Author Archives: fordhampr

legalized pot

AUTHOR & FAMILY THERAPIST OFFERS ADVICE TO PARENTS ABOUT POT LEGALIZATION AND THEIR TEENS

With the legalization of pot in Canada last Wednesday October 17th, many parents & grandparents of teens and ‘tweens are nervous about starting the conversation about smoking, toking and vaping weed now that it’s more easily available. Did I raise my kid to stand up to peer pressure? Does my kid understand the fall-out from prolonged use of weed and long-term health issues? Will my teen’s future be compromised if they indulge in regular pot use?just say noThe author of the recently published The Anxious Teen (a guidebook for parents, teachers, mentors of teens suffering stress and anxiety) KRISTINA VIRRO (pictured below) sat down with me last week and answered a few questions that parents may have and advice they may need before broaching the subject over the family dinner table.IMG_2370 (1)What should parents look for to identify drug use in their teens?   One warning sign is finding accessories associated with drug use, so parents can benefit from familiarizing themselves with what these are. Another warning sign is when a teen starts missing or skipping class, which is often associated with poorer grades. Finally, the smell of marijuana is a dead giveaway, though you might notice your teen using several air fresheners, candles, colognes and more to cover up the smell. weed bongsWhat are the changes in behaviour or indications that your teen may be experimenting with pot or other drugs?  You might notice a change in their friend group and a withdrawal from family bonding time. Since every teenager is unique, pay attention to any changes in their personality that just seem different, too. They might become more apathetic, less productive, possess less self-control, and start paying less attention to their personal hygiene. Or, they might become more aggressive, defensive, irritable, and paranoid, which could all be symptoms of drug use.teen drugsHow do you communicate your distrust of your teen’s friends or peers (who may be involved in drug activities) without causing them to react negatively or defend their friends?  During adolescence, teenagers are actually biologically wired to enhance their connection to peers, meaning they often feel very loyal and protective of their friends. The worst thing you can do is insult friends, so stay far away from poking fun at them, calling them names, or making hurtful totalizing statements (i.e. “your friends are all losers.”) While your first instinct might be to cut contact between your teenager and their “sub-par” friends, it might be better to simply create some boundaries for the times they are spending time with them. Set curfews, check in on them a bit more often, or whatever you feel is best. Finally, create more opportunities for you and your teen to spend quality time together—alone or with the entire family—as this has been well-researched to minimize drug use.pot kidsIf you find weed in your teen’s room or school bag, what should you do/say?  Take some time to process and/or release any feelings that arise before approaching your teen. Once you feel ready to approach the topic in a more neutral manner, start by being honest about finding marijuana. From there, communicate why you’re feeling concerned in a way that doesn’t sound accusatory. Speak in “I” statements and avoid extreme language like “always” or “never.” I also invite parents to consider taking a harm reduction approach, which is based on the idea that, for better or worse, drug use happens, and our goal should be to minimize its harmful effects rather than simply condemning them. A large body of research supports the efficacy of such a strategy. This might involve talking openly about drug use, creating guidelines, and/or using the drug when the effects will be the least disruptive. pot foundShould parents discuss their own youthful drug use with their teens and how do you start the conversation without sounding “preachy”?  Being “preachy” involves excessively trying to teach moral lessons, and usually involves talking at someone rather with them. To avoid this, make the conversation collaborative. Be curious rather than judgmental and remind yourself that people used pot when you were young, too. If your teen feels like you’re blowing things out of proportion and not listening to them, they’ll become more secretive, which is precisely what you don’t want.BOOK COVERThanks, Kristina.  And she offers lots more advice and approaches to parental and family interactions concerning drug use and abuse, as well as coping with the stress and anxiety teens are currently experiencing. You can get a copy of Kristina’s book from Amazon or iBooks, or directly from the author via her website:  www.fresh-insight.ca

Ms. Virro’s Credentials:
Individual, Couples & Family Therapist (Master of Science, University of Guelph)
Registered Holistic Nutritionist  ​(Canadian School of Natural Nutrition)
Master’s of Journalism  ​(​University of Western Ontario)
Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care ​(University of Buffalo, School of Social Work)

