Sunday, February 28, 2021

It feels like Spring is back in Toronto

The dog days of winter have passed us by and the sun has kissed our faces and even though winter still has a couple weeks left, it seems like Spring has returned - don't forget that Wiarton Willie predicted an early Spring this year! Well Spring officially hits town on Saturday, March 20, 2021 and afterwards one of the best things about Spring will happen - cherry and other fruit trees will blossom in an explosion of colour. Here are some pictures of blossoms from previous years to remind you of the beauty of Spring.


Usually the blossoms peak in late April or early May so it will be awhile still. Until then enjoy the lengthening days and the warmer temperatures and the thought that the covid vaccines will someday be protecting all the people around the world.

Covid won't stop the blossoms but it might stop us from visiting some of the locations, like High Park, that have an abundance of the flowering trees. The City of Toronto has cancelled major events until Canada Day (at the minimum) and for thousands of visitors to the Cherry Blossom Festivals this means that we will be admiring the flowers virtually once again this year.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Once upon a Toronto Zombie Walk

The annual Toronto Zombie Walk was killed in 2017, way before Covid ended major public events in 2020 and into 2021. Shuffling armies of the undead used to gather in the bowels of Trinity Bellwoods Park, grunted at a few friends, then headed out onto the streets of Toronto looking for tasty brains.

Then for awhile the zombies moved out to City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square before beginning the march. In 2017 the walk was cancelled due to lack of funds and has not returned. Cleanup in the square and insurance costs put the walk out of commission.
From the Toronto Zombie Walk website "The zombie walk started one gloomy Sunday, a week before hallows eve in 2003. A handful of the living dead rose from their graves to wander the streets of Toronto in search of brains. The plague returned every year, and the zombie count grew into a large and deadicated legion of the undead. Not only did the plague hit Toronto, it hit New York, Vancouver, Ottawa, Melbourne and numerous other cities around the world. In 2006 The Toronto Zombie Walk joined forces with the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, to ensure zombies have an enjoyable evening of flicks to see after their flesh eating endeavors. 2012 marked our ten year anniversary and we hoarded in over 10,000 people!"

Thursday, February 25, 2021

@Scotiabank Photography Award 2021 Longlist


Eleven Canadian photographers are in the running for the upcoming Scotiabank Photography Award which highlights lens-based visual arts in Canada. Esteemed members of the art community put together the list of artists that are judged by a jury of photography experts with the winner taking home a prized exhibition, cash and other amazing rewards. The experts; Edward Burtnysky, Artist, chair of the jury, Sophie Hackett, Curator, Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Dr Kenneth Montague, Art Collector & Curator and Brian Sholis, Editor, Curator/Writer, will select the finalists (announced March 31) and the final winner (announced in Spring 2021). Nominee Will Gill's (St Johns, Newfoundland) pink boat photograph at top.

Scotiabank is of course one of the top sponsors of cultural and community events in Canada and certainly in Toronto. They have been instrumental in supporting photography starting in 1976 with their Scotiabank Fine Art Collection and continuing as they became a founding partner in the Canadian Photography Institute in 2015, as well as the annual Scotiabank Photography Award and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Laura Curtis Ferrera, Chief Marketing Officer, Scotiabank says. "Visual art carries rich and engaging stories that give us a snapshot of life at a point in time. We are proud to play a role in celebrating the creative vision and accomplishments of our country's most gifted photographers."

The photographers in the 2021 longlist include the following.
Vikky Alexander, Montreal, QC
Jeff Bierk, Toronto, ON
Deanna Bowen, Montreal, QC
Sara Cwynar, Vancouver, BC and Brooklyn, NY
Will Gill, St. John's, NL
Annie MacDonell, Toronto, ON
Dawit L. Petros, Montreal, QC
Ned Pratt, St. John's, NL
Carol Sawyer, Vancouver, BC
Greg Staats, Toronto / Six Nations of the Grand River Territory, ON
Jeff Thomas, Ottawa, ON

From Scotiabank, "The Scotiabank Photography Award recognizes the achievements of established mid-to-late career artists and is Canada's largest and most prestigious annual peer-nominated and reviewed prize. The Award celebrates the creative vision and accomplishments of some of the country's most gifted contemporary lens-based artists. In addition to being featured in a solo Primary Exhibition at Ryerson Image Centre during the 2022 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, the winner of the Scotiabank Photography Award will take home $50,000 and will have a book of their work published and distributed worldwide by Steidl. The finalists will each receive $10,000."

