Day 5 of the Artist Residency

It has been an honour to spend time in this building, to see what it’s like with everything gone, and to see what has been left behind.  We want to share a little bit of what we’ve seen.

 

Does anyone remember this little patch of checkered floors amid all the clutter when the store was open and full?

 

The most fascinating part has been the exploration of all the back rooms – all the offices that looked like time capsules from the 1970s and 1980s.  Many desks were left as if someone walked away one day and never came back.

World map from the days when the Soviet Union was still around.

The desks were all from the days before computers – each one had a desk protector on it, and some still had paperwork and log books.

Newspaper Clippings.png

Some walls had newspaper clippings from the 1970s!  Most had pin-up girls from the 1980s.

Someone’s calendar from 1977!

A portion of our installation honours Ed’s humble beginnings, with a reproduction of his first store, which was only 12 x 15 feet in size.  One of the reasons we spent so much time going through the empty store and the old offices was to find ‘merchandise’ for our replica.  Here’s a sneak peek of some of the products our ‘store’ will feature.

Modernist Clock.png

A modernist clock.

Cassette Player.png

A double cassette player!

Art Deco Clock.png

An art-deco style clock

Odds and Ends.png

Various odds and ends.

Transistor Radio.png

A transistor radio.

We look forward to seeing you at our grand opening on February 24, 2017!

Introducing Kyle White

By: Dawn Laing, Artist Manager - @loraxgirl on all things social

As part of our a-MAZE-ment series you will get to see numerous works of art spanning the genres of theatre, dance, film and visual arts. Some pieces you will be fully immersed, others you will be able to step back and enjoy. Through our blog series, we hope to introduce you to a smattering of the artists we will be featuring as part of a-MAZE-ment. Everyone has a story and we want you to hear it.

Today we would like to introduce you to Toronto artist, Kyle White. He is bringing an immersive light experience to Honest Ed’s a-MAZE-ment that is sure to magically engulf your visual and auditory senses. There’s more to Kyle than LED lights and musical overtones - get to know him via the Q&A below:

6IX Questions:

From Burning Man to Camp Reset to Personal Parties your work can be found all over! Thank you so much for bringing your brand of creative expression to Honest Ed’s a-MAZE-ment! Now, some quick questions so people can get to know you a bit better..

1: Can you introduce yourselves and a bit about your practice?
I’m a Toronto-based interactive installation designer. I enjoy creating projects which engage the crowd and create a space for play.

2. What does Honest Ed’s mean to you?
When I first moved to Toronto I lived on Bathurst, just down from Honest Ed’s, so the space has always had a strong connection with me getting my start here.

3. Why do/How do you think your project pays homage to Honest Ed’s/Toronto?
A final send off to the space before it becomes something new is a GREAT way to pay tribute to both the ever changing city as well as Honest Ed’s itself.

4. What does it mean to you to be a part of this project?
I’m happy to be able to create something alongside so many talented and dedicated individuals.

5. What is your dream project?
Working with friends to create an experience enjoyed by many.

6. If someone wanted to see more of your work, where should they go? (eg - website and/or upcoming shows).. You know.. Because this entire exhibit will go down with the ship!
Sadly no website :( but keep your eyes peeled. You never know what’s next.

Kyle would like to thank his amazing set up crew of Katie Perconti, Nabeel Kassam and Andrea Ouellette. Also a very special thanks to Brad Neil for having us continue with the project!

You can visit this elusive artist’s works drenching the pedway between the East and West building. Make some noise or take it quietly as AURORA interacts with sound and it’s up to you to create your experience. Find tickets here.

Introducing Stephanie Payne

By: Dawn Laing, Artist Manager - @loraxgirl on all things social

As part of our a-MAZE-ment series, you will get to see numerous works of art spanning the genres of theatre, dance, film and visual arts. Some pieces you will be fully immersed, others you will be able to step back and enjoy. Through our blog series, we hope to introduce you to a smattering of the artists we will be featuring as part of a-MAZE-ment. Everyone has a story and we want you to hear it.

