will be available for purchase at the concert and Micah will be holding a meet and greet afterwards to sign copies.

micahbarnes_album coverConcert tickets are available here: http://bit.ly/1OwgBHA but be quick, they’re selling like NYC hotcakes!

And follow Micah on his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/micahbarnesmusic  or his website: www.micahbarnes.com

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I TURN INTO “MUSTANG SALLY” AT HOTDOCS SCREENING OF “UNBRANDED”

I always wanted to be a cowgirl, ever since I watched my first Roy Rogers tv show. And I love it when I get a chance to live out my fantasies…like when I pretended to be Annie Oakley as a 5yr old, getting my first pony, or my visit to Fort Worth, TX in the 90’s where I hung out with rodeo cowboys and the real Texas Rangers (below).

Li'l sharp shooter Riding on her pony Texas Ranger in Ft.WorthOne of the joys of writing for The Rider, a Canadian equine newspaper is that I get to read books, listen to music and watch movies all about cowboys! Today I watched a brand new horsey documentary called UNBRANDED that was having its world premiere at the HotDocs Festival.   Talk about serious cowboy overload!

home-slider-slide-2This gloriously shot film features four young Texas cowboys: Jonny Fitzsimons, Tom Glover, Ben Thamer, and Ben Masters whose idea the mega-ride was and the leader of this once-in-a-lifetime adventure through several States starting at the US/Mexican border all the way up to the Canadian border.

“Unbranded” started with cheap tequila and greasy enchiladas in one of the few places in the world where you can find people crazy enough to ride a horse for thousands of miles—Texas A&M University. Ben Masters.

A camera crew mounted on horseback themselves followed the guys  through every laugh, every disagreement, every runaway horse incident and the occasional tear or two. Director & cinematographer Phill Baribeau (below) has delivered a superb piece of filmmaking, employing dynamic camera angles and overhead shots via drones that show the vast expanse of prairies & deserts, mountain pastures, cliff faces, rivers….and the Grand Canyon in ways few of us have or will ever see. And the mustangs made it over all of these!

home-slider-slide-5The long-standing conflict between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), private ranchers, wild horse preservation societies and animal rights activists threads through the documentary, and the issues are dealt with by the filmmakers in a very balanced presentation. All sides of the argument for wild horse open ranges vs. cattle/sheep grazing rights, public access and recreational use of the land the cowboys ride through are shared. We learn about wild horse population stats, we hear intelligent opinions and logical options for land mgmn’t & usage via sympathetically inserted interviews, never losing the main storyline of the ride as we get to know the cowboys and each of their horses….and one cute little burro called Donquita.

UNBRANDED is currently looking for a North American theatrical distribution deal but those in Toronto can attend the final HotDocs screening on Sat. May 3rd @ 10:30am (see the HotDocs website for tickets) but you can see the trailer and meet the cowboys and their horses on the official website: http://unbrandedthefilm.com/

In the interim, here are some great pics I grabbed from today’s screening and watch for my film review in next month’s www.TheRider.com

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20150426_152801Above: the fimmakers were treated like rockstars after the screening with lots of new fans flocking to the front of the theatre, wanting to say howdy and get an autograph.

20150426_153916Above LtoR: director Baribeau, producer Dennis Aig and horse wrangler & cowboy poet Val Geissler pose for post-screening photo opps.  and below, are joined by cowboy star Ben Masters to frame their poster.

20150426_154004Below, I get hog-tied by Val as Ben, Phill and Dennis look on nervously, and Ben’s dad records the event for the family photo album.

20150426_153941 20150426_154139Follow UNBRANDED’s Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/unbrandedthefilm/

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A GRACE-FULL ART SHOW IN TORONTO

I was thrilled to attend last night’s launch party for the new KELLY GRACE art exhibition and sale hosted by the lovely folks at Eleven Hair Salon at 11 Irwin Ave in downtown Toronto.

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I’ve been a fan of Kelly’s for a few years now, ever since discovering her at one of the big art shows in Toronto where I purchased one of her unique miniature as a gift for one of my filmmaker clients (picture of an old-school moviegoer kid eating popcorn). I’ve been waiting to find the perfect picture for my own wall ever since. There were so many cool pics to choose from last night….if you’re a fan of the Wizard of Oz, you’ll love her Oz collection (below)… all the characters and Toto, too!

