Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Snow day!

Les jardins du Luxembourg, today in a rare Paris snowstorm.admittedly, i work at home, so technically the weather shouldn't impact my ability to sit at my desk...
but i couldn't resist going for a walk.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Deserting Detroit

i have a whole new outlook on the life & death of American cities now, after spending 4 days in downtown Detroit. so much has been written about the ruined core of this once-great city, and i knew i would be impressed by the grand, though largely abandoned, architecture.

i didn't realize HOW deserted Detroit really is...notice the empty street...this is a normal weekday morning downtown! i expected the vast empty buildings to be colonized by squats, by artists, by anyone needing room to breathe and work.
but strangely, in Detroit, that isn't the case. nearly half a century after the worst riots occurred, long after the manufacturing & auto jobs were packed up and shipped overseas, the city of Detroit remains a ghost-town, seemingly incapable of a new start. maybe it's the violence (but New Orleans is violent, yet its soul somehow survives tragedy after tragedy.) maybe Detroit's soul left sometime in the 70s, leaving beautiful empty skyscrapers behind, like this one below, where one mysterious light glowed in a room beneath the roof, night after night...

i spoke with some great people in Detroit. bartenders and arts workers and academics who are fighting the good fight to make Detroit honour its heritage. they told me stories of two heritage skyscrapers--one now demolished, the other well on its way to collapse--where the landlords consciously forced out their successful tenants by refusing to heat & maintain their buildings. an empty lot is worth more in this city--or at least, the empty lot might be worth something in the future, and the real estate mavens are simply going to dig in their heels and wait. meanwhile, the streets seem empty even of ghosts, most nights.

where other cities have found that artists are a powerful positive force in urban renewal, Detroit's powers-that-be don't seem to be interested in that route.

But there is a bit of good news, slim but shining. Detroit has forward-looking people, inspired by its intense history, with a peculiar potential to reimagine what a city should look like. one of the most interesting thinkers on this prospect is John Gallagher, who quotes the Japanese poet Masahide: "Barn's burnt down / now / I can see the moon."

the time is long overdue for politicians & planners to see that moon, and put their backs to the wheel in Detroit. they should spend some time at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, in front of Diego Rivera's inspiring mural about labour: Detroit Industry.

Friday, October 22, 2010


and so i finally found myself near the amazing, the absurd, the astonishing GREAT VERMONT CORN MAZE, which is exactly what it sounds like: a lot of very tall corn, arranged in an intricate pattern.

i first read about this place five years ago, while living in Paris. seemed like a perfect example of old-fashioned American weirdness, and i immediately added it to my "must-see" list. there are in fact all kinds of corn mazes in the U.S.--who knew--but this one caught my imagination. last week, we managed to get there on a perfect day...after stopping to ask for directions at this wonderful gas station. (note their nice Canadian flag)
now, you would imagine that finding a giant corn maze with 2 miles of labyrinthian passages would be fairly easy. mais non. in fact, we drove in circles for about an hour, up small dirt roads, down small gravel roads, through lovely Vermont farm mud & around forests, looking for the maze.

but eventually we found it, paid the very reasonable admission, and spent 90 wonderful minutes walking around in the corn fields. for you non-farm types (uh, like me), corn at this time of year is well over 8 feet, up to 12 feet in places, rustles dry in the wind, and it's really difficult to see over. if you stand on a ladder in the middle of the maze, you can't make out the pattern or even figure out which way to go. it's only in the aerial photo that you get a proper vision of the maze (and they don't post this year's photo until after the maze has been turned into silage for the cows at the end of October.)

this particular maze is the inspired creation of one obsessed guy who married into a farming family, and decided he needed to save the family farm. so now he spends his summers standing on a small bridge, giving people advice on how to get out of the corn. it's a strange job, but he seems truly delighted by it. and he got me thinking about the nature of creative inspiration...whether it's writing a story or planting a field of corn...planning, plotting, imagining how it will intrigue & delight people...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

nuit blanche Toronto-style

finally catching up with my blog. i'm still impressed with the latest Toronto version of Nuit Blanche. i don't know how the numbers compare, for this year versus earlier incarnations, but i think the work this time round was so much better than prior years! i was lucky to drop into some especially great musical pieces for the 'white night' project.

