Thursday, June 30, 2011

ROM Carvings

These beautiful carvings are found along Queen's Park on the east wing of the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) which was opened in 1933 as an addition to the original 1914 building. This side of the building features many carvings, statues, and gargoyles that reflect the collection inside and is in complete contrast to the controversial 2007 "Crystal" addition by Daniel Libeskind. Click the museum label below for other shots of the building.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Inclusive Signage

I was struck by the inclusive nature of this sign outside the Toronto Courthouse on University Ave. I guess I never thought about the idea that Braille would be different in English and French (our 2 official languages) until I saw it here. What really impressed me was that the diagram, showing where every tree, step, building or obstacle in the area is located, has all 3-D patterning that can be easily deciphered by everyone!
Taking part in Signs,Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Modern Garden

I spotted this small courtyard in front of a Victorian Annex home while the snow was still around and thought it deserved a summer visit so here it is. It is so lovely and graphic with the stainless steel planters and great bench that I am sure the inside of the house must be all modern too - wish I could have a tour!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dreamy Lady

It has been awhile since I went wandering in the laneways so I recently spent some time doing just that and found this wonderful dreamy lady just off Queen St. Not sure if the bird is commenting on her but he is well done too and I have no idea who that man is!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bank Messenger

The Scotia Plaza complex (with the waterfall from 2 days ago) consists of the original Bank of Nova Scotia building connected to a newer tower. The original building was designed in the late 20s as a very Deco structure but the stock market crash and the war resulted in it not being constructed until 1951 while still retaining the Deco features. German artist Frederick Winkler designed several of these bas-relief sculptures of heroic mythological features that are featured on the outside walls. This image of Hermes, the Greek messenger god, is located in the top of one of the very deep window openings - as a great Deco fan I love it!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Packard Clipper

While out running errands this week I took a short-cut through Little Italy and happened upon this huge eye-popper of a car parked on a small side street so of course I had to stop. It is in incredible condition and after researching (googling) I think it is a 1946 Packard Clipper or maybe a '47 but that bird hood ornament must be an add-on. Imagine tooling around town in this car - priceless!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Indoor "Waterfall"

Inside the Scotia Plaza (the reddish building in yesterday's post), you will find this huge mural, "Waterfall", consisting of 69 oil on canvas panels (each 7' x8') rising up over 100 ft in the 15 storey atrium. Created by Canadian artist Derek Besant and installed in 1989, the mural depicts in full scale the largest waterfall in Johnston Canyon Alberta (near Banff). When completed it was the largest indoor mural in Canada!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Old Meets New

This pic was taken in the courtyard of Commerce Court while standing near the elephants of a few days ago and shows how the original Commerce North building (with the wonderful ceiling of 2 days ago) was connected to the new stainless steel Commerce West Tower. Commerce Court, completed in 1972, covers 4 acres and consists of the 1 old building plus 3 new buildings and a courtyard designed by architect I. M. Pei. In the space between the 2 towers you can see the rich marble of Scotia Plaza across the street and catch a glimpse of Trump Tower under construction with the crane on top. It is a very busy area!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sun Shower?

In late 2009, 100 solar collector panels were installed on the roof of the Athletic Centre at U of Toronto - one of the largest such projects in this area. The panels provide about 25% of the heat for the showers and laundry facilities during the peak summer months and are just part of the attempt to 'green' the centre. I found their sign rather eye-catching!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Canadian Bank of Commerce Building

While wandering around Commerce Court I entered the north building which was the original Bank of Commerce building on the site. I had never entered it before and was awestruck by the immense vaulted Main Banking Hall with its ornate carvings and these incredible light fixtures. Apparently when the building was constructed in 1930 this hall was modelled after Rome's Baths of Caracella. Who knew! The words around the ceiling medallion are Integrity, Prudence, Industry, Commerce - quite suitable. I have to go back and see if I am allowed to wander about more in this building.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Businessman Walking"

Another of artist William McElcheran's bronze businessmen is located in the lobby of one of the towers of Commerce Court in the financial district. It is the perfect spot for this piece - mirroring the type of people who are found striding in and out of this building! Click on the label below to see a couple more of his pieces.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Cars of Summer

