BJForever

MEET THE BAND WHO BRINGS BON JOVI TO LIFE ON STAGE! SEE/HEAR THEM LIVE SEPT. 16TH IN OSHAWA

“Living on a Prayer”, “Dead or Alive”, “Blaze of Glory”…I can still hear Bon Jovi’s greatest hits playing in my head. And I still remember being within spittin’ distance of Jon when he commanded the concert stage in Toronto so many years ago.  Fortunately we can re-live those glory days thanks to an Ontario group who pays tribute to the band with an uncanny resemblance (both looks and sound) – Bon Jovi Forever.  The band is part of a 5-group concert performing on September 16th in Oshawa when Sunrise Concerts presents the 1st Annual Durham Rock Tribute Festival (see below for details & tkt info).14595581_569365786583802_3383937147522332532_nI recently spoke with Bon Jovi Forever frontman Baz Littlerock who shared his thoughts on performing for fans as the original legendary band.

What first inspired you to sing and perform like Bon Jovi?   I have been a Bon Jovi fan since the Slippery When Wet album came out. It was never my goal to sound like Bon Jovi or do a Bon Jovi tribute band, but as years went on, I constantly would get compared to him vocally even though we did no Bon Jovi songs. In fact, we were doing Maiden, Ozzy, White Zombie (LOL) and people would say “Do you know who you sound like?” So when my son was born, I wanted to be a part of his life and not tour the world so I thought I would start a tribute band and since everyone said I sounded like Bon Jovi it was an easy decision.21244753_10159200736795361_85784443_nWhat has been the weirdest, wildest or most memorable gig you’ve played?  Since 2000, there have been many Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, James Bay, Quebec and New Brunswick tours – so many, but the one that sticks out was in the summer of 2016 when we performed at Q107’s Canada Day festival picnic in Toronto and it was an amazing night!  The whole crowd – I’m guessing 10,000 or maybe more – were all into it and we had such a great night!  But there have been so many great shows over the years that it’s hard to pick just one.

Was rock your first passion or were you a closet disco lover?  Umm, well my dad was all about The Beatles and my mom loved Elvis and Kenny Rogers so I heard a lot of that. The first album I ever bought was Michael Jackson’s Thriller then Huey Lewis’ Sports. I was asked to do a Motley Crue lip-sync band (with all the big hair) where we could pretend to play all the instruments so we made our costumes and instruments – it was awesome. I was hooked so I bought a real guitar and all the Motley albums and have been a rocker ever since.

What keeps you (and the band) on the road and performing for the fans?  The fans mostly. The only time you’re thinking about money is when you booking the show. Once you’re on stage playing there is a “love making” that happens between the band and the audience when you get both parties ready to have a good time, there is honestly – nothing feels better. Its probably a lot like golf – it’s not always your best game every time but when you do have that great shot, you always want that feeling again so you’re constantly chasing that experience.Bon Jovi ForeverHave you ever met any of the Bon Jovi band members, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them?  No, but I have met their new guitarist Phil X – just none of the original line up. If I did meet them I would just say thanks for all the great music they’ve given us – different genres like country to pop to metal and beautiful ballads because as a singer, it allows for a good vocal work out: one minute you’re belting out “Living on a Prayer” and the next you can lay back and sing a song like “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”.

Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars? We have a ton of great shows coming up including Belleville for New Years. You can check our upcoming dates by logging on to www.bonjoviforever.ca  or our Facebook (just type in Bon Jovi Forever Tribute Band to find us).

Let’s meet the band….Top left Roscoe Stewart, top right Darryl Coleman, bottom left John E. Keys, bottom right Paul Mathur and centre Baz Littlerock 

If you’re a fan of great rock or blues, you’ll love the line-up: Thunderstruck (AC/DC), Southern Fried (Skynyrd & Allmans), Bad to the Bone (Thorogood), the SRV Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) and Bon Jovi Forever. MC is the incomparable, award-winning comedian Kenny Robinson.

 

Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival 
Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca  $45 pp (valid until Sept.5) then $65 pp

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

CONCERT RAISES FUNDS FOR NEXT MONTH’S “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL”

Last week, one of Toronto’s favourite watering holes, The Duke on Queen St East, played host to a special fundraising concert benefiting this year’s 14th Annual Beach Celtic Festival (Sept. 9/10) and festival founder SANDY GRAHAM was thrilled to welcome an exciting line-up of Celtic dancers and musicians to the stage.

MC  & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured musicians to take their bows.

MC & performer Don Graham is joined on stage by featured performers to take their bows.

Thanks to the generosity of the performers and that of the prize donors for the silent auction, a substantial amount of money was raised to help underwrite the costs for producing the annual festival celebrating the contributions made to Toronto’s history and growth by Scottish, Irish, Welsh and English immigrants.

Led by Meghan Bold, the lovely ladies from the Bold Steps Dance Studio entertained with traditional dances and clogging – the excited crowd clapped along in time.

