Smoochers & Strange Dogs

7 June 2017 – You’ll have to imagine the smoochers, but I’ll give you Smoochers Corner.  My gift to you, courtesy of a cheerful young man named Aaron, whom I met at the foot of the steps down from Jean Beaty Park to Burrard Inlet a couple of days ago.

Turns out he occasionally leads tours around the neighbourhood, here in Point Grey, and when he learns how much I love to walk & explore, he tells me about Smoochers Corner. Just down the road, he says, at the top of the Dunbar Steps.

He jumps this-way, that-way, to demonstrate what I’ll see.

And I do.

See? This-way for Him; that-way for Her; and smooch-smooch.

I giggle. And I remember the Vancouver Biennale Open Air Museum art installation I saw enroute, and giggle again.

This particular installation, Vancouver Novel by Brazilian artist João Loureiro, consists of a rotating cycle of 23 LED-light sentences. The sentence I happen to catch seems tailor-made for smoochers.

I’m on a roll, wandering daily around town, beginning to sniff out some haunts. Still with the wide eyes of the new-comer.

So I tilt my head in wonder as I emerge from a VAG (Vancouver Art Gallery) lecture yesterday evening, beguiled by the soft air & golden light of mid-evening. It’s not so much the buildings, which neatly frame Hornby Street, it’s the great plummeting arrow of sky-space in-between.

I play my positive-space/negative-space game, blinking my attention back & forth.

Less esoteric today, out revisiting the pathways here on the south side of False Creek. This green space was a haunt of mine while visiting town last winter, how much more agreeable in warm spring sunshine!

I’m in Hinge Park, I go hip-hop across the big stones to the little island just off-shore, I follow the path, I peer between the trees.

Tree art! Woodpecker Dead Tree art! No woodpeckers in sight, mind you, just the evidence they leave behind.

And then, farther east, I’m prowling public waterfront space in Olympic Village … and this time the birds are visible. Bird on bird.

I know that’s a pigeon up top. The big guy underneath? Let’s call him a sparrow.

A latte stop by the water, and I start heading inland. Up to West 1st Av. and Manitoba, where once again I admire one of the City’s attractive sewer lids. Except this one has a tiny companion.

I look closely at the mini-version: “Tread Lightly,” it says; “Ship Yard.” I’d like to know more. I am mildly, but pleasurably, frustrated. These things can be learned…

Right there, too: an art installation. No plaque that I can find, no artist ID, no explanation. But it looks to me like mounds of salt.

And I’m right, I must be right. The building, now a restaurant & bar, also bears its historic name, “Vancouver Salt Co. Ltd.” The little street next to the building is — of course — Salt St.

On up Manitoba, up to West 3rd. I glance casually eastward as I wait for the light to change.


Oh, if only the doors had been closed. Oh, never mind. It is quite wonderful. I don’t know why Greenworks Building Supply wanted street-art murals, but thank you, I am all in favour.

I remember Rolf’s dictum: “When you see something interesting in front of you, there will be something equally interesting right behind you.” I spin on my heel.

Right behind me is Eddie’s Hang-Up Display Ltd. I’ve been doing my little jig of street-art delight under the cool gaze of Eddie’s Ladies.

That belly tag reads, “Wigs sold separately.” (Just FYI.)

And I zig, and I zag, and in the course of events (after a long, tempting riffle through Mountain Equipment Co-op on West Broadway) I find myself climbing on up Columbia St., just north of West 10th.

I am admiring the fine old wooden homes, one obligingly with a heritage plaque. It explains that, in 1895, it was the Bloomfield Studio, home to Henry Bloomfield and two sons, the city’s foremost stained glass artisans — responsible, among other accomplishments, for the windows of the provincial Parliament Buildings in Victoria.

Coming close enough to read the plaque brings me close enough to read another tidy little sign. This one very much of our own day.