20150423_185800(0)And Kelly’s friends are all featured in her various lifestyles collections – well executed illustrations of everyday life that are so much fun and real conversation pieces….

20150423_190004 20150423_191828 20150423_190120Several of her picture subjects were in attendance when I arrived early – and of course we all made a beeline for the bar…..shampoo, blow-dry and a merlot, please!

20150423_192109The salon itself was fun to check out…and everywhere I looked, the mirrors reflected Kelly’s art. Cool, eh?

20150423_192122Mikah Styles does wigs for Toronto’s glitterati and movies so if you’d like a cut, colour or wig styled, visit them at http://www.mikahstyleswigworld.com/

Well, I finally found the Kelly Grace artwork that just HAD to come home with me…a stunning pop-portrait of another Kelly…Grace Kelly (below), so I did my bit to $upport this local artist and now Princess Grace is here with me waiting to find the perfect spot on my office wall.

20150423_191007If you’d like to check out Kelly’s work, visit her website: http://kellective.com/ or better still, come on down to Eleven Salon at 11 Irwin Avenue (a few blocks south of Bloor, west off Yonge) where Kelly’s show runs through end of May.

 

 

 

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GREAT ARTWORK SHOWCASED @ “LOVE ART FAIR” in TORONTO THIS WEEKEND.

There was such a crush of art aficionados at the VIP/media preview last night at the LOVE ART FAIR http://www.loveartfair.com/toronto/ taking place this weekend in the Heritage Court of the Direct Energy Centre at the Exhibition Grounds in Toronto.

20150416_195430I was thrilled to run into artist friend Stewart Jones (below) who left the city for the wide open spaces of Wellington County last year  (http://www.stewartjones.ca/ )  …….

20150416_193547….and Mark Gleberzon of MJG Gallery (below) in Toronto who was busy chatting with media and fans ( http://mjggallery.com/ ).

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20150416_194321One of the first booths that stopped me in my tracks was The Art Shop, a Dutch gallery representing a variety of artists whose work encompasses several mediums and styles (pictured below)  http://theartshop.nl/en

20150416_192835 20150416_192756 20150416_192844 20150416_193135Then I found the Forest Rain Gallery from Singapore representing numerous exciting contemporary artists from China and South Asia (below).  http://forestraingallery.com/

20150416_194121(0)BBAM! Gallery from Montreal offered some amusing (and sexy) paintings that would look fab in any “man cave” http://www.bbamgallery.com/

20150416_194530 20150416_194533 I enjoyed meeting the lovely senorita who managed the Galeria Standarte (Madrid) booth. She was so enthusiastic about her artists showcased here in Toronto, her joy was infectious. Aren’t these fabulous? http://galeriastandarte.com/

20150416_200835 20150416_200840 20150416_200901 20150416_201103 20150416_201125akasha art projects inc. is a great gallery and framing studio located at 511 Church Street in Toronto. Mark Gleberzon had previously told me about them and after meeting the ladies at the show and seeing their framing  work, I must say, this is a must for all art collectors looking for unique framing.  http://akashaart.com/

20150416_194705 20150416_194712 20150416_194808I really liked the work of Peter A. Barelkowski and Frances Patella (pictured below) who proudly showcased their work….so nice to speak directly with individual artists like these. Please check out their portfolios at   www.peterbarelkowski.com  and  www.francespatella.com

20150416_201914 20150416_201934The Workman Collective booth http://www.workmancollective.com/ hosted three handsome artists (below) – Joe Sampson, Adam Colangelo and Michael Toole. The gallery is located at 1655 Dupont in Toronto so I definitely recommend a visit there to see their stunning works in person if you can’t make it out to the LoveArtFair.

20150416_202104 20150416_202125I really liked the work represented by Maine-based Carver Hill Gallery, especially Rose Umerlik (Pics 1+2 below) and Megan Hinton (3rd pic) http://www.carverhillgallery.com/

20150416_203125 20150416_203129 20150416_203148Fibre artist Sheila Thompson showcased a beautiful felt piece, complete with porcupine quills (pic 2) and photographer Lori Ryerson posed proudly under one of her large format photos (pic 3 below).

20150416_203417 20150416_203446www.sheilathompson.ca

20150416_203600www.focalocity.ca

So many cool artists are represented here…I wish I had lots of $s and a ton of wall space! I really recommend you visit this show and I thank you for supporting the Canadian and international artists!

