Posts Tagged ‘tree’

Right now, the section of Sheppard Avenue East between Yonge and Leslie streets is a mix of old, middle aged and new – a hodge podge of sizes, styles and uses.   It’s neither ugly nor pretty.  It’s not sure if it’s city or  suburban.

below: The intersection of Bayview and Sheppard from the southwest.

main road with traffic, coming to an intersection, with a tall building in the background

You’ll probably never hear anyone say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk along Sheppard”.  So why was I there?   I’ve driven along this stretch many times but I have never walked it.  Have I been missing something?

below: A short distance west of Bayview is the modern brick St. Elizabeth of Hungary Roman Catholic Church, or ÁrpádHázi Szt. Erzsébet Római Katolikus Templom according to their sign.  Sunday mass is in Hungarian.   If you are driving past on Sheppard Ave, it’s easy to miss the simple steeple and cross that marks this building as a church.

steeple of St. Elizabeth of HUngary RC church, modern brick building with simple cross on the top

below: A large mosaic adorns one of the exterior walls.

mosaic on the exterior brick wall of St. Elizabeth of Hungary RC Church showing St. Elizabeth and two people kneeling beside her.

below: A small shrine is in front of the church.

small picture of Mary and baby Jesus in bright colours, on a small shrine in front of a church

below: The south entrance to Bayview subway station.  There are no escalators at this entrance  – instead, there is an elevator and a LOT of stairs.

south entrance to Bayview subway station with tall residential buildings behind and a construction site beside

below: The artwork at Bayview station is by Panya Clark Espinal, titled ‘From Here Right Now’.  Half an apple lies on the platform.

art on a subway platform, a line drawing of a very large apple that has been cut in half, on the wall and floor of the station

below: A salt or pepper shaker on the wall.  I’ve only shown two of the images in the series.  There are 24 in total and they are scattered throughout the  station.

art on a subway platform wall, a salt or pepper shaker in black on white tiles

below: There is a small park behind the south entrance to Bayview subway station, Kenaston Garden Parkette where I saw this tree in bud.   The first signs of spring are always wonderful to see.   Today it’s -12C outside so I hope the tree is okay.

pussy willow buds on a tree

below: This little park was designed by Wilk Associates Landscape Architecture and it incorporates a large number of rocks including a glacial boulder found on the site.   A bronze sculpture of a tree clinging to a rock  by Reinhard Reitzenstein is one of the features of the park.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock

below: If you stand in the park and look east,  you can’t miss the construction.

small sculpture in a park of a sapling on a rock with its roots growing over the surface of the rock - crane and construction site in the background

a convex mirror beside a black and yellow caution sign, condos are reflected in the mirror

the front and side of a large truck is in the foreground, right side, with a construction site beyond

Construction is everywhere on Sheppard Avenue.

below: All of the houses on Cusack Court are now gone.  Only the ‘No Exit’ sign remains.

a construction site where the houses on a a whole street have been demolished. The no exit sign for the street still remains., the site is behind a chainlink fence

a banner of the Canadian flag has fallen over and is lying on the ground behind a chainlink fence

below: The single family homes on the south side of Sheppard are slowly being demolished to make way for condo developments.  At the corner of Sheppard Ave East and Greenbriar  the proposed development of 184 residential units is the subject of an OMB prehearing on the 8 May 2017  (case number PL161113).

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below: Five houses are empty and waiting to be demolished to make way for two buildings, 11 and 6 storeys, mixed use (i.e. retail at street level) and incorporating a few townhouses.  In other words, the same old same old.

a boarded up house, split level, built in the 1950s, is in the foreground, condos and apartment buildings are behind it

below:  I said “same old same old” above because these types of buildings are popping up all over  many major roads that are outside the downtown core.  I suspect that Sheppard Avenue will be lined with structures like this one that’s already been built on the north side of Sheppard.

across the street is a 10 storey residential building, cars on the street, small trees in the foreground

Many people make the argument that there isn’t the density to support a subway along Sheppard.  I am of the opinion that if they’re not wrong now, they soon will be.   Development and public transit are dependent on each other, a symbiotic relationship if you will.   If you are affected by the construction along Eglinton for the new Crosstown line, you might agree that waiting for density only increases the problems and inconvenience (and cost?) of building new subway lines.   Also, have you seen photos of what the area around Davisville or Finch (and others) stations looked like when the subway opened there?   What is the required density?  Why do we want to funnel even more people towards the overcrowded Yonge line anyhow?   Is there an end to the questions we can ask?

