Identity.  What springs to mind when you hear the word identity?  And how does that relate to art?

Let’s now take those general questions and narrow it down to the work of three artists, or photographers to be more precise: Suzy Lake, Lori Blondeau, and Shelley Niro.  I haven’t chosen those women randomly; I’m writing about them because their work is on view if you go to the Ryerson Image Centre.  Suzy Lake’s photos are on display in the main gallery inside while Lori Blondeau and Shelley Niro’s are showing outside.  The latter two were installed as part of the CONTACT Photography Festival.

below:  Three large images of the Lori Blondeau draped in red while standing on a rock adorn three of the large boulders in Devonian Square.   They are part of her “Asiniy Iskwew” work.  The title is Cree and translates to “Rock Woman”.    In this work, the rocks on which she stands refer back to Mistaseni which was a large sacred boulder that once marked a gathering place.   The Saskatchewan government dynamited it in the 1960’s to make room for a man made lake.

photograph or painting of a woman in red standing on a rock, directly onto the surface of a large rock in a shallow pool of water outside Ryerson Image Center, three large black and white photographs of people's heads are above and behind the artwork

The words on the wall say that Blondeau questions (“interrogates”) how the definitions of Indigenous identity are influenced by popular media and culture, not just in this exhibit but in the rest of her art as well.   Her point here is that pictures of strong woman run counter to how popular culture portrays Indigenous women.

photograph or painting of a woman in red standing on a rock, directly onto the surface of a large rock in a shallow pool of water

My questions – What and/or who shapes your identity?  That question can mean “Your” as in you the individual and it can mean “Your” as in some collective group that you belong to.     How does identity evolve?  Can it be changed?

How does history affect your identity?  As one who has done a lot of genealogy research I understand the importance of history to some people.  I have traced my Canadian ancestors – I know where they’re buried and I know where they lived.   For me that is a comfort.  But I also know that if you want to kill a conversation just bring up the subject of genealogy.  Not everyone is interested.

Back to photography and history –

A second indigenous woman artist is Shelley Niro whose work is titled “Battlefield of my Ancestors”.  It consists of 6 photographs that were taken in upstate New York and in southwestern Ontario.  The pictures are in the garden with the statue of Egerton Ryerson (1803 – 1880), the man who Ryerson University is named after.   He was many things including a Methodist minister, a founder of Victoria College (part of the University of Toronto), a Chief Superintendent of Education for Upper Canada, and the person who wrote a report/study on Native education (1847) that became the model for the residential schools thirty years later.

below: Ryerson standing in the greenery with a picture on either side of him.  On the left is a picture of a plaque in New York state that says: “Site of Indian village Gar-Non-De-Yo destroyed during Sullivan campaign Sept 21, 1779”.  On the right is a black and white picture of the Mohawk River in New York state.

statue of Egerton Ryerson in a small garden with shrubs and small trees. Two large photographs also in the picture, one on each side of the statue

below:  Photo taken of a rock at Cayuga Lake.

photo of a small plaque on a rock exhibited amongst shrubs and greenery outside

The plaque says:
Site of “A very pretty Indian town of ten houses” burned September 21, 1779. See page 76 “Journals of the military expedition of Major General John Sullivan” published by the state

Back a few lines I called Niro an “indigenous woman artist”.   I don’t know if she’d be comfortable with that.  Maybe yes, maybe no.   I used those words because they help to understand her work in the context of this blog.   Should I then use the description “white woman artist” to talk about the third person, Suzy Lake?

Lake’s photography career began in the 1970’s and for the first two decades was primarily concerned with female identity.  In almost all her photos, she is the subject.  The 1970’s were the days of  Women’s Lib and the rise of “Feminism” – the quest for political reforms on issues such as reproductive rights, domestic violence, maternity leave, and equal pay.  It was also a time of increased questioning of cultural norms with regard to women’s roles.  In many ways it resembled the increase of awareness of indigenous identity, rights, and problems that we see today.

large black and white photograph in a gallery, two men on top of a large frame are controlling the movements of a human puppet

 large photo in a gallery of a women dressed just in a long slip, sweeping up debris from the floor. Debris is bits and chunks of plaster that have been removed from the wall

below: Her most recent work involves pictures of her standing in an environment of some sort.  The photo is a one hour exposure and the end result is an image where only she and inanimate objects are present and in focus.  Here is “Extended Breathing in the Rivera Frescos” 2013-2014.   The painting behind her is one in a series by Mexican artist Diego Rivera at the Detroit Institute of the Arts.

three suzy lake photos, one of her in front of a mural and two are close ups of her face

colour photo of close up of a woman's face, just mouth, bottom part of nose and some cheek. She is wearing bright red lipstick

Something a little different, a change from streets and alleys.   Sometimes the GTAA (Greater Toronto Aviation Authority) runs “behind the scenes” tours of Pearson airport, tours that take you by bus out onto the tarmac for an up close and personal view of the aircraft.  I had the opportunity to take part in one of these tours this week.

