Author Archives: fordhampr

20191205_165806(0)

FRENCH POP ARTIST VIKKA CELEBRATES 1st CANADIAN SOLO SHOW AT TORONTO’S URBAN GALLERY

Although he was suffering a little jet-lag, French artist VIKKA came straight from the airport and walked through the doors of Urban Gallery last night to see his latest art project hanging on the walls…and it all looked great!20191205_161952 20191205_162024 20191205_180037The multi-disciplinary self-taught artist is showcasing his pop-art paintings, sculptures and photography in his first ever Canadian month-long solo show titled “In Memory of Witold and Max” – a visual tribute to his beloved grandfathers, both of whom were talented artists, too. He was joined by his sister, Bénédicte, who also assisted with translations, when necessary.20191205_170331

His colourful, surreal street art style canvases attracted a lot of attention last night and visitors marveled at the details and intricacies of each painting – you can stand there for half an hour and still discover new little embedded characters and features! 20191205_175951(0) 20191205_18000520191205_161937 20191205_162045There are a trio of paintings dedicated to 3 of his art heroes, Warhol, Basquiat (pictured above) and Haring; here the artists talks about these pieces, mostly in French but his passion transcends language!

Gallery Director Calvin Hambrook (below L) and Curator Allen Shugar (below R) were thrilled with the artwork which was shipped direct from France and only arrived earlier this week.20191205_172138In Memory of Witold & Max runs in Toronto now until December 28th – for directions and gallery hours, visit: www.UrbanGallery.ca  and to learn more about Vikka’s work, follow him on IG @vikkaartist20191205_180037 20191205_162127

 

20191202_180248 (3)a

Author Geordie Telfer marks 100yr anniversary of disappearance of Toronto theatre impresario Ambrose Small

Last night, December 2nd, author Geordie Telfer hosted a special reading of Hogtown Empire to mark the 100 year anniversary of the disappearance of Ambrose Small, the subject of his recently published book. Hogtown Empire Cover-v4The event took place at the prestigious One King West Hotel & Condos in downtown Toronto which was one of the very last places Ambrose was sighted on that fateful night in 1919. Held in the lower level Vault, once a secure storage for The Dominion Bank’s cash – now a party space, guests filed in greeted by welcome glasses of bubbly and lots of yummy treats.20191202_180511 (2)aThe performance started with an intro by Bruce Bell, Toronto’s leading historian who also wrote the forward for Geordie’s book. Bruce (pictured below) set the stage which his description of the city’s social make-up back then.20191202_194011 (2)Geordie then read multiple excerpts from Hogtown Empire, adding many humorous asides and sharing his thoughts on Canada’s longest running cold-case. He also treated the audience to a number of musical interludes featuring his original songs about Ambrose’s  upper crust society wife, his giant mustache and even a ditty about his famous racehorse.20191202_194335 (2)a 20191202_200627 (2)aThe audience included several local celebrities (Brian Kaulback from Murdoch Mysteries tv series and most recently, the movie Shazam!) …

Brian Kaulback (L) with Bruce Bell (C) and Brian's lady friend Linda (R)

Brian Kaulback (L) with Bruce Bell (C) and Brian’s lady friend Linda (R)

…and descendants of one of the key real-life characters in the book.  Also in the house was psychic medium Gaby who offered her impressions via channeled spirits about the place itself and about the possible “resting place” of Ambrose himself.  Geordie then personally signed copies of Hogtown Empire for his guests who posed with facsimiles of that giant moostache!!20191202_203540 (3)a20191202_205308 (3) b20191202_204220Psychic medium Gaby brought her handsome ex-pro baseball player hubby, Gabriel, who enjoyed the evening of mystery (below)20191202_203714 (2)…and even the One King West bar staff got into the spirit of the event (below)20191202_205938 (2)aMany of the guests stayed behind for even more photo opps with the author…20191202_211641(2)If you would like to learn more about the mysterious disappearance of Toronto’s millionaire theatre mogul and Geordie’s book, please visit the website: www.hogtownempire.com  You can subscribe to Geordie’s social media and listen to podcasts featuring interviews with Torontonians who have links to the impresario himself. You can also purchase your own copy (soft-cover or eBook) via Amazon.

Big thanks to One King West for providing such a unique space (www.onekingwest.com) and to Gaby’s colleague, Lynda, who offered tarot readings to many of the guests.

 

 

 

 

20191023_130859

RIDIN’ THE RAILS WITH CANADIAN DAYTRIPPERS!