Meet Stephanie Payne - a Latina-Canadian multidisciplinary artist, designer, and muralist based in Toronto with an eclectic background in fine arts, theatre/film production, and graphic design. Originally born in Edmonton, Payne spent most of her childhood and teens between Southeast Asia, Venezuela, and Trinidad & Tobago, and has called Toronto home for the past five years. The dynamic of Canadian versus global citizenship motivates her to explore themes of identity, transformation, and impermanence in her work and you won’t believe what she’s created for a-MAZE-ment. Come in and get lost...in the meantime get to know Stephanie below.

6ix Questions:

1: Can you introduce yourself and a bit about your practice?
My name is Stephanie Payne. I'm a Calgary-born, half-Venezuelan/ half-Trinidadian multidisciplinary artist, and designer. So the inclusivity and diversity behind 'Toronto for Everyone' really applies in my case. In terms of my artistic practice, my work is generally an explosion of colour and patterns found in murals and installation art. Because really, who doesn't love colour???

2. What does Honest Ed’s mean to you?
When I first moved to Toronto four years ago, I was lucky enough to end up living in the Annex. Honest Ed's became an overpowering presence in my daily path. Unlike many born-and-raised Torontonians, I don't have a life-long connection or history with the space. However, my relationship with Honest Ed's quickly centered on its whimsical signage and circus-like aesthetic. This is the main inspiration behind my art installation as part of a-MAZE-ment.

3. Why do/How do you think your project pays homage to Honest Ed’s/Toronto?
My installation commemorates the wacky and theatrical voice of Ed Mirvish. It captures the essence of Honest Ed's, and re-tells Ed’s story through a fantastical hidden carnival.

4. What does it mean to be a part of this project?
This is such a big moment in the history of Toronto! I feel so privileged and honoured to be a part of this transformation. I love the challenge of working in site-specific spaces, especially in an insane two-week time crunch. And as Degas once said, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." I can only hope that my installation can make people see what Ed Mirvish saw for so many years.

5. Your style is so unique. I’ve got to ask, who is your favourite artist and why? Who brings you inspiration?
This is a hard question because I have so many favourites...

Contemporary Artist: Pip and Pop, they're a duo who do amazing candy-like installations. They're incredible, and kitschy in all the right ways. I love kitsch! Also, Katerina Grosse, Ernesto Neto.

Muralists: Felipe Pantone, Okuda, Maya Hayuk.

Historically: Frida Kahlo. From her themes of sexuality and feminism to her aesthetic and colour palettes, Frida has always been my artistic guiding light.

6. If someone wanted to see more of your work, where should they go? (eg - website and/or upcoming shows)
You can follow me on my instagram, @sppayne or visit my website at www.theartofpayne.com

My next project is House of VR- a virtual reality lounge that will be opening up in April on Queen and Bathurst.  I'm designing the interior space and will be showcasing a couple of new murals.

For a limited time, you can visit Stephanie’s carnival-esque exhibit on the basement level between the east and west buildings of Honest Ed’s as part of Toronto for Everyone, Feb 23 - 26. Get your tickets here.

The Honest 6ix Artist Residency: Frenzy and Focus

By: TH6

The first few days of our Honest Ed's residency have been a blur! Day 1 was a solid eleven hours spent building a wooden structure that changes the look and flow of the rugs and linen section, to fulfill our artistic vision for the space. We had the help and guidance of five amazing friends, and even though many of us had never built anything like it before, the work went smoothly and happily. And, nobody injured themselves with power tools!

After taking care of the largest physical piece, we split the work into different areas of specialization (sewing, painting, curating, research, assembly, wiring...), and have been steadily working on those since Monday. Since our wooden structure separates us into three areas, it's as if we're in three rooms of a very large house, calling to each other beyond walls when we need assistance or clarity.

In addition to the physical labour, this residency has also been a great mental workout, as we've needed to delegate responsibilities, stay within our budget, determine priorities, and be expert communicators in a team that didn't exist a couple of months ago. It's a testament to our commitment and excitement that we remain on-track and energetic about the work still to come.

