Two Colombo notes

First a note of congratulations to McMaster University for acquiring and archiving John Robert Colombo’s literary papers. Sixty-five boxes of material were picked up from JRC’s home this week.


In addition to Colombo’s literary data, future generations will find those boxes full of fascinating documentation about Toronto’s mid-20th century art scene.

Which brings me to the second note, this one of thanks. JRC lent me a DVD about Toronto’s Bohemian Embassy, the legendary coffeehouse. Don Cullen started it in 1960 when there was really no place for poets, artists and musicians to cut their teeth. [Publicity PDF]

The documentary is too long and suffers from gimmicky editing novelties, but the content is so much better than its container, it is well worth watching. We get an honest picture of humble, but vital beginnings and a chance to learn something important. Artists and their audiences need incubators like the Bohemian Embassy.

Today, I am aware of a multitude of cultural “hubs” in the city, but I’m not sure they aren’t more like silos, competing for attention and funding. Because it was all there was, the Bohemian Embassy became a concentration point. That, and unjudgemental encouragement by enthusiastic spirits like Don Cullen makes things happen.


The DVD properly recognizes John Robert Colombo’s organizational and conceptual contribution to “Embassy” life . He continues to contribute, appearing in several documentary segments to share anecdotes and insights into the Embassy’s zeitgeist.

When and if the documentary ceases to earn anyone any money, as might be the case right now, I think it would be great to release it into the wild, for free downloading, so that more people can appreciate what the Bohemian Embassy was and why it still matters.

Pamela Mingo’s studio today

Sandy Zwyer alerted me to an open studio show being held this weekend, so I walked over to Jones Avenue for a look.


Pamela Mingo greeted me at the door and showed me into her spacious studio, its walls lined with a remarkable output of small acrylic paint/collages. You can view them here.

I asked about the subjects of her pieces. “Everybody I know,” she said. She knows them quite well, I’d say. The faces are expressive, each in a different way, but all very alive and individual. A few of the faces are invented, others are critters. There’s a squirrel called “Fleavia”. The memorial portrait of Sandy’s Peepadeep was there, too.

Each original painting is priced at $300 and commissioned pieces are possible at the same price. Ms Mingo likes to work fast and freely (obviously, considering her output in 3 short months). Hey, you might even get one done in time for Christmas. My idea, not hers.

You could contact Pamela Mingo through her Facebook page or through contact information on her website, here.

West on the 506

We rode the 506 streetcar to the Dufferin Mall today, and stopped in the park to look for the communal bread-baking oven.

dufferin-grove Dufferin Grove Park hosts fairs, craft shows and performances. Has an ice rink, too.

The baking season is understandably over, but the setting is still fun.


Decorations are simple and delightful … mosaics of broken glass, mirror and pottery. Stars made of flattened spoons.


” What is cob?” the sign asks … and answers:

“The courtyard wall and composting toilet building were built using a sand-clay-straw mix known as “cob” or “monolithic adobe”, which is mixed by foot and applied by hand. Although virtually unknown in North America, this ancient form of sustainable building is familiar to many in England, Wales, across Europe, India and Africa, and Central and South America. Two thirds of the world’s people live in some form of earthen housing.”


Blast you, Blundstone

They’re b-a-a-a-ck. After a serious effort to find similar boots with replaceable heels, I bought another pair of disposable Blundstones.


I expect to get 12-18 months wear out of these. Blundstone warranties their boots for 2 years but I only wear them for 6 months of the year and I keep 2 pair, so I can alternate. Two year’s time can easily deliver less than 12 months of use.

Will someone please open a chain of Blundstone repair shops?

Cabinet meeting

Back room at the Flying Pony Gallery/Café …


Well, there’s a new group show at the Flying Pony and a Bazaar Holiday Street Party on Sunday, December 4th between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm, plus a Best Gingerbread Contest to vote in and the Gerrard Art Space reception below.

Santa is supposed to be there again this year.

bill-and-santaPhoto from 2014 party

Gerrard Art Space: Reception and show

Artist-members of GAS are exhibiting their works in a group show, now until December 18. Danica and I got a brief preview today, as finishing touches were being made.


It’s a bright and varied show with works by Matt Wood, Max MacDonald, Liane Odze-Silver, Dana Green, Elizabeth Forrest, Noreen Mallory, Melanie Tinken, Joanne Filletti, Philip Hare, Jennifer Nikitin and Jyne Greenley.

Everyone is welcome to the reception, Thursday December 1, 6 – 9 pm.

GERRARD ART SPACE 1475 Gerrard Street East [MAP]