Monthly Archives: July 2015



Thanks to social media promotions and emails from Mark Gleberzon of MJG Gallery on Queen East near Carlaw, I decided to visit the inaugural TOQS (The Other Queen Street) shop, sip and stroll event hosted by the local BIA…it was one of the hottest humid days this summer (so far) – not the most ideal conditions for an asthmatic like myself. I was looking forward to joining the locals in celebrating this groovy neighbourhood known for its vintage and antique stores, home decor, fashion and foodie retailers, but sadly you could almost hear the crickets chirping! There was virtually no focus and no ta-daa excitement for what was advertised as an inaugural annual street festival event. In fact, the street felt and looked more like this….vitnageI know it’s hard presenting neighbourhood celebrations but when you have BIA (Business Improvement Association) funding, engaged & motivated retailers/restaurants wanting to reach new customers and thousands of int’l visitors looking for cool inexpensive activities thanks to the PanAm Games, the lack of promotions, publicity and a simple marketing campaign made for a very sad visit to one of my favourite places in Toronto’s downtown area…Leslieville. At least I discovered a fascinating new home decor store and visited a gallery known for supporting local artists. Join me now for a virtual stroll…..

As I walked east from the Carlaw bus stop, I first noticed this lovely store – Home James – featuring home decor, gifts and accessories, all very affordable and a delightful array of treasures.

20150718_122300 20150718_121625 20150718_121355 20150718_121532I spoke briefly with owner/curator James Lane (pictured below) who also does home staging and interior decorating for clients, and he, too, was rather disappointed with the lack of signage, street and lightpole banners.

20150718_121124I was delighted, tho, when I discovered some wonderful art on his walls courtesy of local artists, esp. the charcoal farm animal drawings of Susan O’Neil (below)…I so want the little sheep at the bottom. Isn’t she gorgeous?

20150718_121418 20150718_121423 20150718_121426Jane Theodore‘s colourful graphic works and greeting cards were also a great find (below)…

20150718_121612….and lots more great art and finds. I spotted several potential Christmas gifts here so I’ll be going back for sure. Please check out the store yourself at 998 Queen St East, Toronto.

20150718_122220 20150718_122229Next, on to MJG Gallery at 1028 Queen East to visit my friend, gallery owner and artist Mark Gleberzon and thank goodness his A/C was up full-blast. By the time I walked the one block from Home James, the humidity had turned my freshly coiffed hair into a blonde furball and my mascara had melted down my cheeks!

20150718_122835 20150718_122839Mark was having a sidewalk sale of art books, wood carvings and art work, taking advantage of what promised to be a busy TOQS Saturday. He was in the midst of re-arranging the gallery, moving some of the massive pieces around so I had fun taking pics of all the paintings leaning up against the walls and furniture….lots of work by some of my fave artists including Mark’s own work (1st 2 pics below).

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20150718_123745I loved the happy robots waving goodbye to gallery visitors (below)….so friendly and cute, they made me smile!

20150718_123736I do hope the Leslieville BIA folks get it together for next year, perhaps even upload the event to their website, too. No, the poster was not there, nor were there any event details of the who, what, where, when, why of TOQS. Their blog which promotes the “latest news” from the neighbourhood shows outdated 2014 posts, nothing about today’s event. There were no balloons, no music, no street food (hey, food trucks are always looking for new locations) and no banners telling passers by to stop and take a stroll along the several blocks of Leslieville.

As a publicist and marketing consultant, I cannot stress enough the need for neighbourhoods and their Business Improvement Associations to effectively use social media for promotions, keep their websites updated, notify local newspapers and bloggers and reaching out to organizations such as Tourism Toronto to attract visitors. You don’t just post something on your Facebook then hope people find you. The potential for today’s event was extraordinary, but sadly they missed the mark by a mile. Next year, I hope to visit a whole new exciting and well-promoted TOQS…I’m rooting for them.




Oh my, these paintings took my breath away! I arrived this evening just as Urban Gallery was opening its doors, and walking in to the empty gallery I was able to take in the full power and glory of Ukrainian-born artist JANNA KROUPKO‘s colourful exuberant work.

20150709_170352 20150709_170328 20150709_170437Janna arrived amidst hugs and congratulations from a happy group of friends and admirers, one of whom presented her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers (below) to mark the opening of her month-long exhibition titled “Dreamscapes”.

20150709_170239 20150709_173650The paintings in Dreamscapes represent the painter’s vision of a dream-like fantasy world of flora and fauna of the Grand Canyon in America’s southwest.