Apart from MC’ing the evening, singer/songwriter Don Graham opened the night with some great tunes….20170822_195838…and he was followed shortly by roots musician Syd Simkins (below)…20170822_203237….and award-winning artist Lisa Hartt (below)20170822_205652The auction tables were pretty busy throughout the night, offering all sorts of treasures and treats.20170822_183041 20170822_183938MPP Arthur Potts (below) dropped by to wish Sandy and the Festival volunteers well…and shared a few funny stories with the audience. He and Sandy go waaaay back and she was delighted to pose for pictures with him.20170822_194407 20170822_195102Music insider and columnist for Cashbox Canada e-magazine (Sandy is publisher of this long-running music magazine), Lenny Stout (below, left) helped sell 50-50 draw tickets with Festival volunteer Fiona Lawson (right). 20170822_203358…they also helped Don with the draw. And the winner is…. Zita DaSilva who was obviously very excited about the result!20170822_220328Sandy was pleased to welcome reporter Courtney from Snapd newspaper (below left) to the event where she snapped lots of pictures of the performers including Brooke and Steve from Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost.20170822_211243 20170822_213338Stephen Lamb (Old Man Flanagan’s Ghost) was, in fact, presented with the “Beach Celt of the Year” award honouring his contributions to the Celtic community and continued support of the Festival. Steve was later joined by Sandy and MPP Potts for photo opps.20170822_212210 20170822_195122

It truly was a grand night and the artists and audience all paid tribute to Sandy Graham for creating such a unique family-friendly annual event.  You can learn more at www.thecelticfestival.com

BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL
Sat/Sun September 9 & 10 and it’s FREE!
Kew Gardens, Queen St East in the Beach, Toronto

Poster

 

“SOUTHERN FRIED” BRINGS THE MUSIC OF SKYNYRD & ALLMAN BROS. TO OSHAWA TRIBUTE BAND FEST. SEPT. 16

Local music promoter Sunrise Concerts is presenting a special 1-night-only showcase of the best rock tribute bands in the country on Saturday September 16th (doors open at 5pm) at the General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa.  Featuring Thunderstuck (AC/DC), Bon Jovi Forever (Bon Jovi), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Bros.), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood) and the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) the event will be hosted by comedian Kenny Robinson (winner of Canadian Comedy Awards’ “Phil Hartman Award” & star of numerous TV comedy specials). The venue offers seating plus bar & food service. Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca There’s a special promotion valid until Sept. 5th – tickets are $45 per person in advance then $65 online and at the door after Sept. 5th.

This promises to be a fantastic night for fans of hard-driving rock, blues and southern rock so head out to Oshawa for this packed night of music and memories.crowds

I recently spoke with David Forbes, the vocalist from Southern Fried who shared his thoughts on performing the music of two of the greatest southern blues/rock bands ever: Lynyrd Skynyrd and The Allman Brothers Band.

David, what first inspired you to perform southern rock classics from Lynyrd Skynyrd and Allman Bros?  When I was about 14, an older cousin introduced me to Lynyrd Skynyrd music and eventually The Allman Brothers Band.  I felt a real connection to this music.Are you the founder of the band or did you start playing in collaboration with one or more band members to get things rolling?  I had been playing drums and doing lead vocals for about a dozen years when I made a decision to start a Southern Rock tribute and then I recruited a friend, Chris Bishop, to play bass and help me to get the band going. I was to front the band so I could focus on vocal performance. Chris was the one to come up with the name “Southern Fried” which was taken from a K-tel album of Southern Rock tunes.SF GF 4Was this musical genre your first passion or were you a closet country & western fan?  I was already a big fan of KISS, Rush and Alice Cooper but I then started to gravitate towards some more blues-oriented music.

What has been the weirdest, wildest or most memorable gig you’ve played?  Playing at Q107’s Million Vacations Party March 2011 where we opened for The Georgia Satellites and played in front of 3,500 people.  That is one of my favorite gigs so far!Have you ever met any of the band members from Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Bros, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them?  I have, in fact, met Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes (pictured below), both formerly of The Allman Brothers Band. I asked both of them if they would sign my guitar for me which they were kind enough to oblige.      10393827_865928660100574_7458428394532123684_n Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars? At the present time, we‘re booked for a private function at The Balmy Beach Club at the end of September and we should announcing a date soon for The Edge in Ajax with Steve Boyle.

You can follow Southern Fried on Facebook.com/Southern-Fried

Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival 
Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)
General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa
Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca  $45 pp (valid until Sept.5) then $65 pp

Thanks to our media sponsor…..CKDO logo

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MEET SANDY GRAHAM, FOUNDER OF THE ANNUAL “BEACH CELTIC FESTIVAL” IN TORONTO

Way back in the late 70’s, I first met Sandy Graham (pictured below) who was running a fabulous nightclub called Route 66 on Jarvis St down near Dundas.sandyRoute 66 was a 50’s theme bar and dance club, sorta like Arnold’s on Happy Days but with a big dance floor instead of diner booths. Sandy held court there nightly, leading the talented waiters/dancers out on the dancefloor, getting the crowd up on their feet doing the triple swing, the stroll and even the hand-jive. During this time, I was running a similar club, Ollie’s, located inside the entertainment complex called The Ports of Call (or The Ports for short) up at Yonge & Summerhill. Instead of rivals, we became fast friends.

