Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bike Stands at the ROM 4

I thought I would head back to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) for some more of their bike racks. This one representing their fossil collection is a Trilobite which is a group of extinct marine arthropods found on all the modern continents. Actually more than 20,000 species of trilobites have been placed - the most diverse group of animals in the fossil record. And it makes a great bike stand!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Corner Store

In the days before large grocery stores, the older residential areas of Toronto had a little store sprinkled about on most corners where kids could buy their supply of penny candy. You can still see these interesting buildings but most of the ones on small streets have been converted into housing leaving corner stores mainly on the more busy streets fighting to survive against the mega-stores. This store, Steven's, in the Annex is like a part of the community - local news, always fresh flowers, trendy foods, etc - suitable for this rather bohemian/artsy neighbourhood!

Friday, July 29, 2011

"Sugar Beach"

Like many cities around the world, Toronto is in the process of reclaiming a lot of the downtown industrial properties along the harbour for recreational uses and "Sugar Beach" is one of the latest examples. This 2 acre urban beach was previously an ugly industrial parking lot but a redesign by Montreal-based, landscape architect Claude Cormier has transformed it to include a beach, a plaza space for performances, and a tree-lined promenade. It is called "Sugar Beach" since it is right beside the Redpath Sugar factory which is where that ocean-liner in the pic is unloading.
That water feature periodically spurts up high into the air giving the kids a real treat!
Redpath's is to the west but the main view from the beach is to the lake - south - I showed it here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Concrete Poetry

bpNichol (who most often used his lower-case initials and no space to his surname) was well known for his "concrete" (or size) poetry where the typographic arrangement of the words is as important as the conventional elements of the poem such as words, rhyme, etc. With this in mind it is only suitable that one of his poems has been engraved in the concrete in bpNichol Lane right outside of Coach House Press.
I have tried to shoot this in snow, ice, rain, and finally this sunny shot but it has been hard to get a nice clear image of the whole thing so I apologize for the shadows from the trees!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

bpNichol Lane

The older parts of downtown Toronto are criss-crossed by a network of laneways that run behind the streets and their buildings and whose purpose it is/was to provide service access to the various properties. These lanes are usually not named but in some circumstances that is not the case when it is felt that naming the lane would be a suitable commemoration for someone. A lane in the Annex that runs through the U of Toronto has been named for bpNichol, a well-known Canadian poet and author. The lane is also the site of Coach House Press, one of Canada's most venerable literary presses which is suitably housed in a quirky old coach house! More on this lane & bpNichol tomorrow.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Reuse and Recycle

One of my favourite examples of recycling a building is this small structure at U of Toronto which was a nondescript 1950s office until being overhauled in 2004 by the noted Toronto firm of Moriyama and Teshima Architects. It is now the School of Continuing Studies for the university and is especially lovely in summer with the grasses blowing in front of the 2 story glass 'living room' and has a wonderful lounge and hidden garden for the part-time students to enjoy.
Unfortunately that is not my little red Porsche out front!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Kline at the AGO

This will be my last pic from the 'Abstract Expressionist New York' show at the AGO and it is one that I would love to own. Titled "Le Gros" and painted by Franz Kline in 1961, it is a great example of his style of work that displays strong, practiced, brushstrokes. They had several of his pieces mounted in a lovely moodily-lit room and it was fabulous!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Frankenthaler at the AGO

I couldn't leave the Ab Ex show from the AGO without featuring at least 1 of the women artists (who really don't get the same attention as the guys). One of the most impressive pieces in the show is this work by Helen Frankenthaler titled "Jacob's Ladder" from 1957 which is quite large at over 9' x 5'. She is known for painting on the floor (like Pollock) on unprepared canvases with thinned paint which gives her work the look of stains rather than paints. It makes for a very distinctive result!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Mark Rothko at the AGO

Pollock's work may be the star of the Abstract Expressionist New York show at the AGO but all the other usual suspects are there too. Many of the Rothko pieces were rather dark and moodily-lit so weren't good subjects for a pic but this one glowed quite nicely. It is titled "No. 5/No. 22" from 1950 and seems to go against Rothko's quote - "I am interested in expressing the big emotions - tragedy, ecstasy, doom" - with it's cheerful colours.
After the tragedy in Norway perhaps a darker one would be more appropriate. Good thoughts to everyone there.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Pollock at the AGO 2