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http://www.loveartfair.com/toronto/

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IGNITE MAGAZINE / CANADIAN SPECIAL EVENTS TRADE SHOW INTRO’S LOTS OF COOL SERVICES AND …. STUFF!

Every year, several special events, meetings and incentives organizations host industry expos featuring speakers, workshops, panels and great trade show floors featuring lots of vendors with event venues, catering, nic-nacs and logowear, everything an event planner could wish for. This year, Ignite Magazine and the Canadian Special Events organizations combined forces and held a joint business expo at the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre and yesterday, I had a blast wandering the aisles discovering new businesses and products, so come walk the trade show floor with me….

20150415_112817I was greeted by the pretty showgirl working the Hart Entertainment booth http://www.hartentertainment.com/ – a lovely way to start things off with a great big smile, eh?

As I was one of the first people there, I was able to navigate the hall quickly and see how they set up the performance stage…then I turned around to be greeted by the “town crier”. Hear ye, hear ye!20150415_112945 20150415_113000Loved the aqua blue and white of the Iris Blu booth below http://irisblu.ca/ and I even won a prize by picking a rose so I now have a discount off their event services (okay clients, who wants to take advantage of this?).

20150415_113631 20150415_113800It was time for “breakfast” so I shuffled on over to the PAL Insurance sponsored candy bar to enjoy a Cinnabon…..flavoured vodka shot!!!! LOL (hic)…never do this on an empty tummy (hic)

20150415_113930 20150415_114032Thank you to the ladies of PAL Insurance Brokers (below) http://www.palcanada.com/en/

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The crazy folks at PartyPix (below) did a great job of entertaining everyone with their interactive customized photobooths. http://partypix.ca/

20150415_115324 20150415_115325I just loved the mystical space that Eclectic Events created …only wish I’d had enough time to enjoy a woodland massage. But I did meet the talented glass sculptor, John (bottom pic), who created lots of cute animals…and he kindly gave me a dragon!!  http://www.eclecticevents.com/

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20150415_120019 20150415_120029Always a favourite must-taste exhibitor was the Ninutik maple syrup food artisans (below) ..oh so sweet and deelish! Great for catering fancy-schmancy soirees and they even have gift packages.  http://www.ninutik.com/store/home2.php

20150415_120258 20150415_120303One of the nicest, funniest and coolest magicians working the corporate and party circuit, Mike D’urso. I highly recommend Mike for all your magical needs! http://www.megamagic.ca/

20150415_120337 20150415_120341The Snapshot Photobooth people intro’d their new “Hashtag printer station” enabling events to brand their guests’ Instagram photos. Great marketing opps.   http://snapshotphotobooth.com/

20150415_121009An old industry friend, Raviv Krikunets, has just joined another design and events mgm’t firm R5 Events, and I was blown away by his beautiful set-up…wow, check it out below.  http://www.r5e.ca/

20150415_121109 20150415_121222(0) 20150415_121229And here’s Denise and Anna of Lucky Strike Lanes ( below) who always make the trade show fun….http://www.bowlluckystrike.com/

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Here’s a new talent supplier – Genevieve Demerchant of You Will Love it Live! She brought in musicians & a magician to entertain the event planners (below)…and they did a great job.  http://www.youwillloveitlive.com/

20150415_123509Aussie Aussie Aussie…oy oy oy! That’s our “war cry” when Aussies meet each other and here I ran into Kristen Thomason, originally from Melbourne, who is Dir. of Sales for the exciting new iFLY – the indoor skydiving venue out in Oakville. I really wanna try this out – looks like so much fun. http://iflytoronto.com/

20150415_123946Knights and wenches and swords, oh my! Medieval Times was there, too, and I can never say no to a knight with such a big….sword! The saucy wench kept him in line, tho. http://www.medievaltimes.com/toronto.aspx

20150415_124243 20150415_124255Nice to run into Kris and Maria, the sales reps for the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (below). I enjoyed a nice cuppa coffee and a 20min. rest in their relaxation seating area. http://www.mtccc.com/?m=0&t=0&c=1

20150415_132355Have you ever been to Moncton? I have and I love it…the people are so friendly, great facilities, fantastic downtown waterfront. Nice rep. at the City of Moncton booth reminded me what a great place it is to visit either with a business group or on a personal adventure.  http://www.moncton.ca/page4.aspx