Skip ahead a few decades(!) and Sandy is still entertaining crowds but this time she is sharing her Celtic heritage and presenting an annual family-friendly festival as a tribute to her late mother who was an accomplished highland dancer and true-blue Scottish lass. So welcome to the 14th annual Beach Celtic Festival!  www.thecelticfestival.comPosterEach September, Sandy hosts this 2-day party for Toronto’s Scots, Irish, English and Welsh descendants with lots of great musical entertainment, dancing, a vendors village where you can pick up all sorts of treats and treasures, and a great community spirit. I’m so pleased to help her promote this year’s event and I asked her to share her thoughts on putting on such a show…..

How did you come up with the idea for a festival celebrating Celtic heritage and culture in Toronto?My Mum (pictured below) passed away in Montreal on June 30, 2001 and because the next day was July 1st (Canada Day) we could not get to her in the funeral home until after the long weekend. I took a walk and ended up in Kew Gardens where the 48th Highlanders of Canada were performing and that was it. I knew I had to do a celebration in that park. It took a few more years and then September 2003 the Beach Celtic Festival was ‘born’.

Jemima Sutherland (L)

Jemima Sutherland (L)

BCF 9 MUMAfter 14 years, how has the event grown/changed since you first launched this unique outdoor ceilidh?    Originally, the Beach Celtic Festival was only supposed to be a one-off event, a celebration of life for my Mum. It was so successful that first year that we decided to keep going. It stayed as a one day event until 6 years ago and has now grown into a two day event. It is now embraced by the neighbourhood and beyond. It’s lovely to get emails from all over the world asking us about the Celtic festival.BCF 10 The CrowdBCF PIPERSYou are also hosting a fundraising event at The Duke tavern on Queen St East this Tuesday night (Aug. 22) – how expensive is it to produce a 2-day family festival in Kew Gardens?  And do you receive any government funding or corporate sponsorship to underwrite these expenses? The Beach Celtic Festival costs close to $10,000 to produce which includes permits, insurance, portable toilets, stage and sound requirements, expenses and publicity. We do not receive government funding and Kew Gardens is a public park and so it cannot have a gate entrance fee. I don’t think people realize how expensive it is and unfortunately there are restrictions to sponsorship as well.

Do your local Beach neighbourhood businesses support or contribute to this event that draws thousands of people to the area each year?  The Beach residents are very supportive of this event and I get asked on the street all the time about when it is and what they can expect this year. I think the businesses appreciate that we don’t host a lot of competitive vendors i.e. coffee, food, clothing etc. and that our vendors are very strictly Celtic in theme and flavour. I always say that it is a tough rent on Queen Street East and if we can all bring more people into the Beach to spend money and enjoy our little Brigadoon for the weekend then that is all good.20140906_17155820140906_171621Over the years, what has been the most fulfilling experience you’ve enjoyed as producer of the Beach Celtic Festival?  There are times during the Celtic that I just stand on the gazebo and look around at the park and realize these are the same trees, the same baseball diamond, the same park my Dad ran around in as a little boy so it has come full circle. There is something magical to see the park full of people enjoying the Celtic ways and hearing all the accents. Smiles galore.BCF 7 Wee Ones DancingAny other comments you’d like to share?  Although the Beach Celtic Festival is my ‘baby’, it truly would not happen without all the love and support I get from everyone involved in the yearly production. Everyone rallies around to push it through year after year and I am eternally grateful for those people. From friends, family, talent and the Celtic Team (including yourself, Glenda) there is great comfort in knowing the Celtic Festival will be around long after I am gone as it is safe in the next generation’s hands. I also wish to extend a welcome to all nationalities to come experience some of the music, ways and wares of the Celtic Community.BCF 8 'Braveheart' BCF  Wee OneSo watch the skies over Kew Gardens for flying dragons…better still, come on down and bring the kids, bring granny, bring your BFF. The Beach Celtic Festival is FREE!

Saturday Sept. 9 & Sunday Sept. 10 (9am-6pm)

Kew Gardens,  Queen St East in Toronto

www.thecelticfestival.com

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MUSIC FANS TO ENJOY A NIGHT OF ROCK LEGEND TRIBUTES IN OSHAWA

Local music promoter Sunrise Concerts is presenting a special 1-night-only line-up of the best rock tribute bands in the country on Saturday September 16th (doors open at 5pm) at the General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa.  Featuring Thunderstuck (AC/DC), Bon Jovi Forever (Bon Jovi), Southern Fried (Lynyrd Skynyrd/Allman Bros.), Bad to the Bone (George Thorogood) and the Stevie Ray Vaughan Experience (Stevie Ray Vaughan) the event will be hosted by comedian Kenny Robinson (winner of Canadian Comedy Awards’ “Phil Hartman Award” & star of numerous TV comedy specials). The venue offers seating plus full bar and food service. And tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca (but watch for upcoming special promo codes for early-birds and group discounts).

This looks to be a fantastic night for fans of hard-driving rock, blues and southern rock so get your dancin’ shoes on and head out to Oshawa for this packed night of music and memories.

