Who is this dude?

I am taking an interest in Gauguin portraits these days and wondered about the identity of this caricatured personality who pops up repeatedly in the artist’s work.

Nirvana, Portrait of Jacob Meyer de Haan, circa 1889-90m by Paul Gaugin.11.5″ x 8″

Meijer de Haan was a Dutch industrialist* turned artist and Gauguin’s painting companion in Brittany. He was under 5 feet tall, tubercular and only lived to be 43, but he must have made an impression on Gauguin. Perhaps he stood for something in Gauguin’s Symbolist mind. What do you think that something might have been?

Here is Meijer as he saw himself … much less interesting than Gauguin’s take, don’t you think? De Haan’s self portrait was stolen in a big art heist in 2012, smuggled bck to Romania in pillows by the thieves, then apparently burned by the thieves’ mothers, to get rid of the evidence.

Self portrait by Maijer de Hann, 1889-1891

Here he is again, in two more Gauguin pieces, left, carved into a partially burnt oak log and right, in a South Seas painting. Meijer de Haan never went along on Gauguin’s Tahitian adventures, but he was clearly on the artist’s mind.

Left: circa 1889–90 Right: circa 1902. De Haan died in 1895.

*By “industrialist”, I mean he was part owner, with his brothers, of a successful business selling factory-made biscuits. He sold his share to take up painting and associated with painters who are now famous.

They are everywhere this summer

Monarch tries to hide

Weren’t monarch butterflies supposed to be in danger of extinction? I guess all of our milkweed planting paid off. It’s a bounce back year.

Danica says this next shot is not news, but when did that ever stop me? The decapitated Free Little Library in Orchard Park has been replaced. The post on this one is steel. Wood didn’t cut it … or rather, someone did.

Looks like the original sign survived.

Not so lusty Buskerfest

Even this inflatable corporate tout was crying to be set free.

“My instinct was to forget about Buskerfest,” Danica said as we trudged home.

Yes, buskers work city streets, not gated parks collecting donations for worthy causes. They hustle up crowds on the spur of the moment, without posting scheduled show times. They are edgy, aggressive, unpredictable and saucy.

Seeing buskers “Woodbine Parked” reminds me of seeing animals in the zoo. Safe, tame and sad. There weren’t many buskers, either.

Not everyone is disappointed. but I liked the early Buskerfest when it was downtown and spirited.

Maybe the event is more interesting at night, after the kiddies have gone to bed. This afternoon is was more Food Trucks & Hawker Fest.

Danica’s photo of the hillside banner

Topping off our Presto tour

An instant city centre is being constructed around the most northerly subway station. Vaughan Metropolitan Centre actually is the subway station itself. Office towers are going up around it.

Great place for upside down people watching

Escalators up from the train platform brought us to what looks a bit like the inside of a blimp. Some of the ceiling rectangles are wonky mirrors, some are little skylights.

The space feels big and expansive. The look is “Retro Sci-fi” and Modern Novelty” at the same time.
Space ship trippy

Exterior views look monumental, but towers around the station are already making the station look small.

There is another part above ground to the left of this view. Next photo
See what I mean about monumental appearance?
This gives another sense of scale … smaller. Indigenous plants contrast with the concept.
Instant downtown being created across the street
More towers, looking to the side of the station.

There is a lot of construction going on, along the route to Vaughan. A lot of the city’s projected population growth must be heading that way. Will rush hour eventually go both ways? Or even switch directions?

We learned that a trip out of town by subway is not a trip to the countryside. Our hopes to travel above ground were mostly dashed, too. There are only some short parts of the route where passengers can look out windows.

George is an experienced truck driver, so I trust his estimate of 50 km/hr when the subway reached peak speeds. That happened between the last few stations. Tunnel noise at fast speeds surprised me, considering that the tracks and subway cars are relatively new.

We burrow under Highway 407

Continuing from the post below, George and I reboarded the subway to look at the next station. If you like airport architecture, Highway 407 Station will please.

Each slide can be clicked to enlarge. I am in Slide One, taking a selfie with the security camera.

I liked the hole in the “wing” roof best

Least successful were the photo enlargements of brushwork on the windows. I don’t think they look very good and they are fuzzily out of focus.

I understand the thinking … to add warmth and colour to the ultra chill of concrete and metal. The human touch of brushwork to soften harsh geometry. Reasonable concepts, but not as well executed as they might have been.

Real stained glass would have been great. It’s hard to beg off on the grounds of budgetary restraints, because there do not appear to have been any, for any of these projects. Anyway, the play of coloured light on many of the interior surfaces is pleasant. It’s only when your eye seeks the source that you feel disappointment.

Presto: We leave Toronto

It was my first subway ride north of Yorkdale, across the city limits and into Vaughan. George and I ate “Beyond Meat” with “Beyond Cheese” A&W veggie burgers to fortify ourselves for our trip the end of Line 1. We planned to ride our senior rate Presto cards for a two-hour, $2.20 visit to Flash Gordon architecture we’d seen in photos of the new stations. Eating “replicator” food seemed like an appropriate way to start.

“It’ll do,” was George’s assessment of lunch.

Our first stop was at Toronto’s northern border, Steeles Avenue … Black Creek Pioneer Village is a reenactment/reproduction/museum sort of place I have yet to visit. The station is named after it, but does not look the part..

Upper left ceiling pattern: A light-art installation, darkened by bad public behaviour.

Let’s pause on the platform to contemplate “Lightspell“, the string of illuminating elements in the ceiling. Publicly controllable touch screens were supposed to let people “write” messages to be seen by all. What could possibly go wrong?

Let’s surface for a look at Pioneer Village Station.

How to describe the style? I looked up the definition fo “high camp”.

High Camp, a sophisticated form of Camp:

1. something that provides sophisticated, knowing amusement, as by virtue of its being artlessly mannered or stylized, self-consciously artificial and extravagant, or teasingly ingenuous and sentimental.


There’s quite a bit more to it than the front entrance.

And there appears to be another outlet acoss the street. Perhaps to serve those at the other end of the train?

This closer view gives you an idea of the neighbourhood. It’s not “country”, it’s “car country”, so far. One day, the subway station may be dwarfed by the many high towers going up in the vicinity. Will the style hold up and become a civic darling, loved the way Toronto’s city hall is loved?

Next post, we move on to the Highway 407 Station, further north.
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