Sunday, July 20, 2014

Eat, Shop, Craft

My Weekend.....

The shopping part came first, as I set my alarm much earlier than usual for a Saturday in order to check out the Old East Village Community Yard Sale, an annual yard sale extravaganza in my neighbourhood.  This year, the weather forecast called for rain, so I thought I'd better go early rather than later, and sure enough, by the time my friend Linda and I had finished our browsing at 10 am, it started to rain.

That's Linda on the left, yours truly on the right.  I explained to her that when one accompanies me on a Saturday outing, there is a mandatory photo session that happens first.  It was a bit chilly so pants were the order of the day.  Linda was chic in black, and I was a splash of green and purple.  I found the top at Jackpot Vintage, and the purple/pink jeans were a recent thrifted find at Talize.

Linda is a fellow vintage aficionado and her lobster brooch was an ode to Elsa Schiaparelli

Between 8:30 and 9:00 am, most of the available street parking was taken

The sale is a real mish-mash of stuff.  There are a lot of families with children in the neighbourhood so there are a lot of used toys up for grabs.   There were also lots of knickknacks, books, dvds and even a singing fish.

There were a number of young entrepreneurs, such as these young ladies, who set up stands along the sale route selling lemonade, cupcakes, muffins, etc.  Everyone knows that yard sale shopping requires frequent snacks.

A woman had turned old cups and saucers into the coolest garden tea light holders and was selling them - what a brilliant idea! 

I had set myself a limit of $10, and that was all the money I had in my wallet.  I purchased a handful of fun stickers and a bag of buttons from a Serious Crafter, and then a couple of ornate wood frames from a guy who had the contents of an estate sale covering his front lawn, which consisted of all the pretty lady/flower/angel/ decor accessories you could ever want (bottom right photo).  I can't imagine there was an inch of unclaimed wall or shelf space in the original owner's house.  Linda and I had very good luck at the house with the tea cup tea light holders.  Linda scored a poodle bracelet and a pair of dead sexy heels that will look amazing with all her 50's dresses.   I thought the brooch on the left was too cute to pass up, and as I had run out of money, the lovely woman who owned the jewellery gave me the beaded 1960's earrings in the upper left photo.

This weekend was also the annual Home County Music and Art Festival, which features free performances by some of Canada's greatest folk/pop/bluegrass/roots/traditional musicians, along with yummy food, and arts and crafts.  On Friday night, I was introduced to the amazing talent that is the duo of Luke Doucet and Melissa McLelland, aka Whitehorse.  Both are former Londoners, and they received a very warm reception from the audience.  They have tremendous onstage chemistry (and offstage too, as the couple is expecting their first baby any day now), and their voices harmonize beautifully.  There is something sexy and powerful about a very pregnant woman in a clingy dress rocking out with her bass guitar on stage.  If you want to see their smoldering chemistry first hand, check out their video for the song Achilles' Desire. 

And now the food...

Part of the appeal of an outdoor summer festival is the opportunity to choose from a variety of foodstuffs all within a few steps of each other.  Home County has always had more traditional festival fare than Sunfest, held earlier in July, but I noticed that this year, there were healthier, and more interesting options available in addition to the ever popular souvlaki and fries.

The Beet Cafe had both vegetarian and meat items on the menu

A new addition this year was Deava's Feed Your Soul, offering a tasty mix of Asian, Thai and Cuban flavours using locally sourced ingredients.

I snapped a quick shot of Deava's owner when she stuck her head out to speak to one of her staff - I love her retro pinup girl vibe!

For those folks who preferred to stick to the tried and true festival treats, there was lemonade, ice cream, and the ever popular Funnel Cake (which I have never tried, and have no desire to)

London City Council has been involved in a heated debate over whether food trucks should be allowed in the downtown core for the past several months (yes, these are the big issues we struggle with here).   I'm all for having more quick and tasty food options downtown, especially if they are like the The Goodah Gastro Truck.  I had been wanting to try one of their "gourmet" grilled cheese sandwiches since I first heard of their existence.  Grilled cheese sandwiches have been one of my favourites since I was a kid, and nothing says "comfort food" to me more than a grilled cheese and a bowl of tomato soup.