I recently spoke with the various bands and Blair Briceland, the vocalist from Thunderstruck shared his thoughts on performing the music of one of the most iconic hard rock bands in the world, AC/DC2678E4393C824D72A775264435F62395Blair, please tell me a little about Thunderstruck the band.  The power of Thunderstruck mirrors the pure strength, energy, and sound, of a live AC/DC show.  We formed in 2001 and have been touring for almost 16 years – we perform as detailed impersonations of each band member which includes the authentic guitars, amps, drums, and the trademark school boy outfit. This is a fun part-time group as we all work throughout the week; in fact, 4 of us own our own companies. Back in 2015, we were chosen to back up Dave Evans, the original singer for AC/DC, on his first Canadian tour!!! 384085AE83F74A348103ACF6652E90D1Thunderstruck is: Vocals: Blair Briceland, Lead Guitar: Rich Trevor, Rhythm Guitar: Chris Newman, Bass Guitar: Pete Stewart and on Drums: Niall Mellors.

What first inspired you to sing and perform like AC/DC?  When I was in a top 40 band in the 80’s, I was playing bass guitar and was the only one who could sing AC/DC. That’s when I decided to perform as a tribute band, giving fans an up-close experience in clubs.

The band has over 20yrs of combined experience playing rock – what keeps you (and the band) on the road and performing for the fans?  We have a good product…and we like each other. Most importantly, we have fun with it.A667E8289ADA426D9DAD5420C3ABF9FBHave you ever met any of the AC/DC band members, and if so, what was your first comment/question to them?  None of us have ever met the band…yet!

Apart from the September 16th gig in Oshawa, what other shows have you booked in the coming months…any Christmas or NYE concerts we should mark in our calendars?   A New Year’s Eve concert is in the works for the Niagara Falls area so watch for posters and promos.42072EF861A54887899F4383D12EF9C2I can’t wait to see Thunderstruck in person, as well as the other bands on the concert line-up. And if you’ve never seen Kenny Robinson (below) MC a show before…you’re in for a helluva lot of laughs – the guy is a rock star himself! Kenny

Durham’s 1st Annual Rock Tribute Festival 

Saturday Sept, 16th (doors open 5pm)

General Sikorski Hall, 1551 Stevenson Rd N, Oshawa

Tickets are available from: www.ticketpro.ca

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MEET HANNA KOSTANSKI, URBAN GALLERY’S ARTIST OF THE MONTH!

Last night, Toronto’s coolest indie art venue, URBAN GALLERY, hosted the opening reception for HANNA KOSTANSKI, whose work is inspired by vintage photographs of our city from years gone by, found in the City of Toronto Archives.  With permission from the Archives, Hanna has recreated well-known intersections and streetscapes from the early 1900’s through to the 1980’s, adding colour and movement to the imagery, bringing the scenes to life.  Her show, 20th Century Toronto: Intersections & Interactions, runs until August 26th at Urban Gallery (400 Queen St East, Toronto) and I strongly recommend you visit in person to see if you recognize each of the locations she’s painted. Betcha you’ll be amazed to see how our city has changed!

About the artist:  Hanna was born in Szczecin, Poland, and grew up in Hamilton, Ontario. She obtained her BFA from OCAD University in 2007 and currently resides in Hamilton and works in Toronto. Her work can be found in dozens of private and public collections in both cities.Hanna Kostanski YONGE AND DUNDAS 1978 acrylic on board(Above) Yonge and Dundas, 1978 Acrylic on Wood 30″ x 60″ by Hanna Kostanski
From City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 1526, File 92, Item 49 • Original Photograph by Harvey R. Naylor

Artist Statement:   For nearly a decade my work has been focused on the visible passage of time, experienced through the exploration and documentation of abandoned and decaying buildings in cities like Hamilton and Detroit. I have always been fascinated with historical architecture, specifically how we interact with our buildings and structures, and what happens when that interaction ceases to exist.

My current body of work continues to explore the connection between people and their environment, but with a focus on historical representations of that relationship.  To that end, I have been working on a series of paintings based on photographs found at the City of Toronto Public Archives. These images span several decades and are nostalgic of the city as it used to be. They celebrate the many past incarnations of Toronto, the vibrant intersections of the city and the interactions of its people.  Hanna Kostanski (2017)

The gallery was quickly crowded with fans of Hanna’s work which has recently garnered some exciting media attention – even Toronto Mayor John Tory has weighed in on Twitter about Hanna’s ability to capture a sense of time and place with her large format paintings.20170803_18202620170803_17482220170803_17564020170803_16431220170803_164228Two of Hanna’s BFF’s came to support her and found a familiar sight in this painting (below) of Yonge Street between Queen & Dundas! 20170803_171702 20170803_173123I think this fellow (above) must work on Bay Street – he appears to be looking for the location where his office now sits and explaining the old geography to his lovely companion.20170803_173228 20170803_180704Hanna welcome many of her friends and fans (above), all of whom seemed eager to see her newest paintings.

Fellow artist Nancy Bennett (below) looks like she’s calling a cab from the intersection of Yonge & Dundas…LOL20170803_172148Amidst the hub-bub of the busy gallery, I managed to grab Hanna for a quick chat about her work…

Hanna is also offering fine prints for those who don’t have the space for the original BIG paintings…here’s a happy art-lovin’ family who purchased 2 prints of their favourite paintings….20170803_173528(0)Here’s Wayne Abell of Urban Source Catering (they always present the most deelish treats for gallery openings!!) with KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca, a Toronto-centric e-newspaper who really liked Hanna’s work.20170803_173304If you would like to come and play “spot the street” with Hanna’s work, please visit www.urbangallery.ca for gallery hours and directions.  You can also follow Hanna on social media via her own website: www.hannakostanski.com

 

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Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!

