As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

Outdoor Art Show at the Distillery

Sculpture of a woman in bronze. Paul Vodak.

Sculpture of a woman in bronze. Paul Vodak.

The Distillery

Toronto has throughly mastered the art of reclaiming old buildings and bringing them to life with new purposes. The buildings in the former Gooderham and Worts distillery which was said to at one time have made more liquor than any other distillery in the British empire, are without a doubt my favorite example of old buildings made new.

Unique Appearance

Built in the 1800s, the streets in the area are time capsules. Rather than having the glaringly bland smoothness of modern surfaces, those streets are  still cobbled with richly textured brick that makes the area very popular with photographers.  Looking closely one can often see of inscriptions in the brick itself. Overhead one can also see street signs that like the inscriptions in the brick could be over a century old.

The buildings have been sandblasted so that the visually pleasing variations of tone in the clay bricks has resurfaced. signs announcing the new businesses that operate there new accent the brick stylishly with modern works of steel or other metals. Strategically placed gardens and greenery add dramatic colour. It is a visual feast and with its eclectic cafes and charasmatic restaurants it is a compelling place to spend an afternoon.

Art at the Distillery

Because it is so visually rich the Distillery is a natural home for the many galleries and collectives of artists who offer their works there. Some even use the area as a studio as well. Today, in addition to the regular galleries the Distillery also hosted the “Artisans at the Distillery Outdoor Art Show”. The show takes place every year at the Distillery on Labour Day weekend.

The Artists

I met Donald Nausbaum who runs the exhibition, and who as a professional photographer also shows his own works. As a photographer myself I enjoyed hearing him describe how he crafted the works on exhibit using infrared film as well as on digital cameras fitted with infrared sensors. Like myself Donald is deeply familiar with aspects of the Caribbean, his experience coming after having extensively photographed islands in the Grenadines as can be read in the interview here: http://www.jahworks.org/travel/nausbaum.html. I also enjoyed hearing him talk of his work with Getty Images as well as talk about the books he has created such as Bermuda shown here: http://www.caribphoto.com/CaribphotoMainPage/Book_pages.html.

The photographer Donald Nausbaum.

The photographer Donald Nausbaum.

Maria Scaringi

I met Maria Scaringi a painter who spoke of perfecting “the illusion of porcelain” as she called it. Along with her work in the outdoor show she also had work displayed in the Kodiak gallery, one of the permanent galleries in the Distillery.

Maria remarked on the coloured balls on her sign that she called her "truffles".

Maria remarked on the coloured balls on her sign that she called her "truffles".

One of Marias paintings showing the vertical depth with which she applied her medium on the canvas with a gloss and smoothness that evoked "porcelain".

One of Marias paintings showing the vertical depth with which she applied her medium on the canvas with a gloss and smoothness that evoked "porcelain".

Paul Vodak

Maria introduced me to Paul, a bronze sculptor who travelled down to the show from Georgian Bay. Paul’s works were striking to me because of their simple honesty. I enjoyed talking to Paul as well about art in the city, about working in the stunning natural setting of the Georgian Bay area, and about my upcoming book Amongst Artists in Antigua profiling artists in the island of Antigua. Paul shared a space at the exhibit with his partner Lori, a painter. The relaxed simplicity of my conversation with Paul quickly made apparent why the same honesty came through his work.

I found Paul's work to be honest and engaging.

I found Paul's work to be honest and engaging.

Julie Desmarias

Julie is a contemplative woman whose appreciation of Canada’s natural gifts shows clearly in her paintings.

Julie and Paintings

Julie along with some of her paintings of more compact dimensions.

Inspired by her camping trips through the Laurentians, the Lac Champlain area, and Newfoundland which she calls “sightseeing”, the warm green tones in her large panoramas show her affinity for these areas.

Some of the forests in Julie's panoramas appear to consist of large mature deciduous trees that are increasingly rare and can only be captured in such warm tones in late spring.

Some of the forests in Julie's panoramas appear to consist of large mature deciduous trees that are increasingly rare and can only be captured in such warm tones in late spring.

Gilles Perrault

Gilles is a unique combination of musician, artist, and artisan who showed me the unique instrument that he appears to have invented, built, and found a way to make music with. Like the violin or cello the Tamboa is a hollow wooden enclosure with a hole of a size tuned for resonance. Unlike these other instruments it is percussive, meant to be struck rather than strummed. Drummers appear to have a natural knack for making music with these instruments. I watched as Gilles jammed with a young man passing by. Gilles listened with his eyes closed while the young man familiarized himself with the vaguely African sounds of the instrument. When the young man caught a grove Gilles joined in and made magic for a few brief moments before the young man counted his blessings and ended on a final good note before he might flub the beat. The young man who admitted he had “a love for all drums and percussion instruments” was obviously in love with this instrument. I was captured by the creativity that brought it forth.

Gilles connected musically with the patrons of his art.

Gilles connected musically with the patrons of his art.

This document captures the history of the Tamboa in Gilles own words.

This document captures the history of the Tamboa in Gilles own words.

Each Taboa had six notes. Gilles at times played one alone, and at other times played three of them side by side, each of which were tuned slighlty differently.

Each Taboa had six notes. Gilles at times played one alone, and at other times played three of them side by side, each of which were tuned slighlty differently.

This performing arts centre was a new discovery for me.

This performing arts centre was a new discovery for me.

The Toronto skyline rises dramatically behind the old brick buildings.

The Toronto skyline rises dramatically behind the old brick buildings.

The sign advertises tours through the Distillery on the strange but exciting moving personal footstools known as Segways.

The sign advertises tours through the Distillery on the strange but exciting moving personal footstools known as Segways.

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