20150415_133555Clearwater and St. Pete’s are two of my favourite places for a quick vacay from the cruel (and long) Toronto winters, and the ladies at this booth certainly made me feel welcome.  http://meetamplified.com/

20150415_134656Michelle of Northwest Territories Tourism (below) welcomed me to her spectacular booth…think I may have to visit myself soon. I wanna see the northern lights before I croak so I’ve just added Michelle to my bucket-list!!  http://spectacularnwt.com/

20150415_135043Here’s a great idea for team-building fun – the Bonnie Gordon College of Confectionary Arts offers group candy & sweetie making events. Chef Michael J. Smith (pictured below with events coord. Esther) was doing whisky tastings and food infusions…yumm…hic!  http://bonniegordoncollege.com/

20150415_135739Lots more to see and do at the show…

20150415_133355 20150415_135942 20150415_113921…but I had the most fun at the Ripley’s Aquarium Canada booth where they fed me to the sharks! www.RipleysAquariumCanada.com

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Many thanks to the organizers for presenting a great trade show.

www.ignitemag.ca   &   www.canadianspecialevents.com

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HEART & VISION AWARDS CONCERT takes place May 11th in Toronto

Do you know about Toronto’s annual HEART & VISION AWARDS? I didn’t until last year when my friends at UrbanSource Catering asked me to attend and blog about the fabulous concert and awards presented by the Toronto United Church Council (TUCC) – Urban was catering the post-concert reception.

20140512_184414(0) 20140512_212142In 2014, awards were presented to Shirley Douglas  and Jackie Richardson for their humanitarianism and commitment to social justice, and the concert was both moving and rousing with songs, speeches and lots of love being shared amongst the audience in the pews of the Metropolitan United Church on Queen St East in Toronto. I had the pleasure of chatting with some of the Church dignitaries, ministers, guests and, of course, the wonderful ladies who were honoured.   Pictured below: Shirley Douglas and Jackie Richardson being serenaded by her daughter, Kim (2014).

IMG_3425 IMG_3476This year, I’m privileged to undertake the publicity and promotions for the Heart & Vision Awards taking place May 11th, this time honouring Lt. General Roméo Dallaire and Dr. Mary Jo Leddy (pictured below). I recently spoke with Jim Patterson, TUCC’s Director, Resource Development and one of the event organizers.

?????????????? Mary-Jo-Leddy-2Jim, tell me what the Heart & Vision Awards are all about and how long they have been presented?  The Toronto United Church Council’s annual Heart & Vision Awards Concert celebrates a commitment to social justice and recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to social justice initiatives in Canada and internationally. They have been presented annually since 2009 and funds raised support Council’s work with children and youth and its work with social ministries in the GTA and south central Ontario.

The evening’s format is a concert.  It has gained a reputation as being an evening of stellar music with performances from some of the leading lights of Toronto’s music scene.  The reception is renowned for the sumptuous food catered by UrbanSource Catering.

20140512_212918 20140512_214936Who are some your previous recipients, and why? Previous recipients include Shirley Douglas and Jackie Richardson (2014), and in 2013 we honoured Margaret Atwood and the Hon. William G. Davis – below

IMG_8081 IMG_8043Maude Barlow and the Reverend Dr. Brent Hawkes (2012) – below

IMG_0423-2…the Very Reverend Dr. Lois Wilson (below ctr) and Gordon Lightfoot (below right) in 2011….

Heart & Vision -20….as well as Dr. Cathy Crowe and the Hon. David McDonald (2010), and Rev. Gordon Winch and Norman Jewison (2009).

Our Heart and Vision recipients are political and church figures, popular musicians, film stars and directors, social and environmental activists, and writers.  Each has made a significant contribution to society’s quest for social and environmental justice.  For some the social justice connection is obvious – Cathy Crowe, for example, works as a street nurse and advocates for better care for homeless people and Brent Hawkes is a minister at Toronto’s Metropolitan Community Church and a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights. Others, such as Gordon Lightfoot, Margaret Atwood, or Norman Jewison, have used their creative talent to highlight important social issues and inspire us to deeper empathy for others and respect for the natural world.

