Sunday Dec. 15th dawned sunny, as usual, and I was excited to see my friend AJ (below) and his husband Tom who were meeting me for brunch at the famous Valley Ho hotel. Poor pneumonia-plagued AJ had mustered enough energy for a couple of hours of catching up, enjoying a great meal and showing me his and Tom’s fave hotel in Old Town.We saw a gingerbread version of the famous mid-century modern hotel (above) on the way into Zuzu’s cafe for our brunch. Isn’t it cute? After our deelish meal, the guys showed me around the property, much of which has been preserved in its original form, complete with colourful wall tiles on each balcony, sexy lounges and outdoor courtyards….After being dropped off by AJ & Tom, the remainder of the afternoon was spent out on my balcony, enjoying the sunshine and watching the palm trees “dance the hula” in the high desert wind.
Next day, I decided on what genuine touristy experiences remained for me to explore so off I went for my morning latte at Barista Brothers to plan the next few days before returning to cold grey Toronto.I just walked around and watched for interesting photo opps, like this one of the colourful buildings surrounding the Civic Centre:And checked out the artful sidewalks near my hotel (below)…such civic pride makes me wish that Toronto took as much care with their public spaces.Just a few more days remaining on my holiday – I wonder what adventures remain?
I have the pleasure of introducing you to my new client, artist HANNA KOSTANSKI, whose work I first discovered in 2017 when she presented her solo show at Urban Gallery in Toronto (below)She was born in Szczecin, Poland, and in the 80’s her family emigrated to Hamilton, Ontario, where she grew up and first discovered her love of painting. Hanna attended the Ontario College of Art & Design where she obtained her BFA in 2007. She still resides in Hamilton with her husband and two rescue dogs and a black cat who really runs the house! Hanna’s work can be found in dozens of private and public collections, including a hospital, several law offices and hotels in both Toronto and Hamilton.
Her most recent series of paintings are based on photographs found at the City of Toronto Public Archives. These images span several decades and show a nostalgic view of the city as it once was. They celebrate the past while showing the development of Toronto and the ways in which people helped shape it. In contrast to Hanna’s previous collections which embody the loneliness of an environment in the absence of human touch, this series celebrates the vibrancy of people interacting with the streets and neighbourhoods.
Bay & Adelaide Streets circa 1940s
I’ll let Hanna tell you herself about her passion for vintage views and recreating mid-century street scenes…
For over 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, Detroit and more recently, Toronto. I’ve always been fascinated with historical architecture, specifically how we interact with our buildings and structures, and what happens when that interaction ceases to exist. – Hanna Kostanski
It was wonderful visiting Hanna in her home studio, seeing where and how she works…… and discovering new works currently being undertaken (below)We’re currently researching showcase opportunities at this year’s DOORS OPEN TORONTO, a weekend in May where the public can visit historic buildings and venues. Hanna’s brilliant painting of the Yonge & Dundas intersection, circa 1978, would be the perfect illustration of Toronto’s past so I’m busy pounding the pavements and visiting building management offices to secure a spot for this incredibly detailed view of the busiest spot in Toronto!Hanna is also in high demand for commissioned work and she’s currently working on a number of pieces for birthday and retirement gifts so some very special paintings will soon be going to some equally special homes. If you would like to learn more about Hanna and get in touch for your own commissioned slice of the past, visit her website and follow her on social media: http://www.hannakostanski.com Watch my social media (Fcbk, Twtr, IG) over the coming weeks for more video interviews with this talented artist.
A Parisian street scene, given the Kostanski touch!
The heavy industrial side of Hamilton, ON, also gets the Kostanski treatment
Last Saturday, it was a full house at URBAN GALLERY for the opening reception of ANDRE VITTORIO‘s “Abstractions on Metal”solo show of photographic art. running until April 28th, the show features stunning B&W architectural portraits from around the world (the Eiffel Tower looks magnificent)….….as well as a series of brightly coloured shots of the waters surrounding the Venetian island of Murano (below). In fact, the photos reminded me of the fine Murano glass work for which the artisans of the island became famous.Andre was thrilled with the turnout of family, friends and fans of his work…Snap’d newspaper photographer Kate McGartland dropped by to cover the show – here’s Andre showing her his Murano series which certainly captured her attention!And KJ Mullins, publisher of NEWZ4U.ca also came by to cover the event, seen here below 2nd from left chatting with Wayne Abell (at left) of Urban Catering (who supplied the yummy refreshments).Gallery director Calvin Hambrook (below left) was on hand to welcome other artists, including Tunde Omotoye (far right) who may be participating in an upcoming group show at the gallery.Prior to the guests arriving, I managed to grab a few minutes to interview Andre ……
Congratulation, Andre, on a fantastic show…and the sales started early! I watched as the first of the Murano series sold to a very happy fan! I believe it was Murano #8.
