Leuty Lifeguard Station

What makes a building or structure so iconic?  Is it that the architecture is a marvel and a masterpiece?  Or does a renowned individual have to lay claim to its design.  Must the building be very unique and exclusive in its style and construction?  Or is it essential that the building be award-winning and internationally acclaimed?  Often a building or structure will singularly define a city and/or country.  Paris is known for its Eiffel Tower, Australia for the Sydney Opera House, New York City for the Statue of Liberty, London for the Tower Bridge, Dubai for the Burj-Al-Arab, India for Taj Mahal and Egypt for its Pyramids.  The list is lengthy.  But sometimes an ‘iconic’ building is simply no more than a building in a neighborhood that has become embedded into the hearts of the local residents.  One such building in my neighborhood is the Leuty Lifeguard Station.  Built in the 1920’s the small, simple wooden structure sitting at the water’s edge has stood the test of time.  It is still used every summer as a lifeguard station to monitor swimmers at the lake but it is also a spot well-known for “I’ll meet you at the lifeguard station” destination and the place where a ‘first kiss’ often occurs and where many great ‘photo ops’ are shot and a favourite scene for artists to capture.   A few years ago a S.O.S. (Save our Station) went out as a massive restoration $$ was required.  The local residents rallied and the Station was saved.  Couldn’t let an old friend down!  So what building is iconic for you?  Let me know.

          

         

           Images via Modmissy

Bikes for Bikes

Summer is always the time to get away, travel the countryside and to see what is happening in other parts of your world.  This summer if you have the opportunity to visit the city of Sudbury located in northeastern Ontario you will be pleasantly surprised.  Sudbury’s history began in the late 1800’s with the development of the Canadian Pacific railway.  Initially planned as only a temporary work camp for the railway workers, Sudbury has grown into a diversified regional urban centre with strengths in technology, education, health and government.  The focus of Sudbury in the last many years has been its ‘transformation’ with land reclamation and municipal amalgamation.  But Sudbury’s present ‘transformation’ is about focusing on its people.  With a population of more than 160,000, the city of Sudbury is ‘tapping’ into the power of local institutions, businesses, community groups and citizens.  One of the items that the people spoke about and were heard was new bike racks along the downtown streets.  And I must say these are the coolest bike racks I have ever seen.  They are bike-shaped bike racks!  I am loving them.  Truly the ‘transformation’ of the utilitarian into art!  Bravo Sudbury.

     

         Image via Jenny Jelen

The Man Cave

I thought in the aftermath of the (Lord) Stanley Cup playoffs I would write about the location I found myself at for the final championship game.  Yes, I was a ‘jump on the bandwagon’ kind of fan but hey, I was there supporting the team.  Ah….but which team??!!  I spent the evening in a ‘Man Cave’!!  My friend has outfitted his garage into a sports-central, man cave zone complete with all the necessary furniture and accessories; décor very befitting of a man cave.  It is a double garage so the dimensions are good.  The focal point is the built-in bookcases storage units with a LCD television mounted above it.  There is an under counter stainless steel wine beer fridge and lovely amusing artwork hanging on the walls.  There is the required punching bag necessary for venting at half time.  There are numerous bicycles, shovels and power sprayers for hits of colour.  There are lots of comfortable seating made of durable, heard-wearing nylon fabric complete with beverage holders.  The chairs are foldable so they can serve multiple uses.  The window coverings are vintage terrycloth towels.  The lighting is by the glow of the television and the stars in the sky.  Not to mention the beautiful full moon that was out last night.  I enjoyed the evening very much as there were lots of friends and neighbours to share this momentous occasion with, not to mention that the setting and ambiance were perfect.  My friend has definitely achieved what he set out to create; a fabulously designed ‘Man Cave’.  Well done!!