Yesterday, the sun was shining bright as I joined up with the folks from Canadian Daytrippers to enjoy a railway trip along the York-Durham scene railroad. As the coach wound it’s way thru country roads, the passengers were lively and full of anticipation…

It only took about an hour to reach the rail-head in Uxbridge where we were set to depart for a 2hr trip with a 3-course luncheon served in vintage Pullman coaches.20191023_131122 20191023_13115220191023_160828There were several vintage trains and carriages on show in the rail yard (above) – who doesn’t LOVE trains??
We were soon off and running after a very careful boarding of those passengers with physical challenges. The railway station offers a special hoist for wheelchairs and walkers so everybody was able to enjoy the trip. We were greeted by the friendly staff who came around ensuring that our menu choices were confirmed – steak or salmon…mmm, yummy.20191023_142051Then off we rolled, gently winding our way throughout the York-Durham region countryside. Sadly, the sun disappeared behind a bank of clouds so the fall colours did not “pop” and the scenery took on a somewhat grey pall. But the company was animated and full of good humour, swapping travel tales, family histories, embarrassing situations and silly stories – nobody seemed to mind the unfortunate lack of scintillating scenery.  But when I checked out my photos later, I noticed that many of my pics took on an almost Impressionist-like feel…see what I mean:20191023_144744 20191023_144419 20191023_144827 20191023_145135As we chowed down, I noticed one of the passengers who REALLY enjoyed her lunch..20191023_145207More lovely countryside views on the home-bound leg of the trip, and as we pulled back into the Uxbridge station, we went past the legendary Ontario Northland carriages..20191023_15104320191023_161106All good things must come to an end so we alighted with laughter, smiles….. and several satisfied burps!20191023_161421Big thank you to all the railway staff, and especially our charming (and very patient) tour guide, Debbie, from Canadian Daytrippers (below).20191023_163019If you’d like to learn more about Toronto day trips with this groovy group that caters to seniors/zoomers, visit their website at: www.canadiandaytrippers.com. They offer evening group trips to theatre festivals, Niagara Falls events and unique experiential trips to the country…like this train journey, or the Muskoka Lake cruise I wrote about last month. See you on the bus!!

20191022_225128

AUTHOR GEORDIE TELFER LAUNCHES “HOGTOWN EMPIRE” BOOK ABOUT NOTORIOUS 100YR OLD TORONTO COLD-CASE MYSTERY

Big CONGRATULATIONS to local author GEORDIE TELFER on his packed-house book launch last night held at Toronto’s Dominion Pub & Kitchen.  He entertained his guests with selected readings, music and original songs that told the tale of the disappearance of Toronto theatre mogul & millionaire, Ambrose Small (pictured below), who led a life of dodgy dealings and showbiz shenanigans.AS_Composite“Hogtown Empire” is a tale of money, deception and betrayal with a cast of captains of industry, socialites and would-be con artists. It’s the culmination of several years of research, interviews and scouring official police and news archival records, much of which led Geordie in different directions complete with red herrings and false starts.Hogtown Empire Cover-v4Here is an exciting true-crime adventure story. Ambrose Small and his wife, Theresa, were wealthy entertainment impresarios who owned a prominent chain of theatres in southern Ontario. On December 2, 1919, the Smalls banked a cheque for $1-million, a down-payment on the sale of their theatrical empire. That night, as dusk fell, Ambrose disappeared into the darkness and was never seen again. What happened? Was he murdered? Did he disappear of his own volition? No body was ever found and, as far as anyone can tell, he took none of his money with him. RipleyStyleSummaryAmbrose left behind his wife, his mistress, and his frustrated secretary. The case prompted an international man-hunt that spanned the globe and had renowned psychics of the day hearing voices and seeing visions. There were lurid rumours of infidelity and accounts of suspicious activities by Small’s enemies….so many enemies. The subject of films and TV shows, Canada’s longest running cold-case remains unsolved after 100 years.  20191022_213146 20191022_222941 20191022_223108 20191022_222849 20191022_222931Ambrose Small was famous for his HUGE handlebar mustache so we made sure all the guests had their very own moo-stash on a stick…which worked well for the sing-along during the “Ambrose Small’s Mustache” song. It also provided lots of laughs at the photo wall, too!20191022_223539 20191022_22424020191022_225152If you would like more information about this fascinating real-life unsolved mystery and to purchase a copy of Geordie’s book ($24.95), visit the official website: www.HogtownEmpire.com  The book is also available from Amazon.com or .ca   Geordie also hosts regular Hogtown Empire podcasts, also found on the website.20191022_203116And thanks to the Dominion Pub & Kitchen for the great service, deelish food and frosty drinks. Check them out in person: www.fabrestaurants.ca/restaurant/dominion