“Abstractions on Metal” runs throughout the month of April so if you’d like to spend time with gorgeous, unique artwork, visit Urban Gallery at 400 Queen st East, Toronto – check their website for directions and gallery hours: www.UrbanGallery.ca
Each year, Toronto hosts a special weekend called “Doors Open” where we can visit beautiful buildings around the city that are normally closed to the public such as offices, law courts, architectural treasures and places of worship. I’m fortunate to live next door to one very special building: St Paul’s Anglican church which is one of the largest parish churches in N. America. When I entered, the organist was practicing – take a listen here…
During today’s special tour, visitors got to see some of the most gorgeous stained glass windows in Canada, many depicting heroic WWI stories and in fact, one of the windows was made from the glass fragments found around some 70 destroyed churches and buildings in Belgium, France and Italy.Around the walls of the massive interior were many plaques and memorials dedicated to past parishioners who had lost their lives fighting in Europe….…and the incredible wooden carvings of angels were breathtaking…Not a lot of people ever look up when they visit such venues but I always do (you never know what cool things you can spy up above) and I’m so glad I did…check out these awesome state-of-the-art fans in this video. They look old-school to fit in but are actually brand new….
The marble altar (above) shows the Last Supper – it’s so beautiful and is flanked on either side by historic figures from the first World War. There is just one female depicted in the carvings and statuary…Florence Nightingale! I found another beautiful window behind the altar screen (below). I could have stood there for an hour enjoying all the intricacies in this little window and the marble carvings in front….Next month marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of St Paul’s and to commemorate the occasion, a special craft lager has been created, the St Paul’s CLXXV, which will be available in 6-packs for a limited time only following their June 11th anniversary service. Considering the church’s reputation for warm hospitality and sharing food and drink, I can’t think of a better way to celebrate!
If you’d like to learn more about this fine church and the wonderful work they do, please visit: www.stpaulsbloor.org
While the rest of the city appeared to have “taken off” for the long Victoria Day weekend, I spent Saturday afternoon dropping in on some of the art galleries in the Yorkville neighbourhood. So nice to have such beauty and talent on my doorstep and the MIRA GODARD GALLERY at 22 Hazelton Avenue did not disappoint – I was lucky to find their current exhibiting artist PETER HARRIS at the gallery for a meet-n-greet. Peter (pictured above) proudly showed off his intimate views of building entrances and night windows inspired by Edward Hopper’s iconic 1942 “Nighthawks” painting of a New York diner late at night. Many of the images are recognizable Toronto views but I really liked this one (below) which is based on a New York City art deco era building – if you look thru the lobby you can even see another Hopper-inspired painting represented in the reception area.
As a landscape painter, I strive to create images that connect viewers to their immediate surroundings. While my work is situated in the present, it often invokes artists from the past whose paintings linger in our collective memory and influence how we think about the landscape. Edward Hopper and Lawren Harris are two such artists whose iconic imagery still resonates, and whose reputation casts a long shadow over all artists working within the genre. In the exhibition Evening with Hopper I began by meticulously recreating their historical paintings in miniature and framing them within current urban architecture. I wanted their historical depictions to be subsumed by the modern, acknowledging the power of their legacy while challenging their continued relevancy to a contemporary audience. – Peter Harris, 2017Another fave of mine is this interior of an elevator (below) – who would think that this interior space would make such a great painting subject? Just look at the metallic finishes and the light reflections…wow!Many of the paintings already have little red dots attached to their labels – the sign of a sale! The show continues until Sat. May 27th so I recommend you visit the gallery a.s.a.p. to see these exquisite works of art for yourself. Visit the gallery’s website for hours & directions and you can see more of Peter’s work online – but much better to see them in person to experience the overwhelming effect of each canvas. Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!