butterfly

2018 – THE YEAR IN REVIEW

2018 was an interesting year with clients from numerous business sectors coming on board and long-term clients Urban Gallery & Urban Source Catering creating some great events that I enjoyed promoting, and the delicious Thai restaurant, Isaan Der, serving up delicious plates for bloggers and celebrating their 1st anniversary. Recording artist, flautist and Canada’s leading international musical ambassador, Ron Korb, released his 20th solo album featuring Latin-themed original compositions that made it onto the nominations ballot for this year’s Grammy Awards.   A lot of less positive stuff happened over the past 12 months but I finally learnt to let it go so instead of dwelling on those who “forgot” to pay me for my services or just plain behaved badly, let’s take a look at some of the high points throughout Fordham PR’s year….

In January, Katica Visic, the Toronto promoter behind Cronnexion Concerts, brought the talented classical singer & flautist, Barbara Suhodolčan (below) from Croatia to entertain her legion of fans across the GTA. Barbara has a huge fan base in Europe and this was her first foray into the North American market. www.instagram.com/barbarasuhodolcan 20180103_110038In February, KulKat Entertainment Founder Kristina Kulikova and her partner Anton Azanov,along with Chantal Fry, Founder of Glisse on Ice Shows presented the Shiver Show at the Glenn Gould Theatre. Featuring dancers, skaters, aerialists, singers and gymnasts, the family-friendly show featured some spectacular entertainment, the likes of which Toronto had never seen before.  https://shiver-2.shivershow.ca/Kristina & Anton DSC_8046Sadly, February also brought a major loss for the publicity & promotions world – my dear friend and colleague Peter Ashworth of Ashworth & Associates passed away suddenly, leaving a huge hole in my heart as well as the local PR industry. Peter was always supportive of Fordham PR, assisting with media outreach when I couldn’t connect with certain journalists, and was kind to offer freebies to his events such as the annual Eat to the Beat breast cancer fundraiser (below) and the Toronto Home & Garden Show for which I blogged and undertook social media posting for him as a thank you. RIP, my friend.20161101_202703_001March ushered in Isaan Der’s 1st anniversary – the modestly sized Thai restaurant serves up authentic northern Thai dishes to their fans in The Junction, and beyond and after 1 year, owners Donald and chef Ko celebrated with their staff and local dignitaries and social media influencers. Since then, Isaan Der has added numerous food delivery services that have attracted even more customers to their yummy dishes. You MUST go try it sometime. www.isaander.com 20180313_181638In April, I attended the opening of local artist Al Runt’s jaw-dropping art show at #HashTag Gallery. Al and I go waaaay back to the 80’s when he became famous for his ground-breaking colourful murals across the exterior of Lee’s Palace.  www.instagram.com/alrunt20180412_190939 20180412_192355Throughout May, I helped publicize comedian Glen Foster’s radio show (with Lawrence Morgenstern) Hump Dump Live. Back in the 80’s when I ran Yuk Yuk’s Komedy Kabaret and it’s comedy agency, Funny Business, Glen and Lawrence were both in-demand stand-up comedians whom I booked across the country. They’re both still going strong and writing for themselves and others. www.thatcanadianguy.com   And Urban Gallery hosted their annual CONTACT Photography Festival showcase, featuring images of women at work which proved very popular.Head_shot_0089 (1) 011320180505_14250020180505_135110June is the start of Toronto’s big outdoor art shows and I attended several, gathering stories and photos for my new blog and online magazine Fly in the Gallery Wall. It’s also a big month for Urban Source Catering  [www.urbancatering.com] as they host numerous PRIDE events throughout the month.fly_on_wall_frame4 Grape & Burrata Crositini 3 Beet Cured Salmon on Cucumber 4July brought the annual Toronto Outdoor Art Show as well as a couple of days of playing hooky – I particularly enjoyed my visit to Port Hope with artist Nancy Bennett [www.nancybennett.ca] who took advantage of the sunshine and glistening Lake Ontario to sit down for some plein air painting. Urban Gallery hosted Wild in the City, a group show featuring four talented artist incl. Libby Sims (bottom image) [www.urbangallery.ca]20180717_13293720180707_134058August was hot, humid and hectic with promoting author and holistic family therapist Kristina Virro’s new book The Anxious Teen [www.fresh-insight.ca] strategizing flautist Ron Korb’s new album launch in the fall [www.ronkorb.com] and planning the September launch party for filmmaker/tv writer/director Caleb Olivieri’s webtv series, Unapology. [www.unapologytheseries.com]20180819_152749TorontoJazzCa-jpg (small)banner picSeptember is TIFF month – the Toronto Int’l Film Festival – which usually means I’m busy with incoming filmmakers and actors, hosting parties and promoting their films. This year, I pulled back and focused on working with young local producer/director/writer Caleb Olivieri whose webtv series, Unapology, told stories of the city and numerous families and individuals dealing with emotional and physical challenges. We hosted an official launch party for the series during TIFF to take advantage of the social media opportunities that allowed us to reach so many visiting media and personalities. Urban Gallery hosted another solo show this month, this time by Grace Dam who is a frequent exhibitor and popular with gallery visitors.