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INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED FLAUTIST/COMPOSER RON KORB DEBUTS 20th SOLO ALBUM IN TORONTO

Last night (Wed. Oct.17), Grammy-nominated and internationally acclaimed RON KORB delivered a sizzling show from the stage of Toronto’s Jazz Bistro, introducing tracks from his latest solo album, WORLD CAFE, showcasing Latin-themed original instrumentals. Ron was joined on stage by world-renowned musicians who also played on the album: Bill Bridges, Bill Evans, Steve Lucas and Larry Crowe, with special guests Hilario Duran (piano) and Joseph Macerollo (accordion).

That same day, nomination ballots for this year’s Grammy Awards were also distributed to academy members around the world and all fingers are crossed that Ron receives another Grammy nod like his previous album, Asia Beauty.
In World Café, Ron takes us to sunny Spain, the island of Cuba, and the alluring lands of South America where he merges a rhythm from one region with a melody inspired by another. World Café represents a meeting place where people from many cultures can intermingle, laugh and make friends in a relaxed space – much like his own multicultural Toronto where this album was recorded.world cafe final cover   small-450px-72dpiback cover World cafe SMALLThe packed audience at Jazz Bistro swayed to the rhythms and there was a lot of chair dancin’ during the two sets;  the show must have blown up on social media based on all the phone cameras held high to catch the action….like this beautiful accordion solo from Joseph Macerollo…

The evening was hosted by the always-charming Miss Ziggy Lorenc (Zoomer Media) who many in the crowd remembered from her Citytv days – Ziggy now hosts a nightly show during the week on Zoomer Radio AM640 called Stardust and Midnight Blue. Here she is (below, L) with friend Barbara (R) and on stage MC’ing the show.20181017_193227 20181017_205555As for many of Ron’s albums, the cover and accompanying 24-pg full colour booklet was designed by his talented wife, Jade, seen here (below, R) with fans. 20181017_185417 not for publicThis next brief video was hard to shoot – all I wanted to do was dance!! So please pardon my cha-cha-cha moves and enjoy another brief taste of World Café here:

Ron’s final set resulted in multiple encores and lots of CD sales with some audience members purchasing multiple copies as presents for friends and family! 20181017_215339To learn more about Ron, listen to World Café and previous albums, visit www.ronkorb.com or you can download World Café from Spotify, iTunes or Amazon. Thank you for supporting Canadian musical artists.

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EXPRESSIONS OF CHINA exhibition marks 48th Anniversary of Canada-China diplomatic relations

Today, October 13th, marks the 48th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Canada and China. Yesterday, I was honoured to attend the opening of a one-week cultural exhibition of contemporary paintings illustrating the famed 300 poems from the Tang Dynasty at the Robarts Library, Uni. of Toronto, thanks to the kind invitation from Justin Poy (The Justin Poy Agency), one of organizers along with the Inst. of Traditional Chinese Painting Creation & Research. 20181012_115950ABOVE LtoR: Jack Leong, Andre Schmid, Consul Jingjing Sai, Larry Alford, Justin Poy, Jerry Shi, Binghuang Shi

Justin, along with local dignitaries and visiting Chinese representatives, introduced the special celebratory installation of stunning traditional watercolour and ink illustrations created by 130 of China’s leading contemporary artists including Xiang Li, Hong Biao Liu, Hui Zhong Ren and Dong Fang Wang.20181012_110916 20181012_110906 20181012_110920The poems of romance, longing & passion were written in an ancient language and are extremely difficult to translate into English, something Justin, along with his Chinese collaborators, is trying to remedy with an upcoming book, perhaps in time for the 49th anniversary next year.  The beauty of the scrolls is undeniable and regardless of my lack of understanding of the language, the subjects exuded the thoughts and feelings behind each poem. 20181012_111101 20181012_111042 20181012_111623 20181012_111344(0)This delicate painting (below) in the softest of pastels and pinks caught my eye and I returned to it over and over again. I would love to know the meaning of the poem it illustrates as it obviously resonated with me on a subliminal level.20181012_111540_001So many beautiful scrolls decorated the Richard Charles Lee Canada-Hong Kong Library on the 8th Floor so I hope you can visit over the next week and see for yourself.20181012_121122 20181012_121132 20181012_111412 20181012_111530EXPRESSIONS OF CHINA runs Oct. 12-19 at the Robarts Library (U of Toronto), 130 St George Street. Supported by the Art Committee of Chinese Artists Association.  For more information contact: 647-821-7050.20181012_111702

