November 29, 2010

The Market Time

I understand that my recollections of my tropical vacation are getting about as long as the Forsyte Saga. Although I hope they are a bit more cheerful, and they certainly have a happier ending.

Market time!

November 27, 2010

Encounters with people

I spent a lot of time just enjoying the nature, but I also really enjoyed meeting different people.
I especially liked this method of communication that was practiced by many others, not just me. It’s when somebody asks you something in a language that you don’t know (like Italian, for example), and you respond in a language they don’t know (like English). And yet somehow everyone understands each other.
It was a memorable moment when I noticed an interaction between a very tipsy Russian and a very tipsy American (such a cliche). It was so entertaining, especially since their conversation was about music.

November 26, 2010

The Sky, the Ocean, the Clouds

The weather changed every half an hour throughout our vacation. Despite the fact that the beach is surrounded by a coral reef, and there are almost no waves, the wind would blow nonstop.
When the wind blew lightly, coconuts would drop from the palm trees.

November 25, 2010

Around the Hotel

When we had arrived, the hotel staff were busy getting ready for Christmas. One evening, they turned all the lights on, and we walked among the palms, which were taking the place of Christmas trees. The feeling was absolutely enchanting.

The Room with a View

We have traveled to the Dominican Republic for the first time

I have to say that blogging changes a person’s attitude towards everything that happens. Personally, I stopped being lazy, and started taking picture of everything around me with twice as much energy as before. This is because I am grateful to everyone who gives me the opportunity to see and feel what it’s like to live in the different countries and cities they are from. I also wanted to share the beauty that I had the chance to see.

November 23, 2010

I am back from the vacation. Oof !

I am back from the Dominican Republic. It is amazing how, before vacation, you feel old, fat and dull. And after a week under the tropical sun, you start to feel new as a baby. The age doesn't disappear, but some wrinkles are gone. The fat is still here. Who could refuse to eat all the delicious seafood, tempting deserts and drink champagne all day long? But after constant swimming and walking the body doesn't look saggy anymore. All the intense colors, lots of sun and rain, sunsets, sunrises, and walking with my husband under the moon....

In short I took more than 2000 photos and I will select and show the best ones really soon.

November 13, 2010

The Fall and The Fog in High Park

Yesterday, a fog had descended on the city of Toronto. I'd asked my husband to wake me up early in the morning, and accompany me on a photography expedition.

This morning, he woke me up. I was grumpy, but somehow, I got up. We went to High Park, and since we were very sleepy, we forgot our cell phones at home.

I'm not really a photographer - I'm just a person who bought a camera, and is trying to learn how to capture certain moments. I've never been captured by photographic vanity.

Here are the results of the photo session.

November 12, 2010

Day # 2 - Toronto Public Library

I grew up in a country where, until a certain time known as Perestroika, you couldn’t just go into a store a buy any book you wanted. And since my family was not part of the elite communist bureaucratic apparatus, we had to find sneaky ways to make books materialize in our house.

For example, you could collect 50 kilograms of old newspapers, and bring them to a special place, where you could exchange them for a coupon for ONE book. They would also give you directions to a store where a potential book could appear. You had to call the store, and ask whether the book had arrived. And if it had, then your task was to get up early, before the store opened, and to stand in line with other lucky recipients of coupons.

There were other methods, too. A friend of mine was in a relationship with the manager of a bookstore, where he had a part-time job as a mover. He had a regular supply of new books, which he let me borrow. When his romantic feelings fizzled out and he found another girlfriend, he still dated the store manager for some time, because of the books. Meanwhile, we, the second-year students of the Faculty of History, whom he lent out the books, encouraged his amoral behaviour. Pretty soon he was found out, though, and the supply of books ceased.

The libraries in the Soviet Union were in a pretty sad state, too.

After the experiences of my youth, my relationship with books became something not quite healthy. Most people might borrow one book a week from the library, if any – meanwhile, I borrow at least five. One about art – a book about some painter. Another about art theory. A third one about art instruction. A fourth one about cooking. And a fifth one is usually a French textbook. There might be a sixth book, usually about sociology.

These days, after ten years of life in Canada, I have actually calmed down a little.

For me, the local library is like a second home. Plus, it is such a joy, and such an achievement of civilization to be able to use the library catalogue from the comfort of your home. For a book maniac like myself, this is one of the advantages of life in Canada.

November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day

Today in Canada is Remembrance Day.
We remember.

November 10, 2010

Thoughts about Vacation

How can you tell that it’s time to go on vacation? First of all, despite the fact that I’ll be having a group show in December and a solo exhibition in January, I just can’t concentrate on my work. (I hope that Fey and Whitney won’t see this post. Especially since I’m almost ready for the show.)
Meanwhile, totally unserious music and absolutely rascally thoughts keep rushing through my mind.
My husband, judging by the way he wore his socks inside-out to work, is also tired.

Now that I see that a vacation is inevitable, I go here.

November 8, 2010

This is how I’ve broken off my eight-year relationship with Starbucks

I have to say that I can’t imagine life without coffee. The smell of freshly ground coffee drives me crazy. I’d sell my own mother, my country, and my cat for a cup of coffee (hypothetically speaking).
Before I’d moved to Canada, the best coffee I had ever tasted was in Turkey (surprise, surprise) and in France (obviously). I’d made my acquaintance during the first few days in Toronto, when I was feeling disoriented and out of touch with reality (a nine-hour flight, culture shock...). Caffe latte brought me back to life. In my vulnerable state, I had decided that I can totally live with a chain café like that.