Caleb (R) with crew members

Caleb (R) with crew members

20180906_165424In October, Ron Korb produced a wonderful launch concert for his Latin-themed World Café album at Toronto’s Jazz Café. He was joined on stage by some of Canada’s premier musicians, several of whom had played on the album. The club was packed and Ron and his talented graphic designer/photographer wife, Jade, nearly ran out of CDs. And on the 27th, Kristina Virro appeared on CHCH Channel 11 (Hamilton) Morning Show Live to promote her book and she was a real hit with the viewers. I was also retained by an old friend and Flamingo Cabaret cast-mate (1979-80) Brian Kaulback to promote his 80th film appearance in the upcoming (April 2019) Shazam! Blockbuster movie. You might recognize Brian from his long-running stint as Const. Hodge in the hit TV series Murdoch Mysteries.20181017_21533920180927_071851

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November saw Ron’s World Café album not only make the nomination ballot for the Grammy Awards but also receive numerous accolades and chart-topping hits around the world. Ron did lots of media interviews including one with CIUT-FM’s Ken Stower – an advertising campaign was launched on this popular University of Toronto radio station whose listeners tune from across the globe!  Urban Gallery hosted Judith McKay’s solo show Hiraeth (below) featuring stunning abstract tree portraits.

Judith (L) w/family

Judith (L) w/family

LIVE THE WINDI’m normally thrilled to see the first snows of December but this year, Toronto has been spared the white frosty blanket…so far. Ron continued his media outreach with more interviews and an appearance on PBS TV when he guested on Canadian guitar legend Liona Boyd’s TV special.  We programmed a social media campaign for Thai restaurant client Isaan Der featuring the “12 Thai Dishes of Christmas”, a virtual “advent calendar” of delicious menu items for home delivery or in-house dining….see below20171101_145157As I close out 2018, I’ve been filing more stories for The Rider magazine, Ontario’s “voice of the horse” for whom I’d been writing an arts & entertainment column since the 90’s. Am also re-launching the Fly on the Gallery Wall eMagazine/blog which had been hacked a few months ago (damn those online vandals). Boxing Day was a big deal this year…it was my 65th birthday and although I now get out of bed each morning with a few more grunts and groans, I still feel about 35 years old between the ears…will I ever grow up? Hope not. Those little grey cells, as my favourite fictional detective Hercule Poirot would call his brain, are working just as fast and as efficiently as in my youth, although now I have a lifetime’s worth of experience & mileage from which to refer when making career or personal decisions, or offering advice to new clients. So bring it, 2019…do your worst and I’ll do my best.