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NANCY BENNETT TELLS HOW SHE WALKED AWAY FROM THE 9 TO 5 LIFE TO EMBRACE HER INNER ARTIST

When I first came to Toronto in the late 70’s, I fulfilled my parents’ dream of a safe and secure life with an office job (dull…urgh!) which, thankfully, I walked away from in ’79 for a life in showbiz when I landed my first audition, the role of Magenta in the Toronto theatrical production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show! which obviously became my parents’ nightmare…LOL!  I had been doing my 9 to 5 work at a renowned investment house called Wood Gundy, where I first met Nancy Bennett who, unbeknownst to me at the time, was also struggling with her own office vs. arts dilemma.

Skip ahead a few decades and one day I encounter the same Nancy Bennett at an art show exhibiting her fabulous vibrant work – we’ve been playing catch up ever since.

Nancy in her booth @ Toronto's Riverdale Artwalk

Nancy in her booth @ Toronto’s Riverdale Artwalk

I was thrilled to hear of her journey since I last saw her when we used to share office gossip at our favourite after-work cocktail lounge; she has since left her busy career in the financial sector to devote her life to creating art full-time.  After securing her house, buying a dog and having a baby (whew, I’m exhausted even listing those), Nancy turned to her first love, painting, in 2008 when global finances took a very hard knock, impacting her career as well as most of those working on Bay Street.  As Nancy tells it….“I first started collecting works by local artists as an antidote to my work life which had become increasingly toxic…then I began painting again.”

After being laid-off from her day job in 2013, Nancy immediately began painting full-time; her first show “Kiss the Sky” at the Women’s Art Association of Canada, featured paintings of skyscapes using a knife, brush and rollers on canvas and wood, in both large and small formats. It took a couple of years and a deep “Group of Seven” phase for her to cultivate a style that feels natural – layered knife paintings on large wood panels. I recently visited Nancy’s studio and saw this new piece (below) that’s still in the early stages – she showed me how she layers her work… 20170721_105045

“My paintings combine skyscapes, which are universal, and landscapes, which are specific to each location. I’m passionate about sharing the appreciation for my urban home setting and emphasizing that we’re all under the same sky – a commonality that helps us talk and create art together. The sky is a constant in all our lives and is a source of unity, calm and wonder as well a source of endless variety. Through my work I encourage people to look up and know they are not alone.”

Nancy continues….”I paint with oil paints on wood. Through these materials, I feel a connection to the history of my craft. In the current world of social media, the relationships and communication are real but have a fairy-like quality, flitting around the edge of “real life” and fading away completely if not nurtured. All the new media art tools today have evolved through the work of artists over centuries. The textures of different paints are an inspiration for the hundreds of filters available on Instagram. My passion with oil painting is a homage to traditional creation and its interaction in the digital space is my acceptance to our technological evolution.”20170721_105005

In 2015, Nancy co-founded the Four Corners Studio Collective, a Toronto based group of four emerging artists working together, learning from each other’s skills and experiences and supporting growth in their respective careers.  That same year, she curated #TwitterFirstFriday, a monthly art show conducted on the social media platform.  The goals were to encourage networking between artists around the world and promote art through sharing across multiple networks. Throughout 2015, on the first Friday of each month Nancy gathered works posted by artists, evaluated them for suitability and adherence to the show’s rules and shared with an online community.

Nancy is a member of The Artists’ Network, CARFAC and the Akin Collective, and in 2017, she began volunteering at Art Heart, an arts program for vulnerable adults.

“I’m a social artist. I thrive in a community, share studio space and have an active online following on social media. Through my paintings, I bring the extended community into my world and transfer my physical space into their digital one. I share my views, interpretations and feelings as I work through a piece. I encourage my online community to observe their own surroundings with an artist’s eye and get involved in my work. I appreciate when they send me photos of scenes that inspire them or remind them of my work. Through this give-and-take, my audience is with me throughout as an active component of my process in addition to being a passive audience to the final piece.”17634397_1444251605608964_2311017889669336969_nUPCOMING SHOWS
August 2017 – Solo exhibit, Deer Park Library, 40 St. Clair Ave. East, Toronto
August 18- 20 2017 –  ArtWalk in the Square at Shops @ Don Mills, Booth #24.
February 2018 – The Artist Project, Exhibition Place, Toronto

You can follow Nancy on Facebook.com/NancyBennettArts or visit her website: www.nancybennett.ca14390924_1241314049236055_5450160895757346700_nAnd if you see Nancy at any of her upcoming shows, stop in to her booth, say hi and learn more about this multi-talented woman who (finally) got to follow her dreams….

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TORONTO’S SANDRA AINSLEY GALLERY IS AN ART-GLASS LOVERS’ HAVEN!