"I am incredibly grateful to the Awards Nominators for their time and consideration as we compile the 2021 longlist of Scotiabank Photography Award candidates," says Edward Burtynsky, Chair of the Scotiabank Photography Award jury. "I'm equally excited and proud to see the perseverance and talent of our Canadian photographic artists, as they continue to create and put the kind of art we all need out into the world during these trying times. Congratulations to all."

Dana Claxton, winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Photography Award, will present her exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre during the Scotiabank 2021 CONTACT Photography Festival.

The 2021 longlist was put together by the following nominators.
Rose Bouthillier, Curator (Exhibitions) at Remai Modern, Saskatoon, SK
Mireille Eagan, Curator of Contemporary Art, The Rooms, St. John's, NL
Mona Filip, Director/Curator of the Koffler Gallery of the Koffler Centre of the Arts, Toronto, ON
Dominique Fontaine, Curator, Founding Director of aPOSteRIORI, Montreal, QC
Matthew Hills, Director and Curator of the Grenfell Art Gallery, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Corner Brook, NL
Michelle Jacques, Head of Exhibitions & Collections/Chief Curator at Remai Modern, Saskatoon, SK
Lisa Kehler, curator and art consultant, Winnipeg, MB
Gerald McMaster, Tier 1 Canada Research of Indigenous Visual Culture and Curatorial Practice, Director of the Wapatah: Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge, OCAD University, Toronto, ON
Crystal Mowry, Senior Curator, Kitchener Waterloo Art Gallery (KWAG), Kitchener, ON
cheyanne turions, Curator, SFU Galleries, cultural worker and writer, Vancouver, BC
Emmy Lee Wall, Executive Director, Capture Photography Festival, Vancouver, BC

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Enjoying the sun along the shores of Lake Ontario

The sun helps us beat the February Blahs and even though it has been a tad cool during the Dog Days of Winter it's nice to get out in the fresh air. We have checked out Ontario Place and Burlington Beach during the last two weekends, walking carefully on the frozen ice as we try to keep upright.

Lake ice is limited to the inner harbour

Ontario Place is a great park for exploring and we end up along the breakwater protecting the marina on the south edge of the island. Three lake freighters were sunk to provide the wall (I only thought it was one) - Victorius, Howard L. Shaw and Houghton. The one at the very end is the Houghton with the bridge and lookout still in place.

In Burlington the long beach is covered in lake ice, piled in place and only stretching out about 40m from shore. The long piers leading into Burlington Bay/Hamilton Harbour are coated in ice so be careful walking out to the light house structures.




There is not a lot of ice cover on Lake Ontario now. In fact the ice cover over all the Great Lakes is down for this season. Overall Lake Ontario is forecast for only 12% cover, compared to its long term average of almost 30% from information by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). Ice cover did increase with the recent blast of frigid air as a result of the polar vortex.

"The most recent ice cover forecast, updated on Feb 14th, 2021, predicted a maximum Great Lakes ice cover of 38%. The long-term average annual maximum ice cover (AMIC) is 53.3%. The predicted maximum seasonal ice cover for each lake is as follows:

Lake Superior = 46% (long-term average AMIC is 61.5%)
Lake Michigan = 27% (long-term average AMIC is 40%)
Lake Huron = 49% (long-term average AMIC is 64.6%)
Lake Erie = 67% (long-term average AMIC is 81.2%)
Lake Ontario = 12% (long-term average AMIC is 29.8%)"

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Light Up Leslieville


#LightingUpLeslieville is a new light installation in Toronto and the attraction is free to attend, brought to you by the Leslieville Business Improvement Area (BIA) and located besides 1247 Queen Street East (east of Leslie Street, across from Hastings Avenue). They ask you to social distance and practice covid safety protocols.


The Leslieville BIA in partnership with Condoman Developments and the City of Toronto "presents this spectacle of lights to say thanks to the community for its support of our small businesses. It is also an opportunity to re-imagine underused spaces and also an opportunity to give light and life to a dull area of the Main Street."


You can check out several arches, stars and an angel's wings in the small temporary parkette on the south side of Queen Street East which will apparently be ongoing until the end of March. It provided a perfect site for Valentines selfies.