This year, you have two deserving recipients for the Heart & Vision Awards: Lt. Gen’l Roméo Dallaire and Dr. Mary Jo Leddy. Can you share the selection process and why these two humanitarians were chosen for 2015? Potential recipients are nominated by Council board members and other close friends of Council.  Each year a small committee chooses the recipients from the list of nominees.  For example, last year we honoured two women in the arts community (Shirley Douglas and Jackie Richardson) and the year before the recipients were recognized for their contributions to environmentalism (Margaret Atwood and the Hon. William G. Davis). Lieutenant-General Dallaire and Dr. Leddy are both advocates for some of the world’s most vulnerable people. Lieutenant-General Dallaire is known for his work on genocide prevention, mental health and war-affected children and Dr. Leddy for her care and advocacy for refugees and the defense of their rights.

The Toronto United Church Council has coordinated the Community Relief Fund for over 120 years – how have the needs changed and how has the Church supported the communities involved?  The Toronto United Church Council is an historic and unique organization within The United Church of Canada. It was founded in 1892 as the Methodist Social Union, with a mandate to address social problems in the city. The “Union” – now the “Council” – oversaw mission and relief work in the city and its suburbs. It founded, owned, and operated the Victor Home for Women, now the Massey Centre (pictured below), where young women becoming mothers receive practical support. Similarly, the Council organized and managed the work of the Fred Victor Mission, which has provided food, shelter, and medical care to those in need since 1894.

massey centreBoth those organizations have become independent corporations with continuing Council support for their property and program requirements. During the depression, Council trucks distributed food and clothing to churches and missions to pass along to those in need. And early on, Council became involved in fresh-air camping programs for youth (pictured below).

campingToday, the Council continues to partner with and support social ministry endeavours of the United Church. Affordable housing projects such as Hillcrest Lodge in Orillia, community ministries like the Malvern Community Outreach Ministry, and social service ministries including the Toronto Christian Resource Centre, are in partnership with Council. In addition, Council partners with non-church organizations including Alpha Centre for men recovering from addiction and the Toronto Distress Centre.

Throughout this long history of ministry work, Council’s Community Relief Fund* has provided a conduit for individuals and congregations to share in the mission of partner agencies, missions, and congregations doing outreach in their local communities. From providing funding for appliances for food banks to bedding for women’s shelters, from setting up out-of-the-cold programs to providing venues for a hot meal program, the Fund has been there to help.

As Council’s oldest established fund, the Community Relief Fund continues to play an important role in shaping the ministry of Toronto United Church Council.  The Fund’s work demonstrates Council’s commitment to investing in social ministries that represent a breakthrough in local delivery of services rather than a breakdown.  In fact, since 1892, the Community Relief Fund has placed a very high value on investing its financial aid in projects and programs that promise solutions to some of society’s big problems.

Recently, much of the Fund’s energy has been invested in the work of the Toronto Christian Resource Centre in Regent Park.  That organization’s 40 Oaks project represents such a huge leap in the level of community service it provides to the homeless that Council was delighted to provide property, grants and financing to help ensure the success of the project.

What can attendees expect to see/hear at this year’s Awards concert Monday evening, May 11th?Attendees can expect an evening of soulful music featuring the Elmer Iseler Singers, Thom Allison and Jennie Such (pictured below). Musical Director Jason Jestadt has been coordinating the musical element of the evening since 2009 and each year the music is stellar.  Attendees will hear from the award recipients, Lieutenant-General Dallaire and Dr. Leddy.

Elmer_Iseler_Singers_Koerner_Photo_Bo_Huang Thom Allison Headshot headshotAnd a big thank you to all the enthusiastic volunteers (below) who dedicate time and energy to producing the concert each year, making sure all the technical and hospitality activities run smoothly. Bravo, team H&V!

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How can people get involved or support the Community Relief Fund if they can’t attend the concert?  Donations to the Community Relief Fund can be mailed to:
Toronto United Church Council
24-30 Wertheim Court
Richmond Hill, ON  L4B 1B9

*The Community Relief Fund makes grants to churches and to church corporations to help them renovate their premises to facilitate better delivery of social services to the communities they serve.

If you would like to attend this year’s Heart & Vision Awards Concert, Monday May 11th at the Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St East, Toronto. (Doors open 7:00pm), please visit  http://on.fb.me/1xTVDe7 for ticketing information, or visit the TUCC website: http://tucc.ca/

Thank you for supporting this outstanding philanthropic event that benefits all of us in the City of Toronto.

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URBAN GALLERY’S LATEST SHOW “EVOKE” CERTAINLY DOES PROVOKE!

