Clowning Around with Art (and a Dark Horse)

9 June 2014 — It’s the very definition of fun: exploring the 16th Annual Riverdale Art Walk and complementary Eats & Beats street event, with friend & fellow WordPress blogger, Rio the Clown.

She left her red nose at home, but not her fascination with (among many other things) the visual arts. We meet at the Artists’ Network information tent, a fitting choice since Rio is a member & also a past volunteer at the Art Walk.

So we walk, strolling past & occasionally into the white tents, one per artist.

artist Rod Trider, at Riverdale Art Walk

Given my weakness for streetcars, no surprise this work by Rod Trider is my first photo of the day. (I was hugely amused, just moments ago, to open Rio’s blog and see that she launches her own account of our day with the observation that I love streetcars… and a photo of a painting she did of the scene from inside a streetcar. I like it. Go see it for yourself.)

My photo of Trider’s streetcar montage catches reflections of the white tents that showcase each artist.

They are arrayed in tidy lines on the grass of Jimmie Simpson Park, Queen St. East near Logan. Perfect day, sunny but not too hot, happy dogs & kids & adults stopping to chat. Some visitors are a visual arts display all by themselves. Move in close on this hairdo!

among the tents, Riverdale Art Walk

We linger at Lorie Slater‘s booth, where Rio buys a print of some street art for a visiting relative (“There isn’t any, where she lives”). I admire Lorie’s take on  the abandoned kilns in the shuttered brick works in the Don Valley, before Evergreen turned the whole complex into the educational, inspirational & just plain magic Evergreen Brick Works.

old Don Valley Brick Works kilns, by artist Lorie Slater

Rio spends time catching up with a friend & fellow member of the Artists’ Network, King Wong. I circle his display, enjoy the quiet approach — only a few works, one per panel. I stand a long time before “Water Source.”

“Water Source,” artist King Wong

Just as, later, I stand riveted by “Oven Bird.”

“Oven Bird,” artist Christine Walker

This painting isn’t hanging in artist Christine Walker‘s tent — in fact, we miss her tent altogether. We see it later on display in a framing shop, as we walk along Queen St. East taking in the  sights, sounds & possibilities of the Eats & Beats part of the Riverdale extravaganza.

Which includes pop-up food stands, offering everything from delicate sips of oriental tea to… well, to old-fashioned snow cones.

Snow Balls! Queen St. E.

Only a moderate line-up, and I almost pull Rio to a stop so I can indulge in the Black Cherry version. But I don’t, because we’re close to our next planned destination.

And there it is, up against Hamilton St. — The Dark Horse Espresso Bar, this one, Rio tells me, the first of what are now 4 locations across the city.

An Americano for Rio, a latte for me (you knew that was coming), & we settle down to chatter & enjoy the visuals all around us.

Dark Horse Espresso Bar, 682 Queen E.

Not just the handsome logo on the bar, either — the work of Matt Durant, who also has a selection of works hanging on the walls. I’m also charmed by Tutu Girl.

See the bit of purple organza, sticking out to the left of daddy’s striped jersey? This little girl is quite normally dressed, except for that tutu, and she is very very very happy with her outfit.

I don’t remember a Ballerina Moment in my own young years, but it must be a common phenomenon. We quite regularly see  Tutu Girls at the Art Gallery of Ontario, always excited and eager for the adventure, & clearly pleased that they have dressed for it. I say, Hurray for their parents.

Soon after our coffee break, Rio and I split. She heads for a streetcar, I continue westward on foot, heading for home.

My route takes me past some nifty hula-hoop action at Queen East & Munro …

music & hula-hoop, Quuen E & Munro

She’s putting on a good show, but see how nobody is watching her? All eyes, including her own, are focused on the live musical combo, pounding out the beat that keeps her hopping & hooping.

I cut north on Carroll St., because there’s a photo I missed earlier today and want to capture now. The route takes me through Joel Weeks Park, where I’m diverted by young skateboarders & plonk down on a handy ledge to watch.

impromptu skateboarding in Joel Weeks Park

This skater, before launching himself on his next run, comes over and politely asks me to sit on a different ledge, please ma’am.  I comply and, once he does the run, understand why he wanted me safely somewhere else. Turns out my original choice was part of his obstacle course.

Other side of the park, I’m on Matilda Street, home to Merchants of Green Coffee, which my partner & I visit every Saturday morning for an indulgence after the weekly grocery shopping run. There’s always a message outsider the door — here is today’s.

Merchants of Green Coffee are focused!

Yessir. They know what they do, and it isn’t soup.


Bharatanatyam, Re-Visited

My previous post (Buttons & Banners) shows scenes from the recent launch of a community organization called St. James Town Arts. It includes one shot of a young dancer waiting to take part in a presentation of the traditional Indian dance form, Bharatanatyam. I learned a bit about it at the time from a young Bharatanatyam dancer, SJT Arts launchwoman named Poonam, a SJT resident and banner project artist. Later, I learned a bit more from my dancer/choreographer friend Gauri. (I’m so proud of Gauri: she receives her PhD in Dance from York University this week.)

Gauri traces the etymology of the dance form name to a treatise called The Natyashastra by Bharata Muni about theatre, music and dance as one art form, and explains: “That mode of performance is no longer practiced. What separated out from it as ‘dance’ seems to be given this name ‘Bharatanatyam.’ ” She adds: “The history of this name is fraught with identity politics… and its interaction with certain ideological formulations in India’s independence movement…”

Want to know more? Gauri suggests both a Wikipedia link and the more scholarly book, At home in the world: Bharatanatyam on the global stage, by Janet O’Shea.




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  1. Penny,

    I saw this today and immediately your blog popped in my head, I just had to share this with you! XOXO

  2. Looks like another great street festival. This is the time of year for them – do you think Toronto has more than other cities?

    • I don’t suppose we have more than most cities, but I’m certainly grateful for the ones that we do have. Summer here is pretty short, & it’s great to have so much on offer, free, on that brief period of time

  3. Hello! Love the photos of the art. You have a keen eye. Your blog is colorful and very interesting. I am now following you and look forward to reading about your next excursion on this wonderful blog!

    • Hi! thanks for taking time to comment, and for your interest in my walks. I’m about to set out on the next one, so soon you’ll be able to share my next adventure.

      • You’re welcome and I can’t wait for your next adventure! How wonderful to travel along with you!

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    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

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