Tag Archives: Toronto

IDS 12 and TO DO Festival

Dear fellow Torontonians did you go to the Interior Design Show this past weekend?  If you didn’t make it, don’t fret, Greg Laciak’s best of IDS 12 will be on the blog later this week with his  thoughts on what’s new, exciting and on trend in interior design this year.

There are still plenty of exhibitions to take in during the Toronto Design Offsite Festival (TO DO), if you’re kicking around the city and feel like immersing yourself in some amazing design and culture.  Here are our top picks, but be sure to take a look at TO DO’s full listing of events:

WORKshop Toronto
Runs to February 12, 2012
Admission: Free!

Suzhou Stitches ExhibitionSuzhou Stitches Exhibition Opening Night PartyPieces from Suzhou via WORKshop

The Toronto experimental design centre and gallery, WORKshop, is hosting STITCHES: Suzhou Fast Forward, featuring seven pieces of hand-crafted Suzhou embroidery from China as well as six contemporary works by invited architects, artists, and designers.

The seven hand-crafted embroidery pieces are from the Zhou XueQing Embroidery Art Center in Guangdong, China. These painstakingly stitched works made from  fine silk thread picture flowers, birds and landscapes and continue Suzhou’s 2000-year history of embroidering illusionistic scenes. Using this tradition as a springboard for the future of embroidery, WORKshop invited architects, artists, and designers to create original works. Beauty and ingenuity  is on proud display in these six contemporary works that employ new technologies, processes, and materials.

Stephen Burks: Man Made Toronto
Design Exchange

Runs to April 1, 2012
Admission: Pay What you Can
Stephen Burks: "Mad Made"

Stephen Burks: Man Made Toronto, is a unique project that features industrial designer Stephen Burks’ ongoing exploration of the global economy of artisanal craft. Burks encourages us to reconsider the worth – aesthetically and conceptually – of the handmade object.  He has worked with Senegalese basket weavers based in New York and Dakar, as well as projects with artisans in South Africa, Peru and India, and is considered a design activist for his work connecting these artisans with global distribution and marketing.  In so doing, he brings social and economic stability to these artisans and their remote communities, while introducing different aesthetics to contemporary design.

Losing Parkdale Exhibit at the Ontario Crafts Council Gallery

Losing Parkdale
Ontario Crafts Council Gallery
Runs to February 26, 2012

Parkdale is a neighbourhood full of artists and as this exhibit showcases, amazing woodworking talent.  But woodworkers, artists and artisans are being displaced as condo developers have moved in and taken over usable studio space.

Curated by Joel Robson, with work by Scott Eckertt, John Jackson, Dennis Lin and Joe Yanuziello, this exhibition focuses on the craftspeople that have made their living in this part of Toronto and celebrates the joining of material and mind – with the poignancy of upheaval and resettlement.

Spectral Landscape
Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA)
Runs February 4- April 1, 2012

Admission: Pay What You Can

Explosions by Sarah Anne Johnson

“Explosions” by Sarah Anne Johnson, via MOCCA

Bubble by Sarah Anne Johnson “Bubble” by Sarah Anne Johnson via MOCCA

Organized by MOCCA and the National Gallery of Canada, Spectral Landscape gives the expression “loosing yourself in the wilderness” a whole new meaning.   With works by Peter Doig, Sarah Anne Johnson, and Tim Gardner, these artists present striking landscapes that examine our relationship with the natural world.  From sublime to hallucinatory, these landscapes mix autobiography with illusion, the banal with the extraordinary.

Well that’s our round-up!  Let us know what you thought of this year’s IDS and if you made it to any of the offsite exhibitions!

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Toronto’s Sake Brewery

Toronto got its first sake brewery last spring.  In fact it’s the first sake brewery in eastern North America.  The Ontario Spring Water Sake Company has a retail store and tasting bar in the Distillery District open to the public where novices and connoisseurs alike can enjoy fresh unpasteurized sake brewed locally using spring water from northern Ontario. The water source is an important part of the sake making process: it helps create sake’s delicate taste, and rigid restrictions are placed on the concentrations of chemical substances in water that can be used for sake.  Water used in sake brewing tends to be groundwater and that’s what makes Ontario Spring Water Sake Company so special, Ontario’s abundant sources of spring water gives these brews a particularly fresh and delightful flavour.