I’m not an authority on types of airplanes – not since my son was little and we used to spend time identifying airplanes in books and at Heathrow airport.  ‘Concorde’ was one of his early words as it was often parked at the edge of the airport near the motorway.  Extra trivia – did you know the Russians had their version of the Concorde?  It was the Tupolev T-144, a prototype of which flew 2 months before the Concorde (in Dec of 1968).   The story of the T-144 is not the biggest success story.  One of them crashed at the 1973 Paris Air Show and only 55 passenger flights were made before the plane was relegated to cargo flights.

Back to the present –

below: One of the stars of the show was this large Emirates airline Airbus 380.  It flies in and out Pearson three times a week.  Here it has already unloaded its passengers and been moved to the holding area away from the gates.

emirates airlines Airbus A380 parked at Pearson airport, front door open with stairway as crew is cleaning the airplane , trucks and carts beside it.

below: In case you’ve ever wondered what happens after you flush an airplane toilet (and even if such thoughts have never crossed your mind!).   Sorry about the reflections – sometimes we had to take pictures through the bus window.

truck with the words lavatory waste is parked beside a large aircraft that has just unloaded

below: The Airbus 380 has a wingspan of 80 metres.

wing and one engine of an airbus A380 with another Air Canada jet on the runway in the background

below: Refueling a Boeing 787 Dreamliner – with its curved wing dominating the photo.

a large Air Canada plane being refueled

below: The view out the front window as we drove past the gates of Terminal 1.

looking through the front window of a bus as it drives on the tarmac behind aiplanes parked at gates

below: A smaller pink airplane, WOW airline from Iceland, taxis to a gate.

pink airplane from Wow airlines taxis to a gate at the airport

below: There’s a lot of room under an airplane!  A Luthansa 747 named Dresden.  It seems that Lufthansa has named their airplanes after places in Germany.

the back of a large airplane is in the top part of the photo, service trucks and other airplanes in the background are in the lower part.

below: Planes and service vehicles at Terminal 3

view of a large airplane from the back, parked at a gate at airport

below: The large yellow cable supplies electrical power to the aircraft when it’s not running.  C-GGOK is a De Haviland Dash 8-400 turbo twinprop airplane that was scheduled to leave for YQB (Quebec City) shortly after this picture was taken.

large yellow cable connects the back underside of a small airplane, an electrical connection while the airplane is not running its engines

a young man waving, a luggage cart at an airport

below: Our group, our bus, and puffy white clouds.

a group of people in orange safety vests standing by a bus parked on the tarmac at an airport.  Many of them are taking pictures, an Air Canada Rouge aircraft is parked behind.

Tomorrow it’s back to the streets!

an orange, or salmon, coloured wall with a window. in the window is a reflection of a pair of eyes from a large street art mural. under the window are two ladders lying horizontal.

On Dundas West, just west of Dufferin, there are two lanes with large murals by clandestinos.

One is the alley to the west of the Lulu Lounge where both sides are covered with fantastic paintings by fiya, shalak, and bruno smoky as well as a few others.  I blogged about it just over two years ago and here is the link to the original post, “life as the shadow of vida“.   Earlier this week I took another look at it – it’s still looking great and there have been no changes so I didn’t take any photos.