 

Invitation image FACADE by Osvaldo Napoli

URBAN GALLERY LAUNCHES “FACADE”, THE FIRST SOLO SHOW BY OSVALDO NAPOLI

This past Saturday, Toronto’s URBAN GALLERY proudly introduced a new artist – OSVALDO (Ozzie) NAPOLI – whose solo show FAÇADE caused quite the stir with stunning wire sculptures and paintings.  Ozzie was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, migrated to Toronto in 1975 and now resides in Richmond Hill, Ontario.  He attended the Ontario College of Art & design (OCAD) in the 80’s and took courses in the Art Department at Central Technical School; he was also mentored by long-time friend and legendary Canadian bronze sculptor, Sorel Etrog.

Ozzie (R) with gallery curator Allen Shugar

Ozzie (R) with gallery curator Allen Shugar

I’ll let Ozzie tell you about his work in his own words…

Artist’s Statement: I am mainly self-taught and I express myself through sculpture and painting, and a combination of both disciplines. I’m taken by the three-dimensional world and the beauty of the human form and social condition. The inspiration behind all of my work is people in general and the intricacies of social behaviour. I am fascinated by the complexity of the human mind and the mysteries about how we all perceive reality.  I’m particularly interested in the superficialities that can be presented and at the same time considering what else might be there beyond appearances.  I use art as a platform to communicate with the world and examine the humanity within us. ~ Osvaldo Napoli20181006_142319 20181006_142936Ozzie welcomed many art loving friends and was interviewed by KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca (pictured below with Ozzie).20181006_142855 20181006_142328Ozzie presented several large pieces and free standing sculptures as well as a series of smaller artworks comprised of wire, acrylic paint, modelling wax and other mediums that caught many an eye….20181006_150836 20181006_142235 20181006_152543…here are a few in close-up. 20181006_144813 20181006_144536 20181006_144804 20181006_144824 20181006_153659….. more examples of Ozzie’s unique and intricate metal work and molding – so much to see in each piece and each has a story behind it:20181006_144657 20181006_144708 20181006_142245 20181006_143448 20181006_143455And even more free-standing figures (below)…plus one of the gallery visitors looking eye-to-eye with one mysterious metallic creature:20181006_142254 20181006_14244920181006_153407Not only did gallery visitors love looking at all the artwork, they were also thrilled to pose with the artist!20181006_150845 20181006_153302(0) 20181006_150703Below, Ozzie’s wife, France (below, centre) with family friends who dropped in to cheer on Ozzie at his first ever solo show.20181006_15324620181006_154300 If you’re weren’t able to attend the opening reception, Ozzie will be present in the gallery on 3 additional dates:
Meet the artist: Saturday Oct. 13 • 2pm to 4pm
2nd Reception: Saturday Oct. 20 • 3pm to 6pm
Meet the artist Pt II: Saturday Oct. 27 • 2pm to 4pm

FAÇADE, Solo exhibition by OSVALDO NAPOLI runs October 4 to October 27, 2018 atUG-Letterhead-BCAnd here is Ozzie’s tribute in bronze to his long-time friend and mentor, Sorel Etrog:20181006_142239

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GRAMMY NOMINATED RON KORB RELEASES 20th SOLO ALBUM “WORLD CAFE” WITH OCT. 17TH CONCERT IN TORONTO

