Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Morning Catch Up

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Yesterday was a fabulous day. I decided to have a day dedicated to all things photographic. It was nice and sunny (after I prayed to the weather Gods to deliver unto us some Sun) and I spent a good deal of it walking around the 'hood taking pictures which will be featured on a number of blogs in the making. Bella enjoyed the extended walk as well - and we just wandered about making like tourists.

Aside from building and benches pictures, I also spent some time doing a winter weeds photo series. Last summer during the height of our City Workers strike, I took a bunch of summer weeds pictures and they were spectacular. Winter time is a great time to take pictures of what is left after the green bits dry up and blow away and today was the perfect day for getting these shots.

 After I had wandered the neighbourhood for a few hours I dropped Bella off at home and then headed right back out and walked up to Queen Street to the Gladstone Hotel.  There is a photo exhibition titled "Building Storeys 2010"  there until February 27th.   It is a collaborative effort by Heritage Toronto and members of Toronto's Shadow Collective and DK Photo Group.  The Shadow Collective is a collaboration of photographers, based in Toronto and Buffalo, NY, with the aim of bringing together images of a similar theme. The DK Photo Group is very interesting collective in that they explore abandoned urban structures to bring into the public realm images most people otherwise would never see.  Each collective hosts a website featuring their work and it is well worth a visit to have a look.

My trip to the Gladstone was very engaging, as I had expected.  Firstly, let me tell you about the Gladstone.  The Gladstone Hotel is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Toronto. It was originally built in 1889 as a stylish hostelry across from the then existing Parkdale railroad station which serviced the Grand Trunk, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), and the Canadian National Railway (CNR) companies.

In 2000, it was purchased by the Zeidler family. They took the crumbling, century-old Gladstone hotel and transformed it from skid row flophouse to an arts and music hotspot. They regularly feature art exhibits in the hotel, the wide hallways on the 4 floors make for perfect gallery space.

From the Gladstone Hotel website:
More than a hotel,The Gladstone is a social and cultural incubator facilitating sustainable and accessible ways of experiencing art, culture, community, and local cuisine. We host over 100 arts-related events each and every month!

In keeping with the diversity of events, people, and experiences that we become known for, each of our thirty-seven guest rooms have been individually designed by local Toronto artists.
I was treated to a ride up to the 4th floor by the hotel desk clerk.  The restored Victorian elevator is apparently one of the last hand-operated elevators in Toronto.  It is wonderfully done in wrought iron and open to the staircase.  A piece of art in itself.

It is really quite  excellent that the hotel hosts art shows (free of charge, I might add) however, the downside is that it is a real hotel, so art patrons will need to sidestep the cleaning carts belonging to the ladies who clean the rooms, and you can see evidence of this in my photos.

The photos in the Building Storeys exhibit were very interesting and I thought well executed artistically.   The show featured a collection of 74 photos originating from 13 different  Industrial Buildings of Toronto's past.  Many were unique photos were of abandoned building interiors,  others  focused on interesting architecture (for instance the art deco Harris Filtration plat) and some were just unique perspectiveson industrial equipment and tools.  Well worth a visit to the Gladstone before the show finishes on Feb 27th.

There was information providing some history on each of the buildings which gave context to the photos.  I read with great interest about the "Wellington Destructor".  This abandoned building is on my walking route to work.  The term destructor was used to refer to incineration buildings at the time the plants were built.   Interestingly, I found a web site which not only provides historical details about the building, but also gives information about how to sneak in (to get pictures like these ones, I presume).  It also explains what hazards exist in the building for the urban explorers who might venture there.

Here are a few photos I took of the photos... just to whet your curiousity!

I particularly liked the work of Toni Wallachy.  You can go here to see a Flickr photostream of her work titled "Thou Shall Not Die and Be Forgotten".

If you want to see the photos which were featured in Building Storeys 2009 go here.

I was so enthusiastic about photography that when I got home I spent a few hours sorting and tagging my photos on my computer and uploaded a few of the nicer ones to Picasa Web. If you would like to check them out you can go here.

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