The other alley is nearby but on the north side of Dundas Street.  Actually, it’s hardly an alley, more like a driveway which made taking pictures of the whole mural difficult.   Also, if you are traveling eastbound on Dundas, you’d miss it.  Here are the pictures that I managed to take:

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - close up of a large gorilla face

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - a crocodile or alligator coming out of the water

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - a small bird sitting on a rock by a creek

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - bird, turtle and croodile in a nature scene

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - a small bird on the base of a tree trunk

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - a large bird with its wings out stretched getting ready to take off

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - a turtle on a rock

part of a large colourful mural by clandestinos smoky and shalak - lareg greenleaves with their signature

street art on a low retaining wall that says butterflyways in bright pink letters

Garrison Creek park is a small strip of green between the railway tracks an alley of garages. Many of the garage doors were painted last weekend with murals all on the theme of butterflies.  There are about 30 paintings and they are the work of a number of different street artists.   The project was curated by Nick Sweetman and it is part of the David Suzuki Foundation’s Butterflyway project; StreetARToronto was also involved.

If you don’t like pictures of butterfly murals, I suggest that you skip this post because I’m sharing photos of a lot of the garage doors!  In no particular order here they are:

 

mural of an orange and blue snake loosely tied in a knot around a purple tree, blue butterfly hovers in front of snake's face, mural by Cruz 1

Artist: Cruz1

 

Three black line drawings of a butterfly, with details and shadowing, very realistic looking, on a fence

Artist: unknown (by me)

 

Artist: blackburn

 

many whimsical butterflies and caterpillars

Artist: J. McKie

 

pink water lily painted on a black background

Artist: C Mazzulla

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a possum and a butterfly by wales

Artist: wales

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a person's face in profile, with a butterfly spread over the back part of the head

Artist: 2US & XYZ (not positive about that)

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterfly ways project - very stylized abstract picture of a butterfly and a flower

Artist: XYZ & MAC

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is by mska and is a brown butterfly and mushrooms. on the right is an hibiscus flower by horus taffytats

Artist: (left) mska, (right) horus, tuffytats

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is a monarch butterfly landing on pink flowers, on the right is a riot of blues and greens

Artist: (left) braes, (right) C. Perez

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a pink and purple butterfly that looks like a face, with daisies

Artist: @anyamielniczek

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a black butterfly with orange and blue highlights, on a green leaf

Artist: P.S

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is painted on a light green fence and is a flower in pale oranges and beiges. On the right is a purple butterfly

Artists: unknown (by me)

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a red butterfly with a bright light in the center of it.

Artist: NEDO

 

a mural by smugugly on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - a red, black and bluish butterfly

Artist: @smugugly

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is a stylized (cubist) butterfly in blues and purples. On the right is a Nick Sweetman yellow butterfly with black details as well as a white Scottie dog that looks like Tintin's dog Snowy

Artist: (left) FIP or FYP? , (right) Sweetman

 

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is painted by braes and is a portrait of David Suzuki. On the right is a blue mural by C. Perez

Artist: (left) braes & wales, (right) C. Perez

a mural on a garage door in an alley, part of butterflyways project - two adjacent garage doors, the left one is width=

street art mural of a Japanese girl upper body and head, hair in two buns kept together with chopsticks, looking aghast at something behind her

The facelift of Berczy Park has been completed and although the park only reopened a short time ago, it has already become a popular spot.

a photographer is taking engagement pictures of an Asian young couple as they sit on the edge of the fountain at Berczy park. The fountain features sculptures of dogs that spout water into the fountain. A young boy is also sitting on the edge of the fountain. He is looking forlornly at the photographer, looks like he's feeling left out.

The highlight of the park is the refurbished fountain.  Sculptures of dogs big and small spout water into the fountain – or maybe they’re drinking from the fountain?  There is one cat that sits quietly on the base of the sculpture seemingly unaware of the canine antics.

the new fountain in Berczy park, many sculptures of dogs that are spouting water into the fountain

Three boys playing with the water spouting out of a dog's (sculpture) mouth and into a fountain. One is spraying the other while a third watches

two little kids playing in a fountain, a young girl and a young boy. The boy is spraying water while the girl watches

Besides the fountain, there is new landscaping, trees, plants, and benches.

mural of windows and facadde on the back of the flatiron building with the redesigned Berczy park planting and benched in front of it

This sculpture was a feature of the original park but it’s been moved to a different location.   It is the work of Almuth Lukenhaus-Lackey.

sculpture of a family - father, mother and child in a park, with new garden plantings around it, hostas mostly

The plaque by this sculpture says “This sculpture was donated by the Electrical Society of Mecklenburg Upper Canada Inc., with the financial assistance of The Consumers’ Gas Company Limited and the The Council of Metropolitan Toronto, in memory of Johan Albrecht Ulrich Moll, better known as William Berczy, born December 10, 1744 in Wallerstein Germany. He was co-founder of York (Toronto) in 1794 when John Graves Simcoe was Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada. His younger son, Charles Albert Berczy, was the first president of The Consumers’ Gas Company, from 1847 to 1856, and Postmaster of Toronto. His older son, William Bent Berczy was a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and like his father and mother, a gifted painter.”