I had the Soho Melt, and it was one of the most delicious sandwiches I've had in ages

This year, Home County showcased a series of "Green Vendors", whose products and services demonstrated innovation and environmental sustainability.
Top:  N + 1 Cycle is an owner-operated business that does bicycle tune-ups and repairs, and builds custom bikes.  They carry a range of new and vintage parts,  so you can make your older brother's long-abandoned bike road-worthy again.  Bottom:  Alchemy Operation is an independent junk removal business with the mantra of "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle".

Alchemy Operation's owner, Justin Bardawill, flashes a smile. 

And then there was the Crafting...

I had delusions of crafting grandeur as a child, and would throw myself into projects involving beads, sparkles, uncooked macaroni, and lots of glue, only to dissolve into tears of disappointment when the end result didn't look anything like the picture I had in my head.  My perfectionist tendencies eventually led me to abandon further attempts to "make things" (this included knitting, sewing, pottery and cooking).  I have the utmost admiration for people like Vix, who can magically turn a tea-towel into a fab summer top, or Krista, who creates colourful dioramas and jewellery.

After months of accumulating a small pile of jewellery bits that I was determined to do something with, I scheduled some crafting time with my friend Sylvie this weekend, and while she worked on a   a proposal for a client, I took advantage of the uncluttered work space available at her house to finally make the Mexican heart milagros I purchased at The Sentimentalist into earrings.  Once I sat down and got to it, it took no time at all.  Buoyed by my earring success, I moved on to gluing small pom poms onto an eye mask, which hopefully will be part of a costume for an event later this summer.  It wasn't much, but at least there were no tears.

Whew, that was a long post.....So how was your weekend?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Life Is But A Dream

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the word Chimera as:

1 a capitalized :  a fire-breathing she-monster in Greek mythology having a lion's head, a  goat's body, and a serpent's tail
   b :  an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts 
2  :  an illusion or fabrication of the mind; especially :  an unrealizable dream chimera
        in my brain, troubles me in my prayer — John Donne>
:  an individual, organ, or part consisting of tissues of diverse genetic constitution 
At least a part of each of these definitions could be applied to the exhibit of the same name now on view at Back to the Fuschia.   I attended the opening of the exhibit on Sunday night and was again impressed by Sarah Legault's curatorial skills.  
Artist and exhibit curator Sarah Legault stands flanked by works she created.  I was not aware until I spoke with Legault at this show that she had also curated the shows at Dollirium Art Doll Gallery (which, sadly, is no more).  If you have been following this blog for a while, you may remember seeing some of the amazing and creepy dolls from those exhibits.

Detail of the doll immediately to the left of Legault in the photo above

In addition to Legault's pieces, the exhibit also featured work by Sean Chappell, Alex Garant, Stu Edwards, F.N Vegas and Julia Castrogiovanni.   
A series of oil paintings by Toronto-based artist Alex Garant lined one wall

Garant's paintings combine a classic portrait technique with a graphic pop art sensibility, and the use of multiple eyes made what would otherwise be a very pretty image into something rather unsettling.

My favourite painting by Garant is the one above, titled "The Secret", which looks like the woman is standing behind one of those carnival figures that have the faces cut out so you can put yours in its place.  
Julia Castrogiovanni was nice enough to humour me when I asked if she would crouch down to pose with the ceramic teapot and cups she made, which were displayed in an old Gramophone cabinet.  The tea pot is the lounging female figure on the right.

"Father of Lies" by Toronto artist Stu Edwards, who is the founder of The Canadian Alternative Arts Collective
I had the pleasure of meeting, and having a lengthy chat with, Cambridge artist Sean Chappell, and his wife, author Kit Daven.  They are definitely one of the coolest couples I've ever met.  Sean's work, which incorporates the surreal, the fantastic, and the downright disturbing, has a dark sense of humour evidenced in the titles of the pieces such as "I Hate It When My Eyes Blow Out".  Chappell has a self-declared obsession with pumpkins, and the image appears in several of his paintings.
"Reflection of My Own Sweet Self" by Sean Chappell
 Chapell collaborated with his wife for the cover of her most recent book, The Forgotten Gemstone.  Doesn't his illustration make you curious about the story inside?