first up was Daniel Lanois' Later That Night at the Drive-In in front of City Hall

we got a bit cold, so we didn't stay for the full performance. instead, for something completely different, we went down Bay Street to check out the performance of Erik Satie's -hour piece, Vexations, written in 1893. i'm a big Satie fan (and in Paris, i live five minutes from his old tiny Montmartre apartment) so i was thrilled to hear and see this installation.

as the pianists finished playing a page of the score (which repeats 840 times, each page being identical), a folder retrieved the page and the people seated at this enormous table turned each page into a careful origami section. by the end of the night, that whole table must have been filled with jagged blue pages. it was a spectacular way to visualize the progression of the piece.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ideal cities

"On trash night in ideal cities your other neighbors
swap stories in the alleys. Ideal cities

have margins that aren't pretty or bleak
and are without proper representation

but have no grievances. My ideal city
has a wish list written on the back

of an envelope scrap, an ATM slip.
My ideal city is peripheral and claims

uneven sidewalks."

- Erika Meitner

for the complete poem, go here to Poetry Daily

Thursday, September 09, 2010

the fishing (aka writing) shack

quiet enough to hear the dragonflies.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Vegas in Victoria

must be the end of the tour...arriving on the far western edge of Canada! (photo taken through the windshield as we drove in)

first thing, arriving here, i unpacked my lucky metal rat (the cat where i'm staying didn't seem too bothered.)

we opened "Breakfast in Vegas" yesterday at the Victoria Fringe--I was the very first show at the fest. i'm lucky to have a fantastic venue,'s a diner, and it's perfect for the "Breakfast" show concept. Victoria itself is so beautiful, i had to really force myself to stay inside for two days, working on the show. but now it's the weekend & i can explore...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

steampunk computer lust

have recently spent too much time in big box stores looking at ugly computers, as my current laptop limps towards purgatory. but even the most design-sensitive laptop in these stores really lacks aesthetic interest. i spend so much time doing creative work on these ugly shiny things, it would be nice to find inspiration in the physical manifestation of the wires (ok, you Mac-phreaks out there, don't let me keep you from enjoying your perfectly smooth iThings. they don't do it for me but i'm glad you're all so delightfully happy.) i'd rather have something along the lines of William Gibson's descriptions in his novel Idoru, laptops remodelled into artworks of turquoise, recycled aluminum, and glass. which almost nearly exists...the laptop that i would REALLY like to buy next looks more like this...or this...

(this photo from computer re-Maker Jake Von Slatt)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

poker at Yellow Dog

A great evening organized by Rats of Las Vegas publisher Enfield & Wizenty (the literary imprint of Great Plains), at the most excellent Yellow Dog in downtown Winnipeg. Kudos to poker queen Susie Moloney for winning the evening's 7-card stud game--her prize was an enduring reputation at the card table & a serious bottle of booze. And many thanks to the other players, who were a treat to deal for: crime authors Michael Van Rooy and Mike McIntyre, McNally Robinson's David Lawrence, and Great Plains publisher extraordinaire, Gregg Shilliday. (photos courtesy of a cellphone...nicely atmospheric, i say! and for further multimedia, imagine the really marvellous selection of whiskey at the Yellow Dog)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

art, process, portrait

visual artists are often good at talking about their work-in-progress; writers, often less so. so while i was in Banff, i decided to listen in on as many art talks as i could, to see how people talk about their work. in the process, i discovered some fantastic art. AND as an extra bonus, i was even recruited for some art projects-in-process--probably because it's cheaper to use writers than models or actors. one of the projects was a video by Michele Provost, which involved getting dressed up in historical costumes (i ended up in a blue satin robe that made me look like the Victorian Hood of a good way, right?) and the other is a series of photographs that are equal parts contemporary portraiture & 15th-century chiaroscuro.

this is work-in-progress from Petra Stavast, the Dutch photographer who was in residence at Banff & who is working on a long series of portraits taken with a cellphone. considering how unenthusiastic i am about cellphones, i was surprisingly happy to sit still for the shoot... probably because Petra was really charming & her studio is in the woods, about as far from the mad shouting of cellphone beeps as you can get. and i like the idea of using cheap nasty contemporary technology to make something slow & sometimes beautiful.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Banff compatriots

ground squirrel - elk - ground squirrel - elk - deer - deer - deer - ground squirrel (multiply x 100) - elk - swimming elk - deer - deer -deer- wolf - chipmunk - red squirrel - red squirrel - black pine marten - big-horned sheep - ground squirrel.

