Heather Pollock is brave.
Heather is a friend of mine, a professional and excellent photographer with her first gallery show. Most people see photographic art through the final image while photographers experience it. We make creative decisions about where to shoot, how to capture the raw image, how to process the image and even how to display it. The creative options are as infinite as any art form.
So, to put a price tag on your work and then display it to friends and strangers for comment seems pretty brave to me. All those decisions open to scrutiny. Heather’s selection of images, primarily black and white canvasses, range from moody HDRs, the east coast, and portraits of Canadian musicians. While not technically in any of the images, there is one where I was holding the light stand.
Heather is sharing the space with two other artists. Kathleen Urdah works with encaustics and Tommy Vohr, another photographer, works exclusively in the iPhone world with multiple exposed images you have to see to believe.
If you can spare a little time, please spend it at QLIX Studioz at 228 Queen Street East (at Sherbourne). You can also see a preview of the work and more information on the artists at qlixstudioz.com.
I live in an interesting neighbourhood. It is a wonderful mix of people, cultures and transition. Babies and young children seem to be sprouting everywhere, bringing a sense of renewal. There is an odd mix of Indian retail stores closing down while houses are being renovated. I once did a search on our neighbourhood only to find it was the only one in the entire city of Toronto not to have a name. Nobody wanted to claim us.
Still, it is photographically rich. Not in the ruins-of-Rome sense, or rocky mountain vista, but that this is my neighbourhood. We eat and drink together, talk as we pass each other’s house, gossip and share whatever is topical. Yes, we run to each other’s house when we are missing that one ingredient we need for dinner. And just stay for dinner. I enjoy taking my camera to every event we hold together. Maybe the others are a little less enthusiastic, but they like the results. Most of the time.
Our house turns 100-years old this year. Yep, something is older than me. So, I am thinking about having a “street party” to celebrate. If I can tear myself away from cooking – my other great passion – it will be a photographic orgy. All I need is some better weather. It snowed this morning. Really, enough already.
The photograph above is of some neighbours who dress in late-1800’s style and call themselves the Highfield Hooligans. My wife and I will be joining their “gang” this summer.
I am going to have to find a retro camera that is digital.
We have a garbage problem on our street. Specifically, the business at the end of our street has been using the location to collect garbage from a number of other “low rent/short term” rental properties and then eventually, have it picked up. But it is a real eyesore in addition to whatever health problems are potentially resident in the pile.
No amount of calls to the city seemed to make any difference despite the number of municipal bylaws that were being broken. It is an odd neighbourhood; one in transition where the retail stores seem to do whatever comes to mind. Last year two restaurants simply decided to build outdoor patios without any permits. You practically have to walk on the street to get past one of them.
So, back to the garbage. It takes a certain amount of persistence to finally connect with someone in authority at the municipality, at least with someone who cares. That’s where my IPhone comes into play. Each day I would walk Molly the Doodle past the garbage heap and take a photograph and instantly send it to the municipal bylaws officer. She would then make frequent visits to the location and started giving fines.
At one point, the location property manager claimed that the local residents were throwing their garbage into and around their bin. However, they have a clearly marked pickup truck that routinely brings garbage to the location and a photograph of this activity ended that conversation pretty quick.
So on a recent walk over the Christmas break, it dawned on me that I haven’t seen any garbage there for some time. It seems to have worked. The persistence and the photographs. The “instant” sending of a photo and the response by the authorities. I can’t thank the bylaws officer enough as without the response to my photos, nothing would have changed. We ended up working as a team.
I’m not sure that the problem won’t reappear at some time. Still, it seems to have worked. So, while the photographs are of garbage and exceptionally poor quality, they have made a statement all my early phone calls could not.
Now, about those illegal patios.
I have often wondered why the east side of anything seems to be less attractive, poorer or seedier. My hundred year old neighbourhood on the east side of Toronto, currently undergoing a resurgence with an influx of young children and couples, still suffers from an open display of narcotics and prostitution. And this display takes place in the very alleys I find so quaint. So, the neighbours got together and decided to take back the alleys by holding regular events, starting with a “Rally in the Alley” pot luck and the “Alley Olympics” to follow.
The enthusiasm for the event is high and culminated in a local art gallery where we all crammed in, spilling out onto the road, to discuss options with the police and local politicians. Our local crime is low on their radar, but high on ours as it is in our face. Other communities have had success by taking ownership of their neighbourhood. We are doing the same. Perhaps using my camera to document what is going on and publishing it on the various sites springing up to support the program will make a difference.
We had a party in a back alley, amongst graffiti and disorderly gardens only seen by those who live there or taking a short cut and don’t really care. People brought food and barbecues for quite the array of dishes. The highlight for me was watching the kids paint each other’s faces.
Shooting was a little challenging as it was mid-afternoon with a blazing sun. And I always worry a little about taking pictures of other parent’s kids, but at this event it wasn’t an issue. I don’t think anyone recognizes me without a camera in front of my face.
For the most part I stuck with my 24-120mm f4 allowing me to enjoy the food and the heat without too much equipment. The turnout was great and I have high hopes that we can, in fact, take back our alleys.