NYC Endless Possibilities

Well I am home from New York City.  What a trip!  I now understand what ‘taking a bite out of the big apple’ truly means.  NYC is so large with so much to see and do that you can only take a small ‘bite’ out of the city each time you visit.  I am already thinking about my return trip and continuing where I left off.  The list of ‘What to do in NYC’ has infinite possibilities.  You could focus the entire trip on just visiting the art galleries and museums; there are so many fabulous ones to see.  You could spend days and dollars on just shopping as NYC is truly a shopping mecca.   You could spend your entire time watching countless performances on Broadway or off-Broadway.  You could spend days travelling the hundreds of miles of subway routes visiting the dozens and dozens of neighbourhoods in ‘the five boroughs’.  You could just focus on noshing your way through the thousands of restaurants that NYC has to offer as it is said that “NYC is not only the nation’s melting pot, it is also the casserole, the chafing dish and the charcoal grill” with great food from every corner of the globe.  While I was in NYC I stayed at the historical Waldorf Astoria with the thickest towels and the highest thread count cotton sheets which was so lovely to return to after spending 16 hours each day touring NYC.  I went to the Frick Collection (a premier museum) visited Macy’s, Saks 5th Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman, lunched at Barneys, dined at Pastis in Meatpacking District, visited Central Park and Central Station, took in a performance at Palace Theatre, toured Upper East Side right down to Battery Park and back up to Times Square and Upper West Side.  Rode the subway, took yellow cabs and walked and walked and walked.  Whatever your style or preference New York City is a definite must to visit.  I (love) NY!

      TIMES SQUARE, NYC

 

Local Art

I recently attended the Art by Designers Exhibition, now well-known as the AxD event.  This unique show was originally created to bring awareness of Interior Designers’ artistic abilities to the community and promote the practice of interior design.  The evening also has a silent auction of Interior Designers’ donated artwork benefitting Inner City Angels.  Inner City Angels is an arts education charity that involves Toronto’s inner city children in innovative arts and learning programs with professional artists.  Over the years, Inner City Angels in their commitment to breaking barriers for inner city children has reached over 5 million children through art.  The AxD event is always well attended.  While noshing on delicious food and strolling through a fabulous gallery, I viewed the many pieces of art done by over 50 designers.  With each piece of art, the designer/artist had their bio.  One designer’s bio stated that “I make art because it’s hard to play by the rules all the time”.  Another designer wrote “As an interior designer my eyes are eternally open to my surroundings”.  The silent auction pieces were all on small, ~8”x10” canvases with each artist displaying their own unique style.  There really was some beautiful art here.  Also taking place this weekend which I plan on attending is the art sale, Small Paintings for Small Spaces The event takes place in a historical building that is only open to the public for special events.  So like the AxD event I get to walk through another great venue that in itself is very artistic.  Some art shows you even get to see the inner sanctum of the artist’s studio.  Both the AxD and Small Paintings for Small Spaces are great opportunities to acquire truly one of a kind, affordable pieces of art.  Often the artist just wants to cover their cost and have the opportunity to have a piece of their art hanging on your wall.  So this weekend do a little research in your local newspaper, magazines or internet and see what is going on in a neighbourhood near you.  As Stella Adler, an acclaimed actress once said “Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one”.

    

    

Walkable Weekend

This weekend is the Jane’s Walk Weekend; a festival of walking tours.  The event is in tribute to one of Toronto’s most visionary urban strategists Jane Jacobs, who died in 2006 at 89 years old.  Jane’s Walk honours the legacy of Jane Jacobs who defended the interests of local residents and pedestrians over a car-centered approach to planning.  As Jane Jacobs stated in her 1961 book titled ‘The Death and Life of Great American Cities’, “Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody”.  The Jane’s Walk Vision is: Walkable neighbourhoods, urban literacy, cities planned for and by people.  Since its inception on May 5th, 2007 in Toronto by Jane Jacobs’s friends and colleagues, Jane’s Walk has quickly grown to include over 400 walks in 9 countries in 68 cities.  The free guided walking tours take place as far away as India, Zambia, Uruguay, Berlin and over 32 U.S. cities and as close as a neighborhood near you.  So check out www.janeswalk.net, put on some comfortable walking shoes and get out and explore your neighborhood and meet your neighbours.  Let me know what walk you went on!