April 20, 4/20, 420 day with its annual marijuana protest. The nature of the “protest” has changed over the years now that the fight for legalization is almost over. This year was more like a group of friends hanging out together at Nathan Phillips Square and enjoying the warmest day that we’ve had in a while. A few items, seeds, edibles, etc, were available for sale. The group didn’t have a permit for the event (they were turned down) but that didn’t stop them. The police (and other security) presence was very visible but confrontations were kept to a minimum – at least for the time that I was there which was early on. I left while Nathan Phillips Square wasn’t crowded.

a woman in a green hat smokes a joint behind the back of a policeman in a yellow jacket.

a man with multicoloured curly wig and police cap holds a banner (backside to the camera) that some people are reading

a woman with long braided red hair stands beside someone in bong costume,

below: Green whistles were distributed and there were times when the sound they made was quite loud!

two young women taking a selfie, one is blowing on a green whistle

a woman in green and clothes with marijuana leaves on them, sits on a bench at Nathan Phillips, a man in a walker is beside her and talking to her.

Nathan Phillips square, two security guys on upper level above the snack bar, people walking below.

a group of people sitting around the 3D toronto sign at Nathan Phillips, one man is in the O, on his phone, a book in his lap,

a young woman with sunglasses and a white scarf around her neck smokes a joint,

a man in a beige jacket, blue sunglasses and black baseball cap smokes a joint outside

a woman with a head band made of rope and fake daisies, wears round sunglasses, mouth with red lipstick, partially open and talking,

back view of a woman in lace stockings, maroon knee high boots, black hoodie, holding up a green banner, people around her are talking pictures on their phones.

woman with dark sunglasses and black and green dreadlocks smokes a joint, close up photo of her face

Indigenous man with cap on his head and medical mask under his chin, makes a face, a red head woman in on the right, partially cropped out and out of focus, she is laughing

two men in black parkas, outside, one has a very large marijuana cigarette in his mouth although it is not yet lit;

a young man with black hoodie, stands outside at Nathan Phillips square with a bong in his hand, smiling, 420 day event

two men in black fedoras, one is holding a cup of coffee, outside, jackets on

three men with dreadlocks and bright coloured toques, backs to camera, over one shoulder is an older man looking close to the camera

a black and white photo of two men at a 420 event.

close up, from the top, of a group of hyacinth flowers, blues and purple tones

A few pictures of flowers from Allan Gardens Conservatory today. We all want spring. The warmth of spring…. and the colours of spring like the shades of blue and purple in the hyancinths above.

three pink and purple flowers, with orangish centers,

A few florals to warm your soul. Soon it will be spring and we can put away our winter layers.

inside Allan Gardens conservatory, tees, yellow flowers, red amarylis

two white orchids in bloom

A return to St. Helens Avenue and the galleries there.

A few galleries devoted to contemporary art can be found on St. Helens Ave.  I know that I have mentioned some of their past exhibits in previous blog posts.  Exhibits change and so back we go.   The three exhibits that I saw today have little in common with each other.  Three artists with different views; three men trying to turn their thoughts and ideas into something visual.  The first gallery that I visited today is the Clint Roenisch Gallery where the exhibit is “Hot Takes, No Sax”, by Torontonian Niall McClelland.   It will be there until 21st April.

From Wiktionary: “Noun[edit]. hot take (plural hot takes). A bold, broad, and subjective moral generalization on a situation, with little or no original analysis or insight, especially by a journalist.”   Something written quickly and without much thought put into it.   Although some people associate it with journalism, you could also apply it to a lot of things online – think about the comments section after a news article, or something on your facebook or twitter feed.   Sometimes I think that that expression applies well to contemporary art – thrown together to provoke but not much actually went into it.

below: Running diagonally across the room is a line of trunks and metal cases that are covered with bumper stickers.  On the wall are 4 images, each with a black and white background.  The frames are covered with more bumper stickers.  This is only part of the exhibit.

room in an art gallery, a line of trunks runs diagonally across the room, they are covered with bumper stickers.

below: These are the three images on the wall in the photo above.  The frame on one side of the image on the left has the names of four American politicians from the not so recent past – Nixon, Goldwater, McGovern, and Carter.  Some of the images may be familiar to you as well.

three pictures on a gallery wall, in black and white checkerboard backgrounds, blue images on that. Artist is Niall McClelland

below: More of the stickers.  Is there a theme to them?  How do these relate to hot takes?   Which side is the artist on?  “Urban farmer”, “When you sit down for dinner, thank a farmer”, “Impeach Trump”, “Give a hoot”, “The times they are a changin”, “Be green”, “Bio fuels: no war required”, “Who’s your farmer?”, “I’d rather be gardening”, “Nasty woman”, “Break the chains, shop at independent stores”,  “Saving seed is a basic human need”, “Localvore”,  “Whatever happens to the water, happens to the people”, “What is the proper way to fold an anarchist flag?”

sticker covered metal cases on the floor of an art gallery with a picture on the wall behind, the work of Niall McClelland at the Clint Roenisch gallery

Next is Douglas Coupland’s “Tsunami” at Daniel Faria Gallery, until 28th April.  Trashy in a certain way.  Coupland has collected, cleaned and painted various plastic containers and other disposable items he found along the shore in British Columbia.  A number of the items probably crossed the Pacific Ocean after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. Trash on display?  We’ve all heard the expression “reduce, reuse, recycle” which may be facetious here?  Is it too pretty to be a statement about the environmental impact of plastics?

plastic containers and other items found washed up on the shore of British Columbia, cleaned up and painted and put in sealed clear plastic boxes, art gallery exhibit, artis is Douglas Coupland

below: The large gold piece is a collection of more debris that Coupland has amassed and painted.  Another one,  all in black, is on a different wall (not shown here).

plastic containers and other items found washed up on the shore of British Columbia, cleaned up and painted and put in sealed clear plastic boxes, art gallery exhibit, artis is Douglas Coupland, with large structure behind made of gold painted containers and other items

This spring, Coupland will transform the Vancouver Aquarium into a vision of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by filling aquarium tanks with some of the trash that Coupland has collected – by some I mean 20 tons of it.  Twenty tons of found rubbish.  Twenty tons of plastic and other debris.   Jet streams will simulate ocean currents and the garbage will “float, bounce, disperse and gather along the tank, fragments flowing into one another like an overwhelming and exhausted assemblage”.

below: Tucked away in the back room of the gallery are four paintings like this, also by Douglas Coupland.

part of a Douglas Coupland painting, with a black and white picture of a man's face in the center of swirls of colours. Apainting by Douglas Coupland

 

Part three is the exhibit “Raw War” by Bruce Eves that is on at the Robert Kananaj Gallery until 21st April. Eves was just given one of the 2018 Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts.

“taps into a zeitgeist fraught with peril”

below: Part of Work #901 by Bruce Eves.  There are seven panels in total.  Every hour for a week in February 2014 he took his heart rate.  The numbers in the squares are his heart rate.  It’s difficult to see in this picture, but each square also has the date and time.  In addition, each panel is a day.   Something happened on Friday February 14th at 16:00 to elevate his heart rate to 123 beats/minute!

Part of a set of 7 paintings by Bruce Eves on a gallery wall, each painting is squares with numbers in them. The numbers are Eves' heart rate taken every hour for a week.

Eves has also painted a sequence of numbers that are actually nine blood pressure readings.  It was after he learned that he had a heart condition that Eves started using his health (and the monitoring thereof) as subject matter.   A self-portrait based on data about oneself, so to speak.  How his doctor sees him.

A few things to think about?

(P.S. My apologies for the title)

 

Well, that was quite a weekend.  An April winter storm with snow, sleet, ice pellets, freezing rain, and even some just plain rain.   The streets were icy and the sidewalks were slushy and wet.   Chunks of ice have fallen off roofs, tree branches have broken off with the weight of the ice that formed on them.  And then there was the wind that blew hard.   Of course I went out!

hazy, blurry picture of a person walking with an umbrella up Yonge street with other people, cars, wet sidewalk,

below: Dressed in our April finery. Black parkas.

people walking in the rain, downtown Toronto

below:  There is a small, but interesting, exhibit at the Toronto Reference Library at Yonge and Asquith that I wanted to see.  It’s called ‘Toronto Revealed’ and it’s in the TD Gallery on the main floor.   It features drawings and paintings of Toronto’s past.

sign in the window of the Toronto Reference library re the display at the TD gallery, Toronto Revealed, pictures and paintings of Toronto in the past

below: One of the paintings in the exhibit is this one, ‘Cherry Street Hotel’ by Gerard Lazare (1978).  The Cherry Street Hotel was built in 1890 at the corner of Cherry and Front Streets.  It later became the Canary Restaurant (1965-2010).  The building is still there but it stands empty.

painting of the Canary restaurant on the corner of Cherry and Front streets

below: There was a display of small artworks by Nicholas Hornyansky (1896-1965), including this one of St. James Cathedral (1938).  Hornyansky was born in Hungary and immigrated to Canada in 1929.  He is known for the etchings and aquatints (another print making technique) that he did of Toronto buildings and landscapes.

small framed painting of Saint James cathedral in Toronto, by Nicholas Hornyansky, painted in 1938 .

below: Most of the paintings were very realistic (documentary) except this one – a wacky view of Bloor Street looking west from Yonge towards Bay by Carlos Marchiori, painted in acrylic in 1976.   Even then, it is fairly true to reality.  The darker tower on the right is on the NW corner of Bloor and Yonge.  Stollerys store (the low building on the SW corner) is long gone.

bright painting of city landscapre, Yonge & Bloor, bendy buildings, cars as coloured blobs on the streets, puffy clouds in bright blue sky, by Carlos Marchiori

While I was at the library, I wandered around and took a few pictures of its vast open spaces.  It was warm and dry!  I was expecting to be told to put my camera away, but no one seemed to care.

interior of the Toronto Reference Library from the fifth floor, semi circular tables, reddish carpet, open concept architecture, rows of books,

below: Most were too busy working to notice.

looking down an aisle between two stacks of books (book shelves), a woman is sitting at a table studying and writing, there is a window behind her

below: One more picture from the ‘Toronto Revealed’ exhibit is this painting of the intersection of King and Jarvis by Vernon Mould.   It was painted in 1979.  Was gas really 20 cents a gallon in 1979?  No! That was the year that prices went metric and a litre of gas was 20 cents.    I came back to this picture because I chose to chase down that intersection to see what it looks like today.

painting, in mostly brown tones of a three story building at the corner of King and Jarvis, Toronto, with a small gas station across the street, sign says gas 20 cents, 2 gas pumps,

below: Et voici, same intersection, approximately the same angle.  There is now a building (with a Second Cup on the ground floor) where Mould would have stood.   By the looks of it, the three storey brick building on the NE corner has been fixed up since 1979.  So glad to see that it hasn’t been replaced by a glass condo tower!

intersection of King and Jarvis, looking north, three story brick building,

below: I wanted to find out more about the building, so I googled Sportsman’s Shop and I found a wonderful old picture of it from the 1970’s, obviously taken before it was renovated.    Apparently, it was fixed up in the early 1980s.

old black and white photo of the Sportsmans Shop at 150 King East in Toronto, three storey brick building

photo credit: Gary Switzer, source: Urban Toronto

below:  The next photo was taken as I stood on the same corner of King and Jarvis, but pointing my camera in different direction – looking west on King towards St. James Cathedral.  This is the eastern limit of the King Street streetcar project which is why the multicoloured barricades block part of the righthand westbound lane.

looking west on King street from Jarvis, St. James Cathedral and park on the right, downtown towers and office buildings in the distance, rainy day, TTC streetcar,

below:  These women are waiting in the wrong place.  Although the city changed the location of the streetcar stops along King Street, the bus shelters haven’t been moved yet.   At least they were (sort of) out of the rain.   They soon realized their mistake.

below: Looking back, the prerequisite photo of a TTC streetcar through a rainy day window.

looking out the back window of a streetcar, rainy day, raindrops on the glass, another streetcar is passing by

It’s always better to end a blog post on a happy note, right?  It may be a dream (I hope not!) but spring can’t be too far away.  April showers bring May flowers, right?  On my second warm up stop I saw this cheerful, hopeful drawing tacked to a wall.   It was one of many on the wall, all the work of Maihyet Burton.  They were at the Artscape building at the Distillery District.

a pen and ink drawing of spring flowers, poppies, in blues and purples, and fiddleheads in bright green

below: Headed home again.

two people with their back to the camera wait on the subway platform as a train arrives

Don’t put away your boots and hats yet!

While meandering down Croft Street today I discovered a new mural by Bruno Smoky on a garage.   A large reddish face of a man – Neptune, the God of the Sea?   It also makes me think of the book, ‘The Old Man and the Sea’.

mural on a double garage door, man's face, fish swimming underwater, by Bruno Smoky 2018

Two very large swim nearby.

mural by Bruno Smoky, part of it, two large fish swimming under water.

part of a mural on a garage door by Bruno Smoky, a large red face of a man.

graffiti words on a wall, black sharpie, Save us

It’s early April and we’re all tired of winter but it lingers on.   How are you coping?  Yes, you!

Cameron House mural on Queen Street West, woman in pink blouse is looking beyond the window to a man walking past.

below: Is this wishful thinking?  or maybe just a little too optimistic?

chalkboard sign on the sidewalk outside of a store on Queen Street West, sign says Spring is here

below: Spring is in the air?  They forgot the question mark.   Is the cat reacting to the disconnect between the sign and the reality? … or maybe  its expression is because it’s just realized that it’s sitting beside a book about Justin Trudeau?

sign in a store window that says spring is in the air. also some stuffed animals

These were the only signs of spring that I saw yesterday as I walked although I noticed that someone was trying to cheer things up.  Not sure how long these have been sitting outside.  They’re looking a little weather worn and grubby.  Hope may be wearing a bit thin?

small leafless shrub in the front yard of a house, small yellow fake flowers strung through the branches, the flowers are old and dirty.

below: Elsewhere yellow birdies were playing hockey.

two women are having their picture taken in front of Uber5000's mural about Toronto in the winter, little yellow birdies playing hockey.

Spring was elusive but what I did spot were a couple of stikmen that I don’t remember seeing before.   I also noticed more smiley hearts popping up in unexpected places again. First, some of the hearts…

smiley heart on pink wall with red spray paint lines around

pink smiley heart on a wall with lots of other colours, street art

small black line drawing of a heart on a metal pipe on a wall, pipe has been painted orange and red to blend in with a street art piece

below: Cool Woodstock makes an appearance too (a yellow birdie of a different kind).  I don’t think she’s too happy to have a bird sitting on her head.

street art on garages, a small yellow Woodstock cartoon character with black sunglasses, on top of a black drawing on white of a girl screaming, a little smiley heart and the word love is beside her ear.

below: The guitar player is now playing with heart.

part of mural of a guitar playing in shades of orange and red. A white piece of paper has been stuck on his chest, with a black smiley heart on it.

And the stikmen….

a broken stikman painted greyish blue on a greyish blue door where the paint is peeling and the wood is fraying

stikman on a white and blue wall

below: Instead of wooden, this stikman is a drawing in a frame.

picture of a green stikman in a little frame, on a wood gate, by a black and white stencil of a man's head

below: Is that a little orange head of a stikman in the bent frame?

….. and then back inside for some warmth!

interior of a coffee shop, people sitting at tables, people sitting on the bar by the window, a TTC streetcar is outside, passing by

I  will leave you with one last look at a window full of yellow chicks and Easter bunnies, hope for spring (Hope springs eternal? Hopes of spring are eternal?).

looking into a store window, that is decorated with little bunnies in Easter clothing, with little yellow chicks and paper flowers

I’ll just leave this here.    Just one photo today.

a amll metal table and a chair outside, against a brick wall. On the wall, in white paint, are the words You Don't worry about fitting in when you're Custom Made