Last night I attended the opening reception for EVOKE, Urban Gallery‘s current show featuring painter LINDA LANGERAK and sculptor SANDRA BILAWICH.

20150409_174721It’s the perfect antidote to the grey miserable unseasonal weather we’ve been experiencing here in Toronto – the bright colours explode off the canvasses and the tactile sculptures engage and amaze gallery visitors.

1. Burst From Within II_Acrylic on canvas_linda_langerak 20150409_173617Linda (below) showed off a riot of colour and movement in her latest work and it was fun to stand in front of each piece and look for hidden images.

20150409_173423 3. Harness the Energy_Acrylic on canvas_linda_langerak 12. A Certain Something_Acrylic on canvas_linda_langerakJournalists from Novella arts/lifestyle magazine (www.novellamag.com) also enjoyed the artwork and here they are, Tanya and Bojana, with Linda (below)

20150409_185855Sandra also enjoyed meeting the Novella ladies (below)….

20150409_182947and showing her work to other gallery visitors….

20150409_173449 20150409_174041Sandra’s work included metal and marble carvings of nature, some of which you could actually spin on their stands…

20150409_173945 20150409_190038 20150409_175052 20150409_175056….as well as some humorous pieces incorporating musical instruments (below)

20150409_175102 20150409_174145Internationally renowned flutist Ron Korb dropped in and was fascinated by the vintage flute inside the skeletal “judy”….

20150409_183628..and Ron also enjoyed meeting Erik Chong (below), another artist who recently showed his work at Urban Gallery, who dropped by to support Linda and Sandra.

20150409_185915I caught gallery curator, Allen Shugar (below), here proudly watching the guests stroll through the gallery, viewing all the pieces he laid out for the artists.

20150409_182122Although the rain poured down outside, the gallery was buzzing with inspired happy guests…

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20150409_173444EVOKE runs through end of April.

Please visit the gallery’s website for hours/dates: www.UrbanGallery.ca and visit each artist’s website to see their portfolio of works.

Linda Langerak   http://www.lankyratcreations.com/paintings—2014.html

Sandra Bilawich  http://elementaldesigns.org/

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GIDDY-UP AND DANCE! ODYSSEO HORSES MESMERIZE AT MEDIA DAY

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending the media preview of Cavalia’s “ODYSSEO” show featuring 70+ horses and dozens of riders, trainers and gymnasts performing under the big top down in Toronto’s portlands.

20150407_132204 20150407_132420We all crammed into the press area and pulled out cameras and spent 55 minutes clicking and rolling as the horses jumped, galloped, and danced to haunting live music, many horses working without reins or any sort of tack – it was amazing to watch how gently and calmly the trainers worked with them.

20150407_133420 20150407_133835(0) 20150407_134020There are many vignettes featuring medieval style dressage (above), and energetic cowboy rough-riding (below) demonstrated….

20150407_135340 20150407_135445 20150407_135703It was difficult to capture the fast galloping trick riders (above) but soon the mood changed once again….

20150407_140127 20150407_140145Wow….they filled the giant arena with water, turning the scene into a beautiful waterfall pool where the horses danced like 4-legged water sprites.

20150407_140815 20150407_140910 20150407_1409273 years ago, I attended Odysseo when the show first came to town. But on Tuesday, I still got the chills watching these breathtaking beasties charge around, perfectly choreographed. Congratulations to Artistic Director Normand Latourelle for maintaining such a high standard of professionalism and inspiration. And bravo to all the creative team, the riders and trainers, the musicians and the beautiful vocalist who brought the “middle earth” vibe,  and those astounding gymnasts who jumped, bounced, climbed around the arena with such energy and gusto.

20150407_141402 20150407_141424Equine artist, Bruce K. Lawes (http://bklawesart.com/) came with me to shoot additional photos and he was in horse heaven!

20150407_143154 20150407_143513 20150407_143225 20150407_143211Local horsewoman, Amanda from Mississauga, rode in the show, too. (below)

20150407_142245And here’s the amazing trainer who worked with 12 “free” horses earlier in the show.

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20150407_133219So if you love horses, if you enjoy theatre, if you’re passionate about dance – you MUST visit ODYSSEO while it’s here in Toronto. The show has already been extended for another two weeks so check your newspapers or visit their website for show times and ticket information: http://cavalia.net/en/odysseo/tickets-info/toronto-can

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