Image 1 and 2 via Ontario Spring Water Sake Company

A member of the brewing society of Japan, the Ontario Spring Water Sake Company, brews “Junmai” (pure rice) sake.  A veritable who’s who from the sake world have been involved in the organization too, including advisory assistance from Miyasaka Brewing who have been in the sake brewing business since the 1600s in Japan, and award-winning master sake brewer Yoshiko Takahashi.

If you’re in the Toronto area, you should take their Sake Tasting Tour, offered several times per week.  Their space is amazing, and if you’re new to the world of sake, the informative and fun tour will be well worth it.

Sake Etiquette and Terminology

ceramic sake setImage via Guerrero Ceramics

Sake is served in a traditional vessel generally hand-crafted ceramic called a tokkuri.  Tokkuri tend to be bulbous with a long neck.  The sake itself can be served cold, at room temperature or heated, depending on the preference of the drinkers, quality of the sake, and season (heated sake is typically reserved for winter and lower quality sakes).

Sake is drunk from small handless cups called choko.

Image via otoriyose.com.jp

When serving sake, it is appropriate to fill the cups of your company, but never your own (even if you’re the host).  Your guests should ensure your cup is filled.  There are lots of rules governing how one should pour, but generally speaking, holding the tokkuri with your palms facing down is considered polite!

Kanpai everyone!

Image of Metaphys Gekka by Hers by Design via Design Boom

Image via SPGRA

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Pumpkin Parade

Today I wanted to share a fun and unique event in our neighbourhood.  No doubt there are equally charming things that go on in neighbourhoods all over the place, but I love how this happened entirely organically, that it’s a community-led initiative, non-commercial and really fun.  Referred to as the Pumpkin Parade, on November 1 every year friends and neighbours walk their Jack-o-lanterns to the local park, line them up and take in the magic of them all alight.

Image 2 and 3 via BlogTO

Thousands of pumpkins line and circle back on this modest park in Toronto’s west end.  Legend has it – or the version I’ve heard is- that the Pumpkin Parade started a few years back, six or so, with one woman getting her neighbours on her block in on the action. She thought it was a shame these pumpkins are only really enjoyed for a night, thought they deserved a last hurrah.  From there it’s grown into a real event where neighbours catch up while kids dance around in their Halloween costumes.  And it’s certainly elevated the artistry and creativity folks bring to their carvings.  Neighbourly one-up-manship will do that.  Here are a few cool ones we saw last night.

And don’t fret: with the Pumpkin Parade this big, the city sends the compost trucks out to pick up all the pumpkins so that they’re all properly disposed of.  I think every neighbourhood should host one of these.  How awesome would that be?

Best-of: Nuit Blanche Toronto

Last night I pulled an all-nighter. As a student working on my fourth university degree, I am no stranger to this, having spent more than my fair share of sleepless nights finishing essays fueled by endless pots of coffee and sheer adrenaline. But last night’s adventure was purely voluntary and a lot more fun. I took a break from school to attend Toronto’s sixth annual Nuit Blanche, an all-night outdoor art party.

Photo: Tracey Eckersley

Nuit Blanche started in Paris ten years ago and now countries all over the world celebrate the “White Night” on the first weekend of October. I headed out into the cold at dusk and soon found myself in a crowd of thousands, filling the streets which had been transformed into temporary galleries.

Photo: Tracey Eckersley

Some people carefully planned their routes through the three curated zones but I decided just to wander and see what I came across. And it wasn’t hard to find amazing things; at almost every turn there was something new at which to marvel.

The Tie-break, Photo: Tracey Eckersley

The Tie-break, a performance piece by Tibi Tibi Neuspiel and Geoffrey Pugen, recreated the legendary fourth set tie-break between Björn Borg and John McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980. It was fascinating enough to watch them replay the exhilarating 22-minute game but to know that they would repeat it every hour throughout the night, as faithfully to the original set as possible, was even more impressive. The setting of the performance in the city’s financial district added an extra layer of meaning, providing an allegorical exploration of “the relationship between conservatism and risk.”

Video: Karen Zalamea

Karen Zalamea’s video installation Stereo Efficiency Cheer attracted an enthusiastic crowd at two of downtown’s busiest intersections, though when they joined in with her chant they added an eerie element to the artist’s commentary on our society’s obsession with productivity.

