Monthly Archives: July 2011

When Old Buildings Have Friends…

Much has happened since my last blog, comparing the sorry state of the Petch log house in Aurora with its near neighbour, the Richardson House, a bit farther south on Leslie Street. The Petch house, seemingly abandoned after it had been moved from its original location, was in striking contrast with the Richardson House which was then under restoration and which had found an appropriate new use.

Over the last few months, a group calling itself Friends of Petch House launched a website and carried out a successful campaign to save the house. The Town of Aurora has taken this project on under the guidance of log construction specialist Peter van Nostrand. It will be re-erected at the entrance to the Aurora Arboretum, although its use there has yet to be determined.

Like any other preservation project, this one has caused controversy. There are currently several blogs out there which contain personal attacks against the Friends. It’s unfortunate that public debate has descended to these levels, but the anonymity of cyberspace seems to have made it so.

Having said that, however, the current debate raises very important questions. What about other buildings which may be equally significant? Why don’t they have Friends? In Aurora’s case, what about all the others buildings which have been lost or are under threat as the Town expands relentlessly eastward?

The Wells House is a perfect example—a structure as early as the Petch house and all the more remarkable because of its fine interior woodwork. Its loss is a case of demolition by neglect. Several years ago, the Heritage Advisory Committee studied this building carefully and gained Town Council’s support to encourage its owners to restore at least part of it and integrate it into whatever new development was planned on the site. This has worked well for the Richardson House. Without the full cooperation of sympathetic owners, however, projects like these cannot succeed. Buildings can be left to vandalism and decay, and there is little a municipality can do.

This is happening right now to the Lundy house, at the northeast corner of Bayview and St. John’s Sideroad. The building is slated to be restored within a planned housing development, but has been  boarded up for years, subject  to the same blight which destroyed the Wells House.

There are other examples too, going back over nearly twenty years: the Simpson House west of Bayview and north of Wellington, Gairlands on the grounds of the Magna headquarters, the Hartman House at the southwest corner of Wellington and Bayview, for example  In the case of Gairlands, the Town and the Aurora Historical Society were able to save several fine mantelpieces and other pieces of woodwork. Gairlands and the Hartman House were both associated with one of Ontario’s most important early politicians and reformers. Now these houses are nearly forgotten. To add insult to injury, the woodwork which was carefully removed from Gairlands and reinstalled in the old Aurora Museum now languishes in storage.

To the southwest, the future of the Graham-Wood House, at what is now Allaura Boulevard and Edward Street, hangs in the balance. Behind its modern stucco and mid-twentieth-century renovations  lies one of York Region’s earliest timber-frame buildings.

Fortunately, there are success stories too. The Hartman School, one of Ontario’s oldest, was rediscovered under layers of aluminum siding and has been  rehabilitated by private owners. Ballymore farmhouse has been lovingly restored and is a focal point for the subdivision at the northwest corner of Bayview and St. John’s Sideroad. Two farmhouses on Bayview, south of Wellington, are at different stages of restoration as they too are being integrated into modern developments. A magnificent early barn has received the same level of careful attention.

Every historic property needs a champion, an investor and an appropriate modern use. For the most part, it will be dedicated individuals, groups, and corporations who will decide whether a building survives or not. Various levels of government may play a significant role, but cannot be the sole protectors of heritage.

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Embracing the Power of the Internet

As a visual artist, I have noticed a lot of traffic in recent years to my website. The Internet is a powerful communications tool that is essential to promotion and awareness not just for big business, but also for the individual.

Due to my expertise I have been able to get my site ranked high in search engines, and because of this I have ‘met’ some interesting people and been involved in many positive  online activities. Each year I have been interviewed by university fine art students from across North America wanting to know what its like to be an artist from a philosophical standpoint to the technical. They are so appreciative of whatever knowledge I can offer. I have also been contacted by artists requesting ways to improve their own professional web experience. If I can point them in the right direction, I will. The world is a big place and there’s plenty of room for all of us. Most of my paintings have been acquired by collectors through the use of the Internet, from across the USA and Canada, and as far as Asia. This certainly brings the world community closer to home.

All it takes is a website and a little bit of knowhow. You don’t have to be a pro to do this. I have an artist friend who, without any prior skills, has her own website, blog, Twitter and Facebook accounts. The key is to be consistent and up-to-date. Its one thing to do local art shows, but its another to garner sales from the other side of the planet! Join as many user groups as you can and learn from what experienced artists have to say.

Don’t be scared of the Internet. There are some great no cost services that can get you started. WordPress offers great free blogging tools. Twitter and Facebook are free. You can even take credit card sales via the secure PayPal service.

If you want to stay far away from the technical side of marketing yourself, its best to hire a professional rather than use cousin Joe’s best friend’s brother-in-law.

Contact me or my colleague, John Stephenson. We’ve been doing this for a long time!

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Franklin Beecham is a visual artist. His paintings are collected internationally. He has also created branding solutions for the Markham Arts Council and the York Region Arts Council.

Website:   “http://www.beechamcanada.comwww.beechamcanada.com

Web log:  “http://www.markhamartist.comwww.markhamartist.com

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Gaining Perspective and Expanding Your World as You Write

No two people see things the same way. We all see things from who we are and from where we are. And we are ALL right. This is especially true for siblings.

Many of us float around close to Earth’s surface, lured towards the same temptations, seeking the same pleasures, fearing the same bogeymen. As we write we fire up our air balloon to rise higher and higher, viewing the world from a broader perspective, from our ‘all seeing’ eye, from the writer within.

Writing helps us examine things from different angles and in so doing we learn to understand how others view life as well. Writing broadens our perspective as we begin to observe the

beauty and ugliness around us with our inner eye, our ‘all seeing’ eye. A variety of perspectives widen our field of vision and therefore expand our world.

Writing also defines our optimism and negativity. In a half-filled glass, do we focus on what is gone or on what still remains? As we read our prose we are often struck by patterns of contentment or resentment.

Another perspective gained through writing is that inside each of us is a child and a parent who are both standing by, waiting to participate in our creative process, and after expressing our frustrations or sadness through writing the parent has the last word as they offer comfort and wisdom.

So unlock the chains of the earth and rise to new heights to discover that there are many sides to