Three years ago, internationally acclaimed flutist & composer Ron Korb‘s album “Asia Beauty” was nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Age Album category. Ron has just released his latest album, “WORLD CAFE”, this time with a distinct Latin flavour, and it has been receiving a lot of attention from international music media as well as fans, and is rising quickly on various music charts. back cover World cafe  smallRon’s previous albums have garnered critical and popular acclaim from around the world; he’s shared many musical journeys, from the wonders and mysteries of Japan and China, to the infectious joy and tender melancholy of Celtic song and dance. For his World Café album, he takes us to sunny Spain, the island of Cuba and the alluring lands of South America. He explores how things sound when crossing a rhythm from one region with a melody inspired by another. All the music is played by living, breathing musicians (no computer generated tunes here!) including renowned award-winning jazz, world and Latin musicians Hilario Duran and Johannes Linstead, with an emphasis on using acoustic instruments.

Here’s a quick taste of World Café …..

I recently sat down and chatted with Ron (fittingly, in a cafe) and asked him a few questions about his music….

With a personal collection of 250 flutes, your reputation as the “king of flutes” is well earned – which instruments did you play on this latest album?  In World Café, the main instrument is my concert flute but I also used some Asian bamboo flutes and the ocarina on some tracks. I was also able to experiment with the Ellis-Korb flute mouthpieces that I’ve been developing with California flute maker Geoffrey Ellis. With the different cuts and various hardwoods we used, I could tailor the sound for each piece. It has been a long 6 year project creating the holy grail of embouchure designs and now Geoffrey and I are very excited about what we‘ve achieved together.DSC02624seasideYour previous album for which you received a Grammy nomination, Asia Beauty, explored Asian musical themes. What made you choose to record this latest album in the Latin style?  World Café has been very well received but it has taken everyone by surprise, especially listeners who have just discovered my music in recent years. Older fans know I’ve already written and performed tunes like Casco Viejo, La Sirena, Desert Night and Dark Eyes. Even back in my student days I often would write tunes that had a Spanish flavour. Latin music is the rhythm of the heart and I had been looking forward to making an upbeat album with a Latin theme for many years. Now when I look at the finished physical CD I can hardly believe it is finally manifested. It’s like a dream come true and I’m very happy with the production and the way it sounds.not for publicHow did you created the music for this album?  For the last decade I have been writing songs with pen and paper. I have books of manuscript paper full of hand written sketches and ideas. When I’m away from home and an idea pops into my head I will just sing the melody or beat box the rhythm on to my phone and transcribe it later. After the musical phrases have had time to ferment, I revisit them and discard the less than brilliant sketches and focus on the melodies that have real magic. Some songs come together very quickly and others take years to find the right contrasting section.  It’s always possible to finish off a song quickly but to write something really special takes a lot of time and effort.

It must be very rewarding to hear the completed album – what was the most enjoyable part of recording World Café?  I would say the most rewarding aspect about making World Café is collaborating with the musicians. It is amazing to hear the songs come alive when you workshop it with a band. In the past, I used midi and computer software quite a lot but since doing my Ron Korb Live album in Quebec in 2004, I gradually transitioned to being completely acoustic. It’s far more expensive to work that way but I prefer the result. Working with legendary Cuban pianist Hilario Duran and guitarist Johannes Linstead was a particular highlight. When I wrote the song Hilario, I didn’t really think that he would record it. Again, this is like another dream come true. After I contacted him, Hilario invited me to his place and I showed him the song. He immediately liked it and suggested some Cuban players to join us on the recording. It was really a thrill to work with such authentic players.

Being so musical, you must play other instruments – which ones?  Concert flute, bass flute, penny whistle, low whistle, shinobue, dizi, xun, bawu, Cambodian pie pook, ocarina. I play piano just enough for composing and songwriting. I also have sung backing and some lead vocals professionally.VIL0_XIw

On October 17th, Ron will be presenting World Café to a live audience for the first time. Performing at Jazz Cafe in Toronto, Ron will be joined on stage by an exciting group of musicians including Bill Evans (L) and Hilario Duran (C) pictured below with Ron.Bill Evans and Hilario DuranWorld Café represents a meeting place where people from many cultures can intermingle, laugh and make friends in a relaxed space – much like Ron’s own multicultural Toronto where this album was recorded.  The album is available thru Ron’s website or via Amazon.ca, iTunes, Spotify & Tidal. Listen online or purchase the gorgeous full-colour hardcover 24pg CD package designed by Ron’s talented wife and photographer, Jade. These will be available at the event, too. Perfect as gifts, as well as for yourself. .

