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A Zolte/McBride artistic collaboration

Beachers have long known Harold Zolte as the proprietor of the Ends bargain clothing store and some are aware of his artistic side. Framed example of Harold’s designs hang inside the store and some very distinctive sculptures are his, too. They are assemblages made from wooden casting forms, dating back to the 1880s.

As Harold winds down his Ends operation, he needs help to deal with the big collection of foundry forms that aren’t finished yet, as works of art. Enter Toronto sculptor, Rob McBride.

Slide show

Jumbled together, partially painted, don’t some of these things look like cubism that predates Cubism? Just what condo buyers need, to overcome the curse of drywall sterility.

Positive wooden shapes were used to make sand casts. The wooden shapes were removed, leaving negative shapes to receive molten iron and steel. Rob pointed to the train wheels. Other shapes were much harder to identify. Wonderfully steampunk, though.

The pieces are being sorted out, recombined and readied for an upcoming show … hopefully by the time Queen Street fills up with Jazz Festival crowds. Better work fast!

I introduced myself to Ron when I found him working on a 350 pound piece in one of Harold’s stockroom/studio spaces. He’s an easy guy to talk to, with wide-ranging life story. I caught some of it over a coffee today. You’ll find some of it here, on his developing website. Probably, more coffee will be necessary.

A faint hope

Some things seem to burn brightest just before they go dark. The corner of Queen Street East and Elmer is bustling, as Harold Zolte’s crew puts out boxes and boxes of new clothing and accessories onto the sidewalk tables. The stock has to move. Ends is closing this summer. Sad. The Beach retail strip needs this kind of place.

Can the vibe survive on this little corner? Don’t we all assume that the two-storey stores will fall to condo developers. Harold says he doesn’t know, but maybe not. There’s more than Ends adding character.

Buds’s Coffee place is about as laid back as you can get … two doors east of Ends. The counter man says they are going to try to hang in. I hope so.

Bud’s is where I had coffee today with a sculptor I just met. That’s another story about this busy little corner. It’ll need its own post, and slides. Coming up next.

Modest but mighty

You have to be good … super, in fact … to keep a bargain store going in the same block as a Dollarama, a Dollar Tree and a Home Hardware. Super Bargain is a resource we sometimes forget about, until the others fail us. Often enough, what we need is there, and at surprisingly good prices.

For example, the other day, I needed an adapter. RCA audio-to-35mm audio, female connector, if you must know. Staples came close, except the jack was wrong and the price was over 20 bucks. Dollarama and Dollar Tree flubbed out entirely. Super Bargain had it. 3 bucks … and the proprietor knows his stock. He went right to what I needed and handed it to me.

When my watch battery dies, he puts in the new one, while I wait. It’s a great little spot, crammed with all kinds of household necessities, tools, gadgets and electronics. The store has been on Coxwell, near Lower Gerrard, for as long as I can remember. Time to give it the recognition it deserves.

Spit ride

June’s tyrannical weather pattern demanded that we get out on the bikes before it starts raining again. We didn’t go far … Leslie Spit … but the day was gorgeous. Water levels are high and everything is lush and leafy.

Slide show

 [Slide 10] Danica picked up the trophy feather near the birding station, where some big bird had obviously met a violent end. Feathers all over the place. The example shown is about a foot long and we wonder about the species. My guess is Canada Goose. There were familiar-looking droppings on a nearby path. If someone knows better, we’d be interested in a comment.