And that’s another reason for my walk here…. to make note of the construction that is occurring whether we agree with it or not and to document some of  the changes.

below:  Two low rise apartment buildings.

two three storey brick apartment buildings with balconie in the front, taken from across the street

below: Once upon a time there were a lot of these little houses along Sheppard (even more so on the west side of Yonge Street).  At least one of these is still used as a family home but most are now offices or businesses.

a few small brick houses on the south side of Sheppard Ave

below: The north entrance to Bessarion station

looking across the street to the small north entrance to Bessarion subway station, with a small two storey plaza beside it

below: Looking east from Bessarion.  You can see as far as the condos on Don Mills Road.

looking west from Bessarion subway station towards Leslie Street and beyond,

   There is a reason that you haven’t seen many people in these pictures and it’s not because I waited for people to get out of the way.   Sheppard Avenue is a “major arterial road” under Toronto’s road classification system and traffic movement is its major function.  20,000+ cars are expected to use it every day.

I don’t like to say it, but why would you be walking along Sheppard anyhow?

below: Bayview Village parking lot at the NE corner of Bayview and Sheppard.

parking lot of a mall, Bayview village with surrounding buildings in the background.

As you might know, scroll down to the next blog post to see some pictures of Bessarion station!

 

You’ve probably never heard the word asafo before.  You probably have no idea what it means.

Until last week I didn’t know the word existed either.

I went to the Royal Ontario Museum to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.  There were 100 excellent pictures of insects, animals, marine life, the sort of thing you’d expect.  There was no photography allowed in that exhibit so I have no photos of the images on display.  You’ll have to take my word for it that I was there.

I can appreciate the skill and patience that it takes to capture rabbits in the snow or a school of fish in a certain light underwater but those kind of pictures don’t excite me.   That’s not to diminish the work of the photographers, it was all very high caliber both technically and visually.    What I think I’m trying to say is that I left the exhibit wanting more, something more from my visit to the ROM.

Luckily I didn’t have to look far.  In the next room was Art, Honour, and Ridicule: Asafo Flags from Southern Ghana.

museum exhibit of asafo flags from Ghana, colourful flags of militia groups in yellows, reds and black. Many are hanging in display cases.

Colour, lots of colour.  And a subject that I knew nothing about, asafo flags.  I wasn’t even sure what part of Africa Ghana is in (It’s on the south coast of Western Africa between Togo and the Ivory Coast as it turns out.).

The flags are hand made with an assortment of different motifs.  The British Jack in the upper left corner is a very common feature.  That’s a clue.  Yes, Ghana was a British colony.   Reading the history of Ghana is like reading the colonial history of large parts of Africa.  The Portuguese built a fortress at Elmina in 1482.    Interest in the region was piqued by the presence of gold, hence the name Gold Coast.   By the early 17th century the first African state,  Akwamu, controlled an extensive part of the coast.  They were displaced by the Ashanti who were very involved in the slave trade, especially in trading slaves for weapons.   When European countries outlawed trading in slaves in the early 1800’s,  Ashanti power suffers.   Some tussles ensue, a few battles, some back and forth, and by 1902 what was Ashanti becomes is a British colony.    It remained a colony until 1957.

close up of a flag, hand made, British Jack in the top left corner, a man walks in front of a church in the center, a black bear in the top right.

I’m not going to pretend to know or understand African history.  I’m only trying to give some context to the flags.    First, jump back to my mention of Elmina and the Portuguese. When the Portuguese arrived in this area in the 15th century, it was the Fante (or Fanti) people that they encountered.  Both the Fante and the Ashanti belong to the Akan people.  The Fante prevented them from venturing inland and leased properties for Portuguese trading missions. But when the Portuguese objected to Fante rules and regulations the Fante expelled them.  Soon after, the Dutch arrived.  The Fante served as middlemen in the commerce between the interior and Dutch traders on the coast.

Around 1724 the Dutch either established or made important a number of militia groups of local Fante.  These are the Asafo companies.  Historically, Asafo companies were in charge of the safety and protection of the local community.   At the height of the slave trade they protected individuals and communities.   They exerted power, exercise political influence and maintain codes of conduct within Fante communities. Each company has a flag and that flag has many roles.   They represent proverbs and depict narratives of pride and wisdom.  They accompany oral history and provide a means to preserve customs and traditions.

below:

  1. top flag, by Kweku Kakanu, Saltpond Workshop. “Only a brave man goes under a large tree” because only large animals go under large trees. Made sometime between 1950 and 1957.
  2. bottom flag, artist unknown, Kromantse Workshop. “Only tie a bull to a large tree”. Both the animal and the tree are acknowledged to be strong and mighty.  Made around 1980.  It has a Ghanese flag in the top left corner.