Well??? What? Three ears? Two tails? Amazing skill with a mouth organ? Armed with a sling-shot? Alas, he is nowhere in sight, and we’ll never know.

So we can each imagine our own favourite Strange Dog, and be happy.




Goodbye / Hello

30 April 2017 – And so it is time.

Goodbye, Toronto …

and hello, Vancouver.

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


Also T.O.

30 March 2017 – Oh yes, street art is so Toronto … but the beaches & parks along Lake Ontario are also Toronto. Phyllis & I take the Tuesday Walking Society (all two of us) out to the Beaches boardwalk, and start stomping around.

After a five-week absence, I am freshly appreciative. A dull day, grey water exchanging pixels with a grey sky, your eye could fall over the horizon.

Well, no it couldn’t.

Because it bumps up against those happily garish Muskoka chairs, and that happily prancing dog, who knows his owner is about to throw the stick. Again! (And she does, and the dog shoots off in full chase, throwing up little spurts of sand with each footfall.)

This year’s Winter Stations has just ended, Phyllis tells me, who visited the art installation, now in its third year, soon after it opened in late February. More than 350 design entries this year, worldwide, with eight winners.

The pieces are already being dismantled. Which somehow makes them even more intriguing. No signboards to tell you what is supposed to be what, just you & your reactions.

I like the reflections. I like the way the luminous silver panels fold into the luminous grey day, reflecting sky and water and each other. (Later I look it up online: This is Aurora, the work of Hunber College students, and, I discover, meant to dissolve visually into its surroundings.)

We’re walking west, close to the water. It brings us to the Leuty Lifeguard Station, one of two vintage ones (the other on Cherry Beach) still in use, and the symbol of the Beach neighbourhood. This is real life, not a winning design for Winter Stations — but it is just as powerful: the tender mother, the entranced child playing with sand, the lapping waves, the grey waters flowing out to meet the grey sky at the horizon.

Phyllis pulls me over to the next Winter Stations design. Collective Memory, says the battered signboard, now propped askew in the sand: the work of Spaniard Mario Garcia and Italian Andrea Govi, it offers two walls shimmering with 6,000 clear bottles, each one inviting visitors to insert a card with the story of how they came to live in Canada.

“The day I was here,” says Phyllis,”people were writing out their comments, and then telling each other their stories as they inserted the slips into the bottles.”

Eventually, we turn back east, farther from the water now, up on the wooden boardwalk.

More wood over there in the mid-distance: the 8-metre Beacon (by Portuguese team of Joao Araujo Sousa & Joanna Correia Silva). Later online reading confirms what my eye assumes at the time — yes, it is inspired by the silhouette of a lighthouse. It was also, when active, a drop-off point for charitable donations of food and clothing.

But my eye is drawn as much by the lake as by the art, by that horizontal line ‘way out there, slicing water from sky — or, perhaps, seaming them together.

And I think again, as I do every time I am here on the Beaches boardwalk, I think about Rita Letendre’s acrylic on canvas, Aforim.

When I stare at it in the Art Gallery of Ontario, I think about this stretch of beach. When I am on the beach, I think about the painting.

You see?

Good news for all admirers of this great Quebec artist: the AGO will mount a retrospective of her work, Rita Letendre: Fire & Light, from 19 June to 17 September.

Symbol City

3 March 2017 — Just a selection of symbols from my own list-to-date, you understand. Images that snag my Toronto eyes; make me exclaim, with delight, “Ohhh, that is so Vancouver!”

Vancouver is trees.

Moss on tree trunks, in the rain …

typical tree trunk, on a residential Mount Pleasant street

palm trees, out there alive-alive-0 in mid-winter …

W. Broadway near Granville

fir trees on industrial wall murals …

detail, an Industrial Flats mural

and tree stump art.

one of two, in front of Telus World of Science, Main St.

Vancouver is people.

First Nations …

Main St., just north of Terminal Av.

