Tag Archives: Yonge Street

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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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SPRINGTIME IN YORKVILLE – come for a stroll with me thru the parks & gardens

Today is the one sunny day forecast for this week so I took a stroll thru my neighbourhood parkettes and gardens, snapping away at all the pretty flowers that have finally poked their heads above ground.20170503_112819Across the street from my building is the old Manufacturers Life Bldg, surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens that I frequently photograph. Thanks to the heavy rains yesterday, most of the tulips looked a bit beaten down but I found a few nice beds still in tact – below20170503_111733 20170503_111952 20170503_112034Then down the little side street you’ll find a charming parkette (pictured below) that’s usually populated (sadly) with homeless folk but today I had the place to myself…and the flowers.20170503_112236 20170503_112752 20170503_112805 20170503_112901 20170503_112913This poor little tulip looked so lonely – his mates obviously failed to sprout!20170503_113023_002Lots more flowers to enjoy in this tiny nature strip alongside Church Street north of Bloor, including these stunning Magnolia blossoms in the back garden of one of the neighbouring row houses.20170503_113115 20170503_113125 20170503_113052Lots more lovely flowers to capture along the side streets near Yonge & Bloor…20170503_113258 20170503_113411 20170503_113857I strolled down Hazelton Avenue in the heart of chi-chi Yorkville and found some lovely surprises in the cottage gardens….20170503_114651 20170503_114742…then back home via Yorkville Ave, dropping in to say hi to the firemen of Station 312.20170503_11570920170503_115728 20170503_115808Hope you enjoyed my little virtual tour of the lovely flowers and gardens near my home…now go get out there in the sunshine yourself!

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IS LIVE MUSIC IMPORTANT TO TORONTO? You betcha!

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a special panel discussion regarding the live music strategy being undertaken by the Downtown Yonge BIA in partnership with Music Canada, City of Toronto’s Economic Development & Culture Division, Canada’s Music Incubator and Heritage Toronto. The focus of the discussion was the historical and contemporary importance of Yonge Street as a music and cultural hub for the city (see end of blog for web addresses).

Hosted in the Hard Rock Cafe (originally known as the Friar’s Tavern in the 60’s and 70’s), the venue overlooks the world-famous Yonge-Dundas Square (below).20150924_182802The event was part of the Yonge Street Speaker Series sponsored by Downtown Yonge BIA and presented by Yonge Street Media who publishes an online newsletter containing information and news pertaining to the Yonge St corridor (I highly recommend you subscribe to this).  http://www.yongestreetmedia. ca/

Introduced by Yonge Street’s Ritu Bhardwaj and supported by Downtown Yonge BIA’s Exec. Director & Chief Staff Officer Mark Garner,  the panel of music industry experts (pictured below) included moderator Amanda Martinez – singer/songwriter and media personality; Greg Godovitz – long-time recording artist whose hard rock band Goddo was a big fave of mine back in the 70’s & 80’s when I was a weekly clubgoer. Greg is now a radio personality, producer and author; Amy Terrill, VP of Public Affairs for Music Canada; Nicholas Jennings – music journalist and author of one of my fave books Before the Goldrush (the story of the Yorkville scene in the 60’s), and Mike Tanner – Music Sector Development Officer for Toronto’s Film & Entertainment Industries office.20150924_193055Several topics were addressed including the state of viable live performance stages in the city (or lack thereof), as well as the value of Yonge Street as the touchstone for the city’s music history. A number of initiatives have already been launched including designating the various locations of important venues from the past along the Yonge strip that will receive plaques acknowledging their contributions to the city’s and country’s music industry. See map below:img278Soon to launch is the Canada’s Music Incubator initiative, which is the next phase of Downtown Yonge’s music strategy. Partnering with Coalition Music, they are introducing an Artist Management program – something I myself taught for several years at one of the city’s music & film schools.  One of the missing components in these days of online music distribution and social media marketing is the professional artist’s manager who guides artists and negotiates liveable performance fees for them, so hopefully this program will result in a more professional approach to music marketing and gigging esp. for emerging artists who need this important support.

It was great to watch the introductory video that reminded us of Yonge Street’s heritage – The Colonial Tavern, Le Coq d’Or Tavern, Ronnie Hawkins and other legacy musicians…see below20150924_191124 20150924_191259

20150924_190910…and attendees were very enthusiastic with their own questions and commentary- below20150924_203258One important issue that was brought to the fore is that musicians gigging around town these days are not paid by the clubs and bars that take advantage of the fans’ booze and food sales. Back when the city’s live music venues had a thriving attendance (70’s- early 90’s) bars would pay the artists and promote/advertise their own venue – these days bands have to either work for the door or sell tickets provided by the club owners who pocket the revenue generated. Bands also have to promote themselves using whatever publicity vehicles they can afford (social media is free but few artists really understand how to target the market outside of their own “circle of friends” to attract new fans). The panel all agreed this is a serious issue, however, as one of my musician friends pointed out, last night’s event was held in just such a venue where bands have to rent the space (for a substantial fee) plus meet a bar sales minimum. So instead of operating as true bars and live music venues, many are now operating as corporate event spaces. Musicians lose out and in the long run, so do the fans who are not exposed to as many talented homegrown artists as we did back in the day.

I hope to participate in more discussions and activities in support of this “Music Strategy/Downtown Yonge BIA” project and I encourage you all to go out and see/hear a band this weekend. Thank you for supporting Canadian artists!

Important websites for fans of Canadian music:
www.downtownyonge.com   www.musiccanada.com   www.toronto.ca   www.canadasmusicincubator.com   www.coalitionmusic.com