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Toronto Artist Hugh Wilson on Encaustic Painting

Artist Hugh Wilson on Encaustic Painting

Encaustic painting is an ancient technique, used in ancient Egypt and notably in religious iconography in the early Middle Ages. (The image to the right of a bejewelled woman comes from the Greco-Roman period of Egyptian history, about 100-110 AD.) "Rediscovered" in the early 20th century as a viable medium, it's gained in popularity over the last two decades or so. It's the luminous quality of the finished product that caught my eye one day, and I asked Toronto area artist Hugh Wilson about his work.

Alongside a longstanding career in television production, Hugh has also been a part-time working artist for about the last 13 years - an avocation he plans on retiring into. For the first dozen or so of those years, he focused almost exclusively on large format sculpture, often using trees and other objects that necessitated site specific installations. The largest of these was a pair of 15' dolphins made from a dead tree that…

Expressions of Brazil - Harbourfront July 16-18

Explore Brazil through music, dance, film, visual art and food at this first ever festival - and it's all FREE. From a media release.


Expressions of Brazil
July 16-18
Part of World Routes Summer Festivals 2010 at Harbourfront Centre

TORONTO, ON (June 24, 2010) –The first-ever Expressions of Brazil Festival brings sizzling Brazilian flavours to Harbourfront Centre from June 16-18 2010. This FREE three-day festival celebrates Brazil’s rich cultural traditions and multiculturalism through contemporary Brazilian music, food, film and art.

International concert highlights include performances from Brazil’s 25-year music veteran Laura Finocchiaro who gracefully combines bossa-nova, samba, jazz and funk, followed by 17-year-old pop sensation Mallu Magalhães and a late-night party with Brazil’s DJ Raul Vax (with local DJ Branko) spinning the hottest progressive and electro house music. Local musical contributions are provided by Toronto’s own Sinal Alberto, an exciting new jazz quartet featuri…

Afrofest Toronto - July 10 & 11

No worries for FIFA/Afrofest fans - from a media release.


AFROFEST & WORLD CUP
July 10 & 11
Queen's Park, Toronto

The final weekend of the World Cup, Africa’s first hosting of the most watched sporting event on the planet, falls on the same weekend as Afrofest. There’s no need to miss any of the action in South Africa or at Queen’s Park. The final will be shown live in the park on two big screens. Come and be part of the energy and excitement of both events! For more details check out the link.

This year marks the 22nd annual Afrofest, a free showcase of the richness and diversity of African culture.  Events include song, dance, drumming and theatre featuring world-renowned African music acts as well as dozens of highly-rated African musical groups based in Canada. With a bustling African marketplace, food and craft vendors, artistic displays, a Children’s Village, a drum stage, music and dance workshops, and organized fun and educational activities for youth and children, the…

Harlem Meer Performance Festival - Central Park NYC

Harlem Meer Festival


Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
Located inside Central Park at 110th Street between 5th and Lenox Avenues
Sundays 2:00pm to 4:00pm to September 5

There are few better ways to spend a Sunday afternoon in the summer than outside with some great music. The 2010 Harlem Meer Performance Festival features a smorgasbord of music and dance that ranges from hot Brazilian jazz to Cuban salsa and gospel - and most styles between. They do provide some chairs, but you're best to bring a blanket, some food and drink and enjoy from the lawns.

All concerts take place at the Dana Discovery Center unless otherwise indicated.

Here's the remainder of their 2010 schedule:

Zon del Barrio
Latin jazz, classic salsa, bomba, plena, merengue and boogalu directly from the hood.
Sunday, July 4, 2010

Retumba
A multi-ethnic all-female music and dance ensemble bringing you Latin-European to Afro-Caribbean traditions.
Sunday, July 11, 2010



Harlem Blues and Jazz Band
Classic Jazz & Blues from…

Georgia & Leona at Toronto Fringe

Part of the offerings at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival, running this year from June 30 to July 11. All the Fringe offerings are available at the link above.

From a media release.


We’d like to introduce you to Georgia & Leona, a new play that will be making its debut at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival.

In the Room Productions
Writer-In-Residence – Misha Bower
Artistic Director – Lara Mrkoci

GEORGIA AND WHO...?

Georgia & Leona are strangers with a lot in common, especially tonight, as each woman returns home from a bizarre and unexpected evening with the past.

“...It’s never made sense to me when people say the rest is history. What happened might be history, but the rest is actually happening right now...”


Check out a trailer here.

Georgia & Leona has multidisciplinary beginnings, having originated as two monologues that have both been previously performed at various musical events, including Sappyfest in 2008 and 2009.

Lara & Misha have been friends and c…

Factory Theatre Founder Ken Gass Honoured

NEWS RELEASE


FACTORY THEATRE FOUNDER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR KEN GASS WINS PRESTIGIOUS “PREMIER’S AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE ARTS

Toronto, ON – Thursday, June 17, 2010Factory Theatre’s Founder and Artistic Director, as well as acclaimed director, producer, playwright and advocate, Ken Gass is the 2010 winner of the Premier’s
Award for Excellence in the Arts.  The award ceremony, presided over by Premier Dalton McGuinty and Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism and Culture, was held at the Liberty Grand on June 10th.  The Ontario-wide Premier’s Award comes with a cash prize of $35,000 plus $15,000 to be awarded to an emerging artist of the winner’s choice.  Gass says that winning the Premier's Award was a humbling and moving experience. “To begin with, I felt privileged to be among such a remarkable group of finalists from several disciplines.  I also feel my award recognizes my commitment to our extraordinary theatre community, and I share the honour with the many superb collaborator…

VSC Signs Canadian Distribution Deal With Cinema Libre Studio

Video Services Corp. – For Immediate Release


VSC Signs Canadian Distribution Deal With Cinema Libre Studio


Toronto, ON (June 21, 2010) – Video Services Corp. is thrilled to announce the signing of an exclusive all-rights Canadian distribution deal with Cinema Libre Studio of Los Angeles, California.

The first releases covered by the agreement are the health-themed documentaries Dying To Have Known, The Gerson Miracle, The Beautiful Truth and Healing Cancer. Other 2010 releases include Oliver Stone’s South of the Border and The End of Poverty?, a Cannes selection.

“We are excited to be working with Cinema Libre Studio and their catalogue of quality films,” declared VSC President Jonathan Gross, “they have an eye for films that examine the hot and important issues of the day and we’re looking forward to introducing these titles to the Canadian market.”

“We are eager to release our films to Canada through VSC”, said Philippe Diaz, Cinema Libre Studio chairman. “VSC is known for bringing qua…

RCM & Alberta Gov't Team Up in Arts Education Initiative

For immediate release: June 22, 2010

ALBERTA GOVERNMENT INVESTS $1.3 MILLION IN INNOVATIVE
ROYAL CONSERVATORY PROGRAM IN FORT MCMURRAY


Program funding focused on boosting high school completion rates for aboriginal students

Fort McMurray – The Royal Conservatory is pleased to announce a three-year, $1.3 million grant from Alberta Justice, provided through its Safe Communities Innovation Fund. The grant will be used to implement arts-based programming aimed at boosting the high school completion rates and life skills of aboriginal youth in the Fort McMurray area. The project will be undertaken by the Conservatory’s pioneering integrative arts program Learning Through the Arts (LTTA).

“We are grateful for this generous funding from the government of Alberta,” said Angela Elster, Vice President, Academic of the Conservatory. “This is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Fort McMurray and other northern Alberta communities to collaborate in creating outstanding opportunities for aborig…

Warfare - ASM Dance Company - June 25 & 26 Toronto

As the Spirit Moves Dance Company
Warfare
A DanceWorks CoWorks Series Event
Choreography: Jasmyn Fyffe
June 25 & 26 - Dancemakers Centre, Toronto

Artistic Director Jasmyn Fyffe was kind enough to invite me to the company's dress rehearsal for this weekend's show in the Distillery District (full details below, along with the credits).

Warfare is an ambitious work in 10 short segments that incorporates dance, live and recorded music, opera and even spoken word in an exploration of the notion of war and conflict. The young ASM Company (founded in 2007) looks to add socially relevant content to dance performance, and in that vein, the piece is highly theatrical.

The choreographic vocabulary ranges from the agitated movements of Dry Cry, the first scene, to more meditative passages. In effect, it's a nicely varied programme that alternates solo and ensemble work, theatrical movement and passages of classic modern dance with an emotional range from sadness and anguish to hope.

Mu…

Global Divas & Global Blues - LuminaTO June 19

Global Divas & Global Blues
LuminaTO - Queen's Park June 19

It was hot, the G20 preps are getting insane downtown and I had to eat here and there (although the
schmancy vendors that closed down Queen's Park Circle had an incredible risotto with osso bucco - I got the
last one!) - so you'll have to forgive the partial coverage of yesterday's incredible musical event. You'll also have to forgive the haphazard pics and their sometimes odd colours and quality, since my camera seems to have a haphazard way of capturing images - or not. Hopefully, the vid clips will help! At any rate, this is what I checked out.

Carmen Souza is a native of Cape Verde, and her 4 piece band hails from Portugal, Italy and Nigeria. They came from London on their way to Paris on tour to promot her latest CD, Protegid. Her music is a sinuous and melodic blend of modern jazz and Cape Verde polyrhythms. Her songs and the rhythm itself sometimes inspired by the traditions of home, like the one…

The Africa Trilogy - LuminaTO

A Look Behind the Scenes of The Africa Trilogy

Shine Your Eye
Written by Binyavanga Wainaina
Directed by Ross Manson

The programme and notes pose three succinct questions to frame this theatrical dialogue about Africa and the West:

Just who do they think they are?
Just who do they think we are?
Just who do we think we are?

All three plays present very different perspectives on the theme, from the white angst of Peggy Pickit Sees the Face of God (by German theatre's rising star Roland Schimmelpfennig) to Amercian playwright Christina Anderson's GLO, about a young Kenyan writer in NYC, where everyone wants her to stand in for their very on African experience. (I'm doing a full review that will appear in next month's White Elephant Magazine.)

I spoke with Mumbi Tindyebwa Otu, Assistant Director of Shine Your Eye about what it was like to work on this huge project.

"It's a great play," she enthuses, "the first play by (this) fiction writer. It covers a lot of …

African Issues and the Challenge of Artistic Response (LuminaTO)

African Issues and the Challenge of Artistic Response
A LuminaTO event - June 13 (Toronto)

With renowned writer and scholar Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Binyavanga Wainaina, playwright of The Africa Trilogy’s Shine Your Eye and Director of the Chinua Achebe Centre for African Literature at Bard College and moderated by James Orbinski, writer, doctor, and former head of the Nobel-prize winning Médecins Sans Frontières.

The stated purpose of the event was to discuss African issues and the place of artistic response in an arena more often dominated by international development discourse. To what extent can art be a force for change? Should it be? Are some artworks more or less useful than others in such a context? The discussion itself was rather rambling at that, but always entertaining and instructive, with its contrast of the gracious elder statesman of Kenyan literature and the more strident voice of a younger generation.

I had the pleasure of seeing Ngugi wa Thiong'o speak a second time…

Caribbean Dance Theatre - Awakenings June 17-18

From a media release:

AWAKENING!
An Urban Musical story of a Dancer
Artistic Direction by Tamla Matthews


June 17-18
Toronto Centre for the Arts


Check out a bit of it at this link.

Toronto - ON, The journey of no two dancers is the same and therein lies a graphic and uncompromising story of a dancer.  Awakening is an urban musical dance theatre production based on the transformational journey of a dancer. A dubious love affair with dance, grounded in a supportive cocoon fuelled by culture and spirituality. Gripping in its historical content, a little girl dreams to be a successful dancer and learns that the hardest journey is not upward, but inward. Artistic maturity comes at a price few are really willing to pay. As the price takes a toll on the soul the dance becomes the foundation for resistance, solace and transformation. 

Awakening is reflective of human angst, dedication and ultimate triumph.  Born out of a true story, Awakening is a story of perseverance and the power to aspire; chann…

Tasty Thursdays & People Project CD Release

Cheap and good eats and a free concert at lunchtime - Tasty Thursdays take over Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square in July and August - including this CD release event from People Project.


From a media release:

People Project CD Release
Canada-Mexico's bi-national/quadrilingual band, People Project, fuse folk and funk on "Natural" disc
Nathan Phillips Square, "Tasty Thursdays" Events, Toronto
Thursday, July 22  Noon - 2pm
Free public event

[Toronto ON]   What happens when a group of players drops the notion of borders to merge talent from Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, and Trinidad to play an innovative musical hybrid of funk, hip-hop, calypso, and Afro-Brazilian --- sung in French, English, Spanish and Portuguese no less?!   What happens is People Project and their new disc, "Natural"!

While co-founders Philippe Lafreniere from Canada (Souljazz) and Gabriel Bronfman from Mexico (Quem, Resorte), take the spirit of world music and advance the cross-cultural…

African Literature - a LuminaTO Reading & Discussion

African Literature
A reading & discussion
LuminaTO - June 12 - Toronto

With  2009 Booker Prize nominee Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Brian Chikwava, winner of the 2004 Caine Prize & writer/novelist Carole Enahoro

Three very different authors gave brief readings and talked about African literature at this very interesting LuminaTO event last Saturday. The moderator was Toronto Poet Laureate and novelist Dionne Brand.

Brian Chikwava read from the opening of his novel Harrare North - a nickname for London, where he now makes his home. The story is told in patois through an unnamed narrator - a Robert Mugabe supporter and former member of his  Green Bombers, (a kind of ultra nationalist youth paramilitary organization). He arrives at Gatwick claiming asylym, only to find his relatives "lapsed Africans", less than eager to welcome him and even expecting him to pay his own train fare. His voice is sharply and wryly observant in its view from the bottom, and funny even in the unple…

Rock the Casbah & An African Prom (LuminaTO June 12)

Rock the Casbah & An African Prom
June 12 - Queen's Park, Toronto

What with a rain delay in the afternoon and some other things I was attending, (and will report on at a later
date,) I got to Queen's Park late in the afternoon, in time to hear Montreal's Karim Saada. I was reading in the Toronto Star about how the crowds stayed away because of the wet weather, but they must have left pretty early - the people kept coming and the evening's audience was fairly sizeable.

Karim Saada is Algerian born, and his music reflects a kind of traditonal, rootsy take on the music. (It garnered him a Juno nomination in 2009.) It was his first Toronto appearance, and likely won't be the last. The crowd loved the infectious rhythms and multi-layered harmonies, and the large band included a fiddler while he himself played banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar.

The afternoon programme capped off with Rachid Taha, another Algerian ex-pat, but who's made France his home for decade…

Dark Star Requiem - LuminaTO (Continues Tonight)

Dark Star Requiem
World Premiere - June 11
Composed by Andrew Staniland
Libretto by Jill Battson
With soprano Neema Bickersteth, mezzo Krisztina Szabó, baritone Peter McGillivray and bass-baritone Marcus Nance.
Elmer Iseler Singers, the Gryphon Trio and percussionists Ryan Scott & Mark Duggan 
Tapestry New Opera music director Wayne Strongman


Continues tonight - June 12

Striking, beautiful, and wonderfully weird.

I know what you're thinking - a dramatic oratorio on the 25 year history of HIV/AIDS... what the hell could that possibly be like? I'm happy to report that it's all of the above. It's a production that uses a multiplicity of staging elements from lighting to projections, drama and movement along with the huge musical talents of the cast to bring various elements of the "story" to life, including scientific data, historic incidents, attitudes and scenarios.

The piece is divided into 14 short sections that flow into each other, dramatizing things like &quo…