March 24, 2012

Cloudy, with a chance of galleries

On this cloudy and blustery day, with the wind blowing us around, we decided to do start our afternoon with brunch at Cafe Bernate and then do a crawl of the gallery district centred around Ossington and Queen Street West.

We began with seeing Transformation, a show of works by first-generation OCADU students. Next was Angell Gallery, always a must-see venue for its engaging works. We hit another three galleries on Queen Street West before heading to the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) for a truly facinating exhibit called Necropolis.

According to MOCCA, Necropolis is an "immersive multi-media meditation on the nature of video and its strong affiliations with death culture". Visitors have to walk up inclines and down declines inside a totally blackened hallway that winds through the museum space. Lit only by each piece in the exhibit the viewer is confronted by a mixture of sensory deprivation, sounds, and television and video screens.

Tired of the wind gusts we decided to rent season two of the original British "Being Human" and Daniel Lanois' documentary "Here is What Is", and then headed home to warmth and to cozy up on the couch.


March 23, 2012

Heaven's Waiting Room

Daniel Lanois at The Great Hall. Image Copyright Stacy Kelly, 2012
Mark and I just returned from seeing iconic producer and songwriter Daniel Lanois live in the basement at The Great Hall.
Lanois was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame on Thursday and he planned to follow that honour up with two concerts in Toronto. Tonight's was the first and all I heard as we left the building was "That was awesome!" repeated over and over again.

Awesome indeed. I took this picture of Lanois with Brian Blade, surely one of the finest drummers on the planet.  Brian laid down some incredible grooves that left the audience in head-shaking-foot-stomping rapture. I have never been so close to such lengendary performers, so I was in a state of shock for a portion of the evening.

Most people know Daniel Lanois as the justly celebrated producer of  artists such as U2, Bob Dylan, Peter Gabriel, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris and others, but he has also crafted a catalogue of his own songs across genres of ambient, folk, and rock. Tonight's concert began with a live dub of some of his recent ambient music, accompanied by a video piece that was also edited and mixed live alongside Lanois' dubbing.

This was followed by why we were all really there--a master class in rock trio performance.  Among the highlights, Lanois treated us to some of his songs from his 1989 debut album Acadie, including "Still Water"and a stunning version of "The Maker". He played "The Messenger" and "The Collection of Marie Claire" from his 1993 sophomore album For the Beauty of Wynona, and a great rendition of "Fire" from 2003's  Shine. The apex of the night, however, was a blistering and simply ecstatic version of "Ring the Alarm" from his recent 2010 collaboration, Black Dub. The whole place went nuts and I was mouth-open-awestruck. I think the song soared on for about 15 minutes. At least that's what I remember. Midway through I yelled to the guy to my left, "This is Heaven's waiting room". He smiled and nodded. We were all flaming swords burning in the eyes of the Maker.

March 20, 2012

On Location

The office building that houses my office appears to be in the epicentre of location filming for various TV shows.

Since I arrived in October at least three productions have been filmed along the streets outside and behind my building, and interior shots taken in neighbouring buildings. 

This morning an announcement was posted on our front door informing us that a Showcase program called "King" will be filming this Wednesday and Thursday. In the Fall the popular Bravo show "Suits" and the CTV show "The Listener" were also filming right here in the neighbourhood. Fun!

March 10, 2012

A week on the go!

This past week was easily the busiest for us since moving to Toronto. We had all sorts of events back-to-back in what was a very packed set of adventures.

Our first activity was attending a Queen's Alumni event on Wednesday evening at the swanky National Club on Bay Street, featuring guest speaker Peter Milliken talking about his experience as the Speaker of the House of Commons. It was a very nice event and, being a political junkie, fun to hear about the ins-and-outs of life on Parliament Hill.

Thursday night found us at an art exhibit opening of Rose Hirano at the Wellington Street Art Gallery. Ms. Hirano was a thoroughly engaging speaker as she talked about her process and inspiration for the incredible reduction woodblock prints she was exhibiting.  It was a treat to be able to learn from such a gifted artist. Her works have always spoken to both of us and we admire her multi-inking process, in which she prints from light to dark values using a single piece of wood. Each image averages ten to twelve colour layers. Her prints are sublime.

On Friday I first attended Paint Rocks, a fundraising event for Painting & Drawing at OCAD U. The event combines live music with an auction in one room and art sold at a flat rate of $200 in another room. The art work was created by both OCAD U students and faculty members. I then headed over to the Gladstone Hotel to view the opening night of the OCAD U Alumni Exhibition, featuring work by over 40 alumni.  We were very impressed with the calibre of the work and we were so pleased to see such a huge crowd show up for the official opening night. There was great buzz and a nice vibe.
We were hungry so we decided to stay at the Gladstone for dinner, something we have never done before. We found the menu to be eccentrically eclectic in their Cafe but the food was very good.

On Saturday evening we hosted a colleague and her fiancee for dinner, so I was a busy boy in the kitchen for most of the day. The meal started with a broccoli soup, garnished with pear, blue cheese, and almonds. For the main I served rack of lamb, with side dishes of zucchini provencale and pommes boulangere. We finished with peach and strawberry ginger crumble served in individual ramkins. All recipes are from Gordon Ramsay's Cooking for Friends and Family Fare (also published as Sunday Brunch), my two favourite and absolutely indispensable cookbooks.

I think we'll take it pretty easy on Sunday!