With a little luck (and maybe a Lotto 649 win) I’ll be writing my 2019 year-in-review from my new office….
working on beach2

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ARTIST & ARTUSIASM GALLERY OWNER TANZINA AMIN SHOWCASES HER PAINTINGS IN “MY ECLECTIC POTPOURRI” SOLO SHOW

I had the pleasure of attending yesterday’s launch of artist and galley owner TANZINA AMIN‘s end-of-year solo show My Eclectic Potpourri at Artusiasm Gallery on St Clair Ave West in Toronto. What a riot of colour and energy welcomed me when I walked through the doors….so many vibrant colours and bold brush strokes!20181215_154334 20181215_154614Since first putting paint brush to canvas, Tanzina’s style has changed dramatically and she included several pieces from earlier years to illustrate her journey as an artist. Just look at these stunning classic landscapes…20181215_154429 20181215_154437And then came this abstract expressionist landscape….20181215_154629…and finally she blossomed into an exciting abstract portrait artist resulting in these commanding faces:20181215_154322Tanzina expresses her sense of humour freely with this super fun doggy portrait. Who wouldn’t want to be greeted by this happy face every day…let’s go walkies?20181215_154451(0)

Meet the artist:

Tanzina is a Bangladeshi-Canadian artist in Toronto. Art has always been her passion as well as her retreat from the demands of everyday life. Having graduated in Architecture, Tanzina is drawn towards visual composition and balance. She is fascinated and inspired by colourful ethnic cultures and traditions. She loves forms which are powerful in their simplicity and embrace an abstract style. 20170616_194138Until three years ago, Tanzina had never shown her art in public. She began drawing and sketching on her own as a teenager, and eventually took two years of formal training in traditional oil painting with a renowned Bangladeshi artist in the mid 1980s. Eventually she had no more time for art as she focused on her education, family and career. She started painting again after a 23+ year break and found herself moving away from realism and traditional styles. She began exploring abstract expressionism, including taking a few courses. As Tanzina continued to study and learn, she became more and more intrigued with the versatility of abstract art, and how it can evoke impulse in the viewer to find their own path to interpretation.

Tanzina teaches art and conducts workshops and paint parties. She loves to create fun and innovative art workshops such as expressionist style pet portraiture and self portraits. Besides her busy career, her art, and her teaching, Tanzina also co-owns Artusiasm Gallery with her husband and biggest fan Carlos Rodrigues (pictured below at an earlier show).18056993_1918219221797435_3490818180837130716_nTo Tanzina, painting is meditative, therapeutic and expressive. It helps her be in the moment. She is continually modifying her style and techniques to find new ways of expressing herself. She loves to explore the realms of colour, texture and form. Tanzina hopes her art makes a personal connection with the viewer. (courtesy of www.tanzina.ca)

I loved this particular series of glamorous ladies (below)…20181215_154538 …and was incredibly moved when Tanzina presented me with my favourite piece (the one on the left) as a thank you for support given to Artusiasm’s shows over the past couple of years. I so related to this lady in the picture, ignoring the fab party going on behind her, just gazing out across the ocean, wineglass in hand with thoughts of future adventures and romances (I’m sure). Thank you so much, Tanzina, I am extremely honoured.20181215_155818So if you’re looking for an inspiring and fun experience over the month of December, visit Artusiasm Gallery, 1684 St Clair Ave West, Toronto. For gallery hours and directions:  www.artusiasm.com  48361603_10155820581946881_4886027977877356544_n

 

 

 

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VANESSA CUARTAS’ COLOURFUL HORSE PAINTINGS STAMPEDE INTO URBAN GALLERY, TORONTO

URBAN GALLERY‘s artist for December 2018 offers up a whole herd of colourful, vibrant horses galloping across the gallery walls: VANESSA CUARTAS presents lively abstract equine portraits in her solo show BRIO that runs now until December 29th….a glorious exhibition on which to end the year!

