The Heliconian Hall – Yorkville’s wooden masterpiece, 35 Hazelton Avenue

The TORONTO Heliconian Club is the oldest association of its kind in Canada. It was founded in 1909 to give women in the arts and letters an opportunity to meet socially and intellectually.  Members range in age and experience from women who have earned great distinction to those in the early stages of their careers.  The building itself was erected in 1876, and is one of our city’s rare wooden structures.


The General Motors pavilion and its “Futurama” ride/exhibition was a must-see attraction at New York’s World’s Fair in 1939-40.  Inside was a diorama, viewed from a rotating platform, showing an America of skyscrapers, radio-controlled cars, miles and miles of freeways, and homogenized greenbelts.  The World’s Fair and its exhibits are included in a new book about industrial designer, Norman Bel Geddes, “the man who streamlined the world.”   “Norman Bel Geddes Designs America” (Abrams, $65).

Reclaiming public space for the public . . . on Church Street.

POSTERINGYet another TORONTO neighbourhood is preparing for a war on postering.  The Church/Wellesley Business Improvement Area will be installing eighteen poster-resistant colourful wraps on Church Street hyrdro poles come March.

BIA co-chair AVERY PITCHER says “it’s our goal to incorporate community postering into the Village in a way that enhances the area, rather than seeing one hydro pole after another covered with multiple copies of commercial posters advertising events elsewhere in the city.”

Other neighbourhoods have tried to reduce postering.  Some have succeeded (Bloor Street West is the best example); others have not.  It’s a fight that has to be won every single day.

Councillor ADAM VAUGHAN supports the use of pole wraps in Koreatown, the Annex and the Entertainment District.  “It’s a response to people that over-poster.  I don’t have any objection to it,” he told Xtra magazine this month.

TORONTO is one of the most over-postered cities in North America.  There’s nothing beautiful about plastering a community with pasted up messages from cheapskate commercial enterprises.

Toronto-based artist, BEN FROST, goes to Windsor

TORONTO-based artist, BEN FROST, recently visited WINDSOR – a down-on-its-luck Canadian industrial city opposite DETROIT, a much bigger hardluck town.  According to Ben, “Windsor has a similar sense of desperation as Detroit.”

PHOTO – Ben Frost,  Ben Frost’s disturbing images of iconic cartoon characters have been showing up on vacant chain stores and fast food joints across Windsor.  But he says they aren’t just meant to disturb — they’re a social statement.  “There’s a sense of irony,” Frost explains. “These characters, there’s something wrong with them. And when you look at the location, there’s something wrong with it…. It kind of reflects what the character is feeling.”

BENFROST3Homer Simpson with blood on his hands was pasted onto a defunct 7-Eleven store — a building that’s been boarded-up for years.
“The piece is actually called Homercidal,” Frost says. “He’s obviously a symbol of western gluttony and consumerism. And 7-Eleven can be seen as a symbol for that as well. So Homer is truly upset that 7-Eleven has been shut down.”  The artist notes that the nature of his work is temporary. The characters are painted on paper in a studio, then attached to the buildings with wheat paste.  Homercidal has already been eradicated.

This was Ben Frost’s first visit to Windsor, but it won’t be his last.  – The Windsor Star –  <ABOVE – BEN FROST/ “Self-Regenerating Bambi”>

‘The Quiet Car’: an AMTRAK invention, offers peace and quiet

QUIETCARAMTRAK, the American passenger train network, has brought civility and calm to rail travel.  On a limited number of trains in the Washington/Boston corridor, passengers in The Quiet Car can escape cell phones, smartphones, pagers, music devices, game devices, CD or DVD players, laptop computers with audible features, etc. etc.  Passenger conversation must be in quiet, subdued tones.  Lighting is dim.  Look out the window; enjoy the scenery; read a book; daydream; but be quiet about it.  Well done, AMTRAK(This might work in restaurants too; stop shouting and eat already.)

A brilliant holiday idea from Leuty and Violet Avenues in The Beach

LEUTY1A daily flag for the Daily Bread is a community-inspired art installation from the folks who live on Leuty and Violet Avenues in The Beach neighbourhood.  The objective: to raise money for the Daily Bread Food Bank by auctioning off each of the flags to the highest bidder.  <FLAG ABOVE – Santa heads back to the Leuty Lifeguard Station from the Islands, by Don, Jane, Mia and Aidan>