Matt Wood at Gerrard Art Space

matt-woodMy picture just gives you the flavour of Wood’s work, rather than reproducing individual pieces. Better to see them on the walls.

Matt Wood is the artist on display at Gerrard Art Space right now. It’s a big, colourful exhibit of textured, layered paintings on plywood. Sixteen of the pieces were sold on the day of his recent opening.

I can’t think of painted work on plywood without thinking of Paterson Ewen, who probably did most to make the material acceptable as a fine art medium. I don’t know if Wood was influenced, but he doesn’t gouge into the plywood the way Ewen did. Just as well. I can’t look at Ewen’s plywood without feeling splinters and slivers.

Wood’s exhibit pieces differ from Ewen’s in many ways. They are not monumental in scale and they are not representational, although some titles suggest subjects.

GAS-members-wallA small back wall features works by the GAS members, each of whom have their own style.

GAS is the brainchild of Joanne Filletti who is also one of the artists. There are 14 artist members at present. Artists pay a fee to join and gain guaranteed exhibit time. They can also participate in group shows. Fees on sold work are a minuscule 5%. The works I’ve seen on display have always been very affordably priced.

The art space is a busy place. An email newsletter keeps me aware of musical concerts, workshops and classes, for adults and for children.

Something big is happening here

whole-foods-interestTop: Victoria Whole Foods on Lower Gerrard. Below: Fairmount Park Farmers Market yesterday.

A friend was surprised to see a Polish store in “Little India” but I am more surprised that it is a whole foods store. The emphasis is on grass-fed, free-range, non-GMO, organic food. Another place has popped up on the street called the Pitchfork Company. It places similar emphasis on fresh, wholesome products, in particular from local farmers.

On Wednesday afternoons, a little local park sprouts tents that attract large crowds of shoppers. The farmer’s market makes money.

Our neighbourhood is not exceptional. Interest is rampant in food that does not come from agribiz giants, big brand processors and major distributors. People are willing to pay more –often a LOT more – for such food. What’s going on?

A large part of the general public has become disenchanted with Frankenfoods and factory foods. Scares about contamination, loose labelling laws, disclosures about cruelties and linkages to health problems are creating new economic opportunities for some.

Politicians who cut back on food inspections and CEOs whose eyes are only on the bottom line must be aware of this trend. What will Monsanto do?

A snapshot of generations

According to the info embedded in the photo, my brother Jack took this picture with his iPad Air on August 9th, at 4:10 pm.


Jack and Penny played host to the Won-Varga bunch at their Vancouver Island Sproat Lake cabin that afternoon.

Grandparents Anna and Thorne, standing. Thorne’s son Trevor is married to Anna’s daughter Stephanie, in the front. Trevor is holding their son Carson and Stephanie has Jackson, who never seems to smile at a camera.

It’s a nice picture and I post it partly for long-lost cousin Linda Ross to see. Linda found my blog recently and got in touch. The last time we saw each other, as kids, was in Surrey, BC, about 60 years ago.

The people in the photo all live on Vancouver Island, Linda, at the Victoria end. Anna is my wife Danica’s sister.

Helen Andersen, clowning with a kid


It’s been a while since I posted a Helen Andersen piece and this one may seem like an odd choice. It looks to me like a child’s drawing, not something an adult would sign; not something to be associated with a master like Chagall. But there it is, signed Helen Andersen 80 [1980] and titled Clowns, Clowns, à la Chagalle.

I choose it not because it’s a great work of art, but because it tells us a few things about the artist.

First, Helen loved getting little kids involved with all things creative, especially drawing and painting. She did this by showing kids how to let go and just have fun. She led by example.

I can easily imagine Helen telling a very young Jane Clapp (her child play-partner in this case) that anything goes … that clowns don’t have to stand still on the ground. They can go onto the page sideways or up in the air, if you want. Why, look at Chagall! (She might have added, “You can even misspell his name,” but that was unintentional, I’m sure.)

Read moreHelen Andersen, clowning with a kid

Smoky Black Bean and Vegetable Soup

Your Royko Recipe for September

Smoky Black Bean and Vegetable Soup Download PDF here. )

This recipe comes from the January 1993 issue of Food & Wine magazine.

Chipotle chiles in adobo (smoked jalapeños in tomato sauce) can be hard to find unless you go to a grocery store specializing in Latin American foods. Bruno’s Supermarkets often carry them, too. One can will make about 4 batches of this soup. Freeze the remainder.

This recipe makes 4 hearty servings. Each serving has 363 calories, 20 grams of protein, 69 grams of carbohydrate, .6 mg, of cholesterol, 3 grams of fat (.3 grams saturated fat).

  • 1 large Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 canned chiles in adobo, rinsed, seeded and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 15-oz. cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 28-oz. can plum tomatoes with their juice, chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup plain low fat yogurt
  • wedges of lime or orange
  • chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

In a large sauce pan, cook onion, celery, carrots, garlic and 1/2 cup of water over medium heat until the vegetables soften (about 12 minutes). Stir in the chiles, bay leaves, cumin, basil, chile powder and oregano, and cook for 3 minutes.

Stir in the black beans, tomatoes and vegetable stock, and bring to a boil. Cover partially and simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

Discard the bay leaves. Purée 3 cups of the soup in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir the purée back into the soup. Season with salt and serve hot with a dollop of yogurt, chopped cilantro and citrus wedges.

Visited King and Queen today

We went downtown to shop for winter jackets (too soon, wait 2 weeks. Stock isn’t in yet). Danica pointed out the design of a new condo, not quite finished. We were on Queen West, near John Street.


It so happens that Active Surplus is nearby, making the old/new contrast strikingly apparent. The condo tower is designed to have a bit of character. After all, it could have been a simple, boxy tower rather than a multiple boxy tower. Professor Banana stands outside his soon-to-close store, representing the old, quirky, counter-culture character that once attracted people to Queen Street West.


The professor looks kind of sad about the change, but that’s life in the big city. Time for him to join the artists and musicians who long ago left for cheaper rent districts. He’ll be happier there.

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