Of Colombian heritage, Vanessa is originally from Miami, and now resides in Toronto. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Florida with an emphasis on graphic design, later receiving an Art Direction Diploma from the Miami Ad School.  Throughout her school years and any personal time, Vanessa always found time to paint as much as she could, and rode her family’s horses regularly. She became passionate about the Puerto Rican Paso Fino breed and if you look carefully at her paintings, you can see their influence in the  conformation (stance) of each subject.20181208_132318 20181208_132234We spoke with Vanessa just before the gallery doors were opened and here is what she shared…

A designer by day and artist by night, her passion for painting has grown stronger in recent years. When she first moved to Toronto, she was without an established circle of friends and struggling to find an artistic focus so Vanessa decided to do what she loved most: paint horses. Her unique contemporary style has found an appreciative audience and her circle of friends has grown exponentially, many of whom attended the gallery on Vanessa’s opening day, Saturday Dec. 8th (below).20181208_15345720181208_145619 20181208_145604Her bold colorful BRIO series conveys movement and a lot of positive energy that attracts attention, even from the littlest art fans….20181208_152742Joining Vanessa at the opening were her husband, Mario (below R) and brother JP (below (L)20181208_132939And gallery curator, Allen Shugar (below L) and gallery director Calvin Hambrook (below R) joined Vanessa to celebrate her opening.20181208_135152If you love horses, you will LOVE this exhibition….20181208_132332 20181208_132959 20181208_141302_001…and within the first half-hour of her opening reception, Vanessa had already sold one piece, titled “The Journey”(below)20181208_142046

20181208_132149 20181208_132114 20181208_135547 20181208_135803If you missed the opening reception, you can come meet the artist Saturday Dec.15th (2pm to 4pm) and you can also visit the gallery weekdays and Saturdays throughout the month of December. Log on to www.UrbanGallery.ca for hours and directions – located at 400 Queen St East, Toronto.IMG_3165

UG-Letterhead-BC

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Celebrating the festive season in Port Hope (Part 2)

Day 2 in Port Hope and I was awakened to the deelish smells of fresh coffee and bacon frying up in the kitchen. After a quick “bird bath” I went downstairs to be greeted by my hosts Corinne & Ron who own the Summerhill Manor B&B, pictured below taken from their website.

www.SummerhillManor.com

www.SummerhillManor.com

Even though Saturday morning was rather overcast and grey, their charming tearoom was bright and cheery and I enjoyed the nutritious breakie set before me – perfect for fueling my day of watching the Santa Claus Parade.20181124_084028 20181124_083633 20181124_083727 20181124_083711After downing several cups of piping hot coffee, I set off to wander the town, looking for further adventures and making new friends. During the previous night’s wagon ride, I sat with a lovely lady, Claudia, and her family – she told me she worked at a hair salon & spa and I should come in for a quick manicure…so I did. A really great way to spend half an hour, tidying up my fingernails and learning more about the town – you know bartenders and salon ladies are THE best people when it comes to local gossip and news. I found Studio 100 a couple of blocks down from the B&B and the lovely Brianna welcomed me and took me thru to the chi-chi poo-poo spa rooms and worked some serious magic on my cuticles…thank you, Bwww.studio100.ca20181124_105304 20181124_105052After I emerged from the spa side with fab sparkly fingers, look who I found hard at work doing a client’s hair….Claudia!20181124_105059Studio 100 is definitely worth the drive from Toronto (gorgeous decor, great prices & talented, friendly staff) – sorry, I didn’t take more pics but there were clients in all stages of hair foil and spa treatments so I respected their privacy.

I then wandered across one of the bridges over the Ganaraska River, saying hello to these festive Christmas “ambassadors”…20181124_105459…and then I found PharmaSave, the big drugstore Val told me about the previous night. Wow, she was so right – so many fab gift ideas and home decor as well as all manner of nifty health care accessories and daily grocery supplies. And I loved their prices, too! It’s more like a department store, filled with clothing, Christmas decorations, Hannukah menorahs & candles, jewellery, scented candles….Santa’s one-stop shop for the entire family!20181124_111513I then made my way back to Walton Street and visited Roger at Dreamers Cafe, who showed me around his “Tardis” of a restaurant/coffee shop (if you’re a Dr. Who fan, you’ll know what I mean). His Christmas tree was so pretty, as was his mantle which was decorated with a tiny holiday village. www.dreamerscafe.ca20181124_112521 20181123_212746 20181123_212737As it was close to 1pm parade kick-off, I quickly made my way to where the Northumberland TV cameras were set up and Ken Bell was getting ready for his colour-commentary duties…but oh no, down came the rain. It was a deluge and the street was suddenly lined with umbrellas and the kids huddled beneath mum and dad’s coats, waiting eagerly for the big man in red to go by regardless of the cold and wet.