I was visiting my artist friend Nancy Bennett’s studio this morning and noticed that one of the art gallery’s I’ve been meaning to visit was in the same building. Over the past few years, I’ve developed a passion for colourful contemporary art glass, fueled mainly by the stunning works of Dale Chihuly (you can read my blog about his exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum last year) but also my love of mid-century modern Scandinavian glass which I collected myself back in the 70’s. But today, I entered art glass heaven when I walked through the door of the SANDRA AINSLEY GALLERY located near Bermondsey and Victoria Park. My jaw literally dropped open as my eyes slowly focused on the massive space displaying some of the most incredible glass sculptures I’d ever seen.20170721_112305 20170721_110847 20170721_111022Where do I start? Well first off, the giant Chihuly sculptures suspended from the 22ft high ceilings were awe-inspiring…20170721_110722 20170721_110823…some of his giant “bowls” were so tactile, it took all my strength of character (and good manners) NOT to reach out and touch ’em!20170721_11074620170721_11113020170721_110756But it was the work of legendary Murano glass master LINO TAGLIAPIETRA that particularly grabbed my eyes and my soul! And here’s why….20170721_110836 20170721_110925 20170721_110949 20170721_112734Charming and knowledgeable gallery assistant, Daniel, kindly gave me Maestro Lino’s background that I’d like to share with you here:

Lino Tagliapietra’s career is defined by a dedication to workmanship, innovation, and collaboration. Born in 1934 on the renowned glass-blowing island of Murano, Italy, Tagliapietra began his apprenticeship at age 11 with Muranese master Archimede Seguso from whom Tagliapietra achieved the status of Maestro Vetraio by the age of 21. For over forty-two years, Lino worked in various for-profit Murano factories including Vetreria Galliano Ferro, Venini & Co., and finally as the Artistic and Technical Director of Effetre International (1976-1989). Tagliapietra has been an independent artist since 1989, exhibiting in museums around the globe, receiving countless honors, openly sharing his far-reaching knowledge of the medium and his skill as one of its finest practitioners, and helping to create a new renaissance in studio glassmaking. As James Yood, adjunct professor of art history at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and regular contributor to GLASS magazine wrote, “there are probably no two words more respected and honored in the history of modern sculpture in glass than ‘Lino Tagliapietra’; he is the living bridge, the crucial link between the august history of Venetian glass and the ceaseless wonders of what today we call the modern Studio Glass Movement”.Lino Tagliapietra Working ImageOf the influences on Lino Tagliapietra glass art work, one of the most profound was his participation in La Scuola Internazionale del Vetro symposia, held in Murano in the 1970s, which brought the finest Muranese masters together with artists from other disciplines around the world. Today, Lino Tagliapietra has established himself as one of the greatest glass artists of all time. Tagliapietra-blown glass works are in the collections of many major glass museums throughout the world and are sought after avidly by collectors of glass art. Some of the public collections which include Lino Tagliapietra blown glass sculpture are the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the Columbus Museum of Art in Columbus, the Corning Museum in New York, the Hokkaido Museum of Moder Art in Japan; The Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Palm Springs Art Museum in California, The Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C.; the Tokyo National Modern Art Museum and the Victora and Albert Museum in London.

As Daniel told me, although he’s not physically blowing the glass himself anymore, the master oversees all the work done in his studio and continues to create exquisite glass masterworks that should be collected NOW.

Another gorgeous installation is this one (below) by Philip Baldwin & Monica Guggisberg. I really liked their muted colour palette and sensual shapes. Again, I had to force myself to keep my hands by my side!! Being an Aussie, of course I fell in love with this massive cockatoo painting (below). Back home in the outback, cockatoos and budgies fly in huge flocks of thousands of birds so this piece made me a little homesick.20170721_111420I really liked these unusual glass bowls (below + header photo) by Shay Salehi20170721_111949…and also the clay sculptures (below) by current featured exhibitor Susan Collette whose show runs until July 29th. 20170721_110540 20170721_110618 20170721_110632There are so many more astounding pieces that you can look at, walk around, stand in front of and stare in wonder at…..20170721_113032 20170721_112806 20170721_112645 20170721_111141 20170721_111223 20170721_111236…that you’ll need to take a packed lunch as you’ll want to spend a long long time absorbing the colours, the textures, the shapes.

You can learn more about the current exhibitions and the talented artists regularly represented by visiting: www.sandraainsleygallery.com  But of course, visiting the gallery in person is so much better.WhiteSAGLogoAlignedHighQuality20170721_111542 20170721_111716 20170721_111731

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MEET ARTIST PAULINE LANGMAID, A TRUE NORTHERN SPIRIT!

Several months ago, I was sitting on the subway staring at the inane advertising banners – no I don’t want to meet sexy singles, nor do I want to buy a house and I am certainly not interested in a change of career at this point in my life! I overheard two ladies chatting and laughing nearby, so I found an opening to contribute to the conversation and soon found myself enjoying the journey with joyful companions. Skip ahead to present day and one of them, artist Pauline Langmaid, is now a friend and a client.

Based up north in Bracebridge, Pauline’s work is reminiscent of the famed Group of Several meets Edvard Munch meets Emily Carr – full of colour and bold strokes that describe her vision of the stark landscapes that surround her.Pauline-Langmaid_4351_Social-Media Pauline-Langmaid_Pic-Island_1600x1064I recently spoke with Pauline, asking her to share her thoughts on painting, her inspirations and her advice for others wanting a painterly life.