Pine Siskin - tree swallow - cliff swift - many Robins - sparrows (innumerable) - crow - raven - magpie - mallard- Merganser - Canada geese - one solitary Harlequin duck - Gray Jay (also known as a Whiskey Jack)- several osprey (or the same one, flying about?) - Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Dark-eyed Junco (innumerable) - two Mountain Bluebirds.

And one bat.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


reading Robert Kroetsch's A Likely Story, i'm thinking that blogs are much more like scrapbooks, open to the public, rather than private journals, secret diaries. we collate present-day links with ideas, magpie shiny images, and somehow this
"implies a larger whole, an organized universe, an explanatory mythology, from which the scrap was taken... A scrapbook is made up of stories--and of gaps and silences. A scrapbook is a kind of code; the code allows us to bring into play whole areas of memory." - Kroetsch

two shiny scraps that caught my eye this past week: first, my friend Sue Chenette writing about Paris, specifically the city's relationship to language

and, thinking about books, a rather brilliant tank re-purposing:

Friday, May 14, 2010


turns out this anthill is a well-known landmark on the Hoodoo trail...the ants have been building this pile of dry spruce needles for several years. being right near the arts centre, the hill has been featured in a number of videos etc. Hard to see them in these small photos...but trust me, the needles are completely covered in black & red patterned ants. they're quite nifty-looking ants, actually, and apparently they eat other more destructive insects, so i am trying to like them.

they didn't swarm out and attempt to drag us into the anthill when we walked i conclude that they are friendly. or at least, indifferent. which is fine with me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

more birds

seems like every day brings more birds to the Bow River birds, siskins, swallows...and i also spent some time watching two crows gathering dead weeds by the river, presumably to build or repair their nest.

which got me thinking about crows. i love this video, even though it is a group of caged crows, being studied. but still, the way the bird perfects the tool, clearly figuring out how to improve the wire it starts with...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Virtual Banff

This morning over breakfast i asked the guy across the table from me what he was working on, here at the Banff Centre for the Arts.

"Repairing the virtual cave, in the basement," he said.

Uh-huh. Mental note: never ask anyone what they're doing before having breakfast.

But he really is working on the virtual cave...i plan to drop by later in the week when it's operational again. not sure what to expect.

I've already visited the real cave, created by the mineral springs which are the reason Banff exists. (the sulfur springs gave this place a quasi-medicinal purpose and in order to protect the springs--or, to protect the potential profits they could make from the springs--the government of Canada created the very first national park here in the late 1880s. & soon after that, the Banff Springs Hotel was built...

not bad for a hotel built because of a cave.)

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

a raven for Dickens

i saw a very tame raven while hiking near Banff. i used to be dubious about the idea of taming ravens...they seem so sure of themselves & sensibly wild. but on the trail, a very stout raven marched up and down beside people eating lunch. i suppose he was waiting for the humans to drop their food. though very tame, he was very much aware of his obvious superiority to us.

he made me think of Dickens and his pet raven, Grip. (above photo is Grip, stuffed--now owned by the Free Library of Philadelphia) i always associate ravens very much with Canada, especially British Columbia & the Yukon...but in fact a variety of raven exists all over Europe, and Dickens' raven is probably the most famous.

Dickens described the death of Grip, his tame raven, like this: "On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed `Halloa old girl!' (his favorite expression) and died."

for the record, Edgar Allen Poe apparently felt that Dickens' fictionalized raven in Barnaby Rudge deserved a more important role in the plot.

having seen the enormous glossy raven on the path here, I agree with Edgar: if you introduce a talking tame raven into a plot, you'd better give it all the best lines.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Writing mountains

i'm in Banff, at the fabulous Arts Centre here, working on a new manuscript. and lo & behold, today it snowed. quite a fact, it's still snowing just a little, and maybe it's because i'm originally from Montreal, but really, i find snow is very good for writing.

the view from my

...and the evening i arrived:

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Jane's Walk

was this weekend...around the world, from Saskatoon to Mumbai, from Toronto to La Paloma, Uruguay.

for some links & photos

“Under the seeming disorder of the old city, wherever the old city is working successfully, is a marvelous order for maintaining the safety of the streets and the freedom of the city. It is a complex order. Its essence is intricacy of sidewalk use, bringing with it a constant succession of eyes. This order is all composed of movement and change, and although it is life, not art, we may fancifully call it the art form of the city and liken it to the dance — not to a simple-minded precision dance with everyone kicking up at the same time, twirling in unison and bowing off en masse, but to an intricate ballet in which the individual dancers and ensembles all have distinctive parts which miraculously reinforce each other and compose an orderly whole. The ballet of the good city sidewalk never repeats itself from place to place, and in any once place is always replete with new improvisations.”