20150709_173739 20150709_170455Born in the Ukraine and emigrating to Canada in 1997, Janna Kroupko graduated MFA from the Moldavian State Academy of Fine Arts & Design. Her artistic career developed in Kazakhstan working in fibre art (Gobelin), oil and acrylic painting, and interior design. Her works range from miniatures to multi-panel installations, and can be found in public collections, museums, and institutions in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Russia, and in private collections all over the world.

20150709_174422Fellow artist Olga Nabatova (above right, with Janna) dropped by to add her congratulations, as did artist, poet and performance artist, Brenda Clews (below) with performance artist and painter Philip Cairns.

20150709_182636My personal favourite was this one (below) featuring wild horses galloping, snorting and grazing across the canvas. Stunning in person.

20150709_170425The gallery was all a-buzz when Britney Townsend from snapd newspaper dropped in to snap a few pics (below)

20150709_182156The gallery even hosted a celebrity or two, like Alexa Petrenko of Classical 96.3 FM radio fame, shown below (left) enjoying the art with Olga as Britney snapped them for next month’s issue of “snapd Cabbagetown”.

20150709_181536Janna posed below with gallery curator, Allen Shugar….

20150709_170903…and with some of her closest friends (below).

20150709_180205Gallery director Calvin Hambrook enjoyed meeting Janna’s friends, too (below)

20150709_175742Everyone enjoyed the hospitality and there was lots of interest in her work so hopefully there’ll be a few red dots next to Janna’s paintings soon.20150709_170940


20150709_171636 20150709_173633Dreamscapes runs through to July 25th at URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.
Gallery hours:
Noon to 5pm Monday through Saturday
Noon to 8pm Thursdays
Closed Sundays & Holidays

20150709_174110Thank you for supporting local Canadian artists!




Despite the heavy downpour, the Musideum in downtown Toronto held a packed audience as award-winning flautist and composer RON KORB unveiled his latest album, ASIA BEAUTY, accompanied by Lou Pomanti on piano and Linlin Wang on erhu.

Cover-2015(less green)With a stunning 36pg full-colour book of photographs attached, the 19 track (+ 2 bonus tracks) CD channels Ron’s experiences and inspirations from previous tours of China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Taiwan. His beautiful wife, Jade, took the photos which accompany Ron’s story behind each tune.

Asia Beauty 2The enthusiastic crowd of fans and media jammed into the humid and steamy performance space seemed entranced by each note. Everyone seemed to be taping the performance (below) which was also webcast around the world. Many favourable comments from excited fans in the US and Japan were received the next day.

20150707_202638 20150707_201138 20150707_212411After the concert, fans wanted photos with Ron (below) including Singaporean actor and singer Laurance Tan, jazz flautist Bill McBirnie (middle pic) and of course, the obligatory “band photo” (bottom pic) featuring Linlin Wang and Lou Pomanti flanking Ron.

20150707_210307 20150707_215121 20150707_215035

20150707_215231….and members of Flute Street (Toronto’s Professional Flute Choir) filmmaker Patrick Jenkins and Hong Kong designer Rita Ip (below with Ron)

20150707_193748 Rita Ip_RonIf you missed the concert last night, check out Ron’s website for CD purchase info or downloads:

20150707_193412Ron composed and produced the entire album, ably assisted by Gary Honess of Kuhl Muzik studio where most of the tunes were recorded and mixed, plus Ron Searles (Glenn Gould Studio at CBC), Paul Intson, Jeremy Darby (The Canterbury Music Company) and Phil Demetro of Lacquer Channel Mastering. Album design by Carolyn Quan. Financial assistance from FACTOR Canada. Thank you to Roger (sound) and Donald (Musideum) for making the concert possible.



Bruce Lawes- A New Birth of Freedom (in the works final stages)

BRUCE K. LAWES celebrates 4th of July with new portrait of President Abraham Lincoln

For the past two years, award-winning Canadian artist BRUCE K.LAWES has been visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield national park during the annual July 4th celebrations, painting historical military scenes and portraits from his tent studio on the side of the battleground. As the thousands of dedicated volunteers reenacted cavalry charges, skirmishes and arm-to-arm combat in front of him, Bruce created several haunting portraits of Union and Confederate troops and war generals while the crowds of park visitors and July 4th celebrants watched on.

