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Sneak preview: Colombo’s latest cover

It’s that time of year again …. John Robert Colombo is ready to publish his annual book of poetry and I get to do the cover.

I have blown up the title text, to better show you its texture.

On the left, you see the layout JRC has chosen from three I showed him. On the right, you see a photo I chose as a starting point, selected from the free, hi-res photography on unsplash.com. Terms of use are “Free (do whatever you want)”.

So I cropped and flopped and altered the lighting by merging the silhouette with another photo of an old film projector’s light beam. JRC gives me “look and feel” ideas which often lean to the dark and monochromatic. He suggested a figure entering the cover (although from the other direction) with perhaps a hint of purple and a depressively “noirish” feel.

The title of the book seemed to want a font that sort of flickers in and out of existence. John agreed that one called Sponged does the trick nicely.

So we are good to go. I am working on finished art that will include the spine and back cover.

MintiMac: My minty-fresh iMac

Only about 2% of computer users will know or care what this post is about, but (as another geek said) “I am dating another operating system”.

I have tried Linux timidly on my old iMac, first running it without installing it, from a DVD and from a USB stick. That experience pleased me enough to try running it in a VirtualBox … still within the Mac operating environment, though.

Then inspiration struck. I installed a free copy of Linux Mint on a friend’s old PC. It was bogged down to a crawl with every kind of virus and malware, so slow it was useless. Linux brought it back to life and the sick old copy of Windows XP was set aside. Why shouldn’t I boot up Linux on my own Mac? I mean, really install it and boot from it.

So I read up all the advice on how to partition my hard drive. Then I installed the latest Linux Mint version and software (that Apple doesn’t like) to switch back and forth from Linux to Mac OS X. Not bad for a septuagenarian. There are much younger chaps who have failed (he boasted cautiously).

Admittedly, it took me hours to find all the information I needed and I got a lot of help from online sources, but up came Linux Mint, nice as you please. Hey, I can play with 30,000 free apps, now. No virus problems with Linux, either. Nice.

One thing, though. Linux is usually used to revive old Windows PCs, not Macs. It didn’t come with drivers for the wifi cards in iMacs. No internet. So I found the drivers here, figured out how to get them into my Linux system, rebooted and bingo! Internet … with some flakiness I have to solve … but it works.

I expect to spend a lot of time on the Linux side, getting familiar with my new toys. I’ll go back to the Mac side for Photoshop, and maybe for old time’s sake, but this new computing environment is exciting, open source, and free. 😀

Gerrard Art Space: The Drawing Show

I like open-call shows and I like drawing shows, so the Saturday reception was a happy time for me. Lots of variety, in technique, subject matter, media and conception.

It was a first Toronto showing of work by Bethany Davis, so let’s start a slide show with her. The two big drawings are in graphite and I’ll make no attempt to reproduce their fine detail. You’ll have to go the show to see them properly.


 We got reacquainted with Elizabeth Forrest and learned that her career is branching away from block printing. A large graphite drawing on usukuchi paper is a step along that path.

Marsha Wineman transforms original figure drawings (which I like in their own right, for their simplicity) into textile pieces that are a delight to see and impossible to photograph. The ground is an open-weave fabric onto which freehand lines are sewn by machine. Light goes through the pieces, casting shadows that add dimension.

An artist I didn’t get to meet, Carole Milon, was showing 3 abstract drawings that I liked very much. Danica liked the little gems by Melika Hashemi, saying they reminded her of cloisonné enamels.

There is plenty more to see, so you’ll have your own favourites, and if you want to take one home, a few hundred dollars will buy the most expensive ones. You can get some of the originals for under 50 dollars!

Last note … a compliment to Joanne Filletti for pulling off another worthwhile event at the ever-more-interesting Gerrard Art Space, and a thank-you to Joanne for introducing us to Annette Hansen, owner of the Cobalt Gallery. Annette’s pottery studio has been going now 13 years on Kingston Road. I watched a good video online about a senior adult woman learning pottery at the Cobalt Gallery, but I’m darned if I can find it.

A pleasant reminder

Today’s walk took me past a sign reminding me that we still have an operating 5-pin bowling alley, above GoodLife Fitness, on Coxwell. 12 lanes! It’s only rentable as an event venue, not for regular public bowling, but hey, it’s still working!

The Shamrock Bowl website is well-written and informative, with nice, retro styling. Did you know that 5-pin bowling is a Toronto invention? I set pins for 5-pin as a kid in Vancouver. Great for some fast spending money. Of course, the Shamrock’s pinsetting is all automatic.

Danica and I were able to bowl a few games when the place opened for Toronto Doors Open, some years back. My legs felt the workout! A lot of fun. I’m glad this venue is still operational.

What’s the hurry, Mayor Tory?

There is more than a whiff of desperation in the union campaign to prevent privatization of garbage collection on Toronto’s east side. They lost good-paying jobs and benefits on the west side under Mayor Ford and Mayor Tory is out do the same on our side.

I prefer diversity, over sameness. It lets us monitor and compare rates and service standards. If we privatize both sides of town and get rid of our trucks, what alternative will we have when private companies want to jack up prices?

As things are, two systems are competing against each other. That’s worth keeping for a while. Let’s let a couple of contract cycles play out and see what happens to costs on both sides of town. There’s a petition.

[Campaign critique]
If you happen to visit the Kicked To The Curb website, you will probably be turned off by its appearance, not to mention the very rude, auto-playing audio message that hits you without warning. All-caps grunge fonts shouting demands in domineering language. Black and red, of course. It’s almost as if CUPE wants to drive support away.

No, it’s not bubblewrap

Good luck today … Friday the 13th.

We have a month to think up our message-in-a-bottle for insertion into one of this year’s Winter Stations on the Beach. Winning designs have been chosen and installation begins on February 13th.

This one illustrates walls of recycled glass bottles to be erected around one of the lifeguard stations. Seven other designs are coming , too. Read about them here.

Dead funny

Graveyards aren’t just pleasant, well-treed spaces for walking, they can be entertaining. Culling old photos from my hard drive, I found these from an autumn stroll in Toronto’s Necropolis.

I have no idea who Mollie Walker was, but I think I would have liked her.

Did Joanie leave instructions for the words on her plaque, or did someone else decide to memorialize her taste for beer? We’ll never know. Was hers a short life but a merry one?

A kindly message and a good reminder. Pamela seems to have had life figured out and she wanted to share.