 

two flags displayed on a black background, with three femail mannequins dressed in traditional Ghanese costume.

below:

  1. top flag, by Kweku Kakanu, Saltpond Workshop. A crocodile dominates and controls a pond of fish. Made around 1940.  The prey can not escape.
  2. bottom flag, by Kwesi Budu, Saltpond Workshop. The fish cann’t escape the net of the fishermen just like enemies will not be able to escape when confronted by the company.  Made around 1950.

two flags displayed on a black background, with two male mannequins dressed in military Ghanese costume.

Fante asafo flags from Ghana, two on display in a museum, chickens and roosters,

Fante asafo flags from Ghana, two on display in a museum, griffons

two mannequins in military uniforms as part of a museum exhibit at ROM

 

 

Patricia Harris Gallery of Textiles and Costumes,
ROM, 4th floor,
until March 2017.

 

 

 

It’s been a beautiful October to be walking around the city!  With lots of sunny days and above normal temperatures, it’s been a great autumn to be outside…. outside exploring or just sitting contentedly enjoying the sunshine.

below: Life size statue of Dr. Norman Bethune sitting outside the Medical Sciences Building at the University of Toronto (close to Queens Park Circle).   It is the work of Canadian artist David Pelletier.  Bethune is depicted writing in his journal.  Across the bottom of his apron these words are written:

I am content
I am doing what I want to do
Why shouldn’t I be happy – see what my riches
consist of.  First, I have important work that fully
occupies every minute of my time.  I am needed.

a statue of a man sitting is beside a rock and a light post, they are in front of a large tree and an old stone building, on the University of Toronto campus.

Norman Bethune was born in Gravenhurst in 1890.  He graduated from medical school at U of T in 1919, after taking some time off to serve in WW1.    He also served as a doctor during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 and 1937.   The following year, 1938,  he went to China  help the Communist Eighth Route Army during the Second Sino-Japanese war.  It was here that he died of septicemia in November of 1939.   He is credited with helping to bring modern medicine to rural China during his brief stay in that country.

a variety store on a corner of 2 streets in a mostly residential area. Green awning on one side of the building, an orange umbrella stands over the corner. sign on store says Sunshine Variety.

So excited!  So happy to be able to walk on the sunny side of the street and not be struck down by heat stroke!

below: You could say that we’re walking on cloud nine at the change of weather.

metal cutout figures of people walking, alongside a chainlink fence as part of an art installation

This past Sunday was a great day for a walk.  Luckily, it was also the day that Penny (author of ‘Walking Woman’ blog) and I had set aside to explore westward from Christie subway station.   Actually, we were going elephant hunting.  Well, it started off as an elephant hunt, but it turned into a treasure hunt – a treasure trove of Toronto quirkiness.

shadows of a railing along the side of a street with no sidewalk, just narrow space between the fence and the kerb, green bike lane. At the top of the photo is a shadow of a pedestrian walking, backpack on.

Eureka! As it turns out, it was also a great day for elephants to hang around outside.  This is Sally, a lifesize fiberglass elephant that stands nearly 3 metres tall.  She’s been standing here since 2003 and despite a little crack at the top of her trunk, she’s looking pretty good for her age.

a large white plaster? elephant stands in the frontyard of a house, tree beside it, bikes parked behind it. Residential street.

It was also a good day for gorillas to sit in trees.  A shout out to the man who was standing under this tree talking on his phone, oblivious to this furry creature above him.  The same man who gave me a strange look when I walked over with my camera, but then who shared a laugh with me when he too looked up and saw the monkey.

a large stuffed gorilla sits in the V formed by a tree trunk and a large branch of a tree, gorilla is wearing red boxing gloves.

Quirky treasures like woolly headed scarecrows.

a scarecrow in pink shirt and wooly hat stands high over a garden, between a garage and a fence in an alley.

below: Tartan columns holding up shady porches.

a shady porch at the front of a brick house with two columns painted in black and red tartan, or plaid.

below: Pet waint at Lansdowne subway station.

a sign that says pet waint on a sign that says Toronto in front of Lansdowne subway station entrance

below: A solitary dandelion in a lawn of astroturf. Even fake grass isn’t immune to the ubiquitous dandelion.

a single dandelion grows in a lawn of astroturf (fake grass) where it meets the concrete sidewalk

below:  We encountered many Little Free Library boxes.  This is not just a Toronto phenomenon and I’d have to say that it is beyond the “quirky” stage.  There is now a Little Free Library organization where you can register your library.  They claim to have over 40,000 registered libraries in over 70 countries.

