Tag Archives: art

Do You See What I See? (Day 18)

Away from the light of day, there exists nearly an entire self-sustaining city. The tunnels, stations and people that encompass the three1 subway lines of the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) are daily staples of the third most heavily-used urban transit system in North America2. It is also now officially3 the most expensive and least government funded urban transit system in North America, as well. I, along with 1,499,999 of my fellow TTC riders, could likely go on a diatribe that the likes of even Herman Melville hasn’t seen, but I’ll spare you the colour commentary and keep my nose planted firmly where it belongs, i.e., in my Wordpress blog.

Political opinions aside, beauty can be found in plenitude in subterranean Toronto. I am lucky enough to have a car5, so I don’t take the subway that often; certainly not daily and usually only when it snows, so I don’t run down animals or small children with my non-snow-driving-Texas-girl-self. However, I’ve seen my share of subway stations in Toronto and am always awed by some of the thought and cleverness that I see in the art underground. Also, I’ve seen some very odd things down there and clearly, when people are kept from sunlight day after day, weird things happen. But I digress.

My goal is to see, and photograph, each and every subway station before I leave Canada, so to that end, I’m posting a few snaps from some of the stations I’ve seen to date. I hope you the whimsy as much as I do.

1 Yep. Only three. And I could literally walk between two of them in about 10 minutes.
2 Behind New York City Tranisty Authority and Mexico City Metro
3 As of November 17, when the fares were (yet again) increased thusly.
4 By which I mean “Dear TTC, stop hiking your fares and your ridership just may increase organically”.
5 Yet unlucky enough to have to pay the city of Toronto $60 annually just for the privilege of owning a car in a postal code that begins with an “M”.

Spadina Summer Under All Seasons





















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Toronto Gives Voice To Art (Day 16)

(Note: I have no idea why my font is both microscopic and not the normal WordPress font; however, I am far too exhausted to try and figure it out right now. I *can* say that after a quick forum search, I was informed that you are unable to modify fonts on the WordPress.com platform unless you have serious knowledge about CSS, which I do not. WTF? Does that seem silly to anyone else but me? It seems like pretty basic functionality in, I don’t know, 2009. Le sigh.)

You know how you can walk down the same street every single day and not notice something that’s been there forever? I try to be an “explorer in my own city”, which is really still very new to me, but I consider myself to know my ‘hood pretty well. Very well, actually. This week, though, I noticed something different on a lamppost across the street from my building. I noticed a hot pink sign, not necessarily because of what was on it, but because it was hot pink, natch. When I realized it wasn’t just another flyerplastered on a post announcing the next rave at The Guvernment or that male models are in serious need, but something from the city of Toronto about art, no less, I stopped to take a look.

The sign said simply “artbuzz” with a phone number and two other digits, and was near the Chinese Railroad Workers Memorial (sign # 1-3). I’d walked by the very large structure before — it’s huge and not something you can miss; not to mention, I’ve lived nearby for two and a half years and, being the consummate tourist I am, had to check it out. That was long ago, though, and I’d never noticed any pink signs. So, I did what anyone would do and phoned the number hoping upon hope that it wasn’t some kind of porn line or ruse to steal your credit card number. Alas, no! You get a lovely little tale about the work of art, how the idea was conceived and anecdoates from either the artist or art experts. Don’t believe me? Try it! Call 416.338.3331 and punch in 1-3. Pure art goodness.

Artbuzz1 was commissioned in 2002 by the Cultural Services division of the city of Toronto as an audio tour of the city’s outdoor art. Why no one has notified me of this goodness prior to today is beyond me. I have walked all over this city in the time I’ve been here and have never, ever noticed any other pink signage, with the exception of said male model necessitation. Ahem. The odd sign is still affixed around the downtown core, but apparently fifteen pieces were included with the project launch — including Montréal artist Gilbert Boyer’s curiously obscure granite plaques in the ground called “I Looked For Sarah Everywhere” in St. James Park at King and Church (sign # 2-1), as well as at the elevated wetlands in Sunnybrook Park (sign # 1-6). What this all means is that there are fourteen other outdoor art pieces I’ve yet to see. Fourteen! For shame. It, of course, may or may not have something to do with the perpetual foot of snow on the ground six months a year, but that’s neither here nor there. Artbuzz is definitely one of Toronto’s (many) best-kept secrets.

