Last night I was thrilled to attend the opening of my dear friend DONNA LYPCHUK‘s show that’s part of this year’s CONTACT Photography Festival taking place at galleries and venues across Toronto throughout the month of May.Hosted in the unique setting of Mrs.Huizengas Antique Emporium @28 Roncesvalles Ave, the 60+ framed and unframed photographic prints feature stunning landscapes, floral portraits and sassy street scenes. The show also includes one of Donna’s most famous shots of a hurricane-like tempest over Toronto back in August of 2015 – this photo went viral over the internet, was published by news outlets across the country and became Instagram’s “Photo of the Day”. It is also the title photo for Donna’s show promotional materials (see bottom of blog).A long-time resident and arts scene contributor of the Queen Street West Bo-ho community, Donna was a weekly columnist (“the necrofile”) for the now-defunct eye Weekly newspaper as well as a published author, playwright and multi-media artist…… and my dear friend since the early 80’s when we both worked at Yuk Yuk’s. Her own sense of humour and whimsy can be seen in a number of her photos, as well as her “darker side”. I particularly liked her charming “Swan” series, esp. the full-colour framed print featured below….Donna greeted all her friends who dropped in to admire her work and support the show, and I watched as several prints were sold, too – congrats, Donna! For those wishing to purchase her work, Donna (below, centre) has priced her photo prints very affordably – you can pick up a great picture for as little as $16 or as much as $160.Donna’s florals attracted a lot of attention – here are two of my faves….I really liked this one (above) as the trees look like naked bodies dancing thru the flowers!!
I highly recommend checking out these beautiful photos that will hang in Mrs. Huizengas throughout the month of May…and have fun checking out all the kitsch and vintage treasures in this huge antique emporium. For store hours call T: 416-533-2112. Thank you for supporting Canadian artists….especially Donna Lypchuk
I was thrilled to attend the annual “Up and Down” special events industry soiree last Tuesday at the elegantly appointed multi-purpose dining and party venue THE FIFTHINC. located in the heart of Toronto’s entertainment district (225 Richmond St West). They always put on a fabulous tasting menu whenever they host such events and I would certainly encourage anyone to visit the various spaces in the huge building for casual dining, social meet-ups, corporate events or weddings and other celebrations – they have a room and ambiance to suit every occasion!
Accompanied by my fabulous hairstylist and friend, Cathie D. (who played peek-a-book with one of the bar plants!!), we first entered their Fifth Social Club on the main floor where the airy light space offered numerous comfy seating nooks, large stand-up bars and on that night, a great oyster bar!We then moved through to Cabin 5, the rustic Canadian-eh style bar for casual drinks and the bartender was working so hard making smart cocktails for us all that it was hard to snap her without the blur of the drink shaker..LOL….and I loved the kitschy picture on the wall over the DJ booth….happy kitties!!Cathie and I then went upstairs to the FifthTerrace on the roof which is open year-round and offers great views across the city. I’ve snapped the CN Tower on previous occasions and although it was a bit overcast on this evening, I still had to take a quick pic of it, along with the deelish sweet treats on offer. Yummmmm….pink macaroons!!!!The Fifth Grill Dining Room is also up top and the place looked awesome, fully dressed to kill!To end our visit, we enjoyed a great nosh downstairs in The Fifth Gastropub where we indulged ourselves with complimentary fish & chips and a frosty beer….Big thank you to the management & staff of The Fifth for their warm hospitality and deelish catering – definitely a great place to visit or hold a swanky do. www.thefifth.com
Yesterday was such a lovely sunny day that I decided to down tools and step away from the ‘puter to enjoy a leisurely stroll thru one of Toronto’s historic old neighbourhoods – Cabbagetown. This was where I lived in the late 70’s when, as a starving actor/waitress, I shared a 3 storey semi at the end of Wellesley Street with 3 other actors & musicians, and next door to the fabulous Carole Pope & Kevin Staples of Rough Trade fame (Canada’s edgiest new wave/punk bands of the era).Above left is #445, my old house – I had the large master bedroom on the 2nd floor front – the dormer that jutted out over the front porch was the cosy alcove where I had my bed. Next door at #443 (above at right), I would watch an amazing procession of fabulous celebrity house guests knock on my neighbour’s front door …all manner of music stars would hang out with Carole when they came to town. I remember watching legendary Dusty Springfield wander up the garden path one afternoon – how exciting! Cabbagetown was a haven for artists, actors, musicians and hippies back then…it was affordable to share the houses, most of which were run-down shadows of their former grand selves. But at the royal sum of $500 a month all inclusive, we still never quite made rent on time…LOL! But walking east on Wellesley yesterday, heading into this charming little enclave (below) brought back so many memories of innocent (but fun) times….come take a walk with me now.The residents association has been busy over the years, creating walking tours of the streets and gardens and they’ve posted all sorts of plaques designating certain homes as historical landmarks. I never knew a member of this famous Hollywood family once lived on Wellesley Street…did you?A couple of blocks south is a street full of picturesque workers’ cottages, now sympathetically renovated to suit their 21st century owners – this is Amelia Street. I always loved walking along here back in the 70’s as although most of these homes were rundown and scruffy, you could see the great “bones” and 19th or early 20th century design elements. Look at these gorgeous little chocolate box homes….I remember wanting to move into this charming 1920’s/30’s apartment building (above) as it looked so cool, even 40yrs ago when it was rather shabby and unpainted. Rent was about $275 to $350 a month back then…now, probably closer to $1500/mo.