See more photos after the jump.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Fun things to do in Toronto 2021

It certainly is challenging to find fun in the time of Covid-19 and its many variants. Nature has reclaimed a lot of the free time that people have now. Gone for now are the long times spent in restaurants, movies or over at friends places enjoying the company of others. The year started with the lockdown throughout Ontario, now continuing in Toronto until February 22, 2021. Update: The lockdown has been extended again (until June 2) and Toronto has cancelled large events until after Labour Day.
Toronto skyline from the break wall of Mississauga's St Lawrence Park

Updated: On February 24th the City of Toronto extended the cancellation of major events until July 1, 2021 - you can see the media release on the bottom of this post.

From what I can read on the internet, which means it's true, is that indoor gatherings have the highest probability of catching the virus. Public Health Ontario 'COVID-19 Routes of Transmission – What We Know So Far' says "Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 occurs predominantly through close (<2 m), unprotected contact with an infected individual(s). Based on the epidemiology of COVID-19, transmission predominantly occurs via respiratory droplets from symptomatic, presymptomatic or less commonly, asymptomatic individuals.  Transmission over longer distances (>2 m) is less common, but possible under certain conditions such as prolonged exposure in a poorly ventilated space. Under these conditions, inhalation of small particle respiratory droplets and aerosols can occur. SARS-CoV-2 is likely an opportunistic airborne pathogen, as non-airborne transmission is most common, but aerosols may result in transmission under favourable conditions. In household settings, people are in close proximity to one another, thereby increasing the risk of infection. The consensus among systematic reviews is that most infections are occurring in household settings where physical distancing is not feasible and household secondary attack rates are higher than in casual-contact settings (e.g., shopping)."

From Toronto's website, "The City of Toronto has extended the cancellation of City-led and City-permitted outdoor major events through March 31, 2021 and all outdoor special event permits during this time period are cancelled. This includes festivals and other large gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and Civic Squares."

You can stay inside, alone, and try some virtual events (very available now) or put some puzzles together. If you need to get outside to prevent mental health issues, try to enjoy the outdoors and keep away from crowds, keep your mask on, maintain social distancing and practice good hygiene. I know it will be awhile before I go to a movie, eat in a restaurant and hope to minimize my public transit use. 

In Jan 15 to Feb 7 we got to experience the Festival of Cool at Harbourfront with two major audio and illuminated exhibits - Iceberg and the Sonic Runway. It was cool by the way, tres cool. 

There is also Light Up Leslieville installation on the south side of Queen St E, east of Leslie Street: Leslieville BIA Facebook page says "We invite you all to enjoy this installation with safe distances in mind (East of Leslie on Queen). Just in time for Valentines Day - it makes for a perfect photo op with a loved one. So if you’re out and stretching your legs, pay a visit."
Light Up Leslieville

Other possible light festivals include the following.
Winter Light Exhibition on the west island at Ontario Place?
Toronto Light Fest in the historic Distillery District?

As the year goes on and vaccines become available to all, more and more activities will open up once again. Here are some events that are actually planned to happen. 


The public art installation called 'Garrison Creek Lotuses' will be completed in mid-March near the Bentway Park at 500 Lake Shore Boulevard West. The illuminated flowers are situated under the Gardiner Expressway.

The Beach presents Luminosity - March 13 to April 11. Along 3 km of Queen Street East from Coxwell Avenue to Neville Park. 8 light installations are in place.

Winter Stations at the Beach. The annual architectural/art installations based around beach lifeguard stations is planning to return in 2021 - just after Toronto's lockdown is lifted. They usually start on Family Day (Monday, Feb 15 in 2021) but lockdown is on until Feb 22, so hopefully the weekend following the lift will be the new start. 
Spring Stations 2021

Update: The lockdown delay will move the installations off of the beaches and instead will be placed in the Distillery District and on Parliament Street from May 21 to June with a name change to Spring Stations. Then in July the installations will be moved to the Beach BIA area for what will be called Summer Stations. 



World Naked Bike Ride 2021 - Toronto Edition: Saturday, June 12 at Coronation Park. Gather before noon, ride at 1pm. See photos from the 2021 ride on my post here.

ArtworxTO: Over Floe floating art installation at Ontario Place.