a woman in a white baseball cap is reaching into a 'little free library' shelf of books outside a house

When I checked their website, I found a map of Toronto locations.   There are the libraries that are registered with the organization; I know that there are more than what is on this map.  What the map does show though is that these little libraries are numerous and that they are spread around a lot of the residential areas of the city.

map, from google maps, of the locations of little free libraries in the city,

below: Quick, get your Valentines Day roses while they’re still on sale!

a sign in front of a store selling plants and flowers that says Valentines Roses on sale, 10% off

below: The middle way, in case you’re lost?  There was a man standing there, the middle man so to speak, but he didn’t hang around long enough for me to get his picture.

two houses with a small walkway between them. Someone has written mid on one side and dle on the other so together they spell middle

below: Figures watching over a front yard, including angels and a buddha.

upper part of a statue of a young girl with decorated wall behind. Coloured picture of a biblical scene, 2 small angel statues and a buddha statue

below: And of course, what’s a Toronto walk without a lovebot?

lovebot and a lovebot nintendo gameboy on a wall above a graffiti bird with a word bubble that says everybody got a hungry heart

Near the end of our walk, we passed what is known as the Terracotta House.

house covered with terra cotta tiles with different designs on them. upper part of front of house

This house was built in 1905 by John Turner, a builder.  In the late 1800’s terra cotta tiles went out of style and there was a glut of them on the market.   Mr. Turner was using up excess stock that he had on hand?  Or advertising his business?  Or just taking advantage of a cheap material?   Whatever his motives, the house is still standing and is still a unique piece of architecture more than 100 years later.  I wonder what his wife thought of it?

house covered with terra cotta tiles with different designs on them.

detail of house covered with terra cotta tiles with different designs on them.

May all your walks, or cycles, be on the sunny side …

part of a mural called Strength in Numbers, on a wall, a painting of two cyclists. One is a black man with dreadlocks and the other is a woman in a polka dot dress with a box on the back of her bike.

… no matter how long they are!

an old tree trunk has been turned into a support for many little arrow shaped signs that point the direction to cities around the world along with how many kilometres it is to those cities.

It’s good to see the ‘Hug Me!’ tree is still on Queen Street!

large tree stump with some of the large branches, painted an orangish brown colour with a face and the words 'hug me' on a downtown sidewalk inToronto (Queen Street West)

If you look closely in the background of the above photo, you can spot the reason I was exploring this section of Queen St West (near Soho St).  Along the wall by the parking lot is a new mural.

below:  Floating man, floating down the river with an photo from the past clutched in his hand.  “Tona as Marty McFly Disappearing Photos” by Elicser Elliott.  It is another of the Love Letter to the Great Lakes project murals.

mural of a man lying on his back in the water, words written in red Tona as Marty McFly

There were two other Love Letter murals that I came here to find.

below: If you look up as you walk along Queen Street West you might catch a glimpse of this mural by JAZ (Franco Fasoli).  Arms, or tentacles, seem to be reaching out of the water and strangling the fish.

mural on an upper storey wall, viewed from the street so you can't see the whole thing. A fish seems be strangled by tentacles in the water

below: The third mural is around the corner from the other two, on Bulwer Street.  It’s a large portrait of David Suzuki painted by Kevin Ledo.  The blue shapes on the right are outlines of fish (atlantic salmon apparently) but I cut their tails off when I took the picture.

a large mural with the centerpiece being a portrait of David Suzuki

below: I haven’t walked along Bulwer St for a while so it was nice to see that this (unsigned?) mural is still there even though someone has spray painted some words on it.

mural on the side of a building, kids playing

below: One last little find on Bulwer, a circuit board stikman

a little stikman covered with circuit board symbols, missing part of his head, on a door frame outside,

Other posts about the Love Letter to the Great Lakes project murals:

  1. love letters in paint
  2. seawalls and serpents
  3.  at the mouth of the Don

 

#seawallsTO | #pangeaseed | #loveletterprojects

Well, this May 2 4 weekend has been splendidly sunny and fabulously warm!  I hope you’ve had the chance to take advantage of it, whether sitting on a patio with a cold drink and friends, or out enjoying the the greenness that has bloomed all around us.   It’s been a great few days to get up close and take a good look at nature.

looking down at a piece of concrete at water's edge, in the concrete is a cut off hollow pole, there are pebble and water in the hole.

below: Old moss covered metal seems to reach out of Lake Ontario like claws.

