Finlay and Kath (top photo)
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve taken great pleasure in all kinds of creative forms – some obviously so (writing, drawing, music) and some which aren’t so widely recognized, but fit the mode, all the same (tech, production).
But I’m very firm, philosophically, about respecting the difference in commitment and skill between the amateur and the serious practitioner.
This is why I consider myself a serious writer (and tech) who also enjoys drawing, photography and creating weird (but at least original) music. ;o)
Still, one can go too far with structural modesty (useful as it is, in practice). I’ve had a wonderful run of night photography of late – so just for tonight, I’m going to pretend to be a photographer who also writes – a tiny bit only. Which is to say – PICTURE DAY! (nocturnal edition)
I’m always especially impressed by people who achieve high design with cleverness, instead of limitless piles of money. Top score for chalk-face handwritten address and also the exquisite type on door.
Thought evident everywhere. Lovely.
There are a lot of places in Toronto where you can look out of a very old window, and see a newer vista inferior in every possible respect, across. This view – at College Park, is one of the sadder (though the high-bar set by the foreground doors is especially daunting, one must admit).
Don’t mean to bore my facebook friends, but their compression algorithms are frustrating, so here it is again, proper and pretty (full texture).
The backside of the Hydro building at College and University – which is just as ugly but not nearly as wacky as the hilarious “walkie talkie” building in London – but the glassy parabolic curves on that one at least serve a very useful purpose – melting cars – hooray – if only ALL new buildings were required to do that – we humans might just barely have a chance!
The entrance to the Princess Margaret hospital – built in 1935, designed by my favourite Toronto architect, Henry Sproatt. He also worked on College Park, the Royal York, Hart House and Soldiers Tower, Bishop Strachan school, and even the extraordinary Canada Life building – which many adore for it’s old time visual weather reports, broadcast with a band of lights atop it’s tower (added to the 1931 building, in 1951).
I am skeptical about a lot of abstract and conceptual art – but I’m even more skeptical of my own skepticism – too easy for that to become a blinding or limiting habit, and thus I have learned to see value in many things I never had before, thanks especially to the insight of inspired teachers and their great in-class lectures. Still not sure if this qualifies as an outright sublime minimal composition or not – but as a bit of night hand-held work, I’m still proud. Textures nice and juicy.
The entrance to Carlu
I’ve mentioned College Park a few times, but been frustrated, trying to find a way to photographically convey it’s art deco juiciness. Though it’s been almost fifty years since the flagship retailer who had it built (Eaton’s) left for their super-mall (then folded), the building is still a very active commercial enterprise with all sorts of additions and minor desecrations in many views (Hortons anchors one corner – blech).
But what conveys the “They don’t do it like that anymore” of the place better than any long views, are the really wonderfully over the top details – fixtures, railings, doorways – even the cast “monel metal” supports for the long vanished awnings have wonderful sculptural qualites, and feel exquisitely balanced.
I finally caught this view the other night – the side entrance along Yonge, where the fleets of celebrity limousines dock, when disgorging their charges for the glamorous charity events that seem to be main users for “The Carlu” one of Toronto’s very loveliest rooms – an art moderne jewel.
The building itself was originally planned (by Ross and McDonald – and my man, Henry Sproatt) to be the largest office complex in the entire world, with both the luxurious retail complex we see today, and also a 38 storey art-deco skyscraper above it (the giant pilings for which, remain). Sadly, the tower itself was scuppered, thanks to the great depression.
When Eaton’s moved to the Eaton Centre in 1975, the new owners decided that the famous and fabulous “Eaton’s Seventh Floor” was too expensive to renovate, and planned to demolish the whole exquisite thing into mere office space – thankfully, they were blocked by it’s historical designation (also in 1975) – but they simply left it closed and decaying.
Finally restored in 2003 – “The Carlu” – renamed after the French architect Jaques Carlu, who designed the original interior, includes the original Lalique fountain in the ‘Round Room’ restaurant – and also the historical auditorium which hosted live radio concerts for years, and where Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, and Sinatra all played. It was also the site of the first performance of the National Ballet of Canada, and Glenn Gould, who quite liked the acoustics, made several of his famous recordings there.
What I still want to know is – did they also restore the Cassavant pipe organ?
Upstairs houseplants, downstairs stained glass
One of my favourite Toronto painters is Brian Harvey – who does exquisite work featuring the weirdly cozy back-alleys and sublimely run-down backyards so characteristic of Toronto’s lovely old downtown neighbourhoods full of Victorian and Edwardian houses.
I’ve always found it hard to catch their inherent warmth in daylight photos – too literal, somehow – but this view conveys some of it (should probably be gaslight, ideally)
Wherefore art thou 2.0
There aren’t that many new ways to do a window-scene – but I’d say this one qualifies. Sadly (to my surreal way of thinking), Juliet seems in this case to be a drywaller (perhaps yet in urgent need of a stud finder?)