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Springtime - Swipe for April Inspiration

    Creative ReUse : Handmade Springtime Easter Baskets

    handmade easter baskets cotton yarn woven through berry baskets

    Something changed in Toronto last spring, in that berries began being sold in plastic baskets rather than the recyclable cardboard ones that we were used to. We ended up with two of them and were confused about whether or not they could be put in the recycling bin, so they ended up sitting in the corner of the counter until I scooped them up and put them with my crafting supplies. (Today, I remain confused about whether these are garbage or recyclabe, as the city's website still doesn't mention them at all, so don't quote me, but I think they likely go in the garbage.)

    Here's what I made with them -- By weaving some cotton yarn through them, they were transformed into Springtime/Easter baskets! They weren't particularly quick to make but they were quite fun and didn't require much concentration, so I could work on them in the evenings while we watched Netflix (Season 2 of The OA, to be precise).

    Perhaps you have some of these baskets hanging around, or will be bringing some home once berry season kicks in, and would like to try this craft yourself.

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    At the Gallery : The AGO’s Exciting New Artwork by Yayoi Kusama

    yayoi kusama infinity mirrored room lets survive forever at ago toronto

    Simply saying that the touring exhibition of Yayoi Kusama's work "Infinity Mirrors", which made a three-month long stop at the AGO in Toronto last spring, was a big success, would be quite an understatement. It was, in fact, a massive, enormous, humongous (I could go on) success, unlike anything the gallery had ever experienced before.

    Tickets for Members of the gallery went up for sale nearly three months before the show was to begin. Even that far in advance, people had to sit online for hours, waiting for their number to come up, so they could secure their precious two tickets for the show. In one case, as reported in The Toronto Star, a person missed her chance when, after 18 hours of waiting, her cue to purchase finally came up at 3am -- by then she'd understandably fallen asleep, so she missed out and then had to go back to the end of the line.

    That's how it was for Members, so nabbing a golden ticket was an extreme challenge for the regular folks who wanted to see the show. It has been reported that the gallery was asked by the police to stop selling tickets at their booth after they deemed it too difficult to control the crowds. So, ticket sales were relegated to online only.

    Towards the end of the exhibition's stay, the gallery began opening around the clock, in order to accommodate the demand. Suffice it to say that demand was extreme.

    Toronto was not alone in showing its love for Kusama's work -- a quick search revealed that "Infinity Mirrors" was a record breaker at each of its five North American stops.

    I can only imagine how happy this 90 year old artist must be right how. For her to be alive and able to witness the overwhelming appreciation for her work is not something to be taken for granted, considering that, at one point in her career she became so discouraged and overwhelmed by depression that she became suicidal. This state of mind was a result of the extreme sexism and racism that used to be the norm in the art-world. She has revealed that, during the 60s and 70s, even female dealers would not show interest in and feature the work of female artists. In addition, Kusama experienced at least three situations where male contemporaries, including Andy Warhol, obviously copied her work and went on to achieve great success with their pieces, while she remained largely ignored.

    One example of this was the soft sculptures created by Claes Oldenburg after he'd seen Kusama was doing them. There was little doubt that he copied her idea, considering that his wife apologized to Kusama because of it. I find it interesting, and somewhat satisfying, that the AGO purchased Oldenburg's "Floor Hamburger" (as seen in this photo -- it is currently in storage) for $2,000 in 1967 and that they've now purchased a piece by Yayoi Kusama for over a million times more. Boom.

    This brings me to the primary and exciting reason for today's post -- The AGO has acquired one of Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirrored Rooms and it will be on permanent display at the gallery!

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    Crochet for Cuties : Handmade Headwear for Babies

    wearing hat at 8 months

    Hello, hello!

    For the crocheters who are reading, this is a post featuring two little hats and one tiny crown that I crocheted for the beloved babes in my life.

    And, for the visitors who don't crochet but enjoy seeing pictures of babies, there are a few of those included here, too.

    As for those who don't crochet and aren't into baby pics, I'll talk to you later, haha. Please pop back next week, as I have an exciting art related story up next.

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    Live Music : Emilie Kahn at The Drake Underground

    emilie kahn songwriter singer harp player performing in toronto

    Seeing Emilie Kahn perform at The Drake Underground (at The Drake Hotel, Queen Street West, Toronto) on Friday night was the result of a random lucky pick, and I choose the word lucky with intent, because the show was excellent and I feel fortunate to have seen it.