Asian …

a shop nr E 15th & Fraser

and everyone.

"Human Structure," by Jonathan Borofsky, Southeast False Creek

Vancouver is pop-up community gardens, in boxes that can move on to the next site …

close to the Cambie Bridge

and clouds on mountains …

North Van, from the Industrial Flats nr Main St.

and clouds all over the sky.

top, with solar panels, of the Solar Bike Tree outside Telus World of Science

Vancouver is Cloud City …

a mural in Industrial Flats

and Rain City …

W. Broadway between Granville & Cambie

and Every Weather City.

truck in Main St. parking lot

With a scoop of ice cream!


Wet City

18 February 2017 – “Wet City.” That’s a clue. Make a guess.

Oh, never mind. The answer is: Vancouver, B.C.

I’m back in Vancouver, and, currently at least, this art gallery in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood has exactly the right name.

art gallery, Main St. nr East 6th

Moments later, in a near-by alley, I see some hot art.

alley s. of East Broadway at Quebec

Though perhaps not exactly what the gallery owners had in mind.

It’s a damp, drizzly sort of Saturday, the moisture so soft & diffuse I mostly don’t notice it & never put up the hood on my jacket. A landscape, & seascape, of gauzey grey.

But… so mild.

Cambie & West Broadway

See? Bare legs. And my jacket is half-open. (I mention all this diffidently. A pet peeve among eastern Canadians is the flood of photos this time of year from BC-coast friends, flaunting their crocuses & snowdrops & lattes out on a café patio.)

On the other hand, pooches must be pampered, even in mild weather.

down near False Creek

I this this warning unnecessary — at least, today. Surely the attraction today would be unguarded expensive umbrellas!

nr Columbia & Broadway

So far, I’ve been looping around East & West Broadway Ave. Now I head on north to the water, to False Creek. Lots of people out & about — with dogs, with kiddies, with their FitBits & serious running gear, with snazzy bicycles — drawn to the parks & the Greenwall (seawall) that define south-east False Creek.

People out on the water as well. Dragon boats skimming in all directions. From ‘way out there somewhere, I can hear a cox barking at his crew, “Just think about what you’re doing!” But that’s the cox’s job, is it not? To bark?

And here’s another dragon boat, just about to set out from Spyglass Place Dock, by the Cambie Bridge. Though that’s not why I’ve stopped. I’ve stopped to enjoy the art.

Spyglass Place Dock, False Creek

Emily Gray is the artist, and if you click, you’ll get an aerial view of this mural.

I like the details all along the edge, including this fat little bumble bee.

detail, mural at Spyglass Place Dock

I walk on east a bit along False Creek, into Hinge Park, admire yet more art. This time on wooden posts out in the water.

just off Hinge Park, looking east along False Creek

But, this time, I can’t tell you the artist. Or anything else about it. I just like it, I like it in combination with the tall towers & the spherical World of Science to the east. I’d like it with the mountains as well — if they were on offer. Which they aren’t.

Because, even though we’re having a moment of watery sunshine, the atmospheric theme du jour is, pervasively, droplets of rain.

pedestrian walkway in Hinge Park

When I reach Olympic Village, I make another stop. This one you can guess…

Of course. For a latte. (Some rituals travel so easily!) Then I walk on east & a bit south, angling to Main Street and my temporary home just beyond.

With a passing glance, on Main near East Broadway, at an editorial comment on life in Wet City.

shop window, Main nr East Broadway

Should I go back & buy it?



Public + Art, in the Rain

4 January 2017 – We’re in public, contemplating art (both intended & by-accident), and definitely also in the rain. But it’s Tuesday, isn’t it? So on with the waterproof gear, and out & about for the Tuesday Walking Society.

Rain, we find, enhances art. It makes cheerful pieces even jauntier, and reflective ones all the more poignant. It adds dimension.

