“NOT FADE AWAY” – TWO MURALS BY BILL WRIGLEY. ONE SURVIVES & THE OTHER IS NEARLY GONE

FADING11‘Passing Glances’ on Widmer Street at Adelaide, was the most personal of murals.  It celebrated those who lived in the neighbourhood in the 1980’s and 90’s.  Some are still with us, others have passed on.  This work is almost extinct.

As Joni Mitchell sings in Big Yellow Taxi:
“Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Til it’s gone”

FADING13Another BILL WRIGLEY mural can be found on the south side of the Senator Restaurant, Victoria Street, just south of Yonge/Dundas Square> It’s in good shape.

BILL WRIGLEY has specialized in professional mural painting for over 25 years and is recognized in Canada as a leading artist in the field. He has earned commissions from as far away as Japan and Mexico, across Canada and in the United States.

Website – http://www.billwrigley.com/

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GLOBALLY 2016 WAS A TERRIBLE YEAR, BUT LOCALLY WE HAVE MUCH TO CELEBRATE

roundup1<Headline, NOW magazine’s year-end cover>

2016First off, we’re all still here. And secondly, looking through Toronto Savvy’s 2016 archive there’s much to celebrate (without being smug). It’s been a pretty good year for our TORONTO.

PANDAS100DAYS2JANUARY – our crop of smaller neighbourhood theatres is growing . . . the Zoo’s panda cubs are 100 days old and thriving . . . 51% of TORONTO residents were born outside of Canada . . . high-school graduation rates are at an all-time high . . . city’s 2016 operating budget $11.75-billion.

PETERDOIG1FEBRUARY – Greater Toronto Area (GTA) population 6.63-million . . . an Indian Rhino calf is born at the Zoo . . . Peter Doig’s painting of a TORONTO house sells for $22,681,093 at Christie’s London . . . average life expectancy in TORONTO 83 years

HOWARD2MARCH – the Howard Street neighbourhood rises again . . . cross-dressers get full treatment at the Art Gallery of Ontario . . . artist-run Propeller Gallery is now 20-years old . . . Riverdale Farm welcomes spring with several animal births . . . bargain fares introduced on UPExpress to and from Pearson Airport . . . Prime Minister Trudeau bonds with President Obama in Washington DC . . . a chunk of Yonge St. is designated a Heritage Conservation District . . . and sadly, former mayor Rob Ford dies.

FASHIONX6APRIL – Gardiner Expressway construction ends 3 months ahead of schedule . . . a whole new city is rising on Queens Quay West . . . 22 major road improvement projects are announced . . . American tourists discover TORONTO . . . Prince’s home goes up for sale at $13-million . . . a new YMCA opens on Cherry Street . . . former Pan Am Athlete’s Village becomes city’s newest neighbourhood . . . Fashion Exchange (a ‘fashion hub’) opens in Regent Park . . . Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 64th year as Canada’s head-of-state . . . the late urbanist Jane Jacobs is given an exhibition at 401 Richmond . . . Mayor John Tory checks out Asia’s public transit systems and is mightily impressed.

MORLEY SAFER1MAY – Canada’s Morley Safer of ’60 Minutes’ dies . . . Globe and Mail de-accessions its photo library . . . Grange Park gets a $15-million makeover . . . Waterfront East is a hive of development . . . city increases its plan for Barbara Ann Scott Park and skating rink . . . facadism versus heritage preservation is debated . . . Humber Cinema, built in 1949, is being demolished . . . Patch Project breathes new life into deteriorating public spaces . . . Celebrate Toronto’ advises whiners to stop whining and show the city some love.

LUMINATO1JUNE – Luminato Festival closes after two successful weeks at the massive Hearn Power Station . . . Britain stuns the world by quitting the European Union . . . Mayor John Tory’s approval rating remains stable at 74% after 18 months in office . . . a new Peace Garden is dedicated at Nathan Phillips Square . . . the rainbow flag is raised as Canada launches its first-ever Pride Month . . . the transgendered flag is raised at City Hall . . . Underpass Park is chosen for a Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian design exhibit . . . heroic Canadian flight crew rescues two Americans from Antarctic’s wicked winter . . . President Obama delivers a full-length speech to Canada’s House of Commons . . . Christie Pits Film Festival presents its biggest-ever lineup . . . the Lower Don Trail connects with the Pan Am Path.