After toughing it out and getting thoroughly drenched, I very smartly decided to enter the BMO Instant Teller foyer on the corner. Inside I found a lovely heater, a bench plus a HUGE picture window from which I could safely bring out my phone camera and snap what views I could of the parade. 20181124_134347And you can tell I was really into the whole parade thing…SANTA!!! Yes, I was able to video the big man from the safety and dryness of the bank lobby, along with a few others who had sought refuge with me….

 

The parade wound its way through the streets and headed out to the Firefighters’ Museum about half a mile away. I had planned to follow and have a photo taken sitting on Santa’s lap but the rain and cold forced a change of plans….I needed some retail therapy and warm comfort! My Sister’s Closet is a cool vintage, gently worn and new clothing boutique offering all manner of fab fashion finds. Owner Tammy welcomed me, along with her colleague Faye, and I was thrilled to find some really gorgeous boots – what do you think?20181124_141156 20181124_141338 20181124_141408 20181124_141533I had previously met Tammy a few years ago when she had worked in a now-closed fashion store on Walton Street, and she remembered me when I shopped there with my BFF Erena who purchased a few items from her. Now Tammy is queen of her own domain in this amazing store with all its nooks and crannies, including a vintage wedding dress corner.20181124_142256Definitely check the store out when you visit Port Hope…you can easily spend an hour or so combing thru the racks! www.mysistersclosetporthope.com 

Another of my fave stores to visit is G. Facey, which has been in business for 20+ years, bringing Canadian and int’l designer lines to the town’s fashionistas of all ages. Owner Teri-Jo welcomed me Friday night when the store was packed with shoppers trying on clothes and oo’ing and aah’ing over the great prices (so I didn’t take any pics out of respect for their privacy). It may not look big from the street but the store goes way back with different departments and spacious change rooms. Lots of men’s designer lines are on the racks, too, and when I visited there were two gentlemen trying on gorgeous shirts.  Wish I could have photographed them as they looked so handsome.  www.gfaceys.com20181125_132208That night, I attended the “naughty” King Arthur Christmas pantomime presented at the Capitol Theatre, another historical building, but again, I had to schlep my way through the pouring rain so no pics of the theatre marquee, damn! Enjoyed another late night snack at Nookie’s (see Pt. 1 blog) then off to bed at the B&B.

Sunday morning dawned bright with the rain just a memory. Another yummy breakfast of eggs and bacon at Summerhill Manor…20181125_133339…then a little more time strolling the historic streets before I headed back to Toronto. I visited Mercury Chocolates to pick up some treats for my friend Laura who I got hooked on the organic, dark chocolates created in-house by talented foodie Darren Johnswww.mercurychocolates.com20181009_142535…and, of course, one last visit to Queenie’s for a special treat!20181125_113112 20181124_113131So thank you to the people of Port Hope for making me feel so welcome. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all the friendly shopkeepers, artisans & craftspeople, the artists of Critical Mass and to my hosts at the Summerhill Manor. As Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say…“I’ll be back”!20181124_111738

 

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Celebrating the festive season in Port Hope (Part1)

This past weekend, I decided to join my friends in Port Hope to celebrate the Christmas season, so I booked my VIA Rail ticket and set off for my adventure on Friday afternoon. Before arriving in Cobourg (the main rail stop for area), the train whistled hello to Port Hope as we rode across the Ganaraska River over the big bridge. Woohoo!

On this Friday night, Port Hope merchants presented their annual Midnight Madness late night shopping, after the townsfolk strolled the streets during the candlelight walk to the main park for the Christmas lighting ceremony and opening of the nativity scene in the bandshell. I was thrilled when I was “adopted” by a lovely family and got to join them on the candlelight walk (thanks, Val from Pharmasave, for bringing me into the family).

20181123_190539 20181123_192017 20181123_192020Lots of fun rides and activities, including VIA Rail‘s mini train chugging around the streets, full of laughing kids and parents. What fun!20181123_192638And everybody loved the maple syrup pops made fresh, courtesy of the local Home Hardware store. Yummm!