It was a relatively small turnout for the opening, and everyone seemed to know each other so it was a pretty relaxed group.  There were some laughs and general silliness; Jeremy Hobbs, who had photographs on display in the previous exhibit, had been given a portrait that was painted by a friend and it was agreed that it was pretty close to life-size (and yes, his eyes really are that large).

The guy on the right seems unaware he is on the receiving end of an over-the-shoulder glance from a beautiful woman

 Clockwise from left:  "Dead Lorina", "Auto Erotica", and "Arachno" - all by Fn Vegas

I was extremely taken with the work by FnVegas.  Vegas transfers digitally created images onto cork, which gives the works an interesting texture (not that I touched one, but I wanted to).  Vegas has created a Tarot deck using her images, which are perfectly suited to the medium.  The women appear to be from a different time which adds a mystical, dream-like quality to the images.   I purchased unframed 8 x 10 prints of  "Dead Lorina" and "Auto Erotica", and it was difficult to choose just two - I wanted them all! 

The exhibit runs until August 10th.  You can find the address of the gallery and their hours here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Real Simple

Just to be clear, the title of this post refers to my dressing philosophy this summer, NOT the magazine of the same name, which promises to make your life easier, and to that end, contains articles about such topics as;  "why laughing is good for you and how we can do it more often", "build sand castles like a pro", "decorating with gray" and "the best tropical prints for your body type" (articles that have appeared in the last three months).  Magazines like this make me feel hopelessly disorganized and domestically useless, which is why I don't buy them, no matter how tempting it may be to read 10 Tips to Becoming a Morning Person (because I'm not) and How to Make Salted Caramel-Chocolate Pecan Pie (because it sounds sooooo yummy).

So I will stick to what I know, which is inexpensive, easy and fun summer dressing, and lately, it's all been about one simple piece.

I've had some pretty good luck at the second-hand stores over the last couple of weeks.  I found this streamlined cotton dress, made by Toronto-based company, Olio Eco and Organics, at Value Village.  There's no label except for the size tag, but I saw the same dress in a different pattern at their booth at Sunfest this past weekend, selling for around $75.   I paid $12 for mine so I felt pretty good about that.  The colours aren't particularly exciting, but I love stripes and the simple shape with big pocket and side drape detail make it the best thing to pull on when it's really humid. 

This photo doesn't do justice to the dress, but it shows off my perfectly-curled curls of which I was very proud - they lasted three days, thanks to the wonder of hairspray.

I purchased this jumpsuit at Lovesick, a local vintage store, about two years ago.  I still love the colours and how you feel like you're wearing your pajamas, but you're not (unlike the girls I see on the bus, who actually are wearing their polar bear print pajama bottoms).  Again, throw on one piece,  shoes and jewellery, and you're good to go.

Heather and I, along with our mutual friend Jen, spent part of Friday afternoon at Sunfest.  We divided our time between checking out the vendor's booths, and sprawling on a blanket enjoying spring rolls, churros, pupusas and other tasty snacks.  Heather is wearing a cute dress she purchased at a friend's sale, and I'm wearing a dress purchased by another friend in Arizona many years ago and gifted to me last spring when she was purging her wardrobe.  Friday was cool in comparison to the temperatures we had earlier in the week, so the heavy cotton of the dress was quite comfortable.  If it was all black, the dress would be too severe but the embroidery on the hem and the sleeves made it festival-worthy, and I added a circle of purple feathers to my hair that I found at The Fairies Pajamas booth.  I didn't think that it looked that crazy, but judging from the number of people whom I caught motioning to their companions to "look at her hair", I apparently am not the best judge on those kinds of things.

Remember I said I would show you which necklace I purchased from the store I featured in my previous post?

 I had never seen a Johnny Eck necklace before, and as I feel like I've been letting my own freak flag fly a little higher these days, it seemed appropriate.  I think that Desiree would approve.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"Once There Was Only Dark, But If You Ask Me, The Light's Winning"*

Two new art galleries have opened in London recently, so I decided to visit both of them this week and get my culture fix.  Coincidentally, the exhibits at both galleries incorporated the theme of light and dark.

