Category Archives: Friends

In the Woods

I took Friday off work and headed up to the secret enchanted mushroom forests to do some foraging. I didn’t have high expectations because the rain we received mid-week wasn’t nearly enough to encourage a good flush of tasty edibles. However, wandering around a forest always makes for a good day, with or without lots of mushrooms to pick.

I went to my most reliable chanterelle spot first and found nothing at all. It was a mushroom-free zone of the worst order. I wandered down the trail thinking I should give the whole area at least a quick look before abandoning ship. I almost stepped on the chanterelles in the picture below, as they were on the edge of the trail I was walking.

Look how well hidden they are in the leaves on the floor of the forest. Encouraged by this find, I examined this chunk of forest carefully. I found just 8 chanterelles in total. I also found two bug-eaten examples of hypomyces lactifluorum. Aha, I thought. The lobsters have started. I high-tailed it over to a nearby forest that always has loads of lobsters, but nada. So I drove to another productive lobster spot, a boggy hemlock forest. Again nada. At this spot, I was reminded that there are many inconsiderate idiots roaming this planet. See the photo below:

Who did they think was going to clean up after them?

Off I went to yet another forest. This is one I’ve only recently learned about. However, today there were no mushrooms around. It was a beautiful forest to walk through though.

Later on Friday, our pals Candy and Stagg came over, and also Behzad, another friend we’ve known for many years. We enjoyed some bbq and a couple excellent games of scrabble. It was great to see Candy and Stagg, who have been on an incredible roadtrip and recently arrived in Toronto.

Telephone Call from Istanbul

OK, not from Istanbul…but we did get a telephone call from Louisiana tonight from our pals Anthony and Candy, calling from a campground somewhere outside of New Orleans. How great to hear from them. We’ve been following the progress of their amazing road-trip on Candy’s blog. It seems like only yesterday we were on a road-trip with them. We had met up at the International Accordion Festival in San Antonio Texas and drove across Louisiana to New Orleans, having a great time along the way.

 

Bloore Memorial

We were at the Ron Bloore memorial event Sunday night at the Royal Ontario Museum. Former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson spoke, along with a few others, including Ron’s long-time studio assistant and friend Hank Roest.  A number of Bloore’s paintings were hung, reminding me what a marvellous painter he was, throughout his career.

I found my self transported back to York University in the 80s, when Bloore raised the bar for me, and pushed me to find my own path as a painter. I remembered our many sketching trips later on. We would walk the forest paths, most of us looking for a vista to draw or paint. Bloore would sit under a tree and start a fantastic pencil drawing of the forest floor at his feet. We always brought a picnic lunch, and usually Ron would bring along a bottle of Retsina. I loved those days.

I recalled the many lunches, when several of us would meet up at the Bloore studio, then head out for a lunch peppered with lively discussion. It seems like yesterday, Bloore looking up over his lunch plate,  saying he liked painting because you could look at a painting, see it all at once and know within a fraction of a second if you wanted to invest more time in it. This he compared to film, which required a different kind of leap of faith – the willingness to invest the time, sight unseen.

Ron Bloore was a great painter, a Canadian cultural treasure and a dear friend.

Blast from the Past

Today, we visited two old friends, painters Stan Repar and Peter Dunn. I’ve known them for many years. I shared a studio with Stan for a while and later, lived in the studio next to Peter the Painter for several years. We share a lot of stories. The building is at 89 -109 Niagara St. Once upon a time, it was a casket factory, but it has housed artists for many years since.

Billy's
Billy's

I remember when I first started sharing a studio with Stan, we were on the west side, the 109 side of the building with a view of the Quality Meats abattoir, and the restaurant just across the street we called Billy’s because it was run by a really nice guy named Billy. At lunchtime, you could see the workers from the abattoir on the picnic benches out front enjoying chow mein and chicken wings. They were dressed in their blood-stained work clothes and had bright blue hearing protection, usually around their neck, since they were on lunch. It was quite a sight to see. The sign is still there for the restaurant, but Stan tells me it’s been closed for years.

DSC01714

We enjoyed a visit with Stan in his studio and saw his new paintings. The studio is smaller now than it once was. Back in the day, before it was divided up, it was a big space. Stan would always have three others to share it with. When I was there, we had four artists working in the studio, but only two of us were there with any regularity. It was a good situation. I enjoyed working there, and I enjoyed working with Stan. I enjoy his unique perspective and inventive, beautifully crafted paintings.

Peter Dunn with a painting by Anthony Stagg
Peter Dunn with a painting by Anthony Stagg

Our second visit of the day was over to the 101 side of the building to the studio of Peter Dunn. We hadn’t seen one another in way too long, so this was a welcome reunion. While we were over there, Peter mentioned that just that day he had been looking at a painting given to him by our pal from Chicago, Anthony Stagg. I couldn’t recall which painting he was referring to until he reached into a dark corner and pulled out a large rolled up canvas.

It’s been many years since I was Peter’s next door neighbour, but in no time the stories were flying as if it were yesterday. We laughed about the time Peter was making wall-mounted sculptures out of plywood that was ripped in layered chunks and reassembled in various configurations with other materials. Peter would stay up all night delaminating plywood, ripping layer after layer off. The ripping sounds woke me up one night. I couldn’t figure out what was going on over there. He made a fabulous series of wall pieces out of that wood. We have one here at Anchovy World Headquarters. It’s hanging in my music room.

It was fun visiting the old building on Niagara today, and we had a great time visiting Stan and Peter, and seeing that old Stagg painting too.

I’m sending this post out to old friends….