I also took a ride on the wagon drawn by 2 big Shire horses thru the streets, then spent time injecting some cash into the local economy…yes, it was time to shop!!

As always, my first stop was at Queenie’s Bake Shop where owner Adam (that’s him on the TV screen) and his staff were running a toy drive and I was happy to donate a couple of treasures, too.  www.queenies-bake-shop.business.site/20181124_113140 20181123_162352Then off I went next door to the Kenneth Bell jewellery & fashion boutique for some retail therapy and shopping for pressies. Ken was kind enough to pick me up from the station and bring me into Port Hope that afternoon. We always share a laugh when I visit… www.kennethbell.com

20181123_172143 20181123_171608 20181123_171552After my credit card got a good workout at Ken’s, I then went to visit the elegant and friendly Bubbles & Gems where I picked up a couple of pressies for my sister Jenny in Australia…no photos of them ‘coz I think she actually reads my blog! https://bubblesandgems.com/  They have a lovely section of the store towards the back that is set aside for display and sales of local artisans’ work and I highly recommend you visiting and supporting the local craftspeople.20181125_132232 20181123_173731 20181123_173718As I made my way up Walton Street, I saw so many beautiful window displays including Holton Flowers (they ALWAYS have big beautiful floral displays in the windows)  www.holtonflowers.com/20181123_174618 20181123_174603Then across the street, I saw Furby House Books and loved their Dickensian style windows, and the travel agents next door with their festive globes…all decked out for the holidays.20181123_174829 20181123_174834 20181123_174844I was getting very hungry – it’s exhausting spending money!!! so I sought out Nookie’s Soul Kitchen & Bar, one of the town’s best restaurants offering gourmet meals. Friday is “surf’n’turf” special night. Yes, lobster & steak for $20 (see below) and it was DELICIOUS! Thanks to Tony the cute bartender for taking care of my needs….LOL!   www.nookiesph.com20181123_204114Burp! That was soooo good!

Finally it was time to go tuck myself in for the night so I walked past more delightful decorations, up the hill to my home for the weekend. I stayed at the Summerhill Manor B&B (more about that in Part 2 of the blog) 20181123_174857

20181123_185734So with a full tummy and heart full of joy, I slipped beneath the big fluffy comforter and slept well until I awoke to smell of fresh coffee brewing and bacon on the kitchen grill. Chef Ron of the Summerhill was up early getting my breakfast ready.  TO BE CONTINUED…..

For tourist info: www./visitporthope.ca/

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ENJOYING SPARKLES AND SPIRIT @ GEM EXPO & META EXPO IN TORONTO

This past weekend, I enjoyed an afternoon surrounded by sparkle and spirit at the Gem Expo and Meta Expo, hosted at the Hyatt Hotel on King West in downtown Toronto. Held three times a year, Gem Expo presents purveyors of raw and processed precious & semi-precious stones, pearls and other geological treasures, along with a selection of jewellery designers offering rings, necklaces, earrings for all tastes and wallets. 20181111_120658I made am immediate jewellery “love connection” with Abby from Coyote Tales, a talented craftswoman who travelled down to the city from Harcourt, way up north! Abby makes unique pieces in copper and silver and I picked out one of her rings which she is now customizing for me in my size (bottom pic). Wow!  www.coyotetales.ca 20181111_12065220181111_131249Quebec-based designer Luce Gilbert displayed so many gorgeous pieces, especially the delicate blue Amazonite. Needless to say, I caved and purchased a lovely (and affordable) pair of earrings. www.lucegilbert.com20181111_121533There were lots of visitors gathered around the tables loaded with glitz and bling….20181111_130559… and have you ever seen what raw emeralds and rubies look like? Here are some strands – so beautiful, along with  other precious stones displayed ready for jewellers to work into their own designs of rings, earrings, necklaces.20181111_123031 20181111_123053As the exhibition hall started to fill up….20181111_125603…I decided to head across the lobby to the Meta Expo, the partner show, and check out some of the metaphysical services and information there.20181111_131701I immediately felt a shift in energy (and room temperature) and was swept into a world of gentle calm, helped along by soothing fragrances of incense and sweetgrass from Hamsa Heaven. www.hamsaheaven.com20181111_13160320181111_131715I spoke briefly with Jes Savage who works in crystal therapy, Reiki, Orgone devices and past life regression. So much to learn and experience – Jes has a fabulous store on Etsy: SavageSpiritTools and is on Instagram @savage.spiti.tools so I encourage you to go check out yourselves.20181111_133938 20181111_133945There were several renowned psychics on hand to offer readings and advice…20181111_133301…and I found show Founder/manager Salim Moorani taking photos of his exhibitors (below) as they worked on visitors seeking enlightenment and healing.20181111_132922I spent some time chatting with the delightful Alexandra of Shea Haus Apothecary whose unique candle designs got me thinking of my hospitality clients and the potential for using them for wedding decor and bridal favours. Very affordable and so unique. Check out her candle designs and holistic skincare at www.sheahaus.ca 20181111_134343 20181111_151548And yes, I bought one of her candles (above), filled with lavender buds and crystals, and lit it as soon as I got home!