I spotted this great '57 Thunderbird parked at a local mechanics this week - it is in beautiful condition and even seemed to have its original colour. Not the kind of car we see on the road in winter so it's fun to see them now. It reminded me of Cybil Shepherd in "the Last Picture Show".
Happy Father's Day to all the fathers - I am off to visit mine.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

"Tembo, Mother of Elephants"

This sculpture of an elephant family is located in the courtyard of Commerce Court in the heart of the financial district but doesn't seem out of place as the mother appears to be leading the babies to a very large fountain and pool that occupies the centre of the courtyard. By artist Derrick Stephan Hudson the bronze pieces were installed in 2005 and are quite large with mother being over 9' tall!

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Big Mobile

Luminato 2007 also featured an installation in Brookfield Place (see yesterday) but this one worked incredibly well for me. By French artist Xavier Veilhans, the Big Mobile consisted of 25 PVC spheres varying from 29" to 138" and running the length of the atrium. It became a magical space which I can still remember well today - one of my all time favourite art pieces!

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The Luminato festival which celebrates creativity mostly in the form of theatre and music always has a visual art component although this year it was minimal. Brookfield Place (from the last 2 posts) is usually involved in this aspect and this is a section of this year's offering - "Sargasso" by architect Philip Beesley. The title refers to the floating mass of living matter and cast-off material that floats in the centre of the Atlantic ocean and the piece attempts to create the feel of such an environment here. I was a bit underwhelmed - it wasn't as strong as pieces that have been there in the past and I will show you 1 of these tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Spirit Of Hockey"

Hockey seems to be our national passion in Canada and today's 7th game of the Stanley Cup playoffs is the 1st story on every newscast and the front page highlight of every newspaper since we actually have a Canadian team (Vancouver Canucks) in the finals! The "Spirit Of Hockey" is the retail store of the Hockey Hall Of Fame which is located in one of the heritage buildings in Brookfield Place (from yesterday's post). This sculpture of a goalie is a tribute to the iconic painting "At The Crease" by Canadian artist Ken Danby.
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Brookfield Place

This wonderful atrium, the Allen Lambert Galleria, is located in Brookfield Place which is a large office complex in the heart of the financial district comprised of 2 tall towers and 12 heritage buildings that survived the 'Great Fire of 1904'. An international competition was held to design the atrium and was won by noted Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The 360 ft long and 6 stories high atrium was constructed in the 1990s and has become one of the most photographed spots in Toronto. I love wandering through it! The white installation visible in the distance is part of Luminato, a festival of the arts taking place here this week. A pic of it coming later this week.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Peony Beauty

I am not sure if it is because of the wet spring we have had but the peonies this year are spectacular especially the white ones. I caught this one this morning while running errands. There always seems to be an ant nearby and sure enough you can see one crawling about on the little bud.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dr Sun Yat-Sen

Dr Sun Yat-Sen, known as the father of modern China, was instrumental in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and was the 1st provisional president of the Republic of China. Dr Sun Yat-Sen had visited Toronto about 100 years ago to raise funds for the revolution. In 1983 a sculpture competition was held and Canadian artist Joe Rosenthal was awarded the commission to produce this striking bronze sculpture. The sculpture is along Broadview Ave in Riverdale Park near one of our China Towns and every morning you see people around it doing Tai Chi.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Peaceful Place

This lovely area is part of the roof terrace of the palliative care centre of Princess Margaret Hospital which is one of the world's top cancer research hospitals. The terrace was constructed in 2000 and has 3 of these 6m wide canopies constructed of stainless steel chain-mail which rustles gently in the wind while the roof pinnacles spin and dance. Created by Canadian artist Ron Baird, they create a peaceful chapel-like space for patients and visitors.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Blue Mosaic

Another piece from the halls of the Macdonald block. This mosaic of blue ceramic, unglazed terra cotta, and Egyptian paste (a type of clay with high sodium content which 'self-glazes' and needs no glaze applied to it) was done by Canadian artist Merton Chambers and was done in an abstract style to suggest organic forms floating in water. It screams 1968 to me - the age of Aquarius! Love those colours.
I have noticed that many bloggers including me have lost their followers again. Hope we don't start losing posts and comments too.

