Toronto-based artist GRACE DAM (pictured below) has been a frequent exhibitor at URBAN GALLERY – her landscapes have garnered high praise in a number of previous group & solo shows, and in SEX LOVE LIES, Grace explores her figurative as well as abstract inspirations with a series of large canvases on show at the gallery until September 29th (400 Queen St East, Toronto).Grace graduated from Ontario College of Art & Design in Toronto with a degree in Fine Arts, minor in Photography. Her time is split between Toronto, where she researches and produces works, and the rugged Rocky Mountains in Western Canada where gigantic peaks, serene lakes and wildlife provide refuge and inspiration to her. She paints everything and anything that moves her; most of her works convey messages, be they personal, social or political, her views imply quietly. One of the most complex things in life is the interaction or connection to others around us. Something we can observe but never quite control. My figurative works reflect aspects of the complication in the communication between human beings. Certain looks, even a smile or a passing raising of the eyebrows can imprint in our memory that precise moment like a never fading recorded tape. ~ Grace Dam My personal favourite has to be “The Paper” 48″ x 48″ oil on canvas (pictured below with the artist) illustrating the angst and pain felt by the man upon reading the message on the paper. Grace’s treatment of the sweater and pants fabrics is quite wonderful…you can almost reach out and feel the textures….Even the catering, courtesy of Urban Source Catering was artful and very much in keeping with Grace’s work. I encourage you to visit the gallery in person to enjoy the provocative figurative canvases as well as the boldly coloured abstracts….. The exhibition runs until September 29th – details, gallery hours & directions: www.urbangallery.ca
With the ever-increasing popularity of web-based TV series and entertainment content (watch out cable tv providers, you’re days are numbered!), I’ve been following several young producers/directors/writers who have answered the siren call to create online films and serials. One such multi-tasker is CALEB OLIVIERI (pictured below in red in full directorial action) whose first series, UNAPOLOGY, offers tales from this city (Toronto), focusing on a number of families, singles, couples and how they navigate thru life and, in one case, the impact of early onset Alzheimer’s. Under the umbrella of his Wait, What? production company, Caleb has produced quality programming for multi-generational viewers showcased via the YouTube platform, and the first 6 episodes will officially be launched on Monday Sept. 10th with a cast and crew celebratory soiree during the height of Toronto Int’l Film Fest activities. Hopefully, members of the world’s entertainment media will drop by for a quick schmooze and meet Caleb and his enthusiastic production team. You can learn more via the series Fcbk page: www.facebook.com/unapologyseries
I recently spoke with Caleb to learn how Unapology came into being…
Caleb, what was the inspiration for the theme/storylines for UNAPOLOGY? The storyline(s) grew organically out of my own experiences … alternative living arrangement and employment situation. A close relative with early Alzheimer’s inspired me to write about the reality of living with the disease. From the lack of affordable housing to despicable and exploitative behaviours of some of my employers I didn’t have to dig deep to find the grist.
Being a young filmmaker, how difficult was it to raise funding, secure equipment and locations as well as attract good actors? Finding good actors in Toronto is easy enough and I was lucky enough to have some good connections with friends and colleagues with equipment and basically “free” use of locations. Fundraising on the other hand has always been a grind. With every film school grad pitching projects to major TV networks in Canada and the US, you created the series specifically for web-based content. Why/how did you decide on this route to take to make your presence known in the crowded TV production arena? Originally it was written and produced as a pilot for a 22 min. series but I broke it down into 6 mini episodes for online use. With a web series I’m much less confined by edicts from networks which are often limiting when it comes to content and structure. A web based series lets the viewer make up their own mind as to what they want to watch and when … a quick episode on the subway ride home … a visit to the loo? As writer & director (as well as producer), how difficult was it to change “hats” throughout the shoot? Did Caleb the producer ever have to give notes (or argue with) Caleb the director? Most of the time the writer and producer are at odds with one another because Caleb the producer can’t give Caleb the writer what he wants due to budget constraints. Caleb the director usually plays the middle man who tries to satisfy the needs of both the writer and producer without sacrificing the story or vision of the project. Did you study writing or production at university or film school, and if so how did you find that experience? I’ve worked in the industry for most of my life, mostly as an actor. I would have loved the opportunity to study writing for film and tv post secondary but the reality for most actors in Canada is you do a lot of pavement pounding, auditioning and co-ops and if you have to pay the rent, that leaves little time for school.
You have a special invitation-only party coming up during the Toronto Int’l Film Festival to officially launch the UNAPOLOGY online series – this must be exciting for you and your team. How important is it to attract international media & industry attention for your web-series and will you be promoting to online audiences outside of Canada? We are stoked to be able to promote our series during the upcoming TIFF season but more so to be simply promoting it finally. Any attention at this point is good attention for my crew and my cast, and while local attention would be great, finding an international audience is absolutely the way to go in 2018 onward.
Check out Unapology’s YouTube promo videos here:
I strongly recommend watching this new series and thank you in advance for supporting emerging Canadian filmmakers and webTV producers. Congratulations to Caleb and his talented cast and crew.
Yesterday, Saturday July 7, URBAN GALLERY 400 Queen St East in Toronto was packed with guests to celebrate the opening of their month-long group show, Wild in the City. Featured artists include Erik Chong, Libby Sims and Osvaldo Napoli who were in attendance, plus works from Lindsey MacKay who was unable to attend in person – she resides in Fredericton, NB. Take a virtual walk thru the gallery with me now…
The gallery filled up quickly once the doors opened at 2pm and lots of ooo’s and aaah’s were heard as visitors discovered the stunning and provocative paintings and sculptures. Erick Chong (below) has exhibited at Urban several times over the past 4 or 5 years and for this show, he brought a whole new style and theme to the show.Erik has several videos showcasing his unique style and technique – get to know this artist here:
I’ve followed Libby Sims‘ work for sometime – she creates beautiful abstract florals in bold colours and strokes, along with other subjects and shapes. A mature artist, Libby has studied abroad and has developed her distinct style that is instantly recognizable. Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli (below) is another mature artist although he is relatively new to the mainstream Toronto arts scene. His wire sculptures and large format multi-medium artworks create quite the statement and Ozzie’s fans turned out in force to see his latest work.The fourth artist feature in Wild in the City, Lindsey MacKay, was unable to attend in person – she resides on the East Coast. But her art spoke loudly for her, featuring people, places and activities found around the city. I personally love the wild eyed seagull featured in her “You Lookin’ at Me?” painting (below).And I like Lindsey’s “In the Moment” painting (below) – reminds me of Toronto’s “Salsa on St Clair” – this weekend’s annual street fair of dancing and Latin culture.So many interesting and thought-provoking images to enjoy, I hope you get a chance to drop by Urban Gallery this month to see Wild in the City yourself. For gallery hours and directions, visit: www.urbangallery.ca
Comedian Glen Foster and I go way back…waaaaaay back to when Yuk Yuk’s ruled the Toronto entertainment scene and Canada was enjoying it’s “golden era” of stand-up comedy in the 1980’s. Over the years, Glen (pictured below) has performed at comedy festivals, had his own TV specials, headlined shows in the biggest clubs around the country and has made thousands of people laugh, especially as “That Canadian Guy”, a personae perfected and showcased on stage and on the air.Now co-host of the hilarious “Hump Dump Live” radio show on Funny820-AM (Wednesdays noon to 1pm) along with fellow comedian and writer Lawrence Morgenstern, Glen recently joined me for lunch at Leela Indian Food Bar in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood – Leela is one of the radio show’s advertisers so why not see/taste what everyone has been talking about: deelish authentic Indian cuisine served in a modest yet hipster-friendly environment located at 3108 Dundas St West.
Providing the perfect balance of quality, taste and presentation of dhaba-style Indian food, Leela’s takes you on a journey through the old streets of India’s big cities and small villages where the aroma of spices welcomes you and the mouthwatering flavors keep you engaged with the authentic Indian preparations as well as innovative Indo-Canadian cuisine. A bit of a mouthful description but Glen easily polished off kale & spinach pakoras, vegetarian samosas, butter chicken and lamb biryani….
…but did leave enough to take home to share with his family for dinner!Leela has comfortable seating (pictured below) and an extensive menu offering vegetarian and Gluten-free choices, with prompt home delivery service, too. Easy access for those with strollers or wheelchairs (washrooms, too)You can learn more about Glen and Lawrence via their show website http://www.humpdumplive.com/ and watch for Glen performing live at Toronto’s leading comedy clubs.And if you’d like to taste the scrumptious dishes that Leela serves (and customizes for your preferred level of “heat” and spice) check out their online menu at www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca or just drop in to the restaurant at 3108 Dundas St West (just W of Quebec Ave) 7 days a week.
Don’t know ’bout you but I looove good authentic Indian food and I’ve finally found a great little restaurant that serves it up in a beautifully designed environment far from the trinkety, bedazzled elephant decor dining room we’ve come to expect from local Indo-Canadian food spots. Welcome to LEELA INDIAN FOOD BAR located at 3108 Dundas St West (just past Quebec Ave) a calm oasis in the busy Junction strip of cool boutique resto-lounges and boites, serving the most authentic “dhaba” or street food this side of the Bay of Bengal!The charming and well-informed staff are happy to recommend menu selections and stand behind their dishes, each of which is made fresh for each diner. On my first visit, I thoroughly enjoyed the recommended roasted cauliflower chaat tossed with chutney, yoghurt and fresh cilantro (pictured below). Mmmmmmm, deelish!…which was followed by the butter chicken. OMG, so yummy, and the rice was light and fluffy, not gluey or over-cooked like many other places serve.I recently spoke with owner, Hormazd Daver, and asked him to share his thoughts on Indian food and his delightful restaurant:
What inspired you to open Leela Indian Food Bar? I always wanted to open my own restaurant; it’s been a passion for while to have somewhere that I can put my own ideas and efforts into practice and cater authentic Indian cuisine to hungry Toronto foodies.
Did you have previous experience in the food/hospitality industry and if so, where? My previous experience was working as a flight crew member for Cathay Pacific airlines which gave me the opportunity to interact with people of different nationalities and share their experiences about the food and international cuisines available in Toronto.
You have family members working with you – who are they and what duties do they undertake to help make the restaurant such a success? I have my sister working with me, along with my brother-in-law, which make us a complete family team. This helps a lot as my sister works on weekends both in a service and administrative capacity. My brother-in-law is responsible for managing the restaurant on a daily basis from ordering supplies to managing the staff and all other duties required to successfully operate the restaurant.
What are your most popular dishes? According to reviews posted by our customers, the Lasooni Cauliflower (stir-fried cauliflower with our chef’s special spices & sesame seeds) is very popular along with my favourite Shrimp Malai Curry which is tasty and very light. Also popular is our Butter Chicken which is not overly “sweet”, unlike what you might find in many other Toronto Indian restaurants. As far as vegetarian dishes, we find the most popular is the Sweet & Sour Eggplant with curry leaf and mustard seeds – by the way, we have many vegetarian options for diners to choose.
One thing that really impressed me while sitting and inhaling my yummy meal was the humble decor and accessories – I love the blue carved ceramic serving platters on each table as well as the copper water jugs full of chilled fresh H2O – apparently the copper infuses valuable minerals into the drinking water so it’s extra good for us to imbibe. The open kitchen (below) makes for a friendly casual atmosphere and you can watch your meals being prepared fresh by the skilled cooks.Leela Indian Food Bar also has a busy home delivery service and you can order via their website: www.leelaindianfoodbar.ca If you’d like to reserve a table (suggested for groups of 6 or more), you can also do that via the website (upper r.h. corner)
A few more personal recommendations include the incredibly over-stuffed veggie samosas……the oh-so-delicious kale & spinach pakoras(below) – I’ve never tasted pakoras like these and not an once of grease to be found!And you just gotta end your meal with their fresh, sweet Gulab Jamun dessert (spongy honey balls).So take it from me, a hard-boiled, curry-lovin’, naan gulping Indian food fanatic – Leela Indian Food Bar is THE place to take your friends, families or sweetie…and it’s very affordable, too!
3108 Dundas St West, Toronto – T: 416-769-7777
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 ……
“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, URBAN GALLERY in Toronto hosts a 10-day exhibition of works from the first year students of the Centennial College Studio Arts program, and this year’s show is titled “Wait, What?”. Not what you would normally expect from a group of ambitious emerging artists – layered universes of double meaning, hope, despair, humour, longing, madness, genius, and skillful virtuosity. All contained within innocuous 18″ square shadow boxes. You will leave the show thinking “wait, what?”… Fairchild Chinese TV news was on hand to record the opening reception and interview the artists and the dept. head…. One of the mature students, F. Mehtap Mertdogan, was there with her family and proudly posed in front of her stunning 3D mosaic titled “Enough!” (below) The 23 artworks on show offered subjects, mediums and colour palettes to suit every taste and pocketbook – prices range from $200 to $450 – a very affordable way to start collecting your favourite emerging Canadian artists. Congratulations to all the artists: Mattheas Gabber, Yogin Patel, Kumar Ayyappa, Fiona Wei, Lilian Jang, Lucas Thomas, Arnold Farrell, CL Fisher, Bee Fawn, Alexandria A. Allen-Papadopoylos, Jancy Sivanantham, Lexx Willis, Takanya Marsh, Titar Awua-Imande, Danielle Nothmann, Sharon Zhang, Atheena Sureshmohan, Gabriella Berdugo, Hyewon Kim, Natalie Plociennik, Wayne Wu, Kai Hart and F. Mehtap Mertdogan.“Wait, What?” runs until Saturday March 24th (5pm) at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen st East, Toronto. Check the website for times & more details: www.urbangallery.ca
Here’s the ultimate “rock concert” – if you like gorgeous gems and baubles, then this is the show for you.Big thank you to Salim Moorani, Founder of The Gem Expo, for inviting me to come out to the spring show which opened today at the Hyatt Regency Hotel on King W in Toronto – show runs tomorrow, Saturday Mar.17th 10am-6pm and Sunday Mar.18th 10am-5pm. www.thegemexpo.com Salim greeted me at the door along with his charming wife and daughter (below) and then let me wander the aisles, meeting up with vendors and gem ambassadors.I was pleased to run into the lovely folks from Sonatona Natural Gemstones & Minerals (below) who I met last year…they’re always ready with a smile and willing to share their extensive knowledge about their precious and semi-precious stones. www.stores.ebay.com/sonatona Lots of ready made jewellery as well as loose gems for crafters and home bead-makers…. One new vendor I was delighted to meet was Deb from Karibu Beads, featuring hand-made Kazuri Beads from Kenya. The story of these beads is fascinating so I encourage you to visit www.karibubeads.com to learn more. Here are just some of the gorgeous colourful beads I saw…. The Gem Expo also features some stunning glass work, too, including these giant “crystal balls” and some spooky stone skulls. Groovy, baby! How about some fossils? Check out these prehistoric shark teeth…yikes!Meet another new vendor, Ryan Desantos of Laya Skye Jewelry (below). He brings in handcrafted designs from Bali and I particularly liked the amazing “floating” rings that are all sterling silver with a rotating element so you can fiddle away and calm your nerves with them. One of them almost fit…I was soooo tempted. His new website is currently under construction but do check it out next month: www.LayaSkyeJewelry.com More fabulous bling…..what’s a girl to do?! Lots to see and buy so come on down this weekend – most vendors take credit cards and Debit cards/Interac, plus there are cash machines in the hotel.
Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Osvaldo “Ozzie” Napoli has been an artist all his life but only recently has he decided to share his creativity with the world. As he prepares for his first solo exhibition later this year at Urban Gallery in Toronto, Ozzie’s been reviewing his past work and assessing his latest for inclusion. From spectacular bronze sculptures and freestanding wire pieces that will stop you in your tracks, to imaginative 3D wall art comprised of cellphone and computer components, his work provokes conversation, inspiration and adoration! One of my favourite pieces is titled “Bliss” (see below) and is a piece that Ozzie holds dear to his heart….and we can see why. I recently joined Ozzie for a photo shoot at his Richmond Hill studio of his latest works to add to his website (see end of story for link) and I asked him a few questions about his life, his inspiration and his art.
What first inspired you to paint and sculpt? As a child I was fascinated by the wonders and colors of carnival season in Uruguay. I used to carve and paint masks from palm tree branches and my friend and I wore them mimicking the dancers and performers at the parades in my neighborhood. [that early influence is clearly reflected in his current work – below] Who was your sculpting mentor/teacher and how did he impact what you create now? My mentor and friend was Canadian artist, writer and philosopher Sorel Etrog, best known as a sculptor. He taught me to see subtleties between strengths and weaknesses of composition and content. He also encouraged me to always approach art from my heart with clarity and vision. You work predominantly in wire, creating stunning human-like characters and fantastical creatures – how do you come up with such ideas? My ideas come mainly from real life stories and situations that we all find ourselves in as part of our everyday life….but with an added touch of fantasy and whimsy. I interpret the mystical and esoteric aspects of people and incorporate those into most of my work.
You also incorporate components from cellphones and computers in freestanding and 3D wall art – where do you find these bits’n’bobs? Surely you don’t smash your own phones?! I rely on the generosity of family, friends and neighbors to supply me with their recyclable e-trash; they are more than happy to donate to my stockpile and at the same time, get rid of their unwanted electronics.
You have numerous pieces done in bronze – how difficult is it to cast and where do you undertake that task? I form the original work in sculptor’s plasticine or wax and then take it to the foundry to be put through a rigorous process where a rubber and plaster mold is made to create a wax-like figure which is then coated with a compound called ceramic. That is then melted afterwards to produce a new mold that can handle the molten bronze…et voila! The sculpture is done and ready to be colored by a process called patina. The whole procedure could take up to three months before its completion. Whew!
You are now starting to exhibit your work as a mature artist – has waiting this long to share your work with the public been beneficial to you as an artist? Yes, because I now have the confidence to create with conviction and sound craftsmanship. I felt that I needed that time to create a vast collection of work which I am now ready to share with the world.
In the fall, you have your first solo show at Urban Gallery in Toronto – what are your expectations? I’m excited to show my collections to the public and meet art lovers who come out to support the launch of my month-long show. I’m also hoping to receive a good response to my work and gain attention from art critics and collectors. I would love for my works to go out into the world to inspire, provoke, entertain and enhance people’s understanding of the creative process.Yes, I’m excited, too, to see Ozzie’s work in a gallery and see/hear how people relate and react to each piece. I myself was particular drawn to this caged heart (below) …a perfect metaphor for my Valentine’s this year…LOL!! You can find more photos of Ozzie’s work and learn about his artistic approach to each subject at: www.artbyozz.com and keep the month of October free to visit his solo show at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St East, Toronto.
It was another successful Artist Project here in Toronto for several of my artist friends who sold numerous works to enthusiastic collectors this past weekend. Hosted in the Better Living Centre at Exhibition Place, I walked the aisles set up in the cavernous hall, meeting new artists as well as dropping in on old friends and colleagues. Join me for this virtual visit:Let’s start off with this exuberant and talented artist, David Shepherd (above), whose incredible cloud studies and hyper realism still life paintings blew me away. www.davidshepherdart.com
Then I discovered Lana Filippone, whose work mixes Edwardian-style parlour shadow frames with contemporary ceramic art (see below). Loved it!! www.lanafilippone.com Catherine McMillan welcomed me to her colourful booth where her stencil art was well-displayed, representing streetscapes (like Kensington Market, below) and various “smalls” with humourous subjects… I loved her psychedelic bunnies! www.catherinemcmillan.ca Quebec artist François René shared his thoughts on participating in this year’s show with his unique art, full of colour and lights. www.francoisrene.com
Keight Maclean offered classic Old Master-style portraits with a very 21st century twist. Wow! www.keightmaclean.com Now let’s visit with Joanna Bell (below) whose photographic art was both intriguing and calming. www.joannabell.com Time to sit-down and rest my “barking dogs” – I tell you, the show promoters really should install carpeting over the hard concrete floor to ease visitor fatigue as it’s a big show! Saw this great portrait of a goat (below) while I took a little rest…isn’t it great?Back to work….now here’s Chris Harms, a self-taught artist who sculpts using vibrant plexiglass. Fellow sculptor Osvaldo Napoli (pictured with Chris, below) found his work quite intriguing. www.chris-harms.co
Round the corner, more fun and colourful paintings…. Then look who I found…my dear friend Nancy Bennett who proudly showed off her painting (aptly titled “Paradise”) inspired by my sister Jennifer’s photograph of a Western Australian sunset. Can’t tell you how proud I am for both sister and friend!! Check out more of Nancy’s work at www.nancybennett.ca And now here’s Kirk Sutherland (below) one of the popular artists who frequently exhibits at Urban Gallery. I love his colour bars…so yummy you can almost eat ’em! www.kirksutherland.com What a delightful booth (below) – I loved Amey Lai‘s sparkly paintings…see more here: www.ameylai.com Here’s Liz Rae Dalton from Howe Island, Ontario. Many of her encaustic sculptures are created from found materials washed up on the lakeshore. Awesome! www.lizraedalton.com Now meet “the marble dude”! Bryan Wilcox shows off the beauty contained within these tiny everyday glass orbs with his close-up photographs, perfectly framed and presented…loved ’em! www.wilcoxcameraart.com Speaking of “art dudes”, two of my favourites, Mark Gleberzon and Morgan Sheardown where side-by-side. Here’s Morgan’s signature “Raining Cows” display (below) … www.morgansheardown.com…and here’s Mark’s fun fab art (he’s working on a special wee painting for me with lots of sparkly blue – can’t wait!) www.facebook.com/MJG-Gallery-by-Mark-Jeremy-Gleberzon Always love running in to Kari Serrao – her work makes me smile! www.kariserrao.com/encausticgallerySpent some time chatting with the delightful Lori Ryerson (www.focalocity.ca) below, who told me about her recent works.
Delighted to meet Gene K. Tempelmeyer (pictured below with his lovely wife/booth babe!) who won 2nd Place prize for his urban streetscape, “Life’s Short, Call Now”. Congrats, Gene, I really like your work, in fact there’s one painting I may have to secure for myself (Lady in Red) …LOL www.GKTart.com Joel Sullivan is Canada’s very own “iron man”. Just look at these awesome metal sculptures. I loved the little robot men lamps….the science nerd in me really came out in Joel’s booth! www.joel-sullivan.com Nice to see Mark Berens (below) – I saw his work at a big group show in The Distillery District last year. See more of his paintings at www.markberensart.com (he’s in the Untamed Things en plein air group show at Blue Mt. Village in April)So I eventually caved in and purchased a small painting from Mirek Bialy (www.mirekbialy.com) pictured below. I fell in love with his bold paintings that incorporated strands of copper. Yes, that’s it now hanging on my wall underneath Colin Nun’s “Coop” graphic painting.
So there you have it…another Artist Project done and dusted! Thank you to all the talented creative folks who welcomed me to their booths, and big thanks to Ozzie and France for taking me again on Sunday – it was cool to view the art thru your eyes, Ozzie.
Mark your calendars for next year’s event at the end of February here in Toronto. Visit their website for details and dates: www.theartistproject.com