I also treated myself to a few fabulous finds (below) including Amazonite earrings from Luce Gilbert, an Aventurine stretchy bracelet from www.BeadIt.com, a garnet stretchy bracelet from one of the Meta exhibitors and a lovely carnelian ring from www.najibjewellers.com. And I’m looking fwd to Abby’s copper ring I’ll receive in 2 weeks’ time.20181111_151350

A big Thank You to Salim for granting me access to both shows and introducing me to his wonderful and talented exhibitors. If you’d like to visit the next Gem/Meta Expo, visit www.thegemexpo.com for news of upcoming dates in 2019

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TORONTO ARTIST JUDITH McKAY UNVEILS SOLO SHOW “HIRAETH” @ URBAN GALLERY

Running throughout the month of November, Hiraeth is thesolo show featuring stunning and colourful contemporary landscapes and “tree portraits” presented by JUDITH McKAY at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East in downtown Toronto.20181110_132357The Toronto artist explores fantasy as a means of finding peace in a frenetic world. Trees are her allegory for the endless pursuits of modern life: rooted, yet branching out to reach the sky.20181110_132237

20181110_132301Largely self-taught, Judith’s style is free-flowing. She uses both thick impasto and fluid colour to achieve movement and boldness. Fearless about colour, she uses a vibrant palette, applying interference and iridescent paints to achieve surrealistic effects. Her style is constantly evolving via frequent participation in workshops and exhibitions, as well as studying the techniques of other artists.

Judith (below L) was joined by her husband Rob Sylvester (below R), and her daughter Shannon (below C) came in all the way from New Jersey to celebrate the big opening reception!20181110_134458The gallery looked bright and welcoming on such a grey Saturday – and soon the guests started pouring in, admiring all the canvases….20181110_144400 20181110_142700 20181110_141442

20181110_132308 20181110_132620 20181110_145817ARTIST’s STATEMENT: Hiraeth (here-eye-th) is a Celtic word that means a wistful longing for a place to where you cannot return. A place that perhaps never was. The desire for a sense of peace and belonging are emotions I seek to capture in my work. Such desire can often turn to frustration when the real world doesn’t live up to fantasy, and so I depict trees, firmly rooted yet dancing in the wind, to symbolize resiliency as we continue to seek our true home, despite adversity. For this exhibition, I chose a vibrant palette and the use of high gloss medium and reflective paints to create an ethereal effect, as if awakening from a beautiful dream that quickly evaporates and eludes us. The pieces selected for display are meant to truly express what Hiraeth means to me.   ~ Judith McKay

I had the opportunity of chatting briefly with Judith prior to opening the doors of the gallery and she kindly shared with me her process and inspirations, especially for this collection….

If you would like to see Judith’s gorgeous, lush paintings, visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours and directions, and follow Judith on her Instagram account: @judithmckayart

Hiraeth runs now until Nov. 30th at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.

Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!20181110_132455

 

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