It's not just us in the building - every day, we interact with Toronto For Everyone staff, volunteers, other artists, cleaners, and numerous maintenance and construction personnel who have been dealing with the challenges of putting together such a huge and multifaceted event in such an unusual building. Everyone here is fully engaged in making this a weekend to remember. We've dealt with leaks, splinters, unlabelled circuit breakers, and stomach ailments - we're not stopping until we've created an appropriate tribute to Ed Mirvish's beautifully bizarre enterprise and spirit!

More to come!

Introducing Birdo X Getso

By: Dawn Laing, Artist Manager - @loraxgirl on all things social

As part of our a-MAZE-ment series you will get to see numerous works of art spanning the genres of theatre, dance, film and visual arts. Some pieces you will be fully immersed, others you will be able to step back and enjoy. Through our blog series we hope to introduce you to a smattering of the artists we will be featuring as part of a-MAZE-ment. Everyone has a story and we want you to hear it.

Today, we would like to introduce you to internationally known artists Birdo X Getso who have collaborated to bring their exhibit ANAMORPHICISM to Honest Ed’s a-MAZE-ment , created only to be destroyed. This never seen before piece was created onsite over an eight-day period. Get to know a little bit about the artists below.

6ix Questions:
Eeeeee… I love when I have the opportunity to work with friends. Thanks so much to both of you for joining us for this spectacle! 

1) Firstly, can you gents each introduce yourselves and tell folks how you got your graf names- birdO? Getso?
Getso: My name is GETSO and I’m a multidisciplinary artist based right here in Toronto. After a number of different graffiti names and various run-ins with the law, I ended up changing my pseudonym to GETSO. Not only to evade what the police may have known me as at the time, but also because the word itself is symmetrical and has great flow to it, which makes it super fun to paint.

birdO: I’m Jerry Rugg and my nomme de plume is birdO. I kind of wish I had a cool story behind my nickname or “pseudonym” as GETSO says but really it just stems from what I was called when I was a kid, Jbird.

2. What does Honest Ed’s mean to you?
GETSO: It means a whole hell of a lot to me. Honest Ed’s was actually the first place I got spray cans to go paint graffiti. I remember getting “Champion” brand spray paint from their hardware section in about 2000 or 2001 and went back to my neighbourhood in the west end to go paint my first wall.

birdO: I moved out of my parents basement and halfway across the country to Toronto when I was a teenager. Between Honest Ed’s and like a dozen found milk crates I was able to furnish and outfit my entire apartment for like $35. I could never have dreamed my savings would have stretched that far.

3. Why do/How do you think your project pays homage to Honest Ed’s / Toronto?
GETSO: Our project pays homage to Honest Ed’s I feel in relevance to the landmark’s lifeline. Like all great things in life, the company and the building itself are ephemeral. And just like our installation, it was created for the community, soon to be demolished and replaced.

birdO: Things are changing so fast in Toronto. I think we have to take the time to cherish and enjoy all that we love about the city. In both the figurative and literal sense our piece is about perspective.

4. What does it mean to be a part of this project?
GETSO: It means everything to me. As a born and bred Torontonian, Honest Ed’s has been a staple of the city for decades. Outside of maybe the CN Tower and SkyDome/Rogers Centre, there isn’t another bigger more recognized landmark in the city than Honest Ed’s. So to be invited to share my work with the icons send off - I feel truly honoured as a Torontonian and validated as an Artist.

birdO: I think GETSO said it well. It’s truly an honour.

5. You both beautify Toronto in a unique way, how does it feel to bring your work inside?
GETSO: I feel it brings something different. What I do is generally a more subversive method of creating work and the piece itself is even further removed from that. As far as I can tell, no one has tried to do what we’re doing in this city whether at a gallery or a museum, so I think we’ll give the viewers and the community something they haven’t seen before.

birdO: It feels great! We’ve definitely challenged ourselves with this project and there is always something exciting about pushing the limits of your comfort zone. I can’t wait for everyone to check it out.

6. If someone wanted to see more of your work, where should they go? (eg - website and/or upcoming shows).. You know.. Because this entire exhibit will go down with the ship!
GETSO: You can see more of my work through my Instagram account - @getsofacto and from there you can send me a message to get in contact with me directly.

birdO: I think most people see my stuff in person on walks around the downtown core. Or, I suppose you could see my stuff on Instagram while on walks around the downtown core. @jerryrugg

For a limited time you can visit birdO X Getso’s unique exhibit on the second floor of the western building as part of Toronto for Everyone, Feb 23 - 26. Get your tickets here.

 

 Hello GetSO!
Photo by: @s.lurms

 
 

Hello birdO
Photo by: @jerryrugg

 
 

Photo by: @getsofacto

 

 

Introducing: VLADIMIR ANTAKI

By Dawn Laing, Artist Manager - @loraxgirl on all things social

As part of our a-MAZE-ment series you will get to see numerous works of art spanning the genres of theatre, dance, film and visual arts. Some pieces you will be full immersed, others you will be able to step back and enjoy. Through our blog series, we hope to introduce you to a smattering of the artists we will be featuring as part of a-MAZE-ment. Everyone has a story and we want you to hear it.

Today we would like to introduce you to Vladimir Antaki who will be presenting one of his iconic GUARDIAN pieces as part of a-MAZE-ment. You can get to know a bit more about the man behind the piece through our quick little interview with the artist below.

1: Can you introduce yourselves and a bit about your practice?
My parents left Lebanon during the Civil War before I was born in order to give my sister and I a better life. We moved to Paris and were naturalized a few years later. I've spent most of my life trying to connect the dots between my origins and personal life experiences. This is probably why nostalgia is such an important ingredient in my work. I learned photography wandering the streets of Paris before moving to Montreal in 2003. I am genuinely interested in people’s life stories and how they are connected to each other, and I believe that this is something that reflects in my practice.

2. What does Honest Ed’s mean to you?
My understanding is that Honest Ed’s was a rite of passage for many immigrant families in Toronto, providing them with affordable goods and clothing, which has created a community feeling in the neighbourhood. Coming from an immigrant family myself, I know the importance of such an organization and I can relate to this. I have the highest amount of respect for what Ed Mirvish accomplished. His legacy very much lines up with my passion for unique institutions and people.

3. Why do/How do you think your project pays homage to Honest Ed’s / Toronto?
Most of my series are socially engaged. Whether I decide to pay tribute to mom and pop shops from around the world with The Guardians, to show the intimacy of an elderly woman with Behind the Green Door, or denounce social prejudice with My Name is Wesson Dagnew.

I'm going to be showing one of my most iconic Guardians pieces at the Honest Ed's farewell event: Birdman from NYC, who was forced to close his shop in September 2015. There’s a symbolic link between the closing of Honest Ed’s and my Guardians series. The great scourge of our society.

4. What does it mean to be a part of this project?
Having recently moved to Toronto last October, it is such an honour to have been selected as one of the artists tasked with paying tribute to Honest Ed’s, a Toronto landmark, during such an important and historical event. It is also very heartwarming and uplifting to feel that my work is reaching an audience and guiding them through various types of emotions.

5. The Guardians is a piece you’ve presented before, can you tell us a bit more about the exhibit and where people may be able to find it next.
The Guardians is my tribute to shopkeepers and artisans around the world. Some shops are still around but a few of them have since closed due to an ever changing world, so my photographs are often the only remaining visual proof of their existence. The Guardians, has been exhibited life-sized in more than a hundred cities including Paris, Toronto, Montreal, Philadelphia and Hong Kong.

My goal is to build and curate more public installations in other cities and have Guardians travel around the world, by always being open to collaborations with artists and cities around the world.

6. If someone wanted to see more of your work, where should they go? (eg - website and/or upcoming shows).. You know.. Because this entire exhibit will go down with the ship!
Five of my Guardians are still displayed on the windows of Katana on Bay in Toronto’s Financial District (Temperance and Bay). This installation was part of the 2016 edition of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. Visit www.the-guardians.info/audio to listen to the complete audio stories.

Acquisition of Fine art prints is available by email: hello@vladimirantaki.com

You can visit Vlad’s work on the second floor of the eastern building as part of Toronto for Everyone, Feb 23 - 26. Soho House members can also visit him IRL as he talks as part of an artist panel Thursday February 16 (7:00 p.m.  - 9 p.m.). Contact Soho House Toronto for details.