OSSINGTONMURALS6JULY – Barco Escape Panoramic theatres and Canada’s first 4DX cinema open . . . Ossington Avenue’s sparkling new murals are a love letter to the Great Lakes . . . TORONTO Bike Share’s $5-million expansion – 1,000 new bikes & 120 new stations . . . Bridgepoint Hospital has the finest green roof in town . . . downtown TORONTO now has North America’s lowest office vacancy rate . . . Stephen Marche of The Guardian writes “TORONTO’s dullness is what makes it exciting.”

PHLEGM3AUGUST – Art Nouveau stylized maple leaf canvas, 1893, by Gustav Hahn discovered at Queen’s Park . . . BBC and New York Times are opening news bureaus in TORONTO . . . The Economist ranks TORONTO #4 out of 140 “most liveable cities in the world” . . . tunnel boring for the Eglinton Avenue Crosstown LRT is all done . . . Phlegm, the UK artist, paints a massive 8-storey mural at Yonge & St. Clair . . . paintings by Lawren Harris are a hit in Los Angeles, Boston and TORONTO . . . a book – ‘Rise and Fall: The Condominiumization of TORONTO’ has been published . . . Rey, an endangered Grevy’s Zebra is born at the Zoo . . . former prime minister Stephen Harper quits Parliament and resigns from public life . . . you can now self-guide yourself through TORONTO’s fully restored Old Don Jail.

gtairways2SEPTEMBER – Greater Toronto Airways began regular commuter service from Niagara to TORONTO . . . The Goodyear Blimp visited for the first time since 2007 . . . 60 local artists and organizations re-opened Ontario Place with ‘In/Future’ . . . Governor-General’s Medal in Architecture awarded to Nathan Phillips Square . . . TORONTO’s Diamond Schmitt Architects will build ‘Buddy Holly Hall’ in Texas . . . new home for the Museum of Contemporary Art takes shape in The Junction . . . Fan Expo Canada/2016 attracted over 130,000 & featured 1,000 exhibitors . . . after years of pleading Bloor Street West now has a bike lane on it.

thomson2OCTOBER – bound for Paris ‘Mystical Landscapes’ painting exhibition stops in TORONTO . . . Mayor John Tory announces a Super Park for the Don Valley . . . separated Bayview Extension Bike Lane opens . . . Canada ranks #2 on the FORBES list of ‘most reputable countries in the world’ . . . Duchess of Cambridge gives a big boost to TORONTO designer Bojana Sentaler by wearing one of her creations . . . Downtown Yonge BIA shows interest in a laneway neon sign museum . . . Thomson Reuters adds 400 jobs in TORONTO with a focus on cognitive computing . . . New York Times’ “Frugal Traveler” discovers excellent Chinese food in Richmond Hill, Markham and along Highway 7 . . . TORONTO has become a popular destination for American expat professionals.

greathall5NOVEMBER – The Great Hall, opened in 1890, Queen West at Dovercourt, has been completely restored . . . ‘Mounted Forms’ by Lawren Harris sold for $11.21-million in TORONTO . . . refurbished Royal Alexandra Theatre reopens with the hit musical ‘Come From Away’ . . . Snoop Dogg wants to move to TORONTO – he’s looking for a ‘crib’ . . . Lonely Planet names Canada the #1 travel destination for 2017 . . . the new 58,000 sq. ft. Casey House will be a leading model for advanced HIV/AIDS care . . . road tolls may be in the offing for the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway . . . a much-improved St. Lawrence Market North is about to rise . . . Crow’s Theatre Company moves into an $11-million home in Leslieville . . . streetcar safety murals by Lucas Declavasio & Andrew Patterson capture NXT City Prize . . . 110th annual Santa Claus Parade marches down University Avenue . . . our ‘energetic food scene’ gets a write-up in the NY Times Travel Section . . . TORONTO’s Miss General Idea exhibits in both Mexico City and Buenos Aires . . . Donald J. Trump is elected President of the United States.