Tickets to the concert as well as Ron’s complete discography are available at: www.ronkorb.com  dRIXZvJw

RON KORB presents WORLD CAFÉ

Wednesday Oct. 17th at 8pm (doors open 7pm)

JAZZ BISTRO, 251 Victoria St, Toronto

Cover: $15 advance from www.ronkorb.com   or $20 at the door

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URBAN GALLERY HOSTS OPENING RECEPTION FOR GRACE DAM’s SOLO SHOW “SEX LOVE LIES”

Toronto-based artist GRACE DAM (pictured below) has been a frequent exhibitor at URBAN GALLERY – her landscapes have garnered high praise in a number of previous group & solo shows, and in SEX LOVE LIES, Grace explores her figurative as well as abstract inspirations with a series of large canvases on show at the gallery until September 29th (400 Queen St East, Toronto).20180906_165439Grace graduated from Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto with a degree in Fine Arts, minor in Photography. Her time is split between Toronto, where she researches and produces works, and the rugged Rocky Mountains in Western Canada where gigantic peaks, serene lakes and wildlife provide refuge and inspiration to her.  She paints everything and anything that moves her; most of her works convey messages, be they personal, social or political, her views imply quietly.   20180906_16400820180906_164059One of the most complex things in life is the interaction or connection to others around us. Something we can observe but never quite control. My figurative works reflect aspects of the complication in the communication between human beings. Certain looks, even a smile or a passing raising of the eyebrows can imprint in our memory that precise moment like a never fading recorded tape. ~ Grace DamTHE COMFORTABLE SOFA oil on canvas by Grace Dam 20180906_164048My personal favourite has to be “The Paper” 48″ x 48″ oil on canvas (pictured below with the artist) illustrating the angst and pain felt by the man upon reading the message on the paper. Grace’s treatment of the sweater and pants fabrics is quite wonderful…you can almost reach out and feel the textures….20180906_165424Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering was artful and very much in keeping with Grace’s work.20180906_165747 20180906_165811I encourage you to visit the gallery in person to enjoy the provocative figurative canvases as well as the boldly coloured abstracts…..20180906_164328 20180906_164845 20180906_165933_001The exhibition runs until September 29th – details, gallery hours & directions: www.urbangallery.ca20180906_165615

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NEW TORONTO-BASED WEB SERIES OFFICIALLY LAUNCHES WITH PARTY DURING TIFF

With the ever-increasing popularity of web-based TV series and entertainment content (watch out cable tv providers, you’re days are numbered!), I’ve been following several young producers/directors/writers who have answered the siren call to create online films and serials. One such multi-tasker is CALEB OLIVIERI (pictured below in red in full directorial action) whose first series, UNAPOLOGY, offers tales from this city (Toronto), focusing on a number of families, singles, couples and how they navigate thru life and, in one case, the impact of early onset Alzheimer’s. UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_30Under the umbrella of his Wait, What? production company, Caleb has produced quality programming for multi-generational viewers showcased via the YouTube platform, and the first 6 episodes will officially be launched on Monday Sept. 10th with a cast and crew celebratory soiree during the height of Toronto Int’l Film Fest activities. Hopefully, members of the world’s entertainment media will drop by for a quick schmooze and meet Caleb and his enthusiastic production team. You can learn more via the series Fcbk page: www.facebook.com/unapologyseries

I recently spoke with Caleb to learn how Unapology came into being…

Caleb, what was the inspiration for the theme/storylines for UNAPOLOGY?  The storyline(s) grew organically out of my own experiences … alternative living arrangement and employment situation. A close relative with early Alzheimer’s inspired me to write about the reality of living with the disease. From the lack of affordable housing to despicable and exploitative behaviours of some of my employers I didn’t have to dig deep to find the grist.