 Drop and Rug (foreground)

DNA Artspace, run by Allison Matic and Thea Yabut, has a mandate to expose the public to contemporary art via exhibitions, talks, screenings, performances and other events.  Located at 123 Dundas Street, between Talbot and Richmond, the gallery is only a block away from Museum London and very close to 3 other downtown art galleries.   The gallery's first exhibit features metal sculptures by Canadian artist John McEwen.

 Liquid Air (Skull)

McEwen is best known for his steel sculptures of Canadian wildlife, some of which are displayed in public spaces in Toronto.  McEwen's recent work is constructed of small laser-cut steel stars fused together.  The resulting shapes allow light to shine through and add a lightness to them.  The sculptures in this exhibit are inspired by objects that can serve as vessels of some sort - a pitcher, skull, egg, etc.

One-Eyed Crow With Four Letter Word

Beauty Beneath the Bone continues until August 13th.  DNA Artspace is open Tuesdays - Saturdays

And Now.....Back to the Fuchsia

Back to the Fuchsia is an antiques and vintage store and art gallery under one roof.   Located at 1034 Dundas St. near the Kellogg's factory, it's a bit out of the way (not for me, that's my neighbourhood) but definitely worth a visit.

Mary Hinton (above) runs the store (and I think she owns the place too)

 Mary's store has an eclectic mix of the old and new.  Sarah Legault's pillows mingle happily with vintage cannisters and WWII instructions regarding "initiation and jointing with detonating fuze".

I was immediately drawn to this display of stainless steel silhouette jewellery by Fable and Fury and agonized over which one to take home (Nick Cave! Christopher Walken! Dali!).  I'll let you guess which one I decided on, and I'll show you in my next post.

The current show, curated by Sarah Legault,  is called Nebulous, and features works by Sara Deck, Sarah Legault, Michelle Di Pinto, Richard A. Kirk, Jeremy Hobbs and Phantom City Creative.    The black blob on the rug is Mary's cat Minou.

 Minou was trying her hardest to distract me from looking at the art with cute poses

One of Sarah Legault's pieces in the show, titled "Royal".  Legault is one of those people who make everyone else look like a serious under-achiever.  She's a multi-talented artist - painter, creepy-doll maker, illustrator, photographer, film-maker, and now curator.  You can see her work on her website.

Cthulingus - Jeremy Hobbs

Unfortunately the placement of the lights made it impossible to get a shot of this photograph by Jeremy Hobbs without getting the reflections of the works on the opposite wall and of me.  Yes, that is a real octopus.  Hobb's photography delves into the dark parts of the human psyche and sexuality is a major theme in his work.

Persona - Jeremy Hobbs

There were some film posters designed by Phantom City Creative, a Toronto-based independent design studio that does entertainment design for film, music and television.

Left to Right:  Ocean Song, Sweet Surprise, and Pettifog - all by Sara Deck

London Artist Sara Deck's work features women in rather dark and mysterious circumstances.  The exhibit included some of her original pencil sketches and finished paintings.

The final painting version of Ocean Song featuring yet another octopus

Michelle Di Pinto creates art dolls from polymer clay, and her work has been shown at Dollirium Art Doll Gallery here in London (and has appeared in previous posts on this blog).  Her contribution to Nebulous is a trio of human/chicken hybrids titled "Morning Ritual, #1, #2 and #3.

Their feathers are individually sculpted from polymer clay

This piece, titled "Harrowing Sediment" by Canadian artist, illustrator and author Richard A. Kirk could easily command your attention for hours with its fantastical detail.

Detail from "Harrowing Sediment"

Kirk has illustrated books by Clive Barker and it's easy to see how his illustrations would fit perfectly with Barker's fantasy and horror fiction.

Another piece by Kirk titled "Phantom Limb"

Legault did an amazing job curating this show, which closes on Sunday.  I would have written about it sooner, but I just found out about it this week.  If you can get down to the gallery this weekend, they are open tomorrow, 10 am - 5:30 pm and Sunday, 12 noon - 5 pm.  London is home to some of the best artists in Canada, if not the world, and if dark and creepy is your thing, you don't want to miss it.  I can't wait to see what she has lined up for the next exhibit, titled Chimera, which opens on July 13th.

*The title of this post is the last line of dialogue, spoken by Rust Cohle, in the HBO series True Detective, some of the best television I've seen in a long, long time.