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Posted in Downtown, Museums
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01/25 2010

1920s Come Roaring Back to Spadina

ghostimageSMWhen I arrived at Spadina Museum: Historic House & Garden several months ago to interview for a position at the site, I was blown away by the beauty of the gracious old mansion just a stone’s throw from Casa Loma. Such elegance! Such artistry! Every room was filled with antiques and artefacts. So this is how the other half lived. I was thrilled at the prospect of possibly coming to work each day in a building with such a storied past and luxurious sensibility. The good news is I got the job. The bad news? Just as I entered the building to begin my tenure, the art and furnishings made their exit. Spadina, as the house was originally named, is being restored to reflect how it would have looked during the inter-war period with a primary focus on the 1920s.

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Posted in Downtown, Music
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01/20 2010

More Adventurous, More Affordable Opera

neef1Opera will be more accessible in Toronto beginning in September when the Canadian Opera Company adds 50 standing-room tickets available on the day of each performance for just $12 each. “I believe that’s cheaper than a movie,” joked COC general director Alexander Neef, left, at a press conference held this morning to announce the company’s 2010/11 season.

“Our new season is representative of my pledge to present opera of the highest international standards,” said Neef. “With great new productions of classic favourites, the introduction of works never before seen on our stages, and brilliant, imaginative productions from around the world, you have a perfect opera season.”

Neef noted that in the four years since the COC moved into the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the company has enjoyed 99 per cent capacity. “Demand for opera continues to be high in spite of the difficult economic climate,” he said.

Neef added that in North America, only the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the Lyric Opera of Chicago produce more work. “We want to continue to contribute to the cultural vitality of the city and of the country,” he stated. READ MORE

Posted in Design, Downtown
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01/18 2010

TIDF: An Embarrassment of Design Riches

Todd_Michael
Toronto’s design community kicks into overdrive this week with the inaugural Toronto International Design Festival or TIDF. Longstanding January events like the Interior Design Show (since 2001), the Gladstone Hotel’s Come Up To My Room (since 2004) and MADE’s Radiant Dark (since 2008) have been joined under the TIDF umbrella by a much larger roster of events at Harbourfront, OCAD, the AGO, Design Exchange and the Ontario Crafts Council Gallery, among others.

On Friday, I stopped in at the Gardiner Museum to meet two-thirds of Toronto-based design team Motherbrand, specifically designers Todd Falkowsky (above left) and Michael Erdmann (right) who talked me through their exhibit, Copy, which will be joined this week by companion show Cut/Paste across the street at the ROM (January 20 – 31).
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Posted in Art, Downtown, Theatre
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01/15 2010

Designer Sitting Pretty On Cloud 9

judith1Costume and set designers aren’t high on the mainstream media’s hit list, which explains why award-winning designer Judith Bowden, left, is so rarely interviewed about her art. Yet, when the curtain goes up on Mirvish Productions’ Cloud 9 at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre Tuesday night, Bowden’s set and costumes will be the first things to register with the audience.

Bowden, in collaboration with director Alisa Palmer, has created a metaphorical and physical environment for the characters of this daring satire to inhabit. There’s nothing straight-ahead about Cloud 9, a play by Caryl Churchill (Top Girls), that tackles political and sexual oppression in British colonial Africa and modern London; on Cloud 9, time shifts, age and ethnicity mutate, gender bends.

By the time critics and audiences get their opportunity to judge the theatrical success of the production (win free tickets, details below), Bowden will be hard at work on her next gig, designing sets and costumes for the Shaw Festival‘s An Ideal Husband. Such is life for a perpetually freelance artist.

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Posted in Downtown, Film
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01/13 2010

Tanja-Tiziana: The Film Rescuer

canistersSMWhile trolling for LiveWithCulture.ca header images this week I came across the picture at left on Doublecrossed.ca, one of two blogs maintained by local photographer Tanja-Tiziana. In her description of the shot, Tanja notes that she found the cache of old home movies — some stretching all the way back to the 1930s — at a contents sale. She paid $10 for the film and some slides, “which was probably more for the metal box they came in than for the actual contents,” Tanja told me via email.

How intriguing to settle down in the dark with a complete stranger’s memories, their history, their happy and maybe even sad moments. On her blog Tanja notes that these reels “are predominantly filmed on colour kodachrome and were edited together with much brilliance by the filmmaker. One moment we were in Florida watching friends in high pants and short ties smoke pipes and the next we were celebrating Christmas in Toronto.”

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