Thursday, July 31, 2014

If It Makes You Happy, It Can't Be That Bad

Heather wanted it to be known that she took these photos under duress, as she thought the parking lot at the Western Fair Farmer's and Artisan's market was a terrible backdrop.  I liked it because I thought my 1980's dress looked even brighter against all the grey. I found it at Value Village, and the halter neck, v-shaped bodice and full skirt brought back memories of my early 20's.  It's not a style I would usually wear, but on this particular day, it made me happy.

The full skirt inspired some dramatic posing.  I added a fabric orchid in my hair and some orange bling to up the sass factor.  After the market we headed to our usual Starbucks to enjoy an overpriced beverage on the patio while comparing notes on our week.

I had been meaning to photograph the greeting card vending machine that has been at the Cheapside and Highbury Starbucks location for the last few months.  The Vending Arts Project, curated by Londoner Janine Wass, was made possible by a grant through Awesome London.  The money was used to purchase and refurbish a used vending machine which was then stocked with greeting cards designed by local artists.  The card machine changes location every 4 months, and will have a new home starting in August.

The machine holds about 300 blank cards, which retail for $4 each.  Wass splits the sales proceeds with the artists.   I think this is a great way to get exposure for local artists, and for the price of a large caramel mocha frappe/latte/cappuccino you can get yourself an original piece of art.  London needs more venues like this for artists to show their work to the public outside of an art gallery.

Look at that, it's almost another weekend, and for us in Canada, because of the civic holiday on Monday, it's a long one.  Enjoy it, because Labour day is just around the corner....

Sunday, July 27, 2014


Today was the 20th annual PRIDE Parade here in London.  The skies went from clear, to cloudy and back to clear again throughout the day, but the rain held off until evening.   I have walked in the parade a few years, and this year was the first that my employer, Western University, would be represented in the parade, so I put on some purple and joined the party.

I had to get my photo taken with Western's mascot, JW.  Even though the sun wasn't out, it was still warm, and I'm sure it was extra sticky inside that mustang suit.  I, on the other hand was quite comfortable in the thrifted jumpsuit I found yesterday at Talize.  Participants were offered Western t-shirts to wear in the parade, but if I was going to wear purple, it was going to be my own version, thank you very much.

There are a lot of photos in this post folks, so I decide to organize them into three categories:  The Colours, the Faces and the Parade.

The Colours.... 


While we were waiting in the parking lot at the Western Fairgrounds for the parade to get underway, I took advantage of the time to get shots of the glorious colors.

Of course, there are always balloons

This group was rocking their rainbow colours in every form, from tie-dye to fun fur

The parade is usually led by the Dykes on Bikes, and their rainbow flag-decorated motorcycles were ready to roll.

The London Middlesex Roller Derby Girls, the Backlash Betties, were there

The Forest City Derby Girls were a veritable rainbow on wheels

You could see this woman from all the way across the parking lot

Some people took the colour thing to the extreme

This group of Amazons (and a budding warrior) were no less visible in their earth tones

The Faces....


When I got to the parking lot where everyone was assembling prior to the start of the parade, I saw this young woman standing by herself, and she prompted a lot of questions in my head - was she part of a group?  Was it her first parade?  What was she thinking about as she was standing there?

The Pride Parade, which caps off over a week of Pride Festivities, has really become a family affair

There was a time when most of the people who walked in, and watched the parade were gay men, but not so anymore.   Gay, straight, old, young, ethnically diverse, two-legged and four-legged - we all come together to celebrate diversity and to proudly show our true selves to the world.

There is still fabulousness and flamboyance, but the number of drag queens in the parade has declined over the years.

They have been replaced by organizations like the London Police Services, various political parties, London firefighters, law firms, financial institutions and non-profits.  And then there are the regular folks like those in the photo above.

This year saw more canine participants and supporters than ever - I call them the Pups of Pride!

The Parade!

I was part of the purple pack walking behind this banner, which looks more blue than purple most likely because of my dying camera.

I didn't know we had such a large Druid contingent in London

This woman's outfit made my jumpsuit look downright conservative by comparison

The Warrior Queen in full regalia - this woman makes her own costumes and every year I look forward to seeing what she's come up with.  She deserves a special award just for walking the entire parade route in heels.

Pride for all

This couple had the best sign in the parade

The Forest City Derby Girls were rollin'

After the parade, two friends took the obligatory selfie

We paid a visit to the Come As You Are booth to check out the latest toys, wolfed down a Burrito and parted ways.    I was invited to drink Prosecco with some neighbours on their porch, which was the perfect ending to an all-around good day.  I think it may have to become an annual tradition.

Happy Pride Everyone!

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.