old bent metal embedded in concrete but partially inderwater. Moss is growing over it and making it look green

below: Reflections in the Yellow Creek, Beltline trail.

reflections of trees and blue sky in a creek, blue water, dark brown tree trunks and mottled greens of the leaves, in a ravine, in the city

below: Wet pebbles with the beginnings of green moss growing on them shine in the morning sun.

pebbles in greys and browns in the water near the shoreline of Lake Ontario. The pebbles closest to the shore are bright green with the beginnings of moss growth

below: Greater celandine, a yellow flowering plant, blooms along the railing of Milkmans Lane.

yellow flowers in bloom in the ravine, against a railing post, with shadows cast on the wood, large green leaves

below: New growth unfolds in the sunshine.

small maple tree with lots of new red leaves that have just come out. Grey rocks blurry in the background

below: The dark pink blossoms were at their peak this week.

 many pink blossoms on the branch of a tree

below: Green and brown mosses sway with the water currents along the shore of Lake Ontario.

looking in the water beside some rocks. There is moss and algae in green, yellow, rust and brown swirling in the water of Lake Ontario

the end of a shovel is in the ground, behind a chainlink fence. The sun is shining and making reflections. The reflection of the chainlink fence is on the shovel.

below: The snow fences have been bundled up and put away for the summer.

rolls of wood slat snow fences bundled away for the summer in large rolls. 4 rolls viewed from the end.

I usually take a dim view of conceptual art largely because the importance given to the “words on the wall” has eclipsed the consideration given to the artwork itself.   Mediocrity in technique or creativity hides behind big jargon words and convoluted language in the artist statement.  Often the concept that the artist claims to be exploring is at odds with the end product.

When the art doesn’t live up to words that sound learned and meaningful then it degrades the work and makes the artist, and those curating the exhibit, seem pompous and out of touch.

For example, if you read that certain videos by an artist “cast a hitherto unexampled light on the conventional North American city”,  what would you expect to see?  Would you expect to see a video shot from a helicopter as it circled a city at night?  A video that looks familiar to anyone who has flown over a city after dark.   That’s what you get with Aude Moreau’s ‘The End in the Background of Hollywood 2015’ now showing at The Power Plant gallery.   I don’t have a photo of it but I do have a picture of three of her other photographs also on display.

below: From left to right (discounting the small picture farthest from the camera): 1. ‘Untitled (Hollywood Sign)’ 2015, 2. ‘LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department)’ 2015.  It’s a picture of a tiny helicopter in a large grey sky.  and 3. ‘Waiting for Landing’, airplanes lined up as they approach LAX airport.   Unfortunately, the words on the wall then go on to say, about these three images, “These demonstrate visual strategies that act upon the symbolic representation of the city and the spectacular dimension of the film industry.”  Oh my.

4 pictures hanging in a contemporary art gallery. One is a picture of the Hollywood sign taken just after dark, the next is a grey sky with a tiny dot of a helicopter in the middle, the third is too far away to discern, and the last is a picture of Los Angeles at night taken from a helicopter

And with that I left The Power Plant gallery.  Growling silently to myself and shaking my head with a mix of disdain and and frustration.   Imagine my surprise when once outside I encountered another of Moreau’s photographs.  A very lovely one.

below:  A picture of the Toronto skyline by Aude Moreau mounted on an exterior wall at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery.  A picture with visual impact.

A photograph by Aude Moreau of the Toronto skyline as the sun starts to set, sunlight reflected off the buildings, darkening blue sky. The picture is mounted on an exterior wall and there is a tree in front of it as well as a couple of picnic tables

below:   You can play “spot the building” and test your knowledge of Toronto geography.   You can line up the DBRS building, the Hilton Hotel and the Canada Life building on University Avenue along with the Sheraton Hotel on Queen street.   The blue addition on the AGO is farther north on Dundas.  Can you think of where the photo was taken?  Apparently, it was taken from Toronto Fire Station 315 at College Street and Bellevue Avenue.  It was taken just after sunset but when there was still enough light in the sky to reflect off the taller buildings.   Moreau makes the city sparkle.

A photograph by Aude Moreau of the Toronto skyline as the sun starts to set, sunlight reflected off the buildings, darkening blue sky. The picture is mounted on an exterior wall and there is a tree in front of it

I must have seen this picture very shortly after it was installed.  It is part of the CONTACT photography festival that starts this weekend but there was no accompanying sign, no words that attempted to a explain the image.  Perhaps that was for the best.  In fact, I now have the CONTACT catalogue with their description of the artwork but I think I won’t read them.  I’d rather enjoy the picture just the way it is.