I only spent a short time at the park on the weekend but I’m sure that I’ll be back!

Lake Ontario is still higher than normal and one of the areas of the city most affected by this is Centre Island.   All of the islands have been flooded to some extent but the low lying Centre Island was the worst hit.

below: Sandbags along the shoreline by the Ward’s Island ferry dock.

sandbags along the shoreline by the Ward's Island ferry dock.

below: Sandbags in the water too.

three small trees are in the water, with sandbags at their bases, most of the sandbags are covered by water. on the shore of Lake Ontario, Toronto skyline is in the background

below: Ward’s Island beach

an empty lifeguard station on a flooded beach. it is in the water of Lake Ontario and is surrounded by water

Although the water level has gone down a bit since early May, large sections of Centre Island are still flooded.   The ferries to Centre Island and Hanlons Point are not running and the Centreville amusement park is closed.

below: The Centreville train tracks are under water.

a sign says danger stay off the bridge, sign is sitting in a pond of water caused by clooding of Centre Island, train tracks from the amusement park train ride are partially under water too

below: Waiting for the next train arriving on platform one. The train is late and it may be a long wait.

large white boats in the shapes of swans are stored on shore, beside a train track and station for the Centreville amusement park. It looks like the swans are waiting for a train

below: Making the bees go round!

a young woman site in a child's amusement park ride where the seats are the shape of bumblebees. her hands are in the air. Another woman is pushing the bee to make it go around like it would if the ride were were operating

below: The ducks are happy!  So are the geese, swans, and other wildlife (if you can call them wild!).   Carp have been seen spawning in the flooded areas.

a male mallard duck stands in a puddle of water outside a building with an open door and a red set of stairs.

yellow fire hydrant in a pond created by flooding. buildings of the amusement park, centreville, are in the background

two blue benches back to back in a flooded section of a park, lots of trees also in the water, reflections, another bench in the background.

picnic tables are stacked in piles beside the water, willow trees and a red maple are also in the picture

picnic tables in a flooded section of a park

below: This is the view across to the Royal Canadian Yacht Club which is on its own island. Two chairs hang overhead.  In the background is the Toronto skyline.

view across channel towards island yacht club and then the Toronto skyline beyond,

below: The constantly changing Toronto Skyline as it is today.

a few shrubs along the flooded shoreline of Centre Island in the foreground with the Toronto skyline across the Inner Channel, CN Tower, Rogers Centre and many condos and office towers.

below: Waiting for the water to recede.  The Centre Island website says that the amusement park and all facilities (food vendors, washrooms, etc) are closed until further notice.

three muskoka chairs sitting in a line, a blue, yellow and pink chair. trees and grass behind them

stickers on a pole. One is a photo of an eye and eyebrow and the other is a drawing of a very pink face with crooked nose and open mouth with teeth showing.

Monday’s walk was a meandering route downtown, once again going where my feet and eyes take me.  No particular plan in mind and no set destination…   just trying to explore where I haven’t been recently.   No theme jumped out and tapped me on the shoulder but a few “stories” emerged.

below: There is now a 3D sign between the CN Tower and the Aquarium that says Canada 150.

a young boy is leaping from the D of the 3D Canada 150 sign in front of the CN Tower, and is leaping onto the top of the A. His hands are on the top of the A, one foot is one the side of the A and the other foot is near the top of the D

below:  …and another 3D sign by the CN Tower (you can see part of the back of the Canada 150 sign through the tree). I wonder how many there are in this city now?   Another bit of information (trivia?) – this area is called Bobbie Rosenfeld Park and has been since 1991. Fanny (“Bobbie”) Rosenfeld was a Canadian athlete who won two track medals  in the 1928 Olympics.   She also played softball and hockey in the 1920s and 30s.  When arthritis force her to stop playing she turned to sports journalism, working for the ‘Globe and Mail’ until her retirement in 1955.

