Digital artist GINA GODFREY welcomed guests to her downtown Toronto gallery last night as she launched her latest show, “Black and White and Green with Envy”, just in time for holiday gift-giving. And to make her stunning prints accessible to everyone, Gina’s created smaller prints ideal for those with smaller wall spaces…..for the modest price of $150 (see partial selection below). The exhibition features large format art based on Gina’s collages and photographs which she then digitally alters to create stunning designs and images. I love this group (below) that includes a little Sinatra on the side! And these pieces certainly challenge your eyes and perspective. Fabulous! This is an extremely cool foursome (below)… I added some close-up details…what do you think? Her friend, Deb Belinsky (below, left) of Tableau premium water solutions dropped in to support Gina (below, right)….…and enjoyed the deelish spread along with other guests…yummmm!If you’d like to visit Gina and experience her work, please visit www.ginagodfrey.com for hours & directions (her gallery is centrally located, close to Yonge & Bloor).
Earlier this week, as Toronto sizzled and steamed, my friend Teresa and I played hooky and journeyed the 50 minutes east to the wonderful lakeside town of Port Hope (my fave small town in Ontario). Over the past couple of years, Port Hope and I have become good friends – the welcoming shopkeepers and cosy cafes, the historic restored Capitol Theatre, the stunning Municipal Building, the charming little beach and the tumbling Ganaraska River have all worked their magic on my soul.
As per usual, our first port of call was a visit to Kenneth Bell – the king of bling, the sultan of sparkle, my go-to guy for all things fabulous! I managed to get Teresa into a tiara, too, so we now have matching crowns!! Below, Teresa meets Kenneth for the first time…a match made in bling heaven! Follow Kenneth-Bell-Fashion-Accessories on Facebook. Next door to Kenneth’s shop is the always-awesome Queenie’s Bake Shop where we indulged in some deelish lunch sandwiches. Both Teresa and I were so brave – we resisted the incredible giant strudel and cookies on the front counter (sssh, don’t tell Teresa but I snuck home with a couple of their famous butter tarts). Follow Queenies Bake Shop on Facebook. A littler further up Walton Street we found Bubbles and Gems, another fab fashion house where Teresa found a cute skirt and I found these amazing cushions…something for everyone at 20% off! www.bubblesandgems.com We walked past Holton Flowers who always have fabulous arrangements in the windows…we went inside to find floral heaven!We dropped in quickly to G. Facey’s, another fave fashion store of mine, where Teresa found a few more additions to her wardrobe, then down to the new Joie de Vivre store (below) where Teresa found some sweetly fragranced body creams. The new store is twice as big as the previous location further up the street, and offers a lovely range of goodies for your face, body and mind. www.joiedevivrearomatherapy.com One of the new Walton Street shops we found (new to me, anyway) was the Marche 59 cafe and artisan bakery (below) offering organic breads, vegan and gluten-free tasty treats and all sorts of goodies from local producers. Must give ’em a try next time I’m in town. www.marche59.ca Time to head over to the beach so we made our way down Walton Street, past these beautiful hibiscus pots, along the riverbank to Teresa’s car parked near the Municipal offices…. …then over to the lake (Lake Ontario). Wow, what a lovely glimpse of the beach (below)We even saw a dad teaching his son how to fish…so cute!Thanks again, Port Hope, for your warm welcome – it always feels like coming home for me. See y’all again real soon.
Over the long weekend, my bestie, Erena, and I made a quick visit to the annual ArtFest crafts and fine arts market in the Distillery District of downtown Toronto. We also visited some of the established art galleries located in the enclave of 19th & early 20th century warehouses and cellars. It was so crowded that it was hard just to get in to some of the tents so Erena and I focused on just a few.
