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Tag: Art

Discover a Colourful History

Daniel Rotsztain

Toronto’s vibrant history is characterized by its historic buildings. As part of the City’s TO Canada with Love celebrations, Toronto’s iconic historic sites have been captured in the pages of a beautifully rendered colouring book.

The initiative was inspired by artist and cartographer Daniel Rotsztain, a self-proclaimed “urban nerd” but fondly known by the public as The Urban Geographer.

Rotsztain previously drew all 100 branches of the Toronto Public Library in a colouring book project he describes as a “love letter to the library system.”

Although his library sketches began as a personal project three years ago, they proved so popular that fans pushed him to produce a trendy adult colouring book. Drawing Toronto’s historic sites seemed like a natural next step.

“I have always been interested in historical spaces; they may be old, but they’re very much alive,” he explains.

Rotsztain’s mission was no small feat. From July to early September of last year, he biked across the city and sketched all 95 buildings that comprise Toronto’s historic sites.

“I was intent on cycling to each site so I could explore the lesser-known boroughs that make up our picturesque city.”

Rotsztain also hopes to teach Torontonians with his colouring book.

“As I conducted research on the project, it was very important to me to delve deeper into the sites’ histories and tell the diverse stories associated with the site, not just the ones about the men whose names are in the history books and enshrined on street signs and park benches,” he explained.

Visit the gift shops of the Toronto History Museums to pick up your
copy of A Colourful History Toronto, a fabulous Christmas gift for the cultured and creative individuals on your Christmas shopping list.

This article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

The Market Gallery: Where Toronto’s Art, History & Culture Intersect

Nestled on the second floor of St. Lawrence Market, overlooking bustling crowds of shoppers, is The Market Gallery. This multi-purpose space occupies what was once Toronto’s original 1845 council chamber. Part of a network of municipal museums, The Market Gallery is a treasure trove of artworks collected by the City since the late 19th century.

“We have records that go back that far, starting from about 1855,” explained Neil Brochu, supervisor of Collections and Outreach at The Market Gallery.

“When anyone requests artwork from us, either for publication in a catalogue, to display in a civic building or office, or to borrow for another exhibition, we can easily pull those files and usually provide quite a deep historical record related to each piece.”

The gallery debuted its collection of more than 2700 works in 1979 to demonstrate Toronto’s rich artistic history. A large portion of the collection is comprised of official portraits of mayors and public officials. Also featured are landscapes, streetscapes, and works that capture the spirit of the city.

“Our mandate has always focused on collecting works about Toronto,” said Brochu. “Most of the artists are from Toronto and, by and large, the vast majority of pieces depict historical figures or places which document the changes in our city over time.”

The top floor of the gallery is devoted to administration and storage, including a work room where the team frames and mats pieces for display, and a purpose-built vault which houses pieces too large or valuable to display in municipal buildings. Also onsite is The Market Kitchen, a special-programming venue.

Currently on display at The Market Gallery until late November is Maple Leaf Forever: Toronto’s Take on a National Symbol. It features classic sportswear and Toronto memorabilia, military objects, items crafted for British royalty, and much more. It is presented as part of the City of Toronto’s TO Canada with Love program, marking Canada 150, and is funded in part by the Province of Ontario.

For new exhibits, tours, and special events, check toronto.ca/marketgallery for updates.

This article originally appeared in the City of Toronto’s fall/winter 2017 edition of Toronto History Museums magazine.

Pain to art

My world is filled with interesting, inspirational folks. Each of these people represent a small part of the whole sum of me. By sharing their stories, I reveal bits and pieces of myself to you. Meet Hyancinth.

Hyacinth displays her pieces at the Beaux-Arts Brampton Members Anniversary Show

Beauty stylist, decorator and fashionista, Hyacinth Bell is blessed with a sharp eye for design. But it wasn’t until the fall of 2015 that she applied her artistic gifts to the canvas. At just 39 years young and in peak physical, emotional and financial health, she was struck by a life-changing spinal injury, forcing her to endure several months of testing and ineffective treatments in hospital care. Losing functional mobility in nearly half her body caused a chain reaction of disillusionment.

“I lost my home, my business and several friends, as a result,” she says. “I was feeling chronic pain and uncertainty, with no relief from the medications.”

Little did she know her salvation would be found in the art class of Runnymede Rehab Centre. Encouraged to paint inside the lines of sketched images, she discovered an escape from her pain when focusing her energy on creating works of beauty. After institutional care, she continued to hone her skills at home, sketching butterflies—“a symbol of renewed life,” she explains—and gradually working her way to visually expressing conceptualized images.

This Hyacinth original shines brightly on my living room wall; I felt love at the first sight of it (click to enlarge)

Today, some of her most breathtaking works are created when she experiences her most tremendous bouts of pain.

“The vibrant colours in my paintings raise my spirits,” she says. “They reflect the vitality in my soul.”

Though she has lost a great deal of physical mobility, she has gained an extraordinary new gift, one she hopes will bring a renewed sense of vigor to all who experience it.

View and follow Hyacinth’s virtual gallery on Facebook.

~Write-or-die girl