Being a young filmmaker, how difficult was it to raise funding, secure equipment and locations as well as attract good actors?  Finding good actors in Toronto is easy enough and I was lucky enough to have some good connections with friends and colleagues with equipment and basically “free” use of locations. Fundraising on the other hand has always been a grind.UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_53 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_42With every film school grad pitching projects to major TV networks in Canada and the US, you created the series specifically for web-based content. Why/how did you decide on this route to take to make your presence known in the crowded TV production arena?  Originally it was written and produced as a pilot for a 22 min. series but I broke it down into 6 mini episodes for online use. With a web series I’m much less confined by edicts from networks which are often limiting when it comes to content and structure. A web based series lets the viewer make up their own mind as to what they want to watch and when … a quick episode on the subway ride home … a visit to the loo?IMG_8292 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_28 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_41As writer & director (as well as producer), how difficult was it to change “hats” throughout the shoot? Did Caleb the producer ever have to give notes (or argue with) Caleb the director?  Most of the time the writer and producer are at odds with one another because Caleb the producer can’t give Caleb the writer what he wants due to budget constraints. Caleb the director usually plays the middle man who tries to satisfy the needs of both the writer and producer without sacrificing the story or vision of the project.UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_24 UnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_55Did you study writing or production at university or film school, and if so how did you find that experience?  I’ve worked in the industry for most of my life, mostly as an actor. I would have loved the opportunity to study writing for film and tv post secondary but the reality for most actors in Canada is you do a lot of pavement pounding, auditioning and co-ops and if you have to pay the rent, that leaves little time for school.

You have a special invitation-only party coming up during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival to officially launch the UNAPOLOGY online series – this must be exciting for you and your team. How important is it to attract international media & industry attention for your web-series and will you be promoting to online audiences outside of Canada?  We are stoked to be able to promote our series during the upcoming TIFF season but more so to be simply promoting it finally. Any attention at this point is good attention for my crew and my cast, and while local attention would be great, finding an international audience is absolutely the way to go in 2018 onward.

Any advice to give other writers or producers wanting to create for online entertainment platforms?  Be persistent, hold on to your vision and find your Fairy Web-Mother or Father…LOLUnapologyPilot_Day3_20170409_01

Check out Unapology’s YouTube promo videos here:

I strongly recommend watching this new series and thank you in advance for supporting emerging Canadian filmmakers and webTV producers. Congratulations to Caleb and his talented cast and crew.

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URBAN GALLERY OPENS THEIR DELICIOUS “ART OF FOOD” GROUP SHOW

Be prepared to leave hungry when you visit URBAN GALLERY‘s yummy “ART OF FOOD” group show that runs throughout August. The paintings are simply delicious with works featuring both sweet and savory images and some that are even thought-provoking such as Judy Sherman‘s collection of farmyard beasties striking back against their potential farm-to-plate future (below)20180811_134718

20180811_142825Anushka Deshpande‘s art is called “quilling” which is sculpting and rolling paper to create stunning representations of her subjects, like these (I love the tropical cocktail).20180811_135307 20180811_140336 20180811_140257Anushka is pictured above (centre) with (L to R) her husband, a friend, Calvin Hambrook (gallery director) and Allen Shugar (gallery curator).

Lisa Hemeon is best known for her evocative seascapes and you can imagine all the fishies swimming just under the surface, waiting for lines to be cast with big juicy baits. Look closely and imagine dinner just below Lisa’s waves…20180811_134803

Aisha Chiguichon brought wine…or at least a lovely painting of wine…to go with the colourful forks skewering treats for gallery visitors! Aisha is a self-taught visual artist and it’s obvious she delights in her inspirations for this show.20180811_134505URBAN SOURCE CATERING partnered with the gallery to present some real “art” of food – just look at this delicious spread for gallery visitors to enjoy and admire, prepared by executive chef Lyndon Wiebe.20180811_135017 20180811_135035 20180811_13504920180811_135029One of Urban Catering’s previous employees, Valerie J. McMurray, is also an artist of some note. Here is her triptych titled “Spanish Lemons” – you can almost smell the fragrance emanating from her juicy, ripe fruit.20180811_134559Janna Kroupko has previously exhibited at Urban Gallery, both in group and solo shows. Here, her delightful “Cherries” sits elegantly above the buffet table. She’s also an accomplished textile artist and weaver.20180811_134631 CHERRIES 12_ x 12_ oil on canvas by Janna KroupkoUrban Catering’s chef, Lyndon Wiebe, loves photography as well as food and has previously exhibited his photos from tours around the world (Lyndon is one of the chefs featured in the tv series “Chefs Run Wild”). Here he shares a couple of his storefront photos…20180811_134642Popular Toronto artist Kirk Sutherland brought three distinctly different artworks to the show, all featuring his signature colourful imaginative energy.  With titles such as Theatre of Saccharine and Confectionery Planetarium, Kirk’s work fits perfectly into this group show.20180811_134651 20180811_152632Even NEWZ4U editor KJ Mullins was entranced by Kirk’s work! (below)20180811_134709Gallery visitors enjoyed the art, the food and the chance to meet and chat with so many artists…20180811_135621 20180811_145430 20180811_140038ART OF FOOD runs until August 31st at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto (1 block E of Parliament). For directions and gallery hours visit:  www.urbangallery.ca

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PSYCHOTHERAPIST, HOLISTIC NUTRITIONIST & NOW AUTHOR, KRISTINA VIRRO HELPS PARENTS & TEACHERS TACKLE TEEN STRESS

With rates of anxiety hitting catastrophic numbers among today’s youth, the question begs to be asked: “why are teens so darn anxious in the first place and what can we do to help?”  Relying on her firsthand experience giving hundreds of hours of therapy to teens, parents and families, author KRISTINA VIRRO takes a deeper look into this unsettling phenomenon to locate some of its root causes and possible solutions in her first book, THE ANXIOUS TEEN.

I recently spoke with Kristina and asked about her background and then about the inspiration for this book which offers valuable advice for parents, teachers and grand-parents and the teens in their lives.

As a psychotherapist and holistic nutritionist, I look at how the different parts of your life shape who you are, from your innermost beliefs about yourself to your eating and exercise habits.  I prioritize being transparent, non-judgmental, and supportive, while also challenging some of the seemingly automatic beliefs and thoughts you may have that prevent you from meeting your goals. I also pride myself on being open-minded and anti-oppressive in my work.   Models of therapy I am trained in and have been inspired by include: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Trauma-Informed Care. – Kristina Virro.KRISTINA

What inspired this book focusing on teen stresses and anxieties and how parents/teachers can support or resolve these issues?  A main component of my master’s program involved being a full-time therapist intern who worked with individuals, couples and families in the community. It became clear very quickly that practically every single teenager and university student was struggling with anxiety. On top of that, the university I was studying at witnessed a shocking number of suicides among its undergraduate students that year. I couldn’t help but wonder why these teenagers’ concerns seemingly hadn’t been addressed before coming to university, and I was curious about how I could help parents, teachers and mentors take a more preventative approach to their teenagers’ mental health.th (4)

How was your own life – did you experience any major anxieties and if so, how did you deal with them?  I had taken a very organized, methodical approach to academia when I was younger: everything was planned out perfectly and by the age of 22 I’d completed my first master’s degree in journalism. After a few years in field though, I realized it wasn’t the best fit and I had to do a bit of soul searching. That’s when I experienced a crippling amount of anxiety. I’d gone from being someone who was “ahead of the game” with their entire life planned out to someone who didn’t know their purpose while their friends were working their way up in the real world. It was really, really hard. I dealt with it by seeing an amazing therapist who helped me get to know myself better and develop my resilience. IMG_2587 (1)

You have a background in various therapies, can you tell us how this expertise aided the creation of this book?  I gained so much insight about anxiety through providing family therapy to different people. Meeting with teenagers alone is one thing; you can discuss different strategies, coping mechanisms and other tools, but when you meet with the whole family, you can see pretty quickly how different dynamics might be contributing to the anxiety. What’s useful, though, is that from there you can see how everyone can be part of the solution as well.