Our very first stop was at Joseph Calleja‘s handcrafted silk & cotton scarf display The Toronto-based photographer & artist incorporates many of his own photos into the unique and beautiful prints in multiple colours, shapes and sizes. Some are pure silk, others a cotton/silk blend as well as long wraps in the softest of cotton. Erena purchased 2, one a vibrant pink and the other…the blue one she’s modelling below. www.callejascarves.com I then noticed a very talented sculptor, Chaka Chikodzi, who hails from Kingston, ON, which has become quite the artists’ colony thanks to the great light quality in that area (about 3hrs east of Toronto, on Lake Ontario). This one charming piece of carved Springstone is a a guinea fowl and it really called to me. Perhaps next time he comes to Toronto, I will have the $s to make it mine! www.chakachikodzi.comErena and I wandered around some more trying not to trip over the cobblestones (hint: NEVER wear your Manolo Blahniks to the Distillery District!!) and saw lots of returning exhibitors from last year which I previously covered in my blog, so we sought refuge from the hot sun inside the Thompson Landry Gallery and discovered all sorts of amazing artists we’d never previously seen, for example Tommy Zen from Montreal. He is descended from several generations of Venetian cabinet makers and artisans, eventually discovering his own love for clay and ceramics. The gallery (there are actually 2 amazing Thompson Landry Galleries on-site, opposite each other) proudly displays his giant ceramics, each gilded with sparkling gold and vibrant colours. Below are 2 of my favourite pieces, each well over 6ft tall!! www.thompsonlandry.com Many more artists are showcased there including this massive 10′ x 6′ canvas of a raging bull (titled Turbo) by Dominic Besner (below). This was Erena’s fave.I also liked these pieces…what do you think?We then walked over to artagallery where I found some more gorgeous works of art that really resonated with me. I really liked these two: below left is P. Colbert’s “Dream Creek” oil on canvas (36″x48″) and below right is I. Stoyanov’s “Yellow #18″ mixed media on canvas (68″x48″) You can find out more at www.artagallery.caI also found these florals engaging…and happy! ….and Erena made a bee-line for the playful pieces featuring wildlife!artagallery offers some unique display settings, too – I really liked this rusted old boiler plating (below)The next Artfest takes place over the labour day long weekend (Sept. 2-5) in the same venue; if you’d like to check out the shopping, dining and sight-seeing opportunities at Toronto’s Distillery District, visit their website for hours & directions: www.thedistillerydistrict.com
I’d like to welcome new client URBAN LAMPSCAPES and introduce you to their stunning customizable range of lamps with street-art inspired designs and colours. www.urbanlampscapes.com/A couple of months ago, I met Charles Ezerzer, CEO & General Manager and his co-founder, Artistic Director Joe Ponciano when I attended the annual Toronto Interior Design Show and was stopped in my tracks by the collection of art/lights in their booth (below)…..…I found their lampshades intriguing and edgy – perfect for the urban loft dweller or condo resident! They even showcased flat wall lamps that look like illuminated posters.I was hooked on Toronto-based Urban Lampscapes products and quickly set up a meeting to chat with Charles and Joe to discuss introducing them to my interior designer and decorator friends as well as share their lighting concepts with all my artsy-fartsy friends (of whom I have many!). I recently suggested that Charles offer some insights into his company’s concept and design esthetics so here’s what he told me:
What inspired you to create the business Urban Lampscapes?
I think it takes more than a single moment to compel someone to do something unusual and risky. For me, one of those moments was as I sat in yet another airport waiting for my flight home with my best friend, Joe Ponciano (Urban Lampscapes’ Artistic Director), when I realized we had been traveling together for more than 20 years wandering along the backstreets and main thoroughfares around the world in search of our shared passion: street art. Between us, we had shot over 20,000 images at that time. With him being the more talented photographer with an eye for details and myself being more creative and design-motivated, I thought we should share our work and mutual passion within a business infrastructure so we started implementing our customizable lamp business in 2014.Instead of simply offering a set standard series of lamps and shades, why did you feel it was important to offer customizable DIY lamps for you customers?
We could have simply offered a set range of lampshade designs and we may do a limited line in the future, but for us we’ve learned how different people’s tastes are, especially when it comes to art. We want to give each customer the same experience as if they are buying a print from a gallery except this serves a dual purpose; art piece / designer lighting.Who are your customers?
Urban Lampscapes’ primary customers tend to be individuals who like to express themselves, be creative and look for different unique accessories to fill their homes. We’re seeing lots of downtown condo and loft dwellers across a broad age range – teens to the groovy 55+!Do you think lighting is an under-utilized décor accessory?