 

20191003_143531

OSVALDO “OZZIE” NAPOLI OPENS HIS 2ND SOLO SHOW @ URBAN GALLERY (runs throughout October 2019)

Yesterday, Sat. Oct 5th, multi-media artist Osvaldo Napoli launched his latest solo show E-POQUE at Toronto’s Urban Gallery.  I spoke with Ozzie earlier in the week and he shared his thoughts and inspirations for his current works…

We walked around the gallery together as Ozzie told me the stories behind each piece….20191003_140159 20191003_140226 20191003_140352Across one wall, Ozzie showed me his collection of “smalls” – each incorporating computer & tech salvage into the artwork to tell the story of humanity intersecting with technology.

20191003_140356 20191003_140405 20191003_140636 20191003_140759…and one piece in particular, Ozzie told me, focuses on the issue of cyber-bullying and how technology impacts the young via social media.

Ozzie will be in the gallery every Saturday during October between 3-6pm to meet with art lovers and share his unique perspectives on technology and the human condition.  URBAN GALLERY, 400 Queen St East, Toronto www.UrbanGallery.caIMG_215420191003_140217 20191003_140242 20191003_140327

20191005_134720

WELCOME TO TORONTO’S FALL “THE BABY SHOW”- EVERYTHING FOR EVERY LITTLE PERSON!

Well wasn’t that a fun time?! Not having kids of my own, I’ve never been around little people for any length of time but today I had a blast with lots of mummies, daddies and adorable tots at The Baby Show currently hosted in the Enercare Centre (Hall B) at Exhibition Place, Toronto. The show runs throughout this weekend – 1 more day left Sunday Oct. 6 – so hurry on down for all sorts of freebies, samples, information on baby’s health, food, furniture, fashions and lots of booths promoting support services for new mums and dads, too. Here’s the show’s Founder Sandy Pedrogao to tell you all about it…

Along with hundreds of families, I wandered around the aisles, meeting some of the vendors and learning so much about 21st century parenthood versus how my mum & dad raised me in the 50’s & 60’s…give the kid a cardboard box, some string and a wooden spoon and voila…there’s your toys, Glenda…haa haa!

Loved these folks (below) from www.babynimbus.com who offer cute onesies and other fun things with doodles and pics from local artists. 20191005_145434I then met the charming couple (pictured below) operating www.thebabymamabox.com a monthly subscription box offering all sorts of samples and goodies delivered to your door. Boxes are customized for various age groups and also offer boxes just for mama herself. Products are hand-picked and mama tested so you’re sure to get the best.20191005_135656Here’s talented baker Walaa Alwan of Fantasy Cookies (yummm) who creates all sorts of delicious and oh-so-pretty cookies for special occasions like baby showers, christenings, baby’s 1st birthday…even engagement parties and wedding favours (get a head start on growing your family)  www.fantasycookieco.com20191005_141259(0) 20191005_141310Just along the aisle from Walaa, I ran into the crafty lady who knits & crochets cute critters for cute kids under the name www.monimon.ca  They are soooo adorable and it reminded me of toys my mum used to knit for my sister and me back in the 60’s – I still have a little penguin she made me….aaaaaw.20191005_141407www.mondobebe.com (below) offered a very elegant booth with luxury furniture and accessories for the most discerning babes. They have stores in Quebec and one a little closer in Mississauga.20191005_135953The Baby Brands Gift Club was a hive of activity as they gave out all sorts of treats, samples and informative brochures and magazines to show attendees. As you can see by the photo below, they were very popular!  Check out all the brand name products they offer at www.babybrandsgiftclub.ca 20191005_141524So I was thrilled (and surprised) that all the wee ones were quiet and I witnessed very few tantrums or crying. I guess the babies picked up on the vibe that this show was just for them! There were samples and contests for parents and lots of booths offering comfortable changing facilities as well as peaceful feeding areas curtained off to provide privacy and calmness.20191005_141138 20191005_145541 20191005_145206Congratulations to Sandy and her publicist Jakki for a successful showcase of all things baby! Follow them on Fcbk: TheBabyShowToronto  as well as Instagram: @TheBabyShows. Watch for announcements for their Spring show here in Toronto.logo

