Good turnout for Nikitin show

Danica and I actually went for coffee at the Flying Pony and waited for the crowd to thin a little. Gerrard Art Space is a nice, bright little gallery, but when 60 or 70 people show up, it’s pretty full. [MAP]

nikitinJennifer Nikitin, left, with Danica.

Jennifer Nikitin‘s one woman show offered viewers 19 pieces at very reasonable prices ranging between $825 to as low as $75. My photos don’t give you much of a sense of her work, because I hesitate to reproduce artworks without copyright clearance. Besides, it’s best to see the actual pieces to appreciate the texture and many fine details. Online photos are available here.

This show is themed around social issues, with particular emphasis on gender stereotypes (past and present), artificial, imposed roles and what I would say are strong feelings about the “False Fronts” often required of women. Nikitin uses plays on words, typography, photography, collage, illustration, paint, or whatever she needs to express herself. Her most individualistic medium is felt, which she handles skillfully to make very tactile pieces … polychrome relief sculptures, I’d say.

“You can touch them,” she said, when she was explaining the layers of a collage I admired for its composition and tonal values. Isn’t THAT refreshing!

Bohemian Embassy, then and now

This post is a little out of order. I intended to put it up before we met the Colombos for lunch but I couldn’t find Colombo’s Podcast, Episode 10.

I have it now, but before I post it, here’s a Youtube trailer introducing the legendary coffee house of 1960s Toronto.

The documentary above was made in 2007. The Bohemian Embassy Podcast dates from 2010. [about 6 minutes]

 The current manifestation of the Bohemian Embassy is a condo on Queen West. It may house characters as creative and interesting as the poets, artists and musicians of Don Cullen’s coffee house, but then again, maybe not.


Re-hatted, pre-hatted and un-hatted


Today, the Colombos treated us to lunch. We were celebrating publication of John’s latest book, Immense Estates. First, though, they took me over to The Hatter to pick up my freshly-cleaned and blocked fedora.

So I am rehatted. We all had fun trying on headgear. Inspired, Danica remembered a hat she had stashed in the basement. It’s a winner … not red, like the one she tried on in the photo, but black like mine and still brand new. I would like to have bought her a grey hat that looked very smart with her parka. Maybe next time.

John Robert Colombo looked seriously good in a grey Stetson fedora and Ruth almost found the purple wide-brim she is after, but today was not the day, as you see.

The Colombos can return to The Hatter easily. It’s in their neighbourhood and right next door to one of their frequent food-shopping stops.

Ararat International Fine Foods is a small store with a long history. “Forty-six blessed years.” said the genial owner. “Were there other years that weren’t so good?” I asked. “Forty-six blessed years,” he repeated, ignoring my attempt at humour.

Photography inside was not wanted, which is a pity because the place is absolutely packed with interesting products, curios and kitchenware. Outside, a photo was deemed OK.


Miigwetch, miigwetch, all around


As a thank you (Miigwetch in Ojibway) for sharing Bear Song with her drum circle friends, Joni made a deer hoof shaker for Red Bear and sent it via me. I made the delivery over coffee today.

The photo shows the shaker sitting on a drum that Joni made for me. The shaker’s deer hoof rattles are sewn to a fabric band, quite thick and sturdy, with velcro on the ends. It can be worn on the drum hand or on a leg while dancing. I like the sound, which is surprisingly strong.

 At first glance, the hooves look like mussel shells because they are folded. Maybe Joni will comment on the making process. My guess is that the hooves have to be heated and softened to shape them this way.

Red Bear is teaching language and culture to people whose ways of life were almost destroyed by colonization. It is important work, being recognized as such, painfully slowly, by Canadians, their courts and their governments.

We still have a long, long way to go, but I hope we are beginning the journey to understanding and reconciliation … not just for justice to people who have been (and continue to be) wronged, but for concepts that could help sustain all of us, if we are open to learning.

Two treats for a snowy day

Treat Number One: A link to this and many more gorgeous, high resolution photographs, free to use as you please. The site is Unsplash. Click the starry image to go to this particular picture.


Treat Number Two: Sent by Joni during our exchange about singing stars of the 1950s. Who doesn’t love the voice, diction and phrasing of the great Nat King Cole.

Very cool art

It was opening day for the Beach Winter Stations or Warming Stations. Whichever you call them, they are art installations covering lifeguard towers. An international competition was held, hundreds of applications judged and 7 designs chosen for fabrication.

We arrived while artists were still at work in the freezing wind. The pieces will be up until March 19th, luring humanity to our icy shores.

We started with some creative destruction of children’s ice art. I found the culprit hiding behind the broken wall and we took off, heading past the outdoor rink to Kew Beach. The slides will take you the rest of the way … and you can find out more about the installations, here.

 We didn’t see all of the winter stations and some we saw were not finished, so another walk is in order.

We had planned to have lunch at Hakka Wow but it was closed for Family Day. That gave us the opportunity for a first visit to Karma’s Kitchen. We were VERY happy with our Crispy cauliflower appetizer, Chicken Tangra Sizzler and Steamed Beef Momos (soft dumplings, also available with chicken or vegetarian). Nice little place. The cooking is nice and spicy, very tasty and attractively presented. Perfect way to warm up from the inside out.

No alcohol is served, but there is coffee, tea and cold pop. The waiter brought us complimentary sample cups of their sweet chai tea, which will be my choice next time.

Learning my way around

“Why is Bathroom Man running?” I wondered when I saw him on the UP Express platform the other day. “I know green means GO. Bathroom Man in a hurry to go? Is that it?”


To confirm my interpretation, I followed the arrow. Aha! Emergency Exit … not Emergency Urinal. Good to know.

I avoid 21st century border and boarding unpleasantries as much as possible, and have lost travel-symbol literacy as a result. Running Bathroom Man is apparently familiar to frequent flyers, especially outside of North America.

Emergency Exit Man (as I now understand him) has been around since the 1970s and is the work of Japanese designer Yukio Ota. His pictogram gets around language barriers. Red EXIT signs fail by depending on an English word.

Much of the world has been coping with the English STOP sign, but Quebeckers know that’s risky. The HAND pictogram also risks confusion. Drivers apply brakes not with the hand, but the foot.


I offer this solution freely, for any and all who wish to use it. The foot is bare, for universality and gender neutrality.

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