Find out more about Vlad and his work here:
Website:  www.vladimirantaki.com
Instagram: @guardiansphoto / @artisticagitators

The Honest 6ix – How we came together as resident artists

"TH6: Toronto For Everyone Resident Artists"
From left to right: Ming-Bo, Romana, Laura, Paul, Alicia, Ana
Photo Credit: Ryan Pakyam

By: TH6 Team

What do you get when you put six artists from different backgrounds and areas of creative expertise together and ask them to create an art installation in one week? The Honest 6ix, of course!

Last year, each of us answered CSI’s "Toronto for Everyone" call to participate. Though we had varying reasons for applying to the Artist Residency, we all felt a connection to Honest Ed’s in our personal and creative lives. Our name pays tribute to Honest Ed’s, which, by closing, inadvertently brought us together; Toronto, which Drizzy, aka Drake, nicknamed “The 6”; and the six of us who form the group:

Laura Barrett - music, teaching, improvisation, games and play;

Ana Jofre - puppet-building, 3D sculptures, electronics;

Romana Kassam - murals, visuals, aesthetics, crafting;

Ming-Bo Lam - dance and choreography;

Paul Moliere - video installation, projections, mirrors, older/analog video equipment, projection mapping; and

Alicia Payne - acting, writing, facilitating, teaching, producing.

Yesterday was the first day of our official Artist Residency and we are pumped!  We were joined by a few special friends who helped us start pulling it together. “Thank you, Friends!” We’ll tell you more about them in another blog since we don’t want to reveal what we’re up to yet. 

We were warmly welcomed into the CSI community and onto an incredible team of dedicated individuals who are making Toronto for Everyone happen. It’s amazing! We were invited to embrace each other's creative practices. Our goal is not to stick to what we know and each do our own thing. Our goal is to combine our expertise to create a collective experience for us and for you. In doing so, we’re reaching beyond our individual comfort zones. None of us had previously worked together before. We’ve had supportive guidance through several planning meetings and have become an integrated group. Now we’re into our actual seven-day Residency. It’s so much fun!

A character in a famous movie says, “If you build it, he will come…People will come.”  We built it. Now we’re filling it in. Will you come?

#TO4E

The Town Hall for All: Toronto's Canvas

By: Stefan Hostetter
Director of Community for Toronto for Everyone

It’s 10:00 p.m. on Monday, February 6. T-minus 17 days until the launch and I’ve just arrived home from our first walk through with the Community Hub co-presenters.

This is my fourth time in Ed’s since it closed and each time I leave, the dust of the space comes with me. It has a way of sticking to one's skin that’s hard to shake. Today though, I brought something else home with me, something I haven’t felt much in the past few months: hope.

It comes from being in a room with just over half of our 50+ community organizations that are joining us to fill the space with four days of knowledge, dance, laughter, and so much more. Today, we had the privilege of showing them the canvas that is our space and asking that they see themselves as painters all working on one piece. 

Starting Thursday, February 23 at 6:00 p.m. until Sunday, February 26 at 6:00 p.m, the hub will be back-to-back with programming that will only sleep for a few hours each night. To make this work, we’ve always known that we would need the community organizations to buy into each other, and to the vision as a whole. Today’s walk through convinced me we could do it. 

This evening I had the pleasure of speaking to a room full of enthusiastic co-creators. It’s a group that ranges from decades old Toronto advocacy organizations to a woman who wants to honour her grandmother with ice cream (a full list of programming can be found here). The Community Hub is a space for the people, by the people, and (hopefully) with something for everyone.

The past few weeks have seen a world where protests feel dramatically more common than progress; a world where innocuous Super Bowl ads are deemed “political” for daring to declare that we should treat each other as equals; a world where the message that diversity is strength feels more radical each day. 

It is in this world, that like it or not, the canvas sits. It is in this world, that each of our co-creators will paint. The brush strokes may not be visible like those on each of Ed’s iconic signs, but it is our hope that together, we can begin to envision a more inclusive, empathetic, and magical city, country, world.

We can’t wait to see you from February 23 - 26! For now, however, it’s time for a shower, as I truly was not kidding about the dust.

My Memories of Honest Ed’s

By: Dr. Judith Cohen
Ethnomusicologist/ Medievalist / Singer
Honest Ed's neighbourhood resident since 1983

Honest Ed’s was my corner store for 33 years. As a displaced Montrealer, I moved to the neighbourhood in the summer of 1983, after a couple of years in the east end. Until the last few weeks, when it was reduced to a depressingly dilapidated ghost of its formerly cheerfully dilapidated self, I did most of my ordinary day-to-day shopping at Ed’s – it was never a special occasion (at least not till they started selling the signs and torn bags off at a typically exorbitant prices), just the most convenient neighbourhood everything-store. Now and then my Mississauga cousins would phone to say they were coming in for the day with the kids to stock up on cheap clothes – it was “special” for them but here really just the local store. I remember when it took over the other corner and the bridge was put up – I guess that’s when it really started to become a seriously tourist-bus-worthy landmark.

“Everything” included... VHS tapes (back in the day)! The lowest pharmacy fees. Toothpaste.  Photo albums at a fraction of camera store prices. Batteries. Coffee mugs. Kettles. Shower curtains. Socks. Kitchen clocks. Boots. Tinned sardines. Italian and Portuguese cooking oil. Light bulbs. Toys. When my daughter was little, I could outfit her for a summer for $20.

Non-stick (sort of) frying pans. Bath towels, and beach towels with improbable designs. Blue jeans with only a few loose threads.  Sturdy fall jackets. Dubious Birkenstock sandal imitations. Plastic lawn chairs. Bookshelves. Picture frames. Knitting wool. Clothes drying racks. Garish skirts and blouses labeled, with insouciant mendaciousness, “Fashion.” Hanukkah candles and chocolate coins, and for Passover, kosher matzah, grape juice and candied fruit.

For a month every summer, to celebrate his birthday, Ed had a giant-sized balloon sculpture of himself affixed to the roof so that one could see him waving his hand in the wind from blocks away. On his actual birthday, July 24, he'd have that block of Markham Street closed to traffic to provide free food, musicians, and clowns all day.

In the best years, not only could one drop into Mirvish Books for a cheap full New York Times weekend edition, the Children’s Bookstore was also there, with stories and cushions on the floor, and books strewn invitingly about. And for some years in the 90s, there was Ruth Meta’s welcoming Common Concerns bookstore-café-art gallery, on the corner of Markham and Bloor. On a Sunday morning, Ed would often show up there for a coffee. He’d say to me, “so, Meydeleh (affectionate Yiddish for "young girl"), have you been in my store today? Were there a lot of people?" "It was full, Ed", I'd reply, truthfully. Inevitably, a happy grin would light up his whole face - "thanks, Meydeleh, you've made my day!"

How to be an Ally for Muslim Individuals and Communities

For years, Ed opened his doors to immigrant families, hosted street parties and gave away free turkeys. Now it’s time for us to carry the torch through all of our city and community building initiatives, starting with Toronto for Everyone this February 23-26, 2017.

Toronto for Everyone is the city we want to co-create. A place where we all belong, where we can see ourselves--our cultures, our ideals, our history--in the very fabric of our city. We believe that Toronto can be the global model for inclusivity, community and social innovation. Honest Ed’s may be closing its doors, but Ed’s legacy is his unique ability to foster community can carry on. 

In light of recent events, many people are asking "what can I do?" To help, we want to share this tipsheet to on how to be an ally to Islamic communities under threat. This sheet was developed by Rania El Mugammar and CSI as a result of How to be an Ally: Islamophobia at the Intersections in November 2016. Thanks to Inspirit Foundation for helping us produce this tipsheet.  

It takes all of us to stand up to injustice - to listen deeply, to learn constantly, and to speak up when appropriate. We hope that this resource can be used to help guide you in your workplace, on the streets, and in your homes where change takes root.

Our hope is that you'll share this widely and empower your networks with these key learnings.

In solidarity,
CSI, and Rania El Mugammar and the Toronto for Everyone Team

To be notified of upcoming How To Be An Ally events, subscribe to the mailing list here

 

Click the picture to view or download as PDF

Click the picture to view or download as PDF

A full transcript of this event is available here