Blog needs a splash of green

Went to Woodbine Pond this morning, to see if the swans had cygnets yet. No young ones, no parents anywhere to be seen … just the nice fountain. A retired couple told me the swans must be in the reeds. They haven’t gone anywhere.


The park along the boardwalk has responded well to all the rain we’ve been getting. Sunny breaks to enjoy it are certainly welcome.


The wide beach has been cleaned and groomed, ready for the arrival of summer this weekend.


A girl on her cellphone showed no sign of noticing her surroundings. I waited for her to leave the shot but she stood there long enough for me to realize it was better with her in it.

Big city parking in little Beach Hill


Stacked parking is coming to the condo under construction at Woodbine and Gerrard. Space is at a premium in the small building site, so it’s the only way. I’m not sure what kind of system will be installed. Maybe the video below is not quite accurate, but it will work something like this.

Surely we are on the way to the end of private personal cars in cities. Of course, Toronto will be far behind better run cities for a long time to come, but transitional enterprises like auto-share services and Uber cabs are pointing the way.

Self-driving units of some kind may soon make deliveries and sharing a ride with strangers will likely become an affordable norm. Bicycles and e-bikes also offer commuter alternatives, but licensing and insurance are inevitable. Safe, segregated bike lane routes will have to be created, too.

Call me dreamer, but I can even imagine a time (after my time) when public transit might offer a convenient, inexpensive … or even free … way to get around.

Budapest progress report

Our new, local Hungarian restaurant is almost operational.


A lot goes into retrofitting an existing space to become a new restaurant. It’s complicated and involves many, many inspections but this job is moving along at a remarkable pace. A couple of weeks should take care of the physical plant. Then there’s stocking and training to do. The July opening is on track.

This is going to be a neighbourhood restaurant in every sense. Owners Edit and Lorie are hiring staff that can walk to work and there are great entry-level jobs for young people who want to learn the business.

There will be 15 tables and 30 chairs. A peek at labels on boxes indicate that the flooring with be maple. You read it here first.

The “Hollow Mask” illusion


When John Robert Colombo asked if I was aware of this illusion, I replied that I was. I used to make plaster casts of sculpted heads and noticed it then.

What came as a surprise was the ecclesiastical application that JRC had experienced. From his email message to me:

For a number of years we visited  […] Beloeil where we would walk into the very large and old church, Eglise Saint-Matthieu. My eye would be attracted to the larger-than-life statue of the Virgin Mary because of its notable feature, the one above and beyond its stark white marble surface. The statue had what I took to be an “all-seeing eye.” It certainly “followed me around.” But its gaze was not focused on me but beyond me. Up close I realized the effect was of an “all-seeing face,” created by rendering the head (surrounded by billowing cloth, as I recall) not in relief but in reverse of relief. (There is a term here that is eluding me.) Rather than the nose sticking out, the nose is stuck in, and the other features follow suit. The effect, when noted, is somewhat eerie. Have you encountered this technique before? If so, what is it called?

John, I like Hollow Mask Illusion as a name, but there are others. Here’s a Youtube link to an explanation. That term that was eluding you might be intaglio. Thanks for the topic, JR.

Artist vs computer

I CAN’T MAKE ART OUT OF COMPUTER CODES! by Helen Andersen. Mixed media on paper, 12.75″ x 20″


At first, new technologies must always seem alien and hostile to artists when they invade older crafts. Helen’s cry of resistance is her good humoured response. Of course, she HAS done exactly what she said she could not do. The colours are happy ones and there’s a playful messiness in the way materials are applied. Take that, you cold, unfeeling bar codes!

This piece also belongs to Peter Tatham (see entry below) and shows not only his wide range of taste, but Helen’s ready shift of style, whenever required, to make her point. In this way, as in her empathetic appreciation of aboriginal culture and experience, Helen was an artist ahead of her time.

Some Helen Andersen art heads “home”

“Haida Eye”, Oil on shaped canvas, Object height 19 inches, width 24 inches


I have chosen this rather unusual and enigmatic piece from Peter Tatham’s collection to illustrate my entry. A small number of works, including a lithograph, works on paper and canvases will be heading back to B.C. where they were created. In fact, they will be going all the way to the Saanich Penisula, home of Helen’s studio for the last decades of he life. The pieces will be framed for display on Peter’s walls.

We’ve discussed how best to frame it and agree that a shallow box frame of plexiglass or acrylic will protect and show it to good advantage.

The piece is called Haida Eye, titled by the artist on the back. The meaning of the imagery is elusive and everyone can have an interpretation, so here’s mine. The largest object suggests a rattle with a handle to me, and a convex mirror, at the same time. The smaller object puts me in mind of a carved “talking stick”, a ceremonial object that was passed around a circle at gatherings. The holder of the stick “had the floor”, so to speak. I have no guess about the meaning of the overall shape and I may be completely wrong about my other guesses. Perhaps there is something buried in Helen’s writings that will tell us more some day.