What are a few of the signs that parents, teachers or mentors need to heed as potential ticking time-bombs when dealing with a “moody teen”?  Firstly, it’s important to be able to differentiate between when a teen is being moody versus showing symptoms of a legitimate mental health disorder. Everyone gets moody sometimes, but mental health disorders tend to change a person in more drastic ways such as affecting their eating habits, discouraging them from partaking in activities they once enjoyed, or isolating themselves. You can also learn a lot by just listening to how teenagers talk about themselves or life in general. Do they frequently put themselves down? Are they constantly worrying about the future? Are they unable to highlight any of their strengths? These could all be signs that an anxiety disorder is at play.th (2)

What do you hope readers gain by the time they turn the last page of your book?  I hope readers will realize that decreasing rates of anxiety in teens isn’t just a “teenage issue.” I’ve seen so many parents bring their kids to therapy in the hopes that I’ll “fix them,” when in reality, there are so many cultural, familial and generational factors that influence why teens are so anxious today. But parents, schools, friends and more can all contribute to helping teens feel more supported, too. I hope readers will be reminded that we all need to work together on this.

Any advice or assurances you can give readers that their “kids are alright”?  When a kid is struggling, it’s easy to become so consumed by the problem that we forget about their strengths. But the truth is teens are very resilient, malleable, resourceful individuals, which makes working with them very rewarding. They teach me so much and possess so many qualities that allow change to happen, and we need to remember to harness these.

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So whether you’re a worried parent or frustrated teacher, this book provides practical tips and useful tools designed to reduce symptoms of anxiety in teens and increase caregivers’ abilities to cope, too.

The eBook is available now via Amazon & iBooks for $9.99 or $20 for hard copy [ISBN #978-1-9994279] (see weblink below for book  purchase) and Kristina will be presenting several book signings and workshops across the GTA in the fall so watch for announcements here on this blog or via her website or social media.

www.fresh-insight.ca/shop-1

www.facebook.com/TheAnxiousTeen  

people

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GO WILD! Toronto’s Urban Gallery unveils July’s group show “Wild in the City”

Yesterday, Saturday July 7, URBAN GALLERY 400 Queen St East in Toronto was packed with guests to celebrate the opening of their month-long group show, Wild in the City. Featured artists include Erik Chong, Libby Sims and Osvaldo Napoli who were in attendance, plus works from Lindsey MacKay who was unable to attend in person – she resides in Fredericton, NB. Take a virtual walk thru the gallery with me now…

The gallery filled up quickly once the doors opened at 2pm and lots of ooo’s and aaah’s were heard as visitors discovered the stunning and provocative paintings and sculptures.  Erick Chong (below) has exhibited at Urban several times over the past 4 or 5 years and for this show, he brought a whole new style and theme to the show.20180707_133652Erik has several videos showcasing his unique style and technique – get to know this artist here:

I’ve followed Libby Sims‘ work for sometime – she creates beautiful abstract florals in bold colours and strokes, along with other subjects and shapes. A mature artist, Libby has studied abroad and has developed her distinct style that is instantly recognizable. 20180707_134058 20180707_131749Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli (below) is another mature artist although he is relatively new to the mainstream Toronto arts scene.  His wire sculptures and large format multi-medium artworks create quite the statement and Ozzie’s fans turned out in force to see his latest work.20180707_13374520180707_131707The fourth artist feature in Wild in the CityLindsey MacKay, was unable to attend in person – she resides on the East Coast. But her art spoke loudly for her, featuring people, places and activities found around the city. I personally love the wild eyed seagull featured in her “You Lookin’ at Me?” painting (below).20180707_131836And I like Lindsey’s “In the Moment” painting (below) – reminds me of Toronto’s “Salsa on St Clair” – this weekend’s annual street fair of dancing and Latin culture.20180707_131840So many interesting and thought-provoking images to enjoy, I hope you get a chance to drop by Urban Gallery this month to see Wild in the City yourself.  For gallery hours and directions, visit:  www.urbangallery.ca