With today’s new technology and energy-efficiencies, it has become more important than ever to ensure that one is contributing to a greener world. With LED lighting becoming more affordable and reliable, home illumination is being re-thought and better designs are emerging. Urban Lampscapes materials and designs are specifically made to take advantage of LED technology. Remember, lighting directly impacts how you set the mood in a space so it should be given considerable thought.You attended a trade show in China last month (April) – were you inspired by any local street art there?China is one of the hardest places to find street-art because as soon as it goes up, a fresh coat of white paint is immediately applied over it. It doesn’t mean we didn’t get any great images but it is harder to find. As for design, it’s always inspiring to see what creative style is being combined with traditional style to create something new. (below, Joe & Charles @ far east trade show).Do you have plans for other int’l travels to discover new street art?
We are always on the go, adding to our collection and discovering new works that push the limits of street art and the boundaries of creativity. Below, here’s Joe posting in front of a wall hoarding during the recent China trip.Do you ship your lamps to customers around the world or just in Canada?
Yes, we ship all over the world – we make our lamps dual voltage so they can work anywhere. All you have to do is log onto to our website, choose your base shape & size, your shade design & size then click-click-done! Easy as sitting on a park bench and texting with your Smartphone!Where do you see the business expanding in the future?
Currently, we’re happy to work with customers who want their own photographs or artwork, and have also been asked to start offering our work as prints, especially by corporations looking for corporate gifts or incentives which is all in the works. We’ve previously undertaken customized work for corporations and will be expanding our commercial trade division as well.
Want to learn more about this exciting new concept in art~lighting? Visit www.urbanlampscapes.com/ and browse through their catalogue.
When I visited Toronto’s Bloordale neighbourhood yesterday to celebrate the opening of the Dead Dog Records store, I walked past an intriguing store offering unique and incredibly beautiful home decor and art that I just could not resist…so I went inside.
Zebuu, located at 1265 Bloor St West just east of Lansdowne, presents its wares much like a curated gallery – collections of bird carvings from Brazilian artisans in lots of lovely colours grouped together like little birdies on a power line…delicately carved wooden angels flew across the entrance wall, and groups of wooden heads marched across the shelves live Easter Island moai come to life!
Co-owner Craig Williamson explained that he and his partner, Geraldo Valerio, import their home decor, room accents and textiles mainly from Brazil, Turkey and India, all handcrafted by skilled artisans. Check out the stunning copperware from Turkey and the beautifully decorated shears and scissors from Mumbai, India, below.
So many cute little treasures for the wee ones’ rooms as well as the big people…I wanted to play with these hand-carved beasties….…and what kitchen or family room wouldn’t benefit from the addition of these fine home accents? Don’t the wooden spoons look like art (above), displayed the way Craig has hung them on the wall? Each is made by hand from native Brazilian hardwoods, ensuring a one-of-a-kind look and feel.
If you’re more into Canadiana, have no fear…Zebuu has lots of lovely goodies for the true blue Canucks, too. The new website, www.zebuu.com, is still being populated with photos and product information, but you can call them on 647-748-1265 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Zebuu is a welcome oasis of art, home decor and giftware amongst a row of unremarkable but friendly neighbourhood cafes, convenience stores and thrift shops. You will feel welcome and at home so drop in and say hello to Craig and Geraldo, and do tell them I sent you.
What a grey, rainy day dawned here on the 4th day of the Toronto Int’l Film Festival (TIFF). I have no “official” screenings or soirees to attend so what to do…what to do? Earlier last week, I had received a lovely invitation from ARCHIVES [ http://www.archivesltd.com/ ] an exclusive concept store located in the new Four Seasons Hotel a few blocks away, so earlier this afternoon, I grabbed my umbrella, put on some bright lipstick and headed out to see their gorgeous new luxury bling… join me now for a virtual visit.
