Stewart Jones’s Vivid Cityscapes

Wellington Composition

Stewart Jones, Wellington Composition (2013)

Stewart Jones is an immensely talented Canadian artist with a passion for painting vivid cityscapes — many set in Ontario — that are simply wonderful.   He refers to his paintings as “love letters to the forgotten corners and alleyways” of our cities. Jones’s images often depict buildings at irregular angles or vantage points and feature lush brushstrokes that together energize his work and provide a fresh perspective on the often-overlooked, uncelebrated urban structures and byways that constantly surround us.  More of Jones’s beautiful art can be seen at his painting website here and on his Facebook page.

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Stewart Jones, CM Composition #1 (2013)

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Urban Alley (2014)

Stewart Jones, Urban Alley (2014)

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KINGSTON WALK WAY

Stewart Jones, Kingston Walkway (Year Unknown)

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@ THE ROYAL HOTEL PICTON

Stewart Jones, Royal Hotel Picton (2014)

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HAMILTON

Stewart Jones, Hamilton (2014)

Image Credits: Stewart Jones

Distillery District Door and Window Combo

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This smallish window and nearby door in Toronto’s Distillery District caught my eye both because of their curves and the forest green shared by each opening.  In addition to the well-preserved historic buildings, this area of the city features a wide range of exceptional restaurants, bars and small shops.

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“Having a swell time . . .”: Vintage Hospital Postcards

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Postmarked 1913.  A cozy looking place.

Hospitals seem a peculiar and dreary subject for postcards.  But back in the day — before routine outpatient procedures and hospitals speedily freeing up beds — time in hospital (as patient or visitor) regularly spanned several days or longer, so penning a brief note to update absent friends or loved ones was probably not so odd.  And what better way to do it than with one of the colored cards conveniently available at the hospital!

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 Postmarked 1945. The note starts out: “Having a swell time.”  Love those roadsters!

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About 1948.  Yikes — looks more like a prison!

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About 1910.  Regal digs.  Notice horse and buggy to bottom left.

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 Postmarked 1935.  Street car or bus passing by.

Urban Art: Bronze Cows in Toronto

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Art in urban settings is great to bring us out of ourselves and to refresh our minds.  A wonderful example is artist Joe Fafard’s The Pasture, a group of bronze cows posed lazily resting in the bucolic setting of the Toronto-Dominion Centre office park (designed by Mies van der Rohe), is perfect for providing an unexpected feeling of being far away from the nearby hustle and bustle of the Financial District.

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Let’s Visit Ontario!

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This nifty selection of vintage travel posters do a nice job capturing many of the wonders to be experienced in Ontario.

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Toronto United Air

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

—  Retro Winter Recreation and Travel Ads

—  Magnificent Travel Art of the Canadian Pacific Railway

Splendid Farm Offerings at the St. Lawrence Market

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Since the early 1800s, the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto has been a traditional marketplace for fresh fruits, vegetables, cheeses and all manner of other agricultural products.  It’s a colorful and happily bustling scene that has the distinction of being named by National Geographic in 2012 as the world’s best  market.  Even if a matter of opinion, that’s high praise!  Snapping these shots between bites of a warm croissant graced with some local honey provided a relaxing hour’s idyll.

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

⇒ Abundance at the Saint John City Market

⇒ Kensington Market, Toronto: Fresh, Funky and Fun

⇒ Early 1900s Town Markets

Robert McAffee — Artist to Appreciate

R. McAffee -- The Foot of the Falls

Robert McAffee, The Foot of the Falls

Toronto-based Robert McAffee’s contemporary landscape art is striking in many ways.  His lush scenes of the Canadian wilderness pay homage to the influences of several Group of Seven artists — notably Lawren Harris, Tom Thomson, A.J. Casson and Arthur Lismer.   McAffee seems to have internalized aspects of each with a resulting style that is wonderfully distinct from any one of them.  More about McAffee’s beautiful artwork and links to galleries that carry his pieces can be found at his website here.

R. McAffee -- The Three Sisters

Robert McAffee, The Three Sisters

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R. McAffee, Fishing By the Rocks

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R. McAffee -- North Shore Twisty

Robert McAffee, North Shore Twisty

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R. McAffee -- Waterfall

Robert McAffee, Waterfall

(Image credits:  Artist’s website)

Similar Posts on O’Canada:

> David Silcox’s Exquisite Book on The Group of Seven

> The Group of Seven’s Landscape Explosion

> Amazing Landscape Artistry of Philip Buytendorp, Jennifer Woodburn and Steve Coffey

 

 

Ossington Avenue Graffiti

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Crisscrossing the streets of Toronto, it struck me that I had to look harder there than in Montreal to find graffiti or street art.  But what’s to be found in Toronto is every bit as varied and creatively expressed, as shown by these two examples, both in the Ossington Avenue area.  I’ll post more later.

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Let’s Play!: Gaddabout Vintage Part II

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Following up on a recent post about Toronto’s Gaddabout Vintage, here’s another installment of wonderful baubles — this time toys and the like — that can be found in this perfect little shop with something for every taste (and age).

 

Kensington Market, Toronto: Fresh, Funky and Fun

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There’s a little something for everyone in Toronto’s very colorful, very funky Kensington Market neighborhood!  Lot’s to look at, taste and absorb!

Neighborly Toronto!

The mosaic or melting pot, as you prefer, that is Toronto is notably defined by its many distinct neighborhoods.  By the time I realized I was working on a theme with these signage shots I had already overlooked about a dozen or so too many feet-miles earlier to readily retrace my steps.

 

An A++ for Toronto’s Gadabout Vintage

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While spending a late morning in Toronto’s very hip Leslieville neighborhood I happened upon Gadabout, a fantastic vintage shop showcasing all manner of things from bygone eras.  The store’s very friendly proprietor, Victoria Dinnick, was cheerily helpful and wonderfully gracious in allowing my impromptu photography in her jam-packed two-story shop.  Equally as impressive as Gadabout’s extensive offerings of vintage items are the mad and clever organizational skills on display.  For instance,  numerous rustic cabinets and drawers are carefully labeled to hint at the nifty contents tucked within just waiting for the curious.   (In one such drawer I found the heart-shaped box pictured below, with which I later happily surprised my sweetie.)

I plan to share several categories of photographs — including clothing, housewares, figurines and toys — from this neat little shop in future posts and these shots are just a sampling.  More on Gadabout can be found at its official site here (or stop in over on Queen Street East!).

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Creativity Afoot!: Toronto’s Varied Manhole Covers

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A while back I posted a collection of Quebec City manhole covers as an offbeat photo subject.   From a recent trip to the wonderful urban melting pot that is Toronto, here’s another assortment of these often overlooked cast iron street fixtures.  Having encountered at least 25 variations, I’m intrigued by the subtle expressiveness reflected in these compact circular spaces.

The Orenda and the Constant of Change

 

The Orenda

Oh, that bittersweet feeling of finishing a good book that not long before was a welcome and constant companion!   So it is with my having just finished Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda, a gripping epic set around the mid-1600s during the time of first contact between First Nations people and Europeans in what would become Canada.   The Wendat, or Huron, people, who are one of the principal subjects of this book, believed that each of us and every thing is endowed with an “orenda” or life force, and, so it is, more broadly, with cultures.

Not surprisingly, The Orenda was the top choice in the 2014 Canada Reads competition and good reviews abound for this riveting novel (for instance here on GoodReads).  So, rather than pen another, below is a brief excerpt that encapsulates one of the deep philosophical themes underlying the drama that unfolds within its pages. Throughout my reading of Boyden’s poetic work my thoughts continually dwelled on how this snapshot of a not-too-distant earlier time aptly reflects the concepts found in Buddhism, Hinduism and some other spiritual traditions  of samsara (the cycle of birth, death and re-creation), change and suffering, each of which are constants in our world and in the clash of civilizations throughout history.

“Success is measured in different ways.  The success of the hunt.  The success of the harvest.  For some, the success of harvesting souls.  We watched all of this, fascinated and frightened.  Yes, we saw all that happeed and, yes, we sometimes smiled, but more often we filled with fret.  The world must change, though.  This is no secret.  Things cannot stay the same for long.  With each baby girl born into her longhouse and her clan, with each old man’s death feast and burial in the ossuary, new worlds are built as old ones fall apart.  And sometimes, this change we speak of happens right under our noses, in tiny increments, without our noticing.  By then, though, oh, by then it’s simply too late.

“Yes, the crows continued to caw as crows are prone to do, and after a while we got used to their voices even when they berated us for how we chose to live.  Some of us allowed them their cackling because we found it entertaining, others because we believed our only choice was to learn how to caw ourselves.  And still others kept them close for the worldly treasures their masters promised.

“It’s unfair, though, to blame only the crows, yes?  It’s our obligation to accept our responsibility in the whole affair.  And so we watched as the adventure unfolded, and we prayed to Aataentsic, Sky Woman, who sits by the fire right beside us, to intervene if what we believed was coming indeed coalesced.  But Aataentsic only need remind us that humans, in all their many forms, are an unruly bunch, prone to fits of great generosity and even greater meting out of pain.”

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Canada-U.S. Friendship Postcard and Stamps

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While bridges literally connect places, they also serve as a wonderful metaphor for connectedness between people and cultures.  I have a collection of old postcards depicting various Canadian bridges that I plan to post shortly.  Of these — especially during this week that includes the Canada Day and Independence Day holidays — the one that I feel best displays the connectedness idea is this postcard from around 1959 of the Thousand Islands International Bridge between southern Ontario and upstate New York.

The original holder of this card added a nice touch by including three very appropriate postage stamps to the front: the 4¢ Canadian and 5¢ American joint-issue stamps from 1959  marking that year’s opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway and an older 1948 U.S. 3¢ Century of Friendship stamp, which fittingly shows a bridge between the two countries over the Niagara River (first spanned in 1848; additional background can be found here).

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Similar posts on O’Canada:

Cool Little Squares:  Vintage Canadian Postage Stamps

Ever Bustling Early 20th Century Toronto

Vintage Quebec:  Ox Carts, Dog Carts and Sleighs

 

Artist Appreciation: Andrew Horne

A, Horne, Pegasus Unicorn2

 Andrew Horne, Pegasus Unicorn

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The serendipity afforded by the Web still amazes me at times and I love it when it allows me to stumble upon something of pure goodness, as I recently did when I came across the fantastically hip visual art of Toronto-based artist, Andrew Horne.  His “typographic paintings”, in particular, are excellent.  Most of these vivid pieces play around with classic signage and exhibit elements of studied photo-realism, pop-art irony and downright aesthetic gorgeousness.  Above and below is a sampling of Horne’s clever work, more of which can be found at his artist website here.

(Horne also has an entrepreneurial streak, which he channels by operating the very cool Flying Pony Gallery and Cafe in the Little India area of Toronto.)

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A. Horne, Victory Bar2

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A. Horne, Renee's Salon Of Beauty2

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A. Horne, 419 Salutations

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Other similar posts on O’Canada:

•  Artist to Appreciate:  Michael E. Glover

•  Sean Yelland’s “Distant” and “Stop Everything”

•  Artist to Appreciate:  Christopher Walker

•  Montreal As Muse for Jeremy Price

When Motels Were Newer and Grander

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Lovely watercolor effect, simple signage and lines, very retro!

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From the 1920s to the early 1960s, the automobile led the way to leisurely road trips and the chance for a quick getaway down newly paved  highways across Canada and the U.S.  The cozy roadside motel filled the need  for an affordable, convenient place for the weary driver and family to kick back and relax in relative luxury with then modern conveniences (such as showers in each room, radio, TV and Hi-Fi!), as these vintage postcards attest.

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