Honda Indy Toronto 2021: Friday, July 9 to Sunday, July 11. NOW CANCELLED

Ontario Place Summer Live Music Festival:  Thurs, July 29th to Mon, Sept 6. Performances will be Thursdays to Sundays with the finale happening Friday to Monday of Labor Day weekend, with Canadian artists and musicians performing a wide range of  musical genres. Takes place on East Island adjacent to Vista Eatery.

Canadian National Exhibition 2021: Fri, August 20 to Mon, Sept 6. NOW CANCELLED
Photo by Joe Hamilton

Canadian International Airshow 2021: Saturday, Sept 4 to Monday, Sept 6. The snowbirds have released their schedule and they are in Toronto for the annual long weekend show. Update: the CIAS is back on for 2021!
Snowbirds photo by Joe Hamilton

Redpath Waterfront Festival / Redpath Waterfront Trail: Fri, Sept 17 to Sunday, Oct 3. "For two weeks in September, we invite you to take your imagination for a walk on Toronto’s waterfront. This socially distanced waterfront trail will include unique Augmented Reality stops (AR), public art and a number of local promotions at waterfront businesses. From Lower Spadina to Lower Sherbourne Street."

Fan Expo Canada: Limited Edition Oct 22-24 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, south building. Comics and cosplay.

Royal Agricultural Winter Fair and Royal Horse Show 2021: November 5-14 (possible in-person event)

I will add more activities as they meet the requirements for easing restrictions, so come back often.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

February 24, 2021: City of Toronto extends cancellation of in-person major events to July 1

"To slow the spread of COVID-19, the City of Toronto is extending the cancellation of in-person City-led and City-permitted major outdoor events to July 1, including Canada Day parades, festivals and fireworks.

Today's announcement includes festivals and other large, in-person gatherings held at outdoor sites managed by the City or other public locations, such as roads, parks and civic squares.

Major festivals and events require long lead times for planning, rely on City sites, supports or permissions, and present higher public health risks given limits to physical distancing and exposure to attendees from outside of the area. The need to sustain essential services also limits the City's ability to support third-party event organizers to ensure public safety.

Advance notification of this decision enables event organizers to make sound decisions in support of public health efforts and their business needs, access insurance, support impacted employees, manage sponsors and develop alternative approaches such as virtual events.

This decision, made in consultation with Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, the City’s Emergency Operations Centre, Toronto Police Service and major event organizers, follows the previous cancellation of all such events up to March 31 and supports the directive that physical distancing is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The following major events are impacted by this decision (for the most up-to-date status of an event, please contact the organizer):

• Toronto Marathon, half Marathon, 5k, 10k and relay (will be a virtual event)
• Sporting Life 10k (will be a virtual event)
• Canadian Music Week (will be a virtual event)
• Doors Open Toronto (cancelled)
• Juno Awards (will be a virtual event)
• Ride for Heart (will be a virtual event)
• NXNE Music Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Luminato (virtual option to be determined)
• The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer (will be a virtual event)
• TD Toronto Jazz Festival (virtual option to be determined)
• Indigenous Arts Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival (will be a virtual event)
• Trans March, Dyke March & Pride Parade (will be a virtual event)
• Scarborough Canada Day Parade & Celebration (cancelled)
• Canada Day Celebrations at Mel Lastman Square (cancelled)

Event organizers with questions are encouraged to contact the relevant City permitting bodies, Toronto Police Service officers/liaisons or email CultureTO@toronto.ca.

More information about supports available to the arts and culture sector during the COVID-19 pandemic are available at www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-economic-support-recovery-for-businesses/covid-19-business-sector-resources/.

This announcement does not include permits issued by the City's Parks Forestry and Recreation division for activities in parks and other City facilities/sites that are able to be permitted under the province of Ontario's framework for reopening or that may be permitted as we hopefully progress through that framework. Professional sporting events are also not included in this decision – those events rely on permissions from the provincial and federal governments in addition to Toronto Public Health."

Friday, February 12, 2021

NASCAR Pinty's Series 2021 Schedule

Twelve races are scheduled in the upcoming NASCAR Pinty's Series for 2021, beginning in May and running into late September. Sadly the Honda Indy Toronto race will not be taking place this year so you will have to travel a bit, or check out TSN and RDS to see Canada's premier stockcar racing series.
Update: The best laid plans of mice and men are often foiled so the schedule has been thrown into disarray with some of the first races postponed. Here are some photos from Joe Hamilton's reserve.

NASCAR OFFICIAL STATEMENT MAY 20, 2021: "The start of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series season will be delayed due to the ongoing pandemic. NASCAR’s goal is to run a full championship season with a minimum of 10 races, potentially starting in August. We continue to work closely with local, provincial and federal officials to ensure the safety of all involved. An updated schedule will be released when finalized."

Hopefully the full schedule of races will be able to take place this year as vaccines will hopefully start bringing normal life back to Canada. The 2020 season was shortened to a six-race season under the banner of "Pinty's Fan Cave Challenge. This year will bring the 12 races to 8 tracks with the season opener at Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ontario May 23rd. 

2021 will only feature races in Ontario and Quebec which is a reduction in the travel from past years which also included races in the United States. It will be September 5th for NASCAR Pinty's Series to make it to my favourite track at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville.



From NASCAR Pinty's Series media release that the season will be "culminating with the championship race at Jukasa Motor Speedway on Saturday, Sept. 25. Jukasa has hosted the season finale every year since its return to the schedule in 2017.

“Our team has worked hard to put together a full schedule that will showcase the exciting, door-to-door racing Pinty’s Series fans have come to expect,” said Chad Seigler, NASCAR Vice President, International Business Development. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are focusing on stand-alone events, especially as we kick off the season. Though we are unsure of when we can welcome fans back to the race track, we will continue to work with local and provincial officials to put on as safe an event as possible. The health and safety of our competitors, officials and fans are our top priority.”

The Pinty’s Series will again serve as the opening act for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) with two races on Sunday, Sept. 5."

2021 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Schedule
DATE - TRACK; CITY
POSTPONED Sunday, May 23 - Sunset Speedway; Innisfil, Ont.
POSTPONED Saturday, June 19 - Jukasa Motor Speedway; Hagersville, Ont.
POSTPONED Sunday, July 18 - Flamboro Speedway*; Millgrove, Ont.
POSTPONED Sunday, July 18 - Flamboro Speedway*; Millgrove, Ont.
Sunday, Aug. 15 - Circuit Trois-Rivières; Trois-Rivières, Que.
Tuesday, Aug. 17 - Ohsweken Speedway; Ohsweken, Ont.
Saturday, Aug. 28 - Circuit ICAR; Mirabel, Que.
Sunday, Aug. 29 - Autodrome Chaudière*; Vallée-Jonction, Que.
Sunday, Aug. 29 - Autodrome Chaudière*; Vallée-Jonction, Que.
Sunday, Sept. 5 - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park*; Bowmanville, Ont.
Sunday, Sept. 5 - Canadian Tire Motorsport Park*; Bowmanville, Ont.
Saturday, Sept. 25 - Jukasa Motor Speedway; Hagersville, Ont.
*Twin features

Happy Lunar New Year Toronto 2021

Friday, Feb 12 begins the Year of the Ox as the Chinese New Year comes to town - no more Year of the Rat for us! 16 days of celebrations end with the Lantern Festival on the 26th. In Toronto you will have to settle for virtual celebrations as the Covid lockdown continues.

Toronto Chinatown's Youtube says "We are inviting you to celebrate this year’s Lunar New Year with us virtually. If you miss the lion dance and other popular LNY activities in Chinatown or if want to learn more about how our community celebrates the Lunar New Year, tune in to our live event!" The celebration goes live on Feb 13, 2021 at 7:30pm.


Chinatown bia is also putting on a multimedia public art program beginning Feb 12th. Yue Moon artists PUFF Daddy and Winnie Truong are exhibiting works in public for "an escape from the darkness and cold of winter."

Yue Moon: Animated Light. Location: Huron Square
Friday, February 12 through Monday, February 15, 6pm-9pm daily
Thursday, February 18 through Sunday, February 21, 6pm-9pm daily

Yue Moon II. Location: 79 Huron Street & more
Launching Friday, February 12 through February 28 (or later depending on the installation site permissions)

I miss the LunarFest exhibitions held down at Harbourfront Centre - ahh the good old pre-Covid days.
LunarFest exhibition

Doors Open

Scarborough Bluffs

Pride

Redball

Beaches

Graffiti

Lake Ontario

Nathan Phillips Square

Transportation