housing2DECEMBER – price of a new detached house in the TORONTO region rose 27% to $1.24-million in 2016 . . . average size of a condo in 2016 rose to 820 square feet . . . city council votes to protect 303 potentially significant downtown buildings . . . Honest Ed’s and Mirvish Village are about to disappear forever . . . Glad Day, the world’s oldest LGBTQ bookshop opens beautiful new premises on Church Street . . . Barbara Gray, TORONTO’s new GM of Transportation arrives from Seattle . . . 5,500 Syrian refugees are taking English As A Second Language classes . . . Ford Motor Company in MARKHAM has produced a roadworthy $450,000US GT supercar . . . a real estate agent wants Scarborough to separate from TORONTO . . . Green P Mobile App payment option, finished ahead of schedule & is available city-wide . . . The Purple Onion Coffee House site in Yorkville is being eyed by a developer . . . tallest Christmas tree in the country lights up the Eaton Centre . . . more small businesses have closed in lower Yonge St. which means more condos are on the way . . . film, television & media production has exceeded $1-billion annually over the last five years.

NEWCITYHALL1

HEAVY SNOW ON BALSAM AVE. IN TORONTO’S BEACH NEIGHBOURHOOD – WILLIAM KURELEK (1927-77)

kurelek1WILLIAM KURELEK RCA is one of Canada’s best known painters. The son of Ukrainian immigrant farmers, he grew up during the Great Depression on farms in Alberta and Manitoba. He worked in construction in Edmonton and Thunder Bay, and as a waiter at TORONTO’s Royal York Hotel. Books of his work have titles like A Prairie Boy’s Summer, Lumberjack, The Last of the Arctic and O Toronto. Many of Kurelek’s paintings were produced to accompany children’s storybooks.

kurelek2

NEW YORK’S ED HAMILTON HAS A FEW THOUGHTS ON OUR CRAZY, GENTRIFYING URBAN WORLD

chintzage2ED HAMILTON, 55, is a writer who lives with his wife in a tiny room at the Chelsea Hotel on West 23rd Street in Manhattan. All around him gentrification and redevelopment is going full speed, just as it is in Downtown TORONTO. The ‘creative class’ in both cities must deal with rising rents, lack of studio space, vanishing of the familiar, and the arrival of a multitude of luxury condominiums and the folks who go with them.

chintzage1Mr. Hamilton sees gentrification as a metaphor for growing old. You become invisible as the world changes around you he says, but “I don’t want to be somebody who’s always down on something new. The way to resist is to carve out a niche for yourself in a crazy, gentrified world.” And that’s what he’s done on the 8th floor of the Chelsea Hotel, which happens to be under renovation and gentrification.

 “Artists used to be able to resist gentrification. At some point, the tide has turned.” – ED HAMILTON

chintzage3In 2015 Ed Hamilton wrote ‘The Chintz Age’ (Cervena Barva Press, 2015), a collection of short stories and a novella about artists trying to survive in a changing city. He is also the author of ‘Legends of the Chelsea Hotel: Living with the Artists and Outlaws of New York’s Rebel Mecca’ (DaCapo 2007) which is now in its eighth printing.

chinzage4   <PHOTO ABOVE – a New York City micro-apartment, the latest thing – New York Daily News>

THE WACKY WORLD OF TORONTO REAL ESTATE IS FOR THOSE WITH $$$$$$ TO SPEND

housing1An early Christmas present goes to the owner of this house in VAUGHAN, a Bungalowland suburb north of TORONTO. It sold $400,000 over the asking price and attracted more than 800 visitors to 3 open houses. The final selling price was $1.1-million as-is.

