the border crossings Conference (November 16-18, 2021)
My final project with the border crossings team was a three day conference celebrating the three years of the project. This was a massive undertaking for our small team – Linda, Chris, and I. Having held the intention to continue producing events and gatherings, but with government money, I was thrilled to see it come to fruition in this way. Our team was able to book an incredible venue and amazing performers, and I was able to pay them adequately as well for their amazing gifts. Not only was it great to work with these artists, but what a pleasure it was to work with Linda and Chris.
We booked the top floor of Mississauga’s City Hall, a stunning venue. Day one was a full 8 hour day with: opening ceremony, three panels, a musical guest, live painting, catering, and planned art activities. Day two was an online panel discussion that I had the pleasure of participating in. And day three was a 3 hour youth night back at the banquet hall which had: three musical performers, short-film screenings, an open mic, speeches, and art activities.
Over the past three years, with the financial support of the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ontario Arts Council, the border crossings project has demonstrated and engaged the transformative power of art to challenge preconceived ideas around borders. It has used stories and narratives through workshops, discussions, exhibitions and creative processes to fuel alternative ways of seeing across a broad range of physical and cultural contexts.
The three-year project culminated with a conference, a celebration of all learned, shared and created. Through keynote speakers, panel discussions, artists painting and performing live to participants had the chance to tell their stories artistically. An excellent way to close this chapter.
Sugar Rush Toronto (August 2021)
I was brought in as the scenic painter for this show. I was responsible for all the ground paint. I was working off photos of the California show, but I did have a lot of room for creative freedom. Although I was leading the paint crew, I brought in Linh to help with design work. I’m accustomed to working big paint projects, but when it comes to fine art I new I’d need someone for the very detailed work. Linh did such an incredible job and together we created something I’m very proud of. I also managed and worked with dozens of volunteers on this project.
“On the heels of a successful run in Los Angeles, California, Sugar Rush is coming to the Toronto area. An immersive open-air experience your family and friends will not soon forget! A vibrant walk through 50,000 square feet of pure Candytropolis featuring colourful installations, one-of-a kind art displays, live performances, custom parade floats, and candy-powered interactions.”
This event was documented by many people and there is so much content available on youtube. I believe there was even a decent budget music video filmed there. Below is one of the youtube videos that I think shows off the ground paint the best. It does not capture everything, but I’ll take what I can get.
the FreeFlow Showcase (Jan – Aug 2020)
The FreeFlow Showcase began as a collaboration between Anto, Adrian and I. With the excitement around the last gathering Adrian was eager to have more shows in the space. We decided to start with a monthly show that we called the FreeFlow Showcase and Open Mic. It was a variety show with headlining spots, invited openers, and open mic spots throughout the night.
We had two great shows at 1017, even having to turn people away at the door because there wasn’t enough seating. The team grew to include Annie Carter and Ashley Gilmore.
With the third show coming up, COVID19 took over the world and we adapted the show to a weekly online Showcase and Open Mic happening over Zoom. It was a great space for community and creativity to continue developing despite the mandatory isolations.
Week after week we would hold space for people to gather. There were many great performances and many great friendships made. Many good times were had. There were laughter and tears. Joy and sorrow. FreeFlow is a great community.
At this time the future of FreeFlow is uncertain, but I’m sure it will continue to live in one way or another.
Soul Song Sessions (Fall 2019)
This was an intimate concert event and my first production at Gallery 1017.
Upon meeting the owner/operator, Adrian Currie, and realizing that our artistic goals were very much aligned, we decided to have a show at the space. I remember the first time I met Adrian and he told much he wanted to play music in the streets, how busking and street performance were high on his joy list. Busking and street performance are also high on my joy list.
This first event at 1017 was hosted by Anto Chan and had four musical acts: Brook Topp, Zarah Aedma, Jeremy Legault, and the premiere showing of my collaboration with Ashley Gilmore and Jacob Blanchard, here featured with Matt Bajcar as well. A group now known as Elemaria, then known as Purple Moon.
StarBorn (Winter 2019)
StarBorn collection is a series of my original artworks as signs that point towards your divine origin. They are clues, they are landmarks, and they are reminders of the spirit that dwells within your physical body. More than mere matter, this collection of illustrations celebrates your timeless heritage.
The initial launch of this collection took place in March 2019 at the Hashtag Gallery in Toronto, Ontario
LOVEGASM (Winter 2019)
Lovegasm was an all day art and dance party produced by the FireRoot Collective on February 17, 2019 @ the Redwood Theatre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This was by far the biggest show I had produced so far. Everything from fire spinners to fresh waffles. Stilt walkers, over 10 musical acts, full bands, aerialists, comedians, poets, DJs, all day live painting, body painting, portrait painting, arts and crafts, home cooked meals, balloon animals…the list goes on.
FireRoot Collective was founded by Vironika Tugaleva, Daniel Salij, Yana Kolesnikova and Anto Chan.
the Liberty Village Holiday Market (Winter 2018)
The Liberty Village Holiday Market was a one day event produced by Vironika Tugaleva and myself. The event brought together over a dozen local vendors of hand made goods. Again, bringing good people together is the aim, the material goods just seem to be a by-product. We also featured three amazing performers: Henry Nozuka, Luke Reece, and Justin Bishop.
ART EVERYWHERE (Fall 2017)
Art Everywhere was a party I hosted @ 187 in Kensington Market in the Fall of 2017. It was the first of it’s kind and was intended to celebrate art, creativity, and the coming together of good people. It included an array of visual arts and musical performances by some of my favourite people.
Collaborators included: Anto Chan, Kelly Evoy, Vironika Tugaleva, Jasmine Virginia, Brooke Topp, Tamas Pal, Justin Bishop, Steven Dalgarno, Jason Julien, Vie-dhii Ray, ElleG, and more.
*(All the photos in this set are by Melissa Aquino)