June 7 #3G'Burg 5This year, Bruce decided to stay home and complete his most exciting Civil War era portrait to date – that of President Abraham Lincoln in quiet contemplation of the speech he was to deliver the following day in Gettysburg.  Bruce placed his subject in the exact room of the now historic Wills House where Lincoln wrote his address and slept the night prior to delivering what we now know as the “Gettysburg Address”.  I asked Bruce to share his thoughts and inspirations for the portrait which goes under the hammer at this year’s prestigious Coeur d’Alene Auction of Fine Art in Reno, Nevada, on July 25th.

What was your experience like last year at Coeur d’Alene and what/who introduced your work to the prestigious auction?
As this was my first time in this auction with a relatively untested subject matter for me, although I felt the portrait of Custer was done well (see below), the unknown of whether anyone else felt the same was very nerve racking. When I first arrived in Reno, Nevada, the day before the auction and met the auction officials/gallery partners, my worries vanished very quickly when they said that there had been a lot of interest in my painting. In fact, the owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team was one notable individual who was going to be bidding on my painting.

Custer Before the Storm (Coeur d'Alene copy signed in frame)Did the positive response to your Custer portrait inspire you to explore more historical re-imagining of Civil War milestones or personalities?
The response to my Custer portrait certainly made it desirable to explore other possible historical ideas for a painting that may intrigue a collector.

What first drew you to the Lincoln/Gettysburg Address subject?
My interest in Lincoln, as with many other people, is his persona and his accomplishments as the most revered President in American history. The significance of the date 2015 is that it represents the 150th anniversary of his assassination and the Gettysburg Address being the most significant speech in the rebirth of America during the Civil War, made it an important subject to paint.

You were given a lot of assistance with the actual location for the painting – the David Wills home – can you tell me who supplied photos and narrative descriptions in order for you to place Lincoln in an authentic setting?
While consulting my friend J. David (J.D.) Petruzzi, award winning Civil War author and historian, as to how to portray Lincoln in a unique authentic setting, we discussed the Wills house where Lincoln stayed the night before delivering his Gettysburg Address. With creative and historical minds working, the result was to paint him the day before the Address and in a second painting show him during the day of the Address (this painting is in the planning stages). The problem that I was now faced with was authentic reference points for the bedroom Lincoln stayed in at the Wills House. Fortunately, the house was designated as a museum and the whole building and surrounding buildings in the square have been maintained as it was back in 1863. Being from Pennsylvania, J.D. and his partner, Cindy Mullins, a dedicated Lincoln historian, kindly offered to travel to Gettysburg and take some reference photos of the bedroom (see below) with the guidance of my mental sketch or vision.

will shosue 2

wills houseYou first sculpted a clay bust of Lincoln in order to commence work – how did this help you? Can you explain your painting process?
As the photography of the day was poor and only in black and white, I decided to sculpt Lincoln’s bust in order to position him in a pose that best suited my idea and I could also cast the light source accurately to show where shadows would fall. I used this 3-D model just the same as though the President was there in front of me posing in a sitting for a portrait.

Bruce Lawes- Lincoln sculpture in progress (smaller file) (1)

photo 1Will that bust also be for sale at a later date?
Originally I thought I may cast it in bronze but that has not yet been decided…

In your mind, who would be the ideal buyer of this Presidential portrait, and why?
Ideally, I would like the buyer to be a public gallery so the painting can be seen by the masses in order to continue Lincoln’s legacy; so that we may continue to learn from our past mistakes and successes.

museumI’m also grateful for the testimonial from leading Lincoln expert Dr. Gabor S. Boritt, which adds considerable weight to the authenticity of the painting’s location and subject matter: On November 19th, 1863, there were thousands of people waiting to see and hear Lincoln. Some stayed up all night raising quite the ruckus. But in the morning, when the President looked from the Will’s House where he stayed, he saw the respectful crowds. And today, in 2015, we have at last found a painter whose artistic skills and talent match that moment in history. Bravo, Bruce Lawes!  –  Gabor S. Boritt, Emeritus. Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies; Director of Civil War Institute; Chairman of the Board of The Lincoln Prize

Apart from this unique Lincoln painting, what other projects are you working on and at what upcoming shows and sales will your work be featured?
I’m presently completing my painting for the July 16l “Masters In Miniature Exhibition & Sale” at Trailside Galleries in Jackson Hole, WY, that will be very different from the Lincoln project as the subject matter is wildlife (“Savannah Sunrise” see below). Also, with the recent history being made with Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, one of my galleries wants me to paint all three jewels in the racing crown, so keep watching for my next creation.

Bruce Lawes- Savannah Sunrise (internet)

You can follow Bruce here:

Other important weblinks
Coeur d’Alene Art Auction
J. David Petruzzi
Trailside Galleries