Fernando Jorge: the Brazilian-born jewellery designer takes inspiration from the laid back attitude and effortless sensuality of his home country. Fernando’s pieces are imbued with energy and movement – his aesthetic is inherently Brazilian. Having gained an international media following, the designer is widely considered to be amongst the brightest emerging talents in the jewellery and fashion worlds alike. His collections can be found in the most prestigious stores in London, Paris, Beirut, New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, as well as online.
Noor Fares: the young London-based designer is known for her exotic, mythical, hand-crafted jewellery. Noor’s admiration for beautiful objects started as a young child, obsessed with her mom’s jewelry box. After studying art history and jewellery design, she combined her passion for art with her love of adventure by launching her first line in 2009. Noor fuses modern fashion with old world tradition, using a diverse range of materials like diamonds, sapphires, white gold, and rhodium. Her creative aesthetic is rooted in her Lebanese heritage – most of her pieces are engraved with an eye, the Lebanese tradition that protects the wearer from all things evil.
Archives also carries a number of great purses from Les Petits Joueus, including this awesome black and red piece that would go perfectly with an outfit I’m wearing to one TIFF party this week….Don’t you just LOVE these purple hats from London milliner Philip Treacy – exclusive in Canada to Archives:I’ve always been partial to fine china and ceramics and Archives has a range of Meissen Couture home decor pieces…I love the birdies (below) that have no function other than to amuse. I also found the Meissen historic “helmets” (below) rather intriguing…looks like another Roman invasion!
I didn’t realize until I was told by the store staff that even the chandelier and wall sconces were Meissen….wow! They carry some cool men’s accessories, too, although I couldn’t grab a good photo without reflections…but definitely worth a look-see.When the store first opened, I remember seeing this fabulous mannequin that the store staff blinged out with mirror shards…look at her now, all chi-chi poo-poo !In-house designer Jaleh Farhad Pour creates stunning earrings and I have my eye on a number of pairs – guess which ones (below)….pair on bottom row, 3rd from left has my name all over ’em!The store also brings in some natural bling…love these carnations and orchids, all colour-coordinated.
…and if you’re looking for some great reading specs Archives carries the See Concept glasses in various colours, frames and vision levels, starting at $49…so you can get a two or three pairs! Do you like the blue pair I’m wearing?
They also have cool sunglasses from Illestiva (below) so pick out your fave movie star look and away you go to the red carpet.So much to see, so much to drool over! And you can enjoy all these in person if you drop in to Archives on Bay Street yourself (the NW corner of the Four Seasons Hotel in Yorkville) between now and Sept. 20th…check out the invitation below.
Thanks to the Archives staff for showing me around…..see you all soon.
Thanks to social media promotions and emails from Mark Gleberzon of MJG Gallery on Queen East near Carlaw, I decided to visit the inaugural TOQS (The Other Queen Street) shop, sip and stroll event hosted by the local BIA…it was one of the hottest humid days this summer (so far) – not the most ideal conditions for an asthmatic like myself. I was looking forward to joining the locals in celebrating this groovy neighbourhood known for its vintage and antique stores, home decor, fashion and foodie retailers, but sadly you could almost hear the crickets chirping! There was virtually no focus and no ta-daa excitement for what was advertised as an inaugural annual street festival event. In fact, the street felt and looked more like this….I know it’s hard presenting neighbourhood celebrations but when you have BIA (Business Improvement Association) funding, engaged & motivated retailers/restaurants wanting to reach new customers and thousands of int’l visitors looking for cool inexpensive activities thanks to the PanAm Games, the lack of promotions, publicity and a simple marketing campaign made for a very sad visit to one of my favourite places in Toronto’s downtown area…Leslieville. At least I discovered a fascinating new home decor store and visited a gallery known for supporting local artists. Join me now for a virtual stroll…..
As I walked east from the Carlaw bus stop, I first noticed this lovely store – Home James – featuring home decor, gifts and accessories, all very affordable and a delightful array of treasures.
I spoke briefly with owner/curator James Lane (pictured below) who also does home staging and interior decorating for clients, and he, too, was rather disappointed with the lack of signage, street and lightpole banners.
