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>

Rebuilding ALEXANDRA PARK, with a focus on youth

ALEXANDRA PARK, named for Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII, occupies a large swath of prime downtown real estate, south of KENSINGTON MARKET.  Sixty years ago the city demolished a neighbourhood of tumbledown Victoriana and built a complex of dead-end streets and lowrise, brick apartment blocks and town houses.  This was urban renewal in the 60’s and it happened in cities everywhere.  About the same time REGENT PARK and LAWRENCE PARK were built in much the same way.  All three have fallen on hard times, and all three are being – or are about to be – rebuilt and revitalized.

<Alexandra Park, lower centre, Urban Strategies Inc. – photo>  The plan for ALEXANDRA PARK will be phased in over 15 years. 333 townhouses and apartments will be demolished and replaced by a mix of market-value and public housing units.  473 tower apartments will be renovated. There’ll be new public parks and retail outlets.  Several streets that are now closed off will be re-opened, eliminating dead-ends and dark nooks and crannies.  <PHOTO BELOW – workman’s cottages, Alexandra Park, pre-1960, CMHC>