In the Art of the City

I think I am going to now remember the return of Fall as the time of the year when not only the leaves change colour, but when the city transforms into an art lovers paradise. I don’t know much about art. I know I like walking around museums, going to arts and crafts fairs, and checking out various exhibits – pretty much I like to look at pretty and interesting things (who doesn’t, right?). I guess I am just impressed by talent. Well Toronto had a lot of talent in the city to welcome Fall, with the Queen West Art Crawl and Outdoor Show, The Word on the Street Festival, and of course, Nuit Blanche. These are three annual events that I try to go to each year and wanted to share some of that experience through the use of some pretty pictures (because like I said, who doesn’t like to look at pretty and interesting things?).

QUEEN WEST ART CRAWL & OUTDOOR SHOW

Now unfortunately I did not get to see as much of the Queen West Art Crawl as I would have liked to this year. While the crawl lasts the entire weekend, I only managed to go down on the Sunday to check it out as it was raining on Saturday (which to me means stay at home in my pj’s and catch up on all of the bad TV I missed during the week). Sunday also coincided with the Word on the Street Festival – so I had to split up that day to be able to get to both festivals. Yay for good sneakers and public transit!

My favourite part of the art crawl is the outdoor show that takes place in Trinity Bellwoods Park. I love walking by all of the tents and checking out the work made by local artisans. It is also free – so no real barrier for anyone to attend (although donations are welcome!). You can buy all sorts of handmade crafts and art at the show, including paintings, photography, jewelry and pottery. I didn’t end up buying anything at the fair (mainly because I don’t have any walls that are currently empty in my tiny condo to place art on), but I hope to one day when I have a much bigger pad and want some one of a kind pieces!

THE WORD ON THE STREET FESTIVAL

For those of you not familiar with the Word on the Street Festival, it is pretty much a large one-day festival in the city that celebrates writing and reading. It’s a great place to hear local authors read passages from their work and answer questions, schmooze with local publications trying to pimp out their products, as well as just get deals on books.

I love this festival because it really has something for everyone. No matter the genre or type of publication (book, comic, magazine, newspaper, etc), you will probably be able to find something that interests you at Word on the Street. I also especially loved seeing all of the kids in attendance and how much fun they were having reading and watching the various performances. It is a great family event and there is tons of stuff to do and see to keep you busy for hours (and potentially empty out your pockets if you can manage to squeeze your way up to a booth to get some of the good pickings).

I didn’t manage to buy anything at the festival (mainly because I was pretty tired and didn’t feel like having to carry anything heavy home), but I did manage to score a very tasty samosa. Another great thing about festivals in the city is that there are fantastic food trucks available to get some tasty eats. This was definitely needed after an exhausting day of walking from the west end of the city to the north. It can definitely make a girl hungry!

NUIT BLANCHE

Nuit Blanche is probably the Mecca of all art festivals in the city. Each year, it seems to get bigger and bigger – not only in attendance, but in the number of exhibits to physically check out. I tried my best to see as much as possible this year, but had to end the night just before 2 am as I had an early morning flight the next day. It was a perfect evening for the event (well until about 1:30 am or so when the rain started), but felt that the city/organizers could have done a better job coordinating street closures. Intersections like Queen/University as well as Queen/Yonge were not closed down for the event making it very difficult and dangerous to cross the street as well as creating huge bottlenecks. I am certain that this was one of the event’s largest complaints and I am hopeful that it will be corrected for next year.

Overall, I was very impressed with Nuit Blanche. I think some of the exhibits were quite grande and spectacular, and really made for a memorable night. City Hall was definitely quite the scene with Ai Weiwei’s ‘Forever Bicycles’ installation as well as Boris Achour’s ‘The rose is without why’ light-up poem. However, none of the exhibits can really match the buzz and spirit that the city itself was generating that night. Toronto was kind of transformed into this magical place, filled with people just wanting to explore and enjoy the experience. This is how I always feel in the city when I am discovering something new, so it was great to experience that with thousands of other people that night.

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Visitations at the Drake

UPFRONT DISCLOSURE: I am not a very active theatre-goer in the city (Wow, that felt really good to get that off my chest). Seriously, I may check out 1 theatrical performance per year. BUT when I heard about Visitations a couple of weeks ago, I knew this was something that I just had to see (check out the interactive trailer and you will see why I was so intrigued). Now unfortunately this post is going to have limited pictures (mainly because we were told that any photography would interfere with the paranormal activity we were about to experience), but I still think it is worth blogging about as it was a very unique experience I had in the city.