Thursday, June 9, 2011


This large tapestry (15' x10'), hanging in a stairwell at the Macdonald block, was totally in the dark during my tour but I like the way the flash has popped it so here it is. The artist, Canadian Micheline Beauchemin, was well-known for her large-scale tapestries and her use of unusual materials and for this one used woven materials, phosphorescent acrylic fibres and transparent acrylic beads. I plan on returning next week to catch it with its proper lighting. A total of 30 art pieces were commissioned for the building and installed in 1968 giving us a real snapshot of the art scene of the time.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"Binary Spirit"

I had gone to the Macdonald block from the last 2 days on Sunday and being a gov't building it was all closed - but I could see this piece installed high up on the lobby wall and I could see 2 OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) officers on security duty. So I went in and asked if I could shoot this pic. They said sure and told me there was a lot of art around the building and one of them proceeded to tour me about the mostly darkened halls of this huge building with me taking shots as we went! This large piece by Stephen Hogbin was installed in 1979-80 and features poplar and black walnut blades that evolve from an abstract centre into birds in flight moving higher up the wall to represent " the spirit's soaring in search of a higher plane of understanding". More pics from the building to come!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"The Three Graces"

I went to the Macdonald block in yesterday's post to see if this fountain was working but no luck - our climate must be hard on fountain mechanisms since so many don't work! This piece, The Three Graces, was also installed in 1968 in the same courtyard as yesterday and was done by artist Gerald Gladstone (who did the 'bird co-op' I showed you here). Very typical of late 60s art the 3 abstract bronze female figures are 2.6m high and are meant to represent the Greek goddesses of the arts - Aglia, Euphnosyne, and Thalia with the spraying water meant to suggest their flowing gowns - instead they are naked! It is quite spectacular when working.

Monday, June 6, 2011

"Hunter With Seal"

In the late 60s the Ontario government commissioned Inuit artist Paulosie Kanayook to create a sculpture for the courtyard in front of the Macdonald Block on Bay St. Inuit sculptures were not large enough to be suitable so Kanayook created a small carving in soapstone which was then enlarged in Canadian black granite by Louis Temporale with Kanayook assisting. This finished piece was installed in 1968 and was the 1st public outdoor sculpture in Toronto by an Inuit artist.
Addendum: I should have mentioned that the piece is 1.1m high x 1.75m long by .95m wide

Sunday, June 5, 2011


This wonderful display of Wisteria is growing along the side fence of a local Indian restaurant between the sidewalk and their patio. The patio must have been spectacular on Tuesday when I took this pic of one section of the vines - this morning there were no flowers left! Spring is short.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Photographer

I couldn't resist posting this close-up of part of "The Community" sculpture from 2 days ago. Nestled in the back row of the figures is this photographer with long lens in use (maybe after a bird up in the trees?) - I don't think I have ever seen a sculpture of a photographer!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Old City Hall Clock Tower Reflected

This is the clock tower of our Old City Hall which was constructed in 1899 and designed by architect E. J. Lennox. When constructed, it was the largest building in Toronto and is still quite spectacular sitting at the head of Bay St beside our new City Hall. I loved this reflection of the tower in the office building behind it. I will show you some shots of the whole building at a later date.
Taking part in Weekend Relections. For more click here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Commissioned by Manulife Financial for the grounds of their head office on Bloor St, this sculpture, titled "Community", was installed in 2001 on probably the best-groomed lawn outside of a golf course! By American artist Kirk Nelson, the sculpture consists of 21 life-size bronze figures of varying diversity performing different activities and was meant to represent the community that the company serves. Somehow to me it always seems to represent the hurrying and crowding that goes on in parts of the city!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Avenue Diner

Located in the tony Yorkville area where homes and condos sell for multi millions of dollars, the Avenue diner has been at this location since 1944 and continues to go strong. The inside of the small space is a typical 50s style diner with an open kitchen, stools along the counter and booths along the wall. The menu is typical diner fare - burgers, fries, milk shakes etc. I have always loved the retro sign!
Taking part in Signs, Signs. For more signs click here.