What first inspired you to start painting professionally, more than as a hobby?   I just wanted/needed to paint everyday and I belong to several wonderful groups of artists, The Burk’s Falls Art and Crafts Club, the Kearney Art Group; the Almaguin Highlands Arts Council; the East Central Ontario Artists Association; and the Muskoka Art and Craft Club who have been instrumental in my growth as an artist and continually encourage me to keep painting and to sell my paintings.Pauline 003Did you have any formal training and if so, where?  My first courses began when I was 8 years old at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery under the skilled direction of Paul Sloggett who is now a renowned Canadian Abstract artist.  I’ve also studied at Meta 4 Gallery, primarily with Linda Edwards.  The Haliburton School of the Arts introduced me to Ramune Luminaire and I took many courses from her as well both in Haliburton and in Oshawa at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery.  Janine Marsden and Diane Finlayson of Huntsville have also been instrumental in my growth as an artist.Pauline 007Who are your artistic inspirations?  I started out in love with Van Gogh’s work and moved on to Emily Carr – I long-lamented that she was not still around to guide and mentor me.  People over the years have told me that my work also reminds them of Edvard Munch’s work.  I have recently completed two paintings in the Jackson Pollock style and can understand why he painted this way – it was extremely satisfying.  Another huge inspiration is, of course, Mother Nature.  One of my favorite subjects is Georgian Bay after an awe inspiring kayaking trip with some wonderful girlfriends who are all over the age of 50.  I have painted at least 10 paintings of that trip in the past 3 years.Pauline-Langmaid_Georgian-Bay-Pine_1600x1283Pauline-Langmaid_4321_Social-MediaDo you have a preferred colour palette or technique, and if so, explain?  My favorite palette is orange and its complements, I’m not sure why.  My favorite way to paint is to find something in nature…sketch it, take photos of it, bring it back to the studio and begin putting down ideas.  I will often integrate many different scenes I’ve seen in nature into one painting.  At this point, I will pick my colour palette using my colour wheel, generally try to force the painting into something that I think it should be, fail miserably, then pray and do my best to let go!  Once I have been able to let go of the outcome, I get up very close and personal with my canvas and the paint just starts flowing and I try not to think.  Then the hard part comes when I need to stop this feeling part and look carefully at it and place finishing touches.17992122_1274465729297558_3029712665192584507_nYour current work shows a very bold style – how do people react to your paintings upon first sight?  And does this excite you as an artist?  I can place people’s reactions in two distinct categories.  They either “get it” or they don’t and that is ok with me.  Those who “get it” get very excited start dancing around in my small studio and expressing quite loudly that they see what I am trying to convey and often purchase at least one item, large or small, as a token of their experience.  Then there are those who don’t “get it” and they basically walk in and walk out.  All reactions are valid.  The comments I most often get are “WOW!”; “that’s interesting”; and “there’s just something about your painting, I can’t put my finger on it but I love it”.  People have definite favorites and some have compared one of my trees with a face to “Groot”, a character from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie.  At the time I painted her, I had never even seen the movie.  Possibly because my tag line is “art as worship” I have many conversations relating to God and spirit and how He/She/It moves in their lives.  More than once people have been moved to tears as a reaction to some of my paintings.  Of course I love to sell my paintings as this allows me to continue painting and spreading God’s love, however, just having people come into my studio and understand what it is I am trying to say is very gratifying. October Wind Three TreesCan you tell us about your studio which is located 3hrs north of Toronto?  My studio is located in the historical Clock Tower Center in Bracebridge, Ontario.  I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and was able to secure this lovely creative space.  I love my days in my little studio (below) where I get to paint and interact with people from all over the world.  I currently have a guest artist, Tamara Blakelok, also sharing my space.  Martin Sheffield, the owner of the building, had a vision and has created an amazing space for fine artists and artisans, and it’s also a Clock Museum housing many antique clocks available for sale.Pauline 014 Pauline 012Bracebridge’s historical Federal Post Office building, now renamed “The Clock Tower Centre” is officially listed as one of Ontario’s notable clock towers.  It’s located in the heart of the downtown at the corner of Bracebridge’s busiest main intersection, Manitoba and Taylor Streets.  Within the walls of the Clock Tower Centre you will find a treasure trove of artist studios, galleries, boutiques and spas creating an incredible shopping experience that will keep you coming back for more.

You seem to have a lot of support from your local community via social media and attendance at art shows – has this helped your decision to reach out to a bigger audience in Toronto and across Canada?  I was invited to do a solo show at the Dwight Public Library last year and at the Pickering Village Jam Festival this year.  I also participate in group shows across Northern Ontario and in Algonquin Park.  The Burk’s Falls Art & Crafts Club has an Arts Center where all members show and sell their work and I have pieces for sale at this location.  I do have quite a following via social media and, yes, these things have encouraged me to reach out and test the waters in the larger Toronto market and across Canada.  I kept telling my Burk’s Falls group that the Group of Seven painted their masterpieces up here and took them to Toronto to sell.  I decided I needed to put my money where my mouth is!The Hills Are AliveAny other comments or advice for those taking up a paintbrush?  Just keep painting but also learn by intention the basics of drawing, composition and of colour.  This makes a huge impact in our work.  Get connected with other like-minded people who are willing to share their expertise and once you get some expertise share that with others, remembering:
“We Learn…
10% of what we read
20% of what we hear
30% of what we see
50% of what we see and hear
70% of what we discuss
80% of what we experience
95% of what we teach others.”- William Glasser

So I say stick with the winners.  Most importantly, get connected with your higher power whoever or whatever that is for you personally.  For me this is God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost who direct my path and help me to paint my paintings.The Other Side 3

You can learn more about Pauline at: www.paulinelangmaid.com and you can view her paintings in Toronto at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East (“O Canada” group show closes July 29). You can also follower her on social media at:  Facebook.com/Pauline-Langmaid-Fine-ArtPauline 016I recommend buying a Pauline Langmaid original now before too many collectors find her and recognize her talent! You can’t go wrong investing in Canadian artists.Print

 

 

 

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MEET THE ARTISTS @ THIS YEAR’S TORONTO OUTDOOR ART EXHIBITION

Another great turn-out of exciting artists for this year’s Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition at Nathan Phillips Square; today I made a relatively quick visit – due to the heat and humidity, I had to bail after about 90 minutes. Whew…gasp!

First up, I ran into Mississauga artist Michael Toole (below) who has an upcoming show at Stockyards Gallery. Really liked his work using “window frames” to add texture and dimension to his photographic art.  www.michaeltooleart.com20170715_110015I was next greeted by the always-smiling Rob Croxford….his booth is filled with easily-recognized cityscapes and lots of fun visual puns. Rob has lots of small prints available, too, so feel free to browse in his booth. Keep smiling, Rob.  www.robcroxford.com20170715_110451Brian Harvey is another of my favourite artists who produces the most stunning cityscapes, especially of Toronto’s historic laneways and old neighbourhoods. I could almost hear the birds singing and the leaves rustling in that city lane painting behind Brian.  www.brianharvey.ca20170715_110737 20170715_110818As soon as I spied Kari Serrao‘s antlered wee beasties in ruffles, furs and armour (below), I immediately thought of Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan of  White Walkers, Jon Snow or Brienne of Tarth, you MUST have one of these paintings on your wall…LOL.  www.kariserrao.com20170715_111117 20170715_111148And here’s Kate Taylor (below L) greeting some friends at her booth. Kate is a member of the ColourShift Collective, a group of like-minded artists dedicated to capturing the world around us via abstract painting and photography, and The Artists Network. www.katetaylorstudio.com20170715_111421 20170715_111506Had a giggle with Erin Rothstein who perfectly reflected her artwork with watermelon juice in hand! She was so perfectly attired to compliment her booth but just looking inside her booth made me hungry and thirsty!  www.erinrothstein.com20170715_112546Kingston-based glass artist Alexi Hunter was proud to show off his beautiful art glass (below). These stunning colourful pieces reminded me of my visit to the Dale Chihuly show at the ROM several months ago.  www.kingstonglassgallery.com20170715_11300320170715_113009Another fabulous glass artist I discovered today was Kristian Spreen (below). Like me, Kristian loves blue and I was so impressed with her work, I’ve featured her beautiful aqua-coloured tumblers at the top of this story.   www.kristianspreen.ca20170715_113218Toronto’s current arts “media darling” has to be Morgan Sheardown (below) whose whimsical “Raining Cows” series is all over the news these days, as well as the fact that the Art Gallery of Hamilton has recently awarded Morgan a 3 year exhibition of his works. Bravo, Morgan! I myself am a proud owner of a mini “Raining Cows” painting.  www.morgansheardown.com20170715_11350820170715_11351320170715_113533Joining me today was best friend, Erena, who loves the work of this next artist – she introduced me to his work and has started collecting his paintings herself. Here she is with the charming and talented Olaf  Schneider. Apart from his detailed abstracts and landscapes, his still life work is outstanding – I love the one below with the blue glass and red lantern.  www.olaf.ca20170715_11380820170715_114153I’ve been a long-time fan of Stewart Jones (below) and was pleased to see the Wellington, ON, resident come back to the big city for this weekend’s show. He and his wife moved from Toronto to Wellington (approx 90 minutes east of Toronto) several years ago and set up residence in a beautiful heritage farmhouse across the road from a lovely little beach where I’m told they frequently watch the sunsets with a glass of wine in hand. Aaah, for the simple life! Stew’s gritty urban oil-on-canvas works featuring streetcar tracks, old buildings and warehouses are now joined by his powerful countryside views and winterscapes.  www.stewartjones.ca   Stew has also recently launched another artful endeavour, the Midtown Brewing Co. so I can’t wait to sample those “artworks”, too! Instagram: @midtownbrewingcompany20170715_114410 20170715_114320

There are so many talented artists and craftspeople represented at the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition, it was impossible to capture all of them for this blog so I encourage you to check out the show in person tomorrow. Located at Nathan Phillips Square (Bay & Queen Streets) – details at www.torontooutdoor.art  @toaeart  #toae2017

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And THANK YOU for supporting Canadian artists!Print