Not A Forest is a good example. Just another commissioned visual on a condo hoarding, Phyllis & I think at first as we squish our way along Wellesley Street East … but yes, the mist gives it depth. It does extend Paul Kane Parkette past its own small square of grass to an imagined forest, albeit one where cranes & towers jostle the trees.

"Not A Fordest," Darren Rigo, 58 Wellesley St. East

And it pays tribute to artist Paul Kane himself (1810-1871), who once lived at this address though he is known for his wilderness scenes. Plus, photographer/artist Darren Rigo is also local. So it is all nicely site-specific.

Only steps farther along, and more art. Modest, functional, underfoot, and perfectly suited to the drizzle.

Wellesley St. East

Thank you Toronto sewer system!

The next sewer lid is also a fish. The one after is plain old cross-hatch. So enjoy ’em when you can.

Corner of Wellesley & Queen’s Park, Phyllis does a double-take, freezes, then relaxes.

“Ohhhh,” she breathes, in relief. “It’s a sculpture. I thought it was a person.”

"Jesus the Homeless," Timothy Schmaltz, Wellesley E. & Queen's Park

Sculptor Timothy Schmaltz would be pleased; so would Regis College. The work is called Jesus the Homeless, and it is meant to further the educational mission of this Roman Catholic college of University of Toronto: it invites us “to reflect on our relationship with the homeless poor, the most vulnerable of the marginalized people living in our midst.”

We cut through Queen’s Park itself — and almost immediately see plastic sheeting strung among some fir trees, making a shelter for someone with no other home. I reach for my camera, put it back into my pocket. No-one is there, yet it seems unacceptable to me, to intrude.

Across Hoskin Avenue, into Philosopher’s Walk, we follow long-buried Taddle Creek north toward Bloor Street.

And stop at the grove of trees, the boulder, the sodden roses.

tribute to victims of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, in Philosopher's Walk

The plaque catches our hearts. It notes the 14 trees,

with sorrow planted in memory and in honour of fourteen sisters slain because of their gender in Montreal on December 6, 1989. … It is not enough to look back in pain, we must create a new future.

Of course: the École Polytechnique Massacre. These roses must mark a commemoration held this past December 6. I do not count, but assume they number fourteen.

A happier moment later on, while doubling back south on Spadina from Dupont. Think for a moment: what might we expect to see? (Oh go on, give it a try.)

No matter what you imagined — performing seals? 312 circus clowns spilling out of a tiny car? a pit bull tenderly guiding a baby kitten across the road? — I guarantee you did not imagine the Bayeux Tapestry.

Oh all right, fair enough, we did not in fact see the real thing. No 70 m. by 50 cm. stretch of embroidered cloth, dating from the 1070s, hung from a hydro pole.

But we did see this.

Bayeux Tapestry image, Spadina south of Dupont

I don’t know what possessed this home-owner to hang a replica of one panel on his front porch, but aren’t you glad he did? (Or she…)

And then we stopped to admire some raindrop-spangled fir cones …

somewhere on Spadina!

and then we contemplated how very raindrop-splangled we were ourselves, by now …

and then we retired to a Bloor West café for our customary latte/Americano warm-ups.







Down, Down the Don

22 August 2016 – Who needs the Loch Ness Monster? We have our very own mutant fish, right here in the Don River.

detail, fish mural along the Lower Don Trail

Oh, all right, beside the Don River.

I don’t know that he, specifically, awaits me downstream, but I do anticipate art-by-the-Don, as I drop down from the Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge to join the trail heading south to Lake Ontario.

A powerful reminder: Bridgepoint Hospital there on the east bank, with its Bill Lishman sculptures tumbling down the river-side terrace.

view south down the Don, from Riverdale Park pedestrian bridge

I can’t, from here, see the sculptures with my physical eye, but my mental eye conjures them once more. (You can conjure them with this link to my December post, Artful Flows the Don.)