Soon, Photo: Tracey Eckersley

The eeriness continued with Iain Forsyth’s and Jane Pollard’s Soon. Walking down an alleyway, I came across a courtyard surrounded by skyscrapers. People were wandering around in a daze, as spotlights searched though the crowd and the cacophonous sound of helicopters and gunshots were interwoven with ominous noises straight out of a sci-fi movie. Some people reveled in this atmosphere and danced in the spotlights while others looked fearful and took great pains to stay in the shadows. As one woman walked through the smoke-filled walkway she exclaimed that it was like being in a war zone.

I just know that something good is going to happen, Photo: Tracey Eckersley

The mood was lighter up the street at Curtis Grahauer’s I just know that something good is going to happen, though the work incorporated the same media and a similar concept of “anticipation of events” that was used in Soon. An empty passageway was transformed into a streetscape along which the audience walked with borrowed umbrellas. Whispered conversations gave way to squeals of delight as an innocuous rain shower turned into a downpour, soaking the participants and driving the viewers back from the edge.

Paparazzi Bots, Photo: Tracey Eckersley

Ken Rinaldo used robots to interact with the crowd in two different works: Paparazzi Bots and Face Music. The former required people to vie for the attention of camera-equipped robots which snapped photos of the lucky few with the perfect pose, while the latter took pictures of participants, pixilated the images, and translated the results into an ever-changing soundscape that was broadcast throughout the square.

Face Music, Photo: Tracey Eckersley

What I loved more than any single artwork was the sight of so many people engaging with contemporary art, especially those for whom it was obviously a novel experience. Their excitement was palatable, even after many hours in the cold. Everywhere I went, I heard people discussing what they saw, what they heard, and how they interpreted it. And while many said they didn’t necessarily understand what they were looking at, at least they were provided with an opportunity to see works of emerging and established artists from around the world.

Video: Jon Simonassi

I’m not as young as I used to be, so I headed home slightly before dawn but you can be sure that next year’s Nuit Blanche is one all-nighter that I am looking forward to!

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What to do this Weekend: Queen West Art Crawl

The strip of Queen West from Bathurst to Dufferin has long held a reputation as the mecca for art in the city of Toronto, but the street has definitely been through a number of changes over the past few years. Condos, cafes and frou-frou boutiques have multiplied and many of the independent galleries who used to populate the street have moved elsewhere due to sky-rocketing rents, but there is still great art to be found in this part of the city.  Some of Toronto’s best contemporary art galleries, including the Katherine Mulherin Contemporary Art Projects, The Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art (MOCCA) and The Edward Day Gallery, are still holding strong, and this weekend the art scene will be in full force for the 9th annual Queen West Art Crawl. It’s a weekend packed with shows, talks, parties and more. We’ve rounded up just a sample of what there is to do this weekend.

image via Queen West Art Crawl

Queen West Outdoor Art Show

One of the main events of the crawl is the outdoor art show that takes place in Trinity Bellwoods Park.  I’ve been going to this show for years and it’s always a great mix of local and not-so-local artists and crafters. The weather this weekend is supposed to be beautiful, so if you’re in the city this show is a great way to spend an afternoon. It runs Saturday and Sunday from 11am until 6pm.  For a complete list of participants and show details head here.

Origami Installation by Andrew Ooi

Parkdale Night Crawl

On Saturday night there will be a number of venues hosting special art crawl events, including an exhibition by Toronto origami artist Andrew Ooi at Poor Johns Cafe, and Paintlounge, which invites participants up to the 2nd floor of the Rhino restaurant to pick up brushes of their own to participate in some collaborative painting while listening to live music.

Gladstone Hotel

Artist and Museum Talks

This year the art crawl will also include a roster of talks about art and community, as well as gallery and studio tours led by local curators. There’s a special talk at the Gladstone about the role food and art play in shaping the community that sounds fascinating.  If you’d like more information, or a complete schedule of events go here.

Art Battle

Art Battle

Usually creating art isn’t considered a spectator sport, but that’s just what Art Battle is all about. Painters wield their brushes to make a masterpiece in an evening while the audience can have a few drinks and watch them work. One artist is declared the winner at the end of the night and completed paintings are auctioned off. During the Night Crawl they will be having a special edition cage match, which sounds intriguing.

Hope to see you at one or more of these events over the weekend, and until then, happy Friday everyone!

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