1 I scoured the intertubes trying to locate a website for artbuzz and I can assure you after an exhaustive search that one does not exist.

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Filed under Art stuff, Toronto

That’s The Way

TOAE 006The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE) is just what it says: an outdoor art festival in Toronto that showcases contemporary art and craft of Canadian artists at Nathan Phillips Square each July. Celebrating its 48th year, TOAE showcases more than 500 artists, hosts an estimated 100,000 visitors, and is the largest outdoor art exhibition in Canada.  This means that all the cool Canadian kids flock from far and wide to the coolest city in Canada for one glorious weekend of art and to sell their wares.  And wares, there are plenty.  
Summers in Toronto are spectacular. Add in art by superb Canadian artists, and, well, it doesn’t get any better. I stumbled across TOAE while wandering around the first year I lived here and, in an attempt to fulfill a promise to myself to buy as much Canadian art as I could afford to buy, quicky snapped up a piece from a Peterborough, Ontario-based artist. I still love that piece much today as on the rainy day I bought it. I’ve managed to pick up a few pieces here and there, but my new favourite piece is one I just bought at this year’s TOAE from a way cool printmaker and artist named Agata Ostrowska.hohoto 003
Art is a funny thing. It’s certainly a personal thing. I have been privileged to know some amazing artists, especially my fabulous Houston friend and artist William Miller of whimdesigns.com.  One of my favourite things to do when I’m walking through any kind of art festival, crawl, gallery or museum (all of which I do often) is ask myself what I’m feeling when I’m looking at any given piece.  I’m often surprised at what a particular piece may invoke — sometimes shock, sometimes anger, sometimes happiness, sometimes sadness — but almost always something. I am also a word harlot. That’s probably not a surprise to you, since you’re reading my little slice of the intertubes where I, oh, write. And if you came to my house, you’d trip over books strewn about. Books I buy with every intention of reading, but never do. Books that I bought when I went to Chapters, or the now-defunct Pages (RIP!), or Book City; books that I couldn’t get enough of; the smell of the paper; or the rows upon rows in which to get lost; or hearing people quietly chat (or sometimes people talking loudly on their phone — so much so that I am required by law to give theTOAE 025m the stink-eye). My calendar is one of those tear-off Word-of-the-day ones so I can sound smrt at least one time a day.  So when I was walking through TOAE and spotted Agata’s work, I was immediately smitten. It was art all about — wait for it — words. Agata is a printmaker, and incidentally won the award for Honourable Mention, Printmaking at this year’s TOAE — most well-deserved. Her art is made of what were essentially long-form poems, which she then types using antique typewriters (so you can see the mistakes — awesome!), and then mirrors the “poem” on the opposite side of the canvas. Pure word harlot awesomeness.
Not wanting to act hastily, I jetted through the exhibition again to see if I saw anything else I liked as much. I stumbled upon a few other things, like this from an artist named Carmen Schroeder who won the Mayor’s Purchase Award, but I kept going back to Agata’s work. I knew I had to have one. She’d done one piece that was broken into quadrants and that spun around. I was literally turning around to tell her I wanted it when another person came up and said “I’ve been thinking abTOAE 027out that piece all day and I want to buy it”. D’oh! Luckily, I’d had my eye on another piece called “That’s The Way”, which was inspired by the Tom Waits song <swoon> of the same name, and that’s the one I bought.  It’s hanging lovingly in my den and I still find myself stopping to read it every few days…and I still discover new little idiosyncracies about the piece that I hadn’t previously noticed.
Agata ended up selling every piece she’d brought to the show with the exception of one — a feat not many artists ever realize. Not only is her art brilliant, but she is, too. And That’s The Way it’s supposed to be.


Filed under Events, Toronto