From time to time, depending on the location and the professionalism of the barista, I found myself either loving my latte more, or feeling disappointed in it. Sometimes I thought that we need to add more milk into our relationship, sometimes the embrace of the coffee wasn’t strong enough, sometimes there wasn’t enough spice.
Eight years is not the shortest period for a relationship based on love and dependence.

All of a sudden I felt that I no longer love Starbucks coffee, and it’s only a sweetened and watered-down drink, which has nothing whatsoever to do with real coffee. It’s a total surrogacy of feelings.

I started researching anything related to Starbucks. I’ve read the book Taylor Clark Starbucked.The most horrifying moment for me was the chapter with the greedy shareholder who was asking “When are we going to open more Starbucks locations?” during a meeting. I had so many questions in regards to Starbucks’s politics, concerning the countries that produce their coffee.

I visited their website. I tried to figure out what I was wrong about.
Since I grew up in a communist society, I came to see anything big as being right, and myself as being wrong.

The simple truth consists in the fact that a portion of the money, which I make in Canada, does not stay in my community, and instead ends up in the hands of American shareholders. Having been hooked on Starbucks’s marketing strategy (a pleasant atmosphere, an easy access to caffeine), I voluntarily give up my money to a corporation that only wants to fill the world with an imitation of coffee; I do that instead of sponsoring small local cafés.
It seems that Starbucks isn’t having much trouble reaching its goal. I never thought I would find Starbucks in Paris.

Yes, you can comfortably sit down with your laptop at Starbucks, and spend countless hours with just one cup of coffee. Yes, Starbucks can be a point between work and home. This is all very well thought-out, by smart people. Smart people who are able to acquire large masses of clients.

Finally, I feel free. For the past year and a half, I’ve been busy experimenting. I haven’t yet found a replacement for Starbucks as a meeting place for friends, but I’m always trying something new. I also brew my own wonderful coffee at home.

If you have any suggestions about mom and dad coffee shops in Toronto, feel free to share them.

November 4, 2010

Day #1 - The Fall in High Park

Maybe this sort of thing is not important to some people, but I prefer to live in a country that has four seasons. It’s quite possible that in the distant future, when my weary bones start demanding constant sunshine and warmth, I’ll be drawn to the sunny California. Until that time comes, I am going to enjoy all the wonders of the Canadian fall.

There’s nothing quite so exciting for an artist as the incredible feast of colours in my favourite High Park. If you visit it two days in a row, things will look pretty different each time.
Yesterday, it was golden, with a few remaining bits of green. Today, everything is turning into shades of red, purple, and orange. In a little while, we’ll be able to see a multitude of elegant dark branches. After an intense nightly wind and rainfall, the image of the leaves that have survived it can inspire a haiku.
           Traceless, no more need to hide.         
           Now the old mirror
           Reflects everything - autumn light
           Moistened by faint mist.
                                    Suian / tr.Lucien Stryk

I’ve already taken out the cozy cover, which I got last Christmas. I also bought a new red cup with white dots, to drink warm tea.
You can smell the aroma of apples and pumpkin pie. Somebody has lit up the fireplace. Somewhere, the old leaves and twigs are burning. All these scents intertwine in the cool air, creating the delicate tone of the fall mood.

November 3, 2010

The New Project

A couple of weeks ago, my husband was riding in the elevator with a few people from our apartment building. Since the majority of the people living here are fairly mentally stable, they tend to say hello in the elevator, and initiate some small talk.

That time, all the people present were around the same critical age of 40+, except for one slightly older lady with a playful grayish curly hairstyle. The conversation revolved around the things everybody did on the weekend. They all agreed that there are always many things to see and to do in the city when you have some free time. Only the only lady didn’t say anything. Then, suddenly, after a moment of silence, she uttered “There is nothing in Canada worth doing and seeing.”

Silence resumed, except now it became more than a little awkward. After my husband told me about this incident, I had to seriously think about it. What made the lady say that? Is it a matter of generational difference, or are there really people that take so many things for granted. 

Well, I very much disagree with that lady. And she inspired me to begin an ambitious blogging project. I call it “365 things I like about Canada”.
My first subject is going to be the Canadian fall.

November 2, 2010

The 11th Toronto International Art Fair

Art Fair recently took place in Toronto. The fair was very interesting, and quite ambitious. There were only a few big names, but the variety and the quality of modern art really exceeded my expectations. I’d say that in all nine years that I’ve been attending this event, this time it succeeded the most in representing the concept “international fair”. 

The fair catalogue is wonderfully made – it’s lovely to open, to look through, and even to smell. It smells very pleasantly of ink. 

I was happy to see some works by a few of my favourite artists - Wolf Kahn,David Andrew,Nancy Delouis. I could stand and look at them for hours, but the market is not like an exhibition. It seems that I attracted quite a bit of attention from the personnel by being so enthusiastic about certain artwork. They swarmed me like bees and buzzed around me for a while. I kept it at pleasant conversation, without pretending to be a buyer. So, they didn’t really get any honey from me.

The overall impression, which tends to last for a while, is that of well-spent time in intellectually stimulating company. This fair is an example of how it is possible to appeal to very different and sophisticated tastes, without resorting to the desire to shock or surprise.