<Little things mean a lot. Very elegant.>
The Propeller Gallery at 30 Abell Street is now over 20 years old, and is one of TORONTO’s longest standing artist collectives. Exhibitions here change every two or three weeks – and feature work by both members and artists who are not members.
To keep up to date on what’s happening at Propeller go to https://www.propellerctr.com
The Modern TORONTO is a new gallery focusing on abstract painting and sculpture. It’s located at 68 Abell Street and shows great art not commonly seen in Canadian museums. The layout of the gallery itself is quite amazing, and makes excellent use of an elongated space.
Works by JIRI LADOCHA (‘Architectonics’) are now on The Modern’s concrete walls. Website – http://www.themoderntoronto.ca
The Helen and Walter Zwig Foundation Collection, also at 68 Abell Street. This TORONTO couple, both now deceased, had a taste for adventure – which led them by sailboat to Europe, the US, the South Pacific and Central America. They circumnavigated the globe, often alone.
Their gallery features work drawn entirely from their collection. The Zwig family is planning to update exhibits on a regular basis.
Website – https://www.zwigcollection.ca/
Craft Ontario specializes in Canadian-made art of all kinds, is now open at a new address – 1106 Queen Street West, not far from the Drake Hotel. Legally known as the Ontario Crafts Council, this is a member-based, not-for-profit organization based in TORONTO.
Website – https://www.craftontario.com/
Across Lisgar Park with its cafe and bar – THE THEATRE CENTRE, 1115 Queen Street West. It invests in ideas, nurtures artists, presents new work and new ways of working. The company provides space, mentorship and exposure to writers and actors – and presents a year-round programming schedule.
Website – http://www.theatrecentre.org
And there’s LISGAR PARK itself. Opened in 2017 it’s TORONTO’s newest park. Not to everyone’s taste, the park features a well-used playground for kids, and adds much-needed public space for a high-rise community.
As well there are canopy trees, sculptural seats and planting areas, along with a grid of ‘art poles’ providing night lights <PHOTO ABOVE>.
In the early seventies Queen Street West streetcars rattled by some of TORONTO’s oldest and funkiest low-rise buildings. The apartments above the stores were run-down, inhabited by derelicts, and dirt cheap. Surrounding low-rise office & sewing factory buildings were often used for no more than storage.
Artists and students at the nearby Ontario College of Art (now OCADU) moved into these rundown apartments and illegal loft spaces in which they could perform and work. They set in motion funky theatres, grungy warehouse lofts, and an odd assortment of legal and illegal after-hours bars (booze cans) and salons, as well as venues for art bands, reggae groups and performance events.
<THE CLICHETTES, a famous Queen Street performance troop>
Human rights, racism, censorship, cultural diversity, feminism, homophobia, and nuclear disarmament were rising as the political issues of the day.
<THE BODY POLITIC and FIREWEED, two long-lasting publications from the era>
An electric feeling was in the air. The Rebel Zone was a perfect breeding ground for Do It Yourself culture. Living in the pre-internet era meant events were communicated by posters, handouts and in person. This led to an intersection of ideas, art, politics and music, creating an atmosphere of fearless creativity.
<The popular BAMBOO Club. It kept on going for decades.>
<MOSES ZNAIMER introduced music videos to Canadian television at Citytv on Queen West>
<THE CLICHETTES seemed to be everywhere.>
<GENERAL IDEA, a gift to the world of art and sculpture – to this day.>
QUOTES from an essay by LORRAINE SEGATO – singer, songwriter, filmmaker, social justice activist & then-resident of The Rebel Zone. IMAGES are from a 2016 exhibition by YTB (pop-up) Gallery.
– restored adult decorum to City Hall after four years of Rob Ford’s chaos
– negotiated with the taxi industry and legalized Uber
– welcomed the first Lyft ride program outside the United States to the city
– sped up the rebuilding of the Gardiner Expressway project
– introduced raccoon-proofed green garbage bins
– got $150-million from the province to plan a Downtown Relief Subway Line
– endorsed a controversial one-stop Scarborough subway extension
– delivered the Bloor Street separated bike lanes after every survey imaginable
– repaved and/or added bike lanes to Richmond, Adelaide, Woodbine & Wellington Streets
– first time that I can remember – Montreal, Vancouver & Toronto, Canada’s three largest metropoli, have begun working together to solve mutual problems
– reduced transit fares for people on the Ontario Disability Support Program; free rides for kids under 12; restored suburban bus services cut by the Ford administration
– initiated the King streetcar transit pilot project to speed up commutes – an immediate hit with riders, not so much with business owners
– kept residential property taxes below the rate of inflation (2% increase) – lowest in the Greater Toronto Area
– launched the Open Door program as an incentive to developers to build affordable housing
– increased funding for the rent supplement program
– marched every year with city councilors in the Pride Parade
– streamlined Invest Toronto, Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance & city’s economic development division
– doubled the number of companies in Partnership to Advance Youth Employment (PAYE)
– kept his promise to keep Toronto Hydro a public institution
– promoted towing & ticket blitzes for traffic lane blockers
– introduced full-time traffic wardens & a bike lane policing brigade
– shepherded first stage of The Bentway Skating Trail under the Gardiner through council
– supported Safe Injection sites for those addicted
– developed a climate change plan
– successfully passed city budgets with a minimum of council fights
– kept his promise to hold at least one weekly press conference
– appears monthly on a CP24 television call-in show
– championed the tech, film, and television industries
– developed good rapport with Prime Minister Trudeau & an on-and-off good rapport with Premier Kathleen Wynne
In a year-end interview with The Toronto Star, Mayor Tory has promised to work more closely with downtown councillors if he’s re-elected in 2018. He’s proven himself a consensus builder who doesn’t go too far left or too far right – but in his first term he often seemed more allied with right-leaning suburban councillors.
Downtowners voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Tory in the previous election. If history repeats itself, residents of the city’s core will no doubt expect their priorities will be among his priorities.
They shouldn’t have done it, but they did. Pressured by ‘politically correct’ demonstrators, PRIDE TORONTO decreed that police cars, police floats and uniformed officers would be banned from the Pride Parade, beginning in 2018.
The result: donations & corporate sponsorships year over year have plunged; last year’s SURPLUS of about $1-million fell, creating a DEFICIT of $500,000; revenue from donations and fundraising dropped from $758,015 in 2016 to $106,565 in 2017; corporate sponsorships fell from $2,269,180 in 2016 to $1,506,804 in 2017.
This is a huge blow to a relatively small, but important organization, which means a lot to the LGBTQ community in particular, and the citizenry at large. The Pride Parade is a highlight of the year, and a huge money-maker for the City of TORONTO and businesses large and small. Fumbling it in this way is both regrettable – and unacceptable.
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