Can’t help but smile about this quirky handmade sign stumbled upon recently in the Kensington Market district of Toronto.
The words are from a poem by Rumi that is generally understood to be about putting aside judgments that divide people and instead to focus on appreciating the wonders of being and the things that connect us all.
I’ve seen the street photography of Fred Herzog previously but a brief essay by Geoff Dyer in today’s New York Times Magazine prompted me to look anew at Herzog’s work. Herzog came to Canada in the early 1950s from Germany and from the late 1950s through the 1960s pioneered color street photography in his adopted city of Vancouver. His candid shots provide a splendid if unvarnished documentary of the city and its people during that period. The vintage images also subtly illustrate many things that have changed in Vancouver and other urban areas throughout Canada (and America) in the past several decades.
More of Herzog’s work can be seen at Vancouver’s Equinox Gallery and on its website.
Photo Credits: Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery
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Mary Garoutte, “Sundown, Lincoln Street” (2015)
What strikes me most about Mary Garoutte’s urban landscape paintings is the way she highlights the play of light at the beginning and the end of days. These quiet periods that brim with potential, while also evoking a mixed sense of meditative loneliness and reflection, seem to be as much the subject matter of her work as are the historic houses and store fronts of Halifax, where she is based. Garoutte cites the Group of Seven artists and Wayne Thiebaud as among key influences on her art, which are evident in her choice of colors and the strong textural brush strokes on her canvases. Her wonderful art also brings to mind for me the feelings of solitude conveyed by Edward Hopper in his own paintings of dwelling places during the quiet hours.
Mary Garoutte, “Yellow Door (Falkland Street)” (2013)
Mary Garoutte, “100 Montague Street” (2015)
Mary Garoutte, “Dwellings (Light in the Window)” (2015)
Mary Garoutte, “Glass House” (2016)
Mary Garoutte, “Single Dweller” (2016)
Mary Garoutte, “Late Night Visit” (2016)
Mary Garoutte, “Red Bicycle, Young Street” (2014)
Mary Garoutte, “Sunset on Agricola Street” (2013)
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City Bus on Vancouver Street (about mid-1950s)
Distinctive industrial design reveals itself in many ways and, when done well, can be a genuine pleasure to take in. While the specialness of such design is often difficult to see in our contemporary surroundings, its otherwise subtle impact jumps out when looking back at vintage images. A case in point: the humble municipal bus, operated in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and other cities across Canada. Over this period theses buses began to display a very mod sensibility as they evolved from the severe boxiness of earlier 1930s and 1940s versions to later, during the 1950s through the 1970s, being adorned with more rounded contours, sleek curves and very stylized lines and chrome elements.
Andrea Kastner, Progress (2014)
Andrea Kastner is an up-and-coming young painter whose art deals with what she calls the “sacred nature of rejected things” and the stories that underlie society’s no longer useful objects, structures and places. The scenes she paints are ones that are readily familiar in urban landscapes across Canada and the U.S., with the constancy of the old being torn down or pushed aside as detritus to make way for the new.
Kastner is originally from Montreal, studied art in New Brunswick and Alberta and until recently was based in Hamilton, Ontario. She is now located in the creative town of Iowa City, Iowa. More of Kastner’s terrific work can be seen at her artist website here.
Andrea Kastner, Noah’s Ark (2013)
Andrea Kastner, The One That Got Away (2013)
A. Kastner, The Inventory of Dreams (2014)
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.
Stewart Jones, CM Composition #1 (2013)
Stewart Jones, Urban Alley (2014)
Stewart Jones, Kingston Walkway (Year Unknown)
Stewart Jones, Royal Hotel Picton (2014)
Stewart Jones, Hamilton (2014)
Image Credits: Stewart Jones
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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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.
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.
Americans celebrate Thanksgiving later this week, about a month and a half after Canadians mark their own similar holiday. A trip last week to the picturesque City Market in the heart of downtown Saint John, New Brunswick — filled as it is with vibrant colors, numerous tastes and smells, all manner of local and regional food offerings and friendly vendors — brought to mind both country’s annual Fall celebrations. These images taken during that trip provide a small sampling of this wonderful local marketplace.