20190920_154954

CRUISING ABOARD THE “LADY MUSKOKA” VIEWING LUXURY WATERFRONT HOMES & COZY FAMILY CABINS

What a restful way to spend a late summer day out in cottage country. Last week I spied an intriguing ad in the Toronto Star promoting lunch cruises (2 3/4 hrs) with convenient coach pick-up in Toronto, courtesy of www.canadiandaytrippers.com  So I decided to join other like-minded folks and enjoy a leisurely trip and a fabulous 3-course luncheon aboard the Lady Muskoka.20190920_131040After about a one and 1/2hr drive north of Toronto, we arrived dockside to find our boat waiting, all decked out with flowers and food, courtesy of the chef from the adjacent Quality Inn. Bus was parked, a quick refresher in the hotel’s loos then off we went.20190920_132300As we chugged along the channel out into the lake, we were served a delicious selection of main courses, with a yummy fresh salad to start; they need to bottle and sell that salad dressing…yum! I chose grilled rainbow trout as my main course and it was…mmmmmm…so good. The mashed potatoes were the best I’d tasted in years! Sorry, no food pics ‘coz all my plates disappeared very quickly…haa haa.  I chose a great seat next to a big open picture window so I was able to snap away as the scenery went by. 20190920_142833 20190920_151243Lunch service completed, guests scurried up the gangway to the top deck to take in the full glory of Lake Muskoka and what a view we had…

The late summer sun was glorious and we all enjoyed the breeze coming off the water.20190920_15302620190920_151842 20190920_152309 20190920_154143After cruising around the vastness of the main lake, our captain guided us through some small channels, visiting the cozy more traditional Canadian cabins…20190920_153720 20190920_16191920190920_162529 20190920_162543Even  Bambi and his mum came out to greet us. I couldn’t believe these deer posed for us without darting back into the wood. I spied them as the boat came round a bend and everyone got their cameras and phones out…snap snap snap. I also alerted fellow sailors to some wild turkeys waddling across one cottage garden, fattening themselves up for Thanksgiving dinner…yummmm!

It was a great way to spend the day visiting all the little islands and fancy-schmancy homes lining the giant lake. Big thank you to the bus driver and Debbie, our guide and hostess-with-the-mostest from Canadian Day Trippers. Their one day get-aways are geared to seniors of all physical abilities (loved seeing all the kindness and care given those a little less physically adept) but everyone became “kids goin’ to camp” with lots of laughter and great conversations. I’ve found my tribe!  Next trip will be on the York-Durham Heritage Railway in late October to view the fall colours throughout the Oakridges Moraine. I cannot wait so why not join me?  www.canadiandaytrippers.com20190920_153159

 

20190905_161809

URBAN GALLERY PRESENTS VAYA’s FIRST TORONTO SOLO SHOW THROUGHOUT SEPTEMBER ’19

Swiss-born painter, photographer and performance artist VAYA has her first solo show in Toronto, CHILD OF ROCK, at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, throughout the month of September. The opening reception took place Thurs. Sept. 5th and gallery visitors were thrilled to meet the charming and engaging artist in person and viewing her unique artworks that included large format B&W fashion photographs and paintings built upon underlying photographic images of the artist herself. 20190905_165758Pictured above: Vaya, 2nd from L, is joined by her husband as well as gallery director, Calvin Hambrook (L) and curator Allen Shugar (R)

The show also features a stunning portrait of pop culture idol, Jim Morrison, in an acrylic and oil print on textile… Vaya created a huge canvas especially for this show that takes up much of the gallery’s rear wall!20190905_161642An incisive & provocative artist, VAYA explores, mixes, meets and transcribes the darkness in the angels’ voices. An energetic claw on each canvas, VAYA dances as she works and often by candlelight to be closer to the imperceptible. “It’s always a discovery the next day in daylight.”

She also employs a camera to share her creativity, “A way of getting out of yourself and becoming your own observer is fun and fascinating”.  VAYA has fun, dances, writes prayers on the souls of her music legend subjects.  “I like to pay tribute to those who have suffered so much, laying some particles of peace over their restless souls – isn’t that the artist’s role? Transfigure suffering into masterpieces? 20190905_16165120190905_164658In her own words….meet Vaya:

20190905_172710 20190905_161827Local artist Jennifer Hossein was welcomed to the gallery by Calvin… (below)20190905_173002…and Allen welcomed first time visitors Maryam and her budding artist daughter Ayda (below)20190905_180359(0)Of course, everyone wanted to check out Vaya’s exquisite footwear which were works of art themselves!20190905_183035If you’d like to learn more about this exciting new (to Toronto) artist, you can join Vaya at the gallery this coming Thursday Sept. 19 (6-7pm) for a special live performance of her music, dance and art. RSVP to attend: info@urbangallery.ca

CHILD OF ROCK runs until September 28th @ Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto  www.UrbanGallery.ca 20190905_164710

20190816_132543

VISITING MY ANCIENT RELATIVES AT THE ROYAL ONTARIO MUSEUM

It’s been a while since I took a spin around the galleries at Toronto’s ROM and as I’d been given a “golden ticket” to view the Treasures of a Desert Kingdom: The Royal Arts of Jodhpur, India (selected photos at end of blog) exhibition, I decided to capitalize on the all-access pass and take in some of my favourite displays, in particular the Etruscans (from whom I believe I am descended), the ancient Romans & Greeks, followed by the European 15th – 20th centuries for good measure. 20190816_131117 20190816_131354There were some exquisite jewellery displays of Etruscan baubles I’d never previously viewed – now I know from where I get my passion for carnelians & garnets…20190816_131723 20190816_132951 20190816_13294120190816_131423 20190816_131510Moving thru the various centuries of ancient civilization, so many great photo opps presented themselves….20190816_131645 20190816_131225 20190816_132135The Athena Parthenos (above) is recreated here with a model worshiper (bottom right) to show the original scale of this magnificent Greek goddess statue. And I loved the Cypriot busts (below) – the laurel crowned fellow on the right looks like he’s just been told an off-colour joke!20190816_132451Through a set of doors and around a corner, I spied the “In the Age of Rembrandt” exhibition so I flashed my VIP pass and in I went…20190816_133126Such beauty and elegance…several Dutch masters painting during the same era as Rembrandt are featured and as you pass thru the exit of this gallery, you’re bade farewell by a pair of Rembrandt’s stunning portraits…20190816_133253 20190816_13335920190816_133827I then proceeded into more recent centuries and viewed the room-scapes set up so visitors can get a taste of furnishings and lifestyles from the Tudors to the mid-20th century.20190816_134136 20190816_134217 20190816_134402 20190816_134507 20190816_135349Don’t you just love these mid-century modern chairs (above)? And haven’t we all had our bums in some of these seats, too?

Now back to the Indian exhibit – it closes Sept. 2nd and it’s well worth the museum entry fee just to see it. Stunning artworks, furnishings, royal jewellery & costumes…so much to admire and wonder at.20190816_123245 20190816_123306 20190816_123625 20190816_123639 20190816_124832 20190816_12514220190816_125426Check out the Royal Ontario Museum’s website for hours & directions: www.rom.on.ca/en

 

 

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URBAN GALLERY OPENS “HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY” GROUP SHOW, RUNS UNTIL AUG.31ST

Yesterday, the gallery was hopping with art lovers, friends and family of the seven featured artists in the August show HOT TOWN, SUMMER IN THE CITY which runs all month at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.20190810_144320 20190810_141319 20190810_140508The talented artists whose work covers the gallery walls are: Kris Bovenizer, Kirk Sutherland, Aisha Chiguichon, Moses Salihou, Michelle Hudson, Liliana Vera and Andres Valencia Zava, most of whom were present yesterday at the official launch reception.
Below, contemporary artist Moses Salihou, (originally from Cameroon, now living in Toronto) and his lovely wife Catherine pose in front of 2 of his 3 canvases…Moses & Catherineand below, gallery regular Kirk Sutherland whose work is represented in more than 15 int’l galleries, proudly showed off his “Metropolitan Panorama”20190810_142315…and here’s self-taught contemporary artist Michelle Hudson with her 3 colourful pieces painted on Yupo paper:Michelle Hudson with her artworksKris Bovenizer, who has previously exhibited at the gallery, also teaches traditional print-making, showed off 2 of her hand-pulled relief prints…20190810_144209Aisha Chiguichon came to the gallery ready to party and shared a toast with one of the gallery’s photographers. She’s self-taught and her colour palette has been inspired by her childhood in the Caribbean. Cheers, Aisha!Aisha Chiguichon with her artworks-1Unfortunately, I was not able to stay to meet up with Liliana or Andres but their works were exciting and stimulating, and very evocative of their own personal summer experiences. Their works are below, in order as mentioned: IMG-1027 (1) IMG-1031

The show runs until the end of August so if you’d like to enjoy viewing these paintings in air conditioned comfort, visit the gallery’s website for hours and directions: www.UrbanGallery.ca

And if you’d like to learn more about the artists, here are some weblinks or social media addresses for you to peruse:
@moses_salihou (IG)
www.kirksutherland.com
www.michellehudsonart.ca
www.krismadethis.com
@thecatintherain (IG – Liliana Vera)
www.capturethesoulcreations.com   (Aisha Chiguichon)
www.facebook.com/Andres-Valencia-ZavaIMG_5574