I was delighted, tho, when I discovered some wonderful art on his walls courtesy of local artists, esp. the charcoal farm animal drawings of Susan O’Neil (below)…I so want the little sheep at the bottom. Isn’t she gorgeous?
….and lots more great art and finds. I spotted several potential Christmas gifts here so I’ll be going back for sure. Please check out the store yourself at 998 Queen St East, Toronto. www.homejamesdecor.com
Next, on to MJG Gallery at 1028 Queen East to visit my friend, gallery owner and artist Mark Gleberzon and thank goodness his A/C was up full-blast. By the time I walked the one block from Home James, the humidity had turned my freshly coiffed hair into a blonde furball and my mascara had melted down my cheeks!
Mark was having a sidewalk sale of art books, wood carvings and art work, taking advantage of what promised to be a busy TOQS Saturday. He was in the midst of re-arranging the gallery, moving some of the massive pieces around so I had fun taking pics of all the paintings leaning up against the walls and furniture….lots of work by some of my fave artists including Mark’s own work (1st 2 pics below). http://mjggallery.com/
I do hope the Leslieville BIA folks get it together for next year, perhaps even upload the event to their website, too. No, the poster was not there, nor were there any event details of the who, what, where, when, why of TOQS. Their blog which promotes the “latest news” from the neighbourhood shows outdated 2014 posts, nothing about today’s event. There were no balloons, no music, no street food (hey, food trucks are always looking for new locations) and no banners telling passers by to stop and take a stroll along the several blocks of Leslieville.
As a publicist and marketing consultant, I cannot stress enough the need for neighbourhoods and their Business Improvement Associations to effectively use social media for promotions, keep their websites updated, notify local newspapers and bloggers and reaching out to organizations such as Tourism Toronto to attract visitors. You don’t just post something on your Facebook then hope people find you. The potential for today’s event was extraordinary, but sadly they missed the mark by a mile. Next year, I hope to visit a whole new exciting and well-promoted TOQS…I’m rooting for them.
One of us…one of us! I LOVE all things Playdead Cult – fashion, furniture, art – all done by artist & musician Stu Andrenelli who I’ve known for many years since buying one of his original paintings right off the wall of the old Shanghai Cowgirl diner on Queen Street W back when the neighbourhood was still groovy and the hipsters were still….well, hip.
Since then, I’ve added numerous pieces to my collection of original edgy art and watched Playdead Cult grow from a niche fashion and art boutique into a thriving design business, bringing a real sense of edgy cool to Toronto’s indie culture. Stu (pictured below) is also an accomplished musician – he’s the drummer of Toronto alt. rock band A Primitive Evolution (A.P.E.).
Playdead Cult was originally headquartered in a vintage auto body shop near Queen & Dufferin where Stu and then-partner Bean created art and fashion designs using the Playdead Cult logo/brand as the key element. Playdead then moved into a Kensington Market store where they built a loyal following among the artsy-fartsy market set, as well as attracting numerous recording artists and TV personalities such as George Stroumboulopoulos who is frequently seen sporting a Playdead Cult t-shirt.
Last year, Stu decided to bring Playdead Cult back to Queen West and found a great (and much larger) store at 1696 Queen West, just East of Roncesvalles, and after a grand opening party, has steadily been building an even more fascinating, engaging and intriguing identity….as soon as I walked in today I felt at home in this playful pandora’s box of a store/gallery surrounded by a riot of art, clothing, re-purposed furniture, toys, nic-nacs and even customized guitars. Check it out…..
Playdead Cult offers so many unique art pieces – great furnishings for your loft, condo or mum’s basement! Look at this sexy coffee table (below) which started out life as a old fashioned luggage trolley – Stu refinished and polished it up and made it into something a little less “in yer face” for the more conservative buyer. The skulls and stripes kerchief makes a great doily, dontcha think?
Big thank you to Stu and his colleague, Brett (pictured below L to R) who showed me around the new store. I suggest you allow yourself at least an hour to go thru all the shelves, looking at every little treasure in every nook and cranny. Check every inch of wall space for the unusual original artwork and definitely go thru the clothing racks
Playdead Cult Boutique & Gallery
Clothing, art and events for the black collar worker!
1696 Queen St West