So I’m sure you are wondering (especially after I made a comment about paranormal activity), what on earth is Visitations? The best way for me to describe it would be an interactive, supernatural, theatrical experience (wow, that sounds like a mouthful I know!). It definitely isn’t your every day theatrical production where you sit in your chair and watch the actors do their thing (in fact you aren’t even at a theatre. Visitations takes place at the Drake Hotel and various locations surrounding it). You are very much a part of the adventure right from the moment you arrive.

As soon as we arrived at the Drake, we were promptly greeted and given an envelope with our name on it. We were told that we each had a unique tarot card inside and we were to call the number on the envelope. After we called the number (and got further instructions), we entered the dining room where we got to meet some interesting characters as well as the other 22 participants on this journey. We also noticed that we were starting to get phone calls from a mysterious phone number as well as some pretty cryptic text messages. Plus I was left a pretty creepy hand written napkin and didn’t even notice who left it for me. These actors are sneaky I tell ya!

After all the participants arrived, we were shown a presentation that introduced us to Lucy, her grandfather and the Sabbaticus (an ancient artifact Lucy found in her parents’ attic). We were then divided into 3 groups where we needed to solve clues to learn more about the Sabbaticus and help Lucy on her journey. Each group was given a different mission and a very different leader to follow. Our group ended up at the Beaconsfield, a random alley way, back at the Drake, and at Lucy’s very creepy apartment next door (where there was a very powerful fog machine and lots of black lights).

I don’t want to give away too much as you can still check out performances next week (I believe Tuesday is sold out, but tickets may still be available for the Monday night). I probably wouldn’t recommend this experience to everyone. You have to be a pretty adventurous theatre goer and can just go with the flow as not everything always makes sense. Your guides on the journey are super enthusiastic and into their characters – but really what you get out of the experience is based on how much you are willing to participate. Asking questions and discussing clues with other members of your group really makes this experience fun and unique (and literally ‘one-of-a-kind’). You never knew what was going to happen next and were a little confused by the end of it. Great fun for a Sunday night though!

Period Piece

Period Piece Exhibit at OCAD

Period Piece Exhibit at OCAD

To celebrate International Women’s Day, I had the pleasure of attending an art exhibit opening entitled “Period Piece: The Gynolandscape” (have you made the connection yet between the timing and theme? Awesome I know). Now, I am not one to go to a lot of gallery openings (mainly because I never hear about them in time and I’m not really in that scene), but my friend invited me to tag along and I am really glad I did (and who doesn’t love free beer, delicious frosted cookies and a fantastic DJ playing everything from girl groups to Alanis Morissette?).

Now just like I am not a food blogger, I am definitely not an art critic. A lot of the time I just like things because I think they look interesting or pretty (I am sure that is like most of us out there, right?). And I will admit, this exhibit did have a lot of interesting and pretty things (and pretty people inside to boot).

Art-goers inside the exhibit

Art-goers inside the exhibit

What honestly caught my attention inside was the wall of ballet slippers. Now, I never took ballet as a child, but something about baby pink satin shoes just turns me into a little girl again (not sure if that was the point, but I really felt like I was missing my tutu or something).

Ballet slippers line the walls of this exhibit opening

Ballet slippers line the walls of this exhibit opening

Something that I really appreciated at this event was that even the food was art. Standard Peek Frean jelly cookies were decorated with sparkles and pink frosting – YUM! And even the cake was literally a period piece (I think the picture will help explain that one. Sorry men).

Pretty Desserts

Pretty Desserts

All of this dessert was making me hungry, so we headed over to China Town to get some late night eats. The goal was to head over to the Hen House for an All-Female Soul, Disco and R&B Dance Party, but once we got a belly full of bibimbap, it was game over. We barely had enough energy to walk to the streetcar stop – let alone dance.

Awkward pic as mouth is completely full of food

Awkward pic as mouth is completely full of food

If you are interested in checking out the exhibit at OCAD, it is running until April 6th with various special events taking place between March 20th and April 5th. Details can be found here.