Some traditional graffiti art under the Gerrard St. bridge — framed & enhanced by reflections in the river itself.

under the Gerrard St bridge

Then again, who needs graffiti?

River reflections make art all by themselves.

reflections in the Don

I promise you: this image is right-side-up. That buff-colour horizontal line at the top is the far bank of the river; the greenery bottom-left is right at my feet; everything in between is converging reflections from a playful sky.

More not-amazing graffiti under bridges as I go, ho-hum, yawn.

I perk up again south of Queen Street, with this view westward through various bridge underpinnings to the edge of — I’m pretty sure — Underpass Park. Major-fine murals & graffiti in there!

view west toward Underpass Park

This means I’m approaching Don Landing, and access to the West Don Lands Park, once toxic wasteland, now wonderful. This takes me off-river — but hey, this is my walk, right? I can divert if I want to.

Up the stairs to Corktown Common, the playground at the park’s high point of land. Full of parents & kiddies — here a dad carrying off his toddler after patiently pushing her in one of those bucket swings for ages. (I know, I’ve been sitting under a tree watching.) They leave, but another little girl has already claimed a seat, and a young boy is fast approaching.

Corktown Common, West Don Lands Park

It’s all charming, but I find myself most charmed by the water-fountain arrangements. First, that they exist, because I am thirsty and appreciate free, pure water.

water founains, Corktown Common

And, second, that there is tri-level water for everyone: the Big People fountain, the Little People fountain, and the Doggie water bowl bolted into position on the ground.

Back to the Lower Don trail, and on to that mutant fish, just a little farther south.

mural south of Don Landing

I cannot find an artist’s signature. Sorry!

Then, just north of Lake Shore Blvd. East, I hit more expressway trestles & more art. Memory clicks in: I came by here in spring, when the artists were first beginning to lay on base coats.

Well! Look at it now …

expressway trestles n. of Lake Shore Blvd

The fish is the work of an artist that’s new to me. Correction: two artists, known as PA System.

Next up, girl with green hair, by MC Baldassari, someone I’m beginning to appreciate a lot.

MC Baldasaari's trestle

And then girl with black hair, by EGR — so distinctive! Once you’ve seen her work, you always know it.

EGR trestle

Right here, trails diverge east & west. I could head farther east, on to Ashbridge’s Bay, but I choose west instead, starting to loop back through woodland toward home.

One last art installation to amuse me as I go. Very urban-art. Very downtown.

in the woods...

Oh, those shopping carts. They do get around. (And so much for the vaunted “wheels-will lock” technology.)

I eventually emerge from the trails, pick up Cherry St., and cut north-west through the Distillery District.

Distillery District

Where, to my amazement and no doubt yours, I do not stop for a latte.





Vertical Lakes

30 June 2016 – Chloe & I are not thinking about lakes, vertical or horizontal, as we scamper down the steps of St. Anne’s Church. We’re thinking about art: the heritage art within the church we have just toured, and the street art we now plan to discover for ourselves.

More specifically, alley art, all around the Queen W./Dovercourt/Ossington area a bit south of the church.

The plan is to head immediately south of Queen, but, oh, we get distracted. You know how that is?

So we are deep in Alley-land, but still somewhere north of Queen, when we meet the lion.

alley n. of Queen W

He is not the best art of the day, but he has a ton of character, & I am charmed. Lots more to see down this alley, including woollen bobbles on utility poles, and some particularly fine detailing to frame one side of this door.

alley n. of Queen W

Then Goggle Guy catches my attention, complete with shoulder birds …

alley n. of Queen W

and a neat little “bow tie.”

detail, alley n of Queen W

Soon we are dropping south toward an alley I want to show Chloe: the one running west of Ossington between Humbert and Queen. “We’ll walk around this corner,” I say as we weave our way, “then we’ll hit Humbert and carry on south, and see what’s been happening since I last visited  …”

And I stop talking, gob-smacked.