— Jane Jacobs, ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dektet in Calgary

heading to Calgary to celebrate my amazing poetry publisher's latest crazy accomplishment: ten books of poetry are out this month to mark the tenth anniversary of Frontenac House...10 books in 2010. the dektet was chosen by jury--bill bissett, George Elliott Clarke & Alice Major (now that must have been an interesting discussion!)

Attenuations of Force, Lori Cayer
Children of Ararat, Keith Garebian
Confessions of an Empty Purse, S. McDonald
Ex Nihilo, Adebe D. A.
Fallacies of Motion, William Nichols
Falling Blues, Jannie Edwards
Learning to Count, Douglas Burnet Smith
[sic], Nikki Reimer
Standoff Terrain, Jocko Benoit
White Shirt, Laurie MacFayden

i haven't had a chance to read them yet, just take quick skims & dips...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

why i love roulette

i'm working on organizing the June book fair for the Small Press of Toronto. i was recently talking with a couple of the interns (who fabulously are helping with the Fair, thank you!)...and i realized my first real connection with the small press was in Vancouver in the 90s, when i was starting to seriously write poetry, and i wrote 21 poems about blackjack.

one night, i was at one of the nondescript downtown casinos--a very tame enterprise, in Vancouver, because you couldn't drink in the casino & mostly the clientele was made up of elderly men wearing cardigans. i'm not much of a gambler, and roulette was the only game whose rules i understood back i sat down at the roulette table and played around with $20. i lost most of it, and was down to the last couple of dollars, which i placed in a single chip on the central number...the 20. because it was in the middle.

the weird thing is, my number came up, winning me a couple of hundred dollars. and then i tried another $20 bet & won a bit more. and then i cashed out, because even though the elderly Chinese guys at the table were encouraging me to keep on the winning streak, i wasn't convinced it was going to last.

so i left the casino & logically thought HEY i can put this money into producing a chapbook! because that's what everybody thinks when they win "big" at roulette, right? surely that was Sean Connery's first thought, too, when he used to win in Monte Carlo. (okay, maybe not.)

so that's how i initially got involved in the small press...i took my $320 of roulette winnings and spent most of that money on paper & printing & staples, and then my long-suffering gambling partner and i spent several rather lovely hours folding and trimming and stapling chapbooks on the kitchen table. those 21 poems about blackjack, titled 'green as the three of diamonds', had found a way into the world.

and i thought HEY this is fun. i like this. this is WAY more fun than roulette.

Monday, April 12, 2010

'Are you absolutely, positively, and wholeheartedly ready to publish your novel?'

a rather funny dark poster by Anna Hurley (brought to my attention by the good folks of the Afterword) on the image to see a larger, more readable version on her site.

note the poster goes on sale April 13 to benefit 826 National

really it was a gorgeous day today & all i wanted to do was take pretty pictures of spring flowers, because i didn't feel absolutely, positively, and wholeheartedly like doing anything at all literary whatsoever...

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

gambling on trains

i recently was asked if people "really" played cards on trains (because my novel features a fair bit of that) response, here's a great weird tidbit from The New York Times, Nov. 15, 1871:

We hear a good deal of complain that gambling should be allowed on the passenger-trains in this State. A few weeks since a man was swindled out of $50 in a Maine Central smoking-car by a blackleg, who introduced him into the beauties of "three-card monte." To be sure, it is strange that any man is so green or devoid of common sense as to be inveigled into card-playing and betting with strangers on railroad-cars--but such people there are in the world, and we do not think our railroads should be in the field for such knaves to ply their pursuits in. We have recently noticed warnings posted up in the Eastern Railroad cars, like this: "Beware of strangers who ask you to play cards." That is a very useful placard, to say the least."
in Paris, i used to walk past a three-card monte game every weekend, near the Clignancourt flea market, where there seemed to be an endless supply of people 'green or devoid of common sense' enough to be inveigled by the older dude running the game. Because hope springs eternal. Or something. photo by Nelson Minar, 2006

Friday, April 02, 2010

on literary analysis

or, how not to take advice, as seen by the great Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. she wrote the following as part of a brief preface to her famous long work 'Poem Without a Hero':

I have even been advised to make it more clear.
I will refrain from doing this.
The poem does not have any third, seventh, or twenty-ninth meanings.