I thought I should show one of the more typical 'drip' paintings by Jackson Pollock - "Number 1A, 1948". This one was one of the first of these paintings and was done just as he stopped giving titles to his work. Not only were the paintings 'free' but the viewer was also free to make their own interpretation of the pieces. At almost 9 ft long it is quite impressive!
Tomorrow - Mark Rothko.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pollock at the AGO

I love this painting by Jackson Pollock, titled "Number 7, 1950", from the Ab Ex show at the AGO. It was hard to choose from a whole room of Pollock paintings but the colours and everything else about this one were difficult to resist! The AGO normally doesn't allow photography of any work and it is only this show that is the exception to that rule - not sure why.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Abstract Expressionist at AGO

My purpose for being at the AGO this week was to see this fabulous show from the collection of Abstract Expressionist masterpieces from the MoMA which had been in New York in the fall and was not meant to travel, but the MoMa director is the former AGO director so voila! The show has more than 100 works by the masters of the 1940s - 50s movement such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, etc. Surprisingly they were allowing photos to be taken so I will show a few pieces over the next few days.
I love the graphics of the show's sign so I am taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Frank Gehry's 'Galleria Italia' at the AGO

This wonderful warm gallery on the north side of the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) is the Galleria Italia named after the 26 families of Italian descent who each contributed $500,000 to the Frank Gehry re-design of the building. The name of each family is prominently displayed on one of the Douglas Fir beams that support the structure. It is a beautiful, peaceful room with the glass walls providing a lovely view of the Victorian row-houses across Dundas St.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Frank Gehry Stairs at the AGO

This sculpture is actually a spiral staircase at the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) which was installed in 2008 as part of Frank Gehry's redesign of the gallery. The Douglas Fir-clad staircase rises from the 2nd floor of Walker Court, goes out through the glass roof, and then up to the 5th floor Centre of Contemporary Art! It is great fun to walk it as each step is different and the whole structure varies in its dimensions as it rises!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hazy Harbour

It is 35˚C (95˚F) and very humid here today so it seemed like a good idea to head downtown to the harbour for brunch, but.... there was a 1 hour wait for food at the wonderful patio restaurant with this view, so it was back home for a home-made feast! This shot is of the east end of the harbour with a view of the Toronto Islands (in the background) which separate the harbour from Lake Ontario. The islands are mostly parkland although 2 of them still have really neat old homes that have been saved from expropriation. It is a short ferry ride out to the islands and it is a real escape from the bustle of the city - no cars or traffic at all! Click on the 'islands' label below for more info.
This is my 500th post - who would have thought!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Shaw St Mural

Time for another mural - this one on the side of a building on Bloor St near Christie Pits Park which is what the tree is making reference to, I think. I have been unable to find the artist's name and it doesn't seem to be signed at all. I like the colours in this one!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Queen Street Bridge

This old truss bridge on Queen St East carries the street over the Don River and was constructed in 1911. In 1995 this art piece, "Time: And A Clock", by Toronto artist Eldon Garnet was installed at the west end of the bridge. With its 5 ft diameter clock and 18" stainless letters which read out as "This river I step in is not the river I stand in" it is meant to be a study of time and all its meanings. And 1 of our famous red streetcars gladly posed for me!
I have featured some of Garnet's work before - see 1 of the 3 pieces at police headquarters here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

St Patrick Subway Station

This is the same subway station as yesterday in a pic taken a couple of weeks ago, pre Harry Potter - these long walls now have long posters for HP on them. This station, at Dundas and University, is named for near-by St Patrick's Catholic Church, and is 1 of only 2 stations in the whole system which has retained the tubular shape created by the tunnel-boring machine which originally dug the holes for the subway. It has a great atmosphere!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Harry Potter in the Toronto Subway

All the pillars on the St Patrick subway platform have been wrapped in Harry Potter pics or brick laminate in honour of last night's Canadian premiere of the new HP film just down the street. Lots of people were having their pics taken next to giant images of the wizard so the ad campaign seems to be a success!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Gardens on University Avenue

University Avenue is a major north-south road in downtown Toronto and is probably the most prestigious. It is 8 lanes wide for most of its length and has this wonderful median of gardens and sculptures running down the middle. The street is home to 4 major hospitals, the courthouse, opera house, and numerous corporate offices - that is the Canada life building from 4 days ago peeking in on the right. At this time of year it is a gorgeous street!

Monday, July 11, 2011

City Hall Art Show 2

Another shot from the Toronto Outdoor Art Show - actually the same artist, Ross Bonfanti, whose work I always make a point to see. These little creatures are all either totally cast concrete or some have just concrete heads. The city hall square was too crowded to get many shots but luckily there was a bit of a lull when I hit his booth!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

City Hall Art Show

This weekend was the 50th Toronto Outdoor art Exhibition which takes place in the square outside city hall. There is construction in the square this year so the number of artists was down from 500 to 300 but there were still a lot of great pieces. I have always liked the whimsy of this person's pieces - that bunny on the right is cast concrete with real plush toys packed in those wee cages!

I have been having a lot of trouble commenting and even getting on to blogger this weekend - keeps coming up error # 503. Is anyone else having this problem? I have to click on comment a few times before getting through.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Serenity Now

Another stencil discovery from a local laneway features this image of the Dalai Lama which was a bit of a surprise. I wonder if someone is marketing stencil kits or if there actually is a talented stenciler in the neighbourhood!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fair Weather Ahead

This wonderful 15 storey Beaux Arts building is the 'Canada Life Insurance Building' and was designed by architects Sproatt and Rolph and completed in 1931 on University Ave. But it is most well-known for the weather beacon on top, installed in 1951, which stands at 321 ft above the street and gives everyone downtown an up to date weather indication. The light at the top glows green for fair weather, red for cloudy, flashes red for rain, and flashes white for snow. Lights running up the beacon flash up or down to show the temperature direction or steady when the temp is steady. The green was a bit washed out by the great sunshine when I took this pic this morning but we have great weather ahead!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chinese Guardian Lion

This is one of two large stone Chinese lions that now stand guard outside the Royal Ontario Museum on Queen's Park. The 17th century lions were originally obtained by the museum in 1923 and have been installed in various locations both inside and outside the building but hopefully are now settled for good!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Polar Kitty

When I first spotted this poster on the end of a bus shelter I thought the kitty was floating on a cloud and had gone to heaven and then realized that he/she is on a hunk of ice floating in the Arctic like a polar bear. I guess the City of Toronto Animal services is trying to remind us about the cat overpopulation problem which doesn't get as much attention as the bears losing their habitat! I was dealing with shadows, reflections, and a wrinkled poster but couldn't resist this shot of a rather bizarre ad!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

X Marks the Spot

This wonderful red sculpture, titled "Double Vision" by Canadian artist Shayne Dark, is located in front of X Condominiums on Jarvis St just along the street from yesterday's 'tree'. I quite like this jolt of colour contrasting with the black 45 storey high condo. It's a busy street so hard to avoid vehicles in your shot!

Monday, July 4, 2011

"Red, Orange and Green"

This stainless steel tree, titled "Red, Orange and Green", was installed near the busy junction of Jarvis St and Mt Pleasant Rd in 1992. Created by renowned Canadian artist Michael Snow, the title refers to both the colours of neighbouring traffic lights and to the reflected colours of the surrounding trees through our changing seasons. 14 m high and composed of 3 intersecting panels, it has an assortment of shapes cut out of the steel including one of Snow's famous 'walking woman' silhouettes. I took this pic 2 hours ago at lunchtime when you can see that we had beautiful sunny weather and people were out and about everywhere!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Isabel Bader Theatre

This small, elegant theatre is part of Victoria College at U of Toronto and serves as a theatre for the general public as well as a lecture hall for the college. Designed by Canadian architects Lett/Smith Architects who are well known for their theatre designs, it was constructed in 2001. Although modern, the use of simple, refined materials allows it to fit in with its neo-Gothic neighbours quite well. I took this pic in early May before the ivy on the wall had come out so I think another walk-by is in order!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Balloon Girl

Taking a shortcut through a laneway to the bank on Thursday, I stumbled upon this cute little balloon girl stencil on a garage door. There must be a Banksy fan in the neighbourhood! Wonder how long she will last?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Canada Day 2011

Today is Canada Day and this marks 144 years since Confederation occurred in 1867. Most businesses are closed and there will be celebrations and fireworks all over the country with even Prince William and Kate joining the festivities in Ottawa.
I am taking this day as a day of reflection (in my vintage Mountie T-shirt) and joining in Weekend Reflections! For more reflections, click here.