    Being a lover of new music, I've found that a good way to get ideas for who to listen to, or go and see, is to regularly check the list of shows that the independent record store and ticket seller "Rotate This" keeps on their website (found here). They offer tickets for many of the independent acts that come to Toronto, at venues including the smaller ones: The Mod Club, The Velvet Underground and The Drake. While some of the performers coming to the city are familiar, there are many names that are new to me, so, every couple of weeks, I go through the list and pop names of the unknown-to-me performers into Spotify search, to have a listen.

    That's how I found out about Emilie Kahn -- it took no more than a couple of minutes of flipping through the songs on her newly released album "Outro" to decide that I definitely wanted to see her live. I emailed my fellow-music-loving friend Andrea to see if she'd like to come too, as part of her birthday present, and she wrote back right away with a "yes". (I later found out that she agreed to come without even hearing any of the music first. I appreciate her trust in my musical taste!)

    I bought the tickets at Rotate during the first week of February, and between then and showtime on March 22, I listened to "Outro" quite a few times. It got to the point that a couple of ear-worms from the album became stuck in my head, particularly parts from the songs "Island" and "Three".

    Emilie Kahn is a young songwriter, singer, and harpist from Montreal, Canada. Yes, she plays the harp. Not to be narrow-minded, but had I noted that before listening to her music, I'm not sure I would have gone ahead and checked it out, not because I don't like the harp, but because I don't really know it. I'd associate it with classical, new-age or folk music more than I would with the indie-rock genre that I tend to prefer. Now, after having heard Emilie perform, I'm a fan of the multi-stringed instrument, especially as she presented it, mixed with keyboards, bass guitar and drums.

    When listening to the recordings, I found myself wondering how the pieces would be performed live. There is such a rich and layered sound to the music that I totally expected some premixed tracks to come into it. Not so. Emilie achieved her complex multi-layered sound 100% live, with the use of effects pedals and looped recordings, which she dexterously controlled with her bare feet.

    She also had a microphone placed into the wooden column of her harp, which she sang into, through a hole, giving her voice an ethereal echoing sound. This she recorded and looped, and then sang over using the regular mic. This technique was used in the song "Aquarium", which she performed as a solo. I can honestly say that that piece of music was the richest, most spine-tingling thing I've ever heard a musician do by themselves. I imagine that it helped that The Drake has a great sound system, which was being operated by a skilled sound-person. It was simply mesmerizing.

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    An X-cellent Evening at Hotel-X

    hotel x and sports complex toronto cne grounds

    One of Toronto's newest hotels just began hosting a weekly event and my friend Julie and I got to go to the launch party.

    Hotel X is located at 111 Princes' Boulevard on the CNE grounds, just a five minute walk from the Princes' Gates. The 27 story hotel opened last spring and is connected to a large state-of-the-art sports complex. If you're car-free, I found getting there by TTC to be easy, as the Bathurst Streetcar has a stop nearby. Julie took an Uber and also found it no problem to find. Actually, you can't really miss it, as it's the only tall structure in the area.

    I previously wrote about the Canadian National Exhibition in this post, and you can see this building in the first photo of that story, in the background of the midway, although, that picture was taken before the hotel was open. This annual fair, which has run for the last couple of weeks of August for 140 years, is nicknamed "The Ex", so, I'm guessing that is partially why the hotel is called X.

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    Recent Stories

    Creative ReUse : Handmade Springtime Easter Baskets At the Gallery : The AGO's Exciting New Artwork by Yayoi Kusama Crochet for Cuties : Handmade Headwear for Babies Live Music : Emilie Kahn at The Drake Underground An X-cellent Evening at Hotel-X A Handmade Gift for a Dear Young Person At the Gallery : AGO's "Impressionism in the Age of Industry" Live Music : LP and Lauren Ruth Ward at The Danforth Music Hall Handmade Valentine Decorations : Needlepoint Hearts Snow Day in Toronto: the Day After a Big Storm Lunch at the Home of Friends Niall and Leslie Crocheting : Figuring Out a Very Particular BUT Quite Magical Yarn A Birthday Dinner at Rosalinda Holiday Crochet : How to Make a Wreath A Holiday Art Date with Andrea : Hand Lettering Live Music : Peter Bjorn and John at The Velvet Underground Gift Wrapping : How to Make a Crocheted Flower and Button Topper Our Anniversary Dinner : Nineteen Years! How to Make Tassel Earrings with Embroidery Thread and a Comb A Beautiful Brunch with Fine Friends Dinner in a Building With a History and a Personal Mystery Solved Easy Handmade : How to Make a Felted Wool Ball Garland Thrift Store Finds A Crocheted Baby Girl Cardigan Sweater
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