...i feel as if i can almost hear her distinct St. Petersburg accent, annoyed, saying this. i wonder what she would think, to find her lines as they appear in my copy of her collected work--which has so many notes for every poem, the book is 947 pages long.

carrying this tome around with me, i really wish some of the scholars had taken Akhmatova a little more literally.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

One-eyed Jacks

no trip to Florida would be complete without a bit of i went to the greyhound track that is just down the street from my grandfather's place. (for the record, he does not bet on the dogs!)
i didn't even know dog racing was still legal in the US until i drove past this track. and although i had the worst of expectations, when i went over to the inspection kennel, the dogs were less crazy in the eyes than race horses are.

so the fluffy stuffed animal is sent along the track on a wire...notice the white blur at the guy's feet in the photo...and the dogs chase it. and when they reach the finish line, they get dog biscuits.

overall, though, i still agree with my character Millard, in my novel: "Isn't fair," she says, "betting on a game the horse runs for you. No game in that."

Monday, March 22, 2010

change however flawed still a change to the good.

my god the empire to the south has actually passed the health reform bill!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Canada Also Reads live

just finished a live chat...which scared the bejesus out of me but actually was fun (kind of hard to stay nerve-wracked in my pyjamas)

i got to talk about CanLit with a great panel of people--Jocelyne Allen, Steven Beattie, Cathy Marie Buchanan, Tish Cohen, Terry Fallis, Stacey May Fowles, Jessica Grant, Mark Anthony Jarman, Andy Maize Jacob McArthur Mooney,John Mutford, Neil Smith, Zoe Whittall, & Steve Zipp, moderated by Mark Medley & Brad Frenette for the Canada Also Reads contest at the National Post. Apparently some of it will reappear in the paper, at some point...but meanwhile, check it out online at the Afterword.

we talked writing, marketing, locations, language...and small verus big presses. i was defending Jocelyne Allen's book YOU AND THE PIRATES from the excellent small press The Workhorsery. there's still time to vote for the book (go to the Afterword.)

read the Afterword's chat here

Saturday, March 06, 2010

the Owl & the Sparrow

had a great time in Montreal the other olde home town & all, even rolled out a Nuit Blanche, February edition, so i could celebrate being in Montreal by going to galleries all night long. okay, some people like dancing in nightclubs, and i like watching conceptual art videos at 2 in the morning. followed by hotdogs with coleslaw at the Montreal Pool Room. i only wish i'd had time to go out to the biosphere, to watch the night birds...including, i suppose, this preternaturally-glowing blue owl...

i got to do two very different readings while in Montreal--a Friday lunchtime reading at the venerable Atwater Library, accompanied by the very fun & cool sax player Dave Turner, and the second at the Pilot Reading Series, which takes place every month or so at the Sparrow, a bar which is now on my all-time favourite top ten bar list for the planet earth. this, based on three essential facts: it has excellent Quebec beer; it has a beautiful staircase that goes nowhere; and it is conveniently close to an all-night bagel bakery. it also has some of the most beautiful wallpaper i have ever seen, in a bar or elsewhere.

a big giddy bisou to all who made the readings happen...

Monday, February 15, 2010

Pteros Tactics

Pteros Tactics is opening at Harbourfront, just in time to help us recover from Valentine's Day. the unusually-named work is a newly-created dance piece from the marvellous Toronto Dance Theatre choreographer Christopher House. it's inspired by an essay by Anne Carson (one of my favourite poets).

A few lines from her essay leap out to me, looking at them now: "mere space has power," Carson writes in Eros the Bittersweet. "The separating power of space can be marked with various activities; by racing through it, for example..." The lines seem purposely written for dance. "Eros... exists because certain boundaries do."

i had a lovely conversation with House about inspiration and the rehearsal process last week. and the resulting article is now up at Toronto's cultural site, Live With Culture, here.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

writerly vengeance

after a week of fidgeting with computer stuff, i find this voice mail recording especially satisfying: Hunter S. Thompson is, ahem, unimpressed with some new technology.

hang in through his routine curses to the last 30 seconds...ahhhh, much dreamed-of writer revenge! (note--it looks like a video but it's simply an answering machine recording)

(thanks to Bookninja for a perfect way to start my Saturday)

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Canada Also Reads

The National Post's literary blog THE AFTERWORD just announced its 'Canada Also Reads' discussion/competition/kinda-bookclub, and i'm thrilled to be in the ring, representing Jocelyne Allen's You and the Pirates. stand by...we start talking March 1st...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Building Storeys 2010

at the Gladstone tonight for the opening of the photo exhibit Building Storeys--fantastic shots of interiors of the R.C. Harris water filtration plant, the John Street Roundhouse, the R.L.Hearn Generating Station (some of my faves in the show)...and other industrial buildings we don't admire enough as aesthetic contributors to our cityscape. since most of the chosen sites are public buildings, Mayor Miller turned up to talk about his belief in public buildings' greatness, and his hope that future Toronto construction can be as memorable as the Art Deco suavity of the R.C.Harris water filtration plant.

and why shouldn't our public buildings be grand, impressive, mysterious, beautiful... like these photos, taken by members of the Shadow Collective & D.K. Photo Group, supported by Heritage Toronto. photographers Olena Sullivan has a great description of the project, over here.

the show is up for the rest of the month, noon to 5pm daily on the 3rd & 4th floors of the Gladstone Hotel. with photos fromRobert Dyke, Sean Galbraith, Rick Harris, Mathew Merrett, Timothy Neesam, Olena Sullivan & Toni Wallachy

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Groundhog Day

wave to the shadow...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

and...back at the Toronto desk

catching up...last night was the launch of Toronto's Neighbourhood Arts Network which (if you believe the bumph) will revolutionize arts education in this city.

can't knock their goals: administration & networking to make art classes and activities accessible to kids and older students across the GTA. fabulous, and crucial. but when i go to an arts event and listen to feel-good educational stories from administrators, i get bored. fast. i would rather hear from the kids involved--what did they actually create, and what do they think about these new art skills?

last night's celebratory launch seemed to treat education in art as a spiffy extra that we can throw into the pot only when we have surplus funding. shouldn't artistic play be an essential part of educating the next generation? and if so, why isn't it important for the education minister to show up?

instead, we had Ontario's new Minister of Tourism & Culture, Michael Chan, who didn't address such questions--mind you, no one really expected him to (he's only had this portfolio for 9 days, so he's still looking a little shell-shocked, discovering all the cute artsy songs he now has to listen to). his speech emphasized that the new network is predicated largely on encouraging business to invest in the neighbourhoods in question. hopefully the network is going to spend some time talking about what kind of business these neighbourhoods actually need...or want...and where art fits in all this.

the idea of culture & arts education as a stimulus to animate the urban environment isn't new; the idea of capitalizing on the arts to revitalize the city isn't new either. but so far, Toronto's new network just seems likely to emphasize the divide between the people who talk about making art and the people who actually make the stuff. because playing with the idea of creativity, with cute little ditties and matching aprons, is all very well. but art, if it's actually art and not therapeutic crafts, isn't only a marketing tool and shouldn't be treated as such.

yes, the people involved in this new project seem very enthusiastic, and i do wish them the best. but just the same, it was an evening of Toronto administrators talking about art...even free food can't make that interesting. i left the event a bit down-hearted.

and then, art saved me.

i walked down the glass corridor of Harbourfront and noticed the gallery space was still open, with no one there apart from the woman at the desk. the thread installation by Amanda McCavour is what drew me into the space--because i could glimpse the work as i walked away from the launch (my photo doesn't do it justice at all). inside the gallery, i discovered Shuyu Lu's equally fantastic embroidery of small meticulous scenes of Chinatown & Kensington Market...detailed, thoughtful, mysterious, a real conversation with the city and with the viewer.

the work was gorgeous. complicated. technically demanding. and committed to considering Toronto through art.

while i was there, none of the arts administrators stopped in as they left the party. which seemed a pity.