No, eye-smacked.

alley n. of Humbert

Our first vertical lake.

We have bounced ourselves into a hot spot for new murals, all being created as part of the June 20-25 festival, A Love Letter to the Great Lakes. It has brought together 21 artists, from various parts of the world, in the first-ever “fresh water edition of PangeaSeed Foundation’s Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans.”

Lima-born, Toronto-based Peru Dyer Jalea (Peru 143) is one of them. He’s putting final touches to his mural, but chats a bit as he works and flashes a quick V-sign pose.

Peru 143 with his new mural

We walk on down to Humbert Ave., look back, goggle at the fabulous combination of works: as if the still-wet Peru 143 mural isn’t enough, here’s a bursting-bright Birdo to admire as well.

alley just n. of Humbert, w. of Ossington

Until this moment, I’d never heard of Peru, or seen his signature. Chloe & I finally hit the target alley-west-of-Ossington, and right there, just south of Humbert, what do we see?

The Peru signature. Of course.

alley w of Ossington, between Humbert & Queen W

It’s not what we see first. First we see the distinctive Uber 5000 canaries; then we see signatures; then we realize that, oh yes, the right-hand end of this mural is very very Peru.

And we don’t make any more of the combination than that, and anyway, we are almost immediately distracted by an equally distinctive hit of Pascal Paquette.

Paquette, same alley

Paquette, in turn, is blown straight out of mind by this stunning new, huge, black & white mural almost at the Queen St. end of the alley.

Definitely new and, I soon realize, part of the Great Lakes project: “RIP Don Valley River” is worked into the swirls.

same alley, near Queen W

So is the signature “en masse.”

Later I look it up, and discover the interconnections. En Masse is a Montreal-based, “multi-artist collaborative drawing project,” dedicated to the creation of a collective vision, greater than anything one person could achieve. It is multi-city as well as multi-artist, and I recognize some major Toronto names in the list: Birdo, Elicser, EGR and MC Baldassari, for example. Peru 143 is there as well, perhaps right from his own days in Montreal.  (Uber 5000 is not on the list, but given the group’s philosophy, his work with Peru 143 makes perfect sense.)

A young guy emerges from the final building in the alley, the one butting right onto Queen. I look up, see another gigantic B&W mural. “That’s new, too,” I say. (Duhhh.) “Yup” — and he talks about how many of these project murals are in the area.

same alley, at Queen W

We wander on, more alleys, some fences.

I’m not sure this bit of alley-fence art is part of the project: artist Zachary George isn’t on the Love Letter list of participating artists, but his work sure is on theme.

alley nr Queen & Ossington

Yes! That great big fish is properly horrified by all those zebra mussels, scourge of the Great Lakes.

Back out to Ossington itself, just north of Queen.

Ossington n. of Queen

Where a giant loon now rides his own vertical waves.

And we soon ride transit back to our respective homes.


Generating Magic

20 June 2016 – It’s a trim, 21st-c. logo, don’t you agree?


The decidedly un-trim wall around it is the perfect context. This logo proclaims the current, ephemeral use of an industrial dinosaur, the Richard L Hearn Generating Station — Canada’s first station to produce hydro power from steam, when it opened in 1961, the steam itself produced originally by coal and then by natural gas until the station closed in 1983.

The hulk has sat there in Toronto’s Port Lands ever since, disused (except by film companies, who adore it), a reminder of another era as all around it the once-industrial Port Lands are increasingly detoxified and transformed for entertainment, parkland and other purposes.

The hearn generating station, seen from north side of the Turning Basin

I take this photo Saturday, a steamy Saturday let me tell you, from the north side of the Turning Basin, as I bike around & pay a return visit to “The Hearn.”

Because, you see, the hulk is — at least temporarily — The Hearn, venue 10-26 June for Toronto’s 10th annual Luminato Festival. Until this year, the huge range of events had been staged wherever possible, all over the city. This year, it is all concentrated in The Hearn.