CHECKMARKThe house had torn wallpaper, a partially finished basement, an old kitchen and well-used carpets. The vendor installed a new furnace and put railings on the front porch. Otherwise, it was sold in the original condition, without staging

PATIOHOUSE2The price of a new detached house in the TORONTO region rose 27% in the past year to an average $1.24-million per house according to the latest statistics from the Building & Land Development Association (BILD).

NEWCONDOS460% of the 43,651 new homes sold in the region this year were high-rise condos. The average sale price of those was $493,137. On average the size of condos in 2016 rose to 820 square feet.

THE WORLD LOST FINE POETS, ARTISTS, THINKERS & DOERS IN 2016. THEY’LL SURELY BE MISSED.

memorium1

EDWARD ALBEE, playwright
MUHAMMAD ALI, boxer
RENE ANGELIL, music producer
BRIAN BEDFORD, actor
DAVID BOWIE, musician
DAVE BROADFOOT, comedian
FIDEL CASTRO, Cusban leader
MICHAEL CIMINO, filmmaker
AUSTIN CLARKE, author
STEPHEN CLARKSON, political scientist
LEONARD COHEN, poet, musician
NATALIE COLE, singer
BILL CUNNINGHAM, New York Times photographer
CHRIS EDWARDS, drag artist
CARRIE FISHER, actor
ROB FORD, former Toronto mayor
DON FRANCKS, actor
URSULA FRANKLIN, scientist and educator
JOHNN GLENN, astronaut and US senator
MERLE HAGGARD, country musician
TOM HAYDEN, activist
FLORENCE HENDERSON, actor
GORDIE HOWE, hockey player
GWEN IFILL, PBS journalist
AVROM ISAACS, gallery owner
W.P. KINSELLA, author
HARPER LEE, author
SHAWTY LO, rapper
LONNIE MACK, blues guitarist
GEORGE MICHAEL, musician
ANNIE POOTOOGOOK, artist
JANET RENO, former US attorney-general
DEBBIE REYNOLDS, actor
MORLEY SAFER, television journalist
GARRY SHANDLING, comedian
GORDIE TAPP, musician, storyteller and television star
ALAN THICKE, actor
BOBBY VEE, musician
GENE WILDER, actor
JANET WRIGHT, actor

. . . and so many more. Part of a list compiled by TORONTO’s NOW Weekly & The New York Times.

memorium2<TORONTO’s Blue Christmas tree atop the Summerhill railway overpass in Rosedale>

SAY GOODBYE TO HONEST ED’S – ITS DOORS WILL CLOSE FOREVER ON NEW YEAR’S EVE

HONESTEDS9The corner of Bathurst and Bloor Streets will never be the same. HONEST ED’s Department Store is shutting down.  The store and nearby MIRVISH VILLAGE sit on a piece of land now owned by Vancouver developer Westbank Properties.  They’re across the street from a subway station, in a condo-hungry neighbourhood, near the University of Toronto.

mirvishvillage1<The proposed project replacing Honest Ed’s may look something like this. Rendering via Westbank Corp.>

HONESTEDS2HONESTEDS3ED MIRVISH, who died in 2007, opened his first store at the corner of Bloor and Markham Streets, in 1948.  He and his son, David, went on to build a family empire.  The two of them ran an art bookshop on Markham Street; purchased the Royal Alexandra Theatre when it was destined to become a parking lot; built the Princess of Wales Theatre; rescued and renovated London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre; purchased the Pantages (now the Ed Mirvish) theatre on Yonge Street; founded Mirvish Productions, a major live-theatre company; and continued operating Honest Ed’s.

HONESTEDS7HONESTEDS4<PHOTOS ABOVE – 1) Panorama – Stewart Russell; 2) Bike in front of Honest Ed’s – gbalogh/flickr; 3) Black and white exterior, 1957 – Allan Moffatt; 4) Black and white exterior – Fritz Spiess estate, Stephen Bulger Gallery.>

MIRVISH4MIRVISH VILLAGE is made up of Victorian-era houses, rescued when the city had plans to tear them all down. The Village, converted into one-of-a-kind shops, art studios, galleries, boutiques and cafes will soon be no more.  It will become part of the massive Bathurst/Bloor redevelopment.