This was once a cute handcrafted furniture store (below) when I lived in the ‘hood but it’s now been made into a private residence. Wouldn’t it make a lovely little antique shop or even a cosy tea room?This (below) has got to be one of the cutest cottages on the street, now the home offices for a design firm……and opposite that is this modern make-over. I love the back-split balconies and the paint colour.Of course, being a vibrant community there are always notices posted about upcoming events as well as pleas for help finding lost loved ones. On one lamp-post I saw this rather sad flyer…I hope Lefty comes home soon!On a happier note, I took a quick side trip to the Riverdale Farm (below) – back when I lived there it was still called a “zoo” as they had all manner of exotic beasties living there including highland cattle and some bighorn sheep…50 or 60 yrs ago they kept a sad assortment of wild animals including bears and big cats in tiny cruel metal cages -I think the old deserted bear house may still be there down the back near the ravine. But yesterday it was all about the cute baby farmyard critters…Opposite the park and farm used to stand Jeremiah’s Ice Cream Store which served up frozen treats to generations of families. Now the shop has been made into a private home (below) but at least they still operate an ice cream and snack food bar out of the side window. In the park stands a noticeboard pointing out all the houses that once were home to various leading lights in Toronto and Canadian history (below). These correspond with the plaques posted on each property (like the Walter Huston one). Sadly, I couldn’t find a plaque for one of Canada’s greatest Olympic ice skaters and fine artists, Toller Cranston, who had a home and studio on Winchester near Parliament Street. I remember walking past, looking up into his studio window and seeing Toller busy painting – he would often wave back at me. I think it’s time to make amends and get the 70’s groundbreaking ice skater and avant garde painter properly acknowledged.As I walked out of this timeless village and back into reality on Parliament Street, I walked past Nettleship’s Hardware – this store has been there for decades and I remember when I worked part-time at Tom Foolery (one of the first vintage clothing stores in the city back in the 70’s), the owners and I used to hang out with Donny, the son who ran the shop. I betcha he’s still there. Must make an effort to go in and say hi next time I’m in the neighbourhood.So I hope you enjoyed this little pictorial stroll thru my Cabbagetown. I definitely recommend visiting, esp the first weekend of May when they host a neighbourhood-wide Forsythia Festival. The trees are just now starting to bud and there are a few early spring flowers popping up…so much to see but make sure you look up as well, then you’ll notice antique weather veins such as this one (below) or you may even spot a couple of pink flamingos still dressed in their winter scarves & toques (bottom).
Wow! I was blown away by GARY BARNETT‘s beautiful series of mixed acrylics on board and canvas titled “A Closer Look” that opened today at Urban Gallery (400 Queen St East, Toronto). The Kitchener, Ontario, artist welcomed many friends and fans with a wine and cheese reception, and I must say I was under the artist’s spell from the moment I walked thru the gallery door!Here’s Gary busy explaining his technique to fellow artist Brenda Clews...Let’s hear what he has to say….
I ran into the fabulous Kaspara Albertsen, previous gallery goddess at Urban, now working with a film production company in Toronto…we both thought Gary’s work was so hot I needed to work my fan hard for the both of us!!And gallery curator Allen Shugar (above right) was happy to share Gary’s work (and a glass or two of wine) with a friend.
The gallery was hoppin’ and everyone was fascinated with the textures Gary incorporates into each painting, which is why he also supplied Sherlock Holmes’ style magnifying glasses for us all to use to get a “close up” view of his work.
Join me for a quick virtual tour of some of my fave pieces featured in Gary’s show…
I encourage you all to visit in person; Gary’s work is very affordable for anyone wanting to add a piece to their personal art collection (or to start building one) with prices ranging from $300 to $1,050. This one, Indigenous Fossil (below) may just have to come home with me….I kept coming back to it as if it called my name. What do you think?
Last night, IN Magazine held their Community Networking event with a sneak peak of Toronto’s Pride 2016 events, sponsored by the TD Bank, in the Urban Gallery space (400 Queen St East) with deelish treats catered by UrbanSource Catering.
Publisher Patricia Salib was joined by Reggie Lanuza (Dir. of Operations), Woodrow Monteiro (Sr A/c Director), Christopher Turner (guest editor for their Lady Gaga issue) and hard-working intern Joel Ducharme as they welcomed guests and sponsor reps for an evening of cocktails, fabulous hors d’oeuvres and networking. The guests all enjoyed the stunning artwork of Gary Barnett, Urban Gallery’s artist for April, whose show officially opens tomorrow (Sat. Apr. 9).
Here’s publisher Patricia with her husband Boris, and with A/c Director Woodrow (bottom pic)
Some of the delectable treats included…..Sriracha prawns with bacon, seafood Kokoda spoons, a gourmet fruit & cheese buffet, Cajun salmon cakes with “comeback” sauce:
as well as port-poached pears with ricotta and candied walnuts, and roasted grape & Burrata on torn basil & crostini (yummmm)
Congrats to the Urban Catering and Gallery team (below) who made the night such a success for the folks of IN Magazine, and be sure to visit each website (see below).