It’s hard to convey the surreal immensity of this ragged, enormous space. Festival factoids tell me it is three times the size of the Tate Modern, and larger than the Lincoln Centre, NYC.

They need not eat their hearts out. They are considerably more polished inside.

inside the Hearn, up through Turbine Hall

You see? The eight power generating units have been ripped out; we look up, up through the immensity of the five bays that once contained them.

up through Turbine Hall, photo by Chris Corbin

And see traces, here and there, of what used to be. Electric circuit boxes along a wall, for example …

power boxes, disused

A puzzled guard very politely asks me: Why am I taking this picture? What beauty do I see in these rusted old boxes? I say it is history speaking, telling us what majesty and power and purpose this place once had. His whole face glows with pleasure. He looks at the boxes, looks back at me, smiles again. “Yes! Thank you!”

For me, it is part of the magic — the glimpses of that first purpose, co-existing with the wildly imaginative, wildly successful, wildly joyful 2016 purpose of this Festival.

In the Festival catalogue, Luminato’s artistic director, Jorn Weisbrodt, calls it:

a new model for a cultural institution, one where everything is open, inclusive and porous. A place where visitors and audiences move freely … wandering from various exhibitions to a meal … then see a play, participate in a gigantic choir sing-along, hear a classical concert, a baroque concert, or a rock concert, and end up with an LGBTQ hip-hop club event — all in one massive space.

And indeed, one evening, I attended that choir sing-along (me and 1,500 others and Rufus Wainwright), and returned last Friday evening with friends Chris and Susan to watch Toronto’s Monkey Vault team put on a parkour demo around the building — and coach the braver members of their audience through some moves of their own.

Chris took this shot of the main floor space, as spectators began gathering for the various evening events.

in Tubine Hall, waiting for Monkey Vault; photo by Chris Corbin

Parkour, as a sport, has evolved from obstacle course training to, well, every inventive, athletic, fun way possible to play with urban spaces. And what fun these Monkey Vault guys had, paying an official, sanctioned visit to a whopping big space that they may just have — ahem — already visited a time or two on the QT! (Shush.)

Part of their fun included swarming up The Hearn’s “Grand Staircase” — decorated with neon tubing for Festival purposes.

Grand Staircase, The Hearn

This is my shot, taken on my return visit Saturday, with the neon tubing shimmering into my overwhelmed little camera, making the scene even more surreal than it really was — though only marginally so, because it is hard to out-do the total mad effect, as seen by the naked eye.

Climb that Grand Staircase, as I did, and you are on the Jackman Gallery — home to a pop-up resto called Le Pavillion (a very hot ticket indeed), a bar, and Trove. Trove is one of the art exhibits, “a view of Toronto in 50 of its art treasures,” photographed in various public & private collections and displayed all along one wall.

It includes, from the TIFF Film Reference Library, Tom Frost’s Mujahedeen arabic machine Oliver, one of many typewriters used in David Cronenberg’s 1991 film adaption of  Naked Lunch.

arabic typiewriter, in Trove

See? Arabic characters on the keys.

Far end of the Gallery, a close-up view of another exhibition: One Thousand Speculations, the 7.9-m. diameter mirror ball created by Michel de Broin for Luminato in 2013, hung again this year.

One Thousand Speculations mirror ball, shot by Chris Corbin

Chris took this photo on Friday; I look more closely at the ball (the world’s largest, they tell me) on Saturday. One thousand mirrors, spiralling their reflections endlessly throughout the vast space, weaving it together somehow, and enchanting us with the lazy, silent magic of dancing light.

Signage urges us to look about, tells us to look for a remaining coal bunker up high, some coal chutes, steam vents and oil lines still snaking their way around the steel grid. I can’t find all these things, but later learn that tour guides point them out.