3D sign for the CN tower with tourists taking pictures in front of it. Canada 150 3D sign in the background as well as some people sitting around on benches

One of the routes from the CN Tower into the downtown core of the city is via the Skywalk, a glass enclosed elevated walkway over the railway tracks.  The next few photos were taken as I walked that route.

below: A Toronto species of woodpecker in its native habitat – a forest of glass and steel. This artwork was completed in 1997 and is the creation of Dai Skuse and Kim Kozzi who together are known as Fastwurms.

large sculpture of a woodpecker on a pole in the foreground, many glass skyscrapers condos in the background

below: The above photo was taken from a quiet little terrace that I accessed from the Skywalk. Now you can see just how big the woodpecker is!  The ‘tree trunk’ pole is 30m high.  What you can’t see is the second woodpecker who is on the other side of the pole and slightly farther down it.

a concrete terrace, with benches and planters with purple flowers, lots of condos in the background, one person standing there

below:  The glass of the Skywalk creates some interesting reflections and shadows.  The glass was fairly clean the other day when I walked through it.  I have seen it when it’s been quite dirty and it’s not a pretty sight.

reflections of a woman walking on the Skywalk between Union Station and the convention center, with views of the street below and buildings beyond also in the frame
reflected in the red glass of the entrance to the CN tower are two women walking

below: Union Station, looking east from the Skywalk.   The new roof over the station platforms is taking shape.  Someday soon I’m going to have to take a look at the insides of the station; I can’t wait for all the renovations to be completed.

union station as seen from the west, from the skywalk, with open air tracks as well as the covered platforms. New roof over the platforms, tall buildings in the background

below: Part of the south “wall” along the railway tracks.

buildings reflected in another glass building right beside the trains tracks south of Union Station

below: Looking east from lower Simcoe along the south edge of the Gardiner Expressway.   The podium of the new condo under construction at 10 York Street is quite the wedge!

construction of a tall condo beside the gardiner expressway. The bottom of the condo is a wedge shape to maximize the space available

below: I played a bit on google maps street view and this is what I found for the above scene (taken Nov 2016).  If you compare the photos (above & below), it’s obvious that one of the ramps for the Gardiner Expressway has been demolished.   The eastbound exit to Yonge/York/Bay was removed a couple of months ago.  If you are a regular user of the Gardiner, I’m sure you have already experienced the consequences of this!

screenshot of google maps street view of Lower Simoce stret just south of the Lakeshore, one of the offramps for the Gardiner, a new condo under construction

below: Standing on the same spot, but turning around 180 degrees – looking west from Lower Simcoe.  An old ramp in the foreground…. and what looks like new construction in the background.  Those are new bents (the structures that hold up the road).

under one of the Gardiner Expressway ramps, with new bents being built for a new ramp in the background.

below: To get a closer look at what was happening here, I ventured around to the other side .  This is the view from closer to Rees Street. There is car on the old ramp so it must still be open (onramps still functional, just the offramp was removed).

two "cherry pickers" parked in front of new bents being constructed for a new ramp for the Gardiner Expressway

below: The trees are growing at Canada Square (Harbourfront), but so are the condos.  Yes, this new building is the same one with the wedge shaped lower floors.

view from Canada Place (Queens Quay West) with a clump of birch trees in the foreground and 3 highrise buildings in the background - two older ones and one in the middle that is under construction.
below: Also at Canada Square, there are three large photographs by Johan Hallberg-Campbell, a series called “Coastal”.   This one of them:

a large photograph of a run down building, northern, on the side of a concrete structure that is an entrance to the underground parking

below: More of Hallberg-Campbell’s work can be seen inside in the Artport Gallery (Harbourfront building) – here, many photographs with simple wood frames are mounted on a wall that is covered with large images.  “Coastal” is the product of the artist’s travels to coastal areas of Canada, from Newfoundland to northern Manitoba to British Columbia and many places in between.   Life on the edge, so to speak.  (Note: gallery show ends 18th June)

three colour photos in simple light wood frames mounted on a wall that is covered with large images

below: It’s not art but sometimes the line between public art and advertising campaigns is fuzzy.

a man walks on the sidewalk below a largef ad for Apple watches.  The photo is cropped so that the only part of the ad that shows is a hand on the handle bar of a bike.  A bright turquoise watch is on the person's wrist

Not all is shiny and new.   And that’s the way it should be.

metal grille, part of a barricade along the side of a parking structure, rusted,

parking structure on the top, old door and wall on the bottom. A wood picnic table in disrepair is in front of the door