Back downstairs I prowl the main space again, impressed by how well they use the space, how unafraid they are of its dimensions, how they make each pop-up section work. Another bar, for example, over by the enclosed theatre …

a bar in Turbine Hall, next to the theatre

And finally, enough, I leave. Back out into the heat & sunshine. One last look back …

entrance/exit to The Hearn


Oops. Sorry.

So I look forward instead.

Past the rows of (temporary) bike racks to the rubble & grasses & wildlowers in the wild spsce beyond. Where there is another work of art — one in the permanent collections of the AGO, no less.

It is interactive, in the best contemporary traditions, and comes with its own sound effects.

detail, Untilled

Bees. Buzzing bees.

Untilled, in field next to The Hearn

This is Untilled, by Pierre Huyghe, a concrete reclining female nude – yes, you got that part — her head encased in a bee hive, with bees adding to the honey each day. And pollinating the surrounding flora, the signage tells us, “extending the work beyond an anthropomorphic definition of art.”

Oh, I wish they hadn’t added that last precious bit of artspeak!

But I like the sculpture anyway, and I cycle back home contented.




“I Spy, With My Little Eye…”

26 May 2016 – I spy, indeed. Thank you, Birdo, for the eye.

An eye-spy!

detail, Birdo mural, Queen St. E. & Seaton

It belongs to one of his Lego-gone-mad-ish mural creatures, this one on a wall near Queen E. & Seaton.

Birdo mural, Queen E. & Seaton streets

I respond to the eye, and the invitation to look and see, really see.

Really-seeing is, I hope, a major part of every walk — certainly a major objective, whether solo or, as today, headed for a Tuesday Walking Society outing.

We’re bound for Toronto Island but I play I-spy while still city-side, even before I rendezvous with Phyllis.

I spy God & Mammon. for example — the St.James Cathedral steeple, neatly lined up against the V-nicked Scotiabank tower.

King St. E., looking west to Church ST.& beyond

Then hello Phyllis, and on down Yonge to the lakefront, and west to Bay St., and into the ferry terminal, and  over to Hanlan’s Point, the western end of the curving main island in the complex, and a good place to start.

And to resume the game of I-Spy.

I spy a tree disguised as a candelabra!

tree, Hanlan's Point

I spy two very distant bare bottoms on the Clothing Optional beach …

Clothing Optional beach, Hanlan's Point

and a glimpse of stencilled paradise …

on the beach nr Gibraltar Point

a shelf of carefully arranged found objects, tucked into a secluded tree crotch …

beach nr Gibraltar Point

one end of aged fencing, being eaten by the dunes …

part of old fencing, nr Gibraltar Point

and a foraging Mallard duck, with the most exotic back pattern I’ve ever seen.

Mallard in the waters nr Centre Island

Soon we rejoin one of the main paths, work our way through Centre Island, picking up an abandoned doggie tug-of-war toy as we go. Same thought strikes us both: Let’s donate it to the Algonquin Island take-something-leave-something kiosk.

Sure enough, right off the end of that island’s arched pedestrian bridge, we plonk the fluorescent green toy on one of the kiosk shelves, so that I can triumphantly spy …

kiosk off end of Algonquin Island bridge

the toy, now among wildly varied other offerings.

On around Algonquin.

I spy two snakes!

ceramic ornaments on an Algonquin Is. gatepost

and a crow, and other Celebration Of A Life decorations …

prerparations for an event to remember a beloved island resident

and Canada Post’s miniest-mini-van, linked up with the world’s largest tree house base (that imposing wooden structure visible above the hedge).

Canada Post mini-van, on Algonquin Island

One final I-spy, well worth the wait.

A Very Fierce Dragon, propped neatly against a tree near the Ward’s Island ferry dock.

near Ward's Island ferry dock

What could possibly top that? Nothing.

So we ride back to the city, and make our way northward to home. (I walk all the way: 14.8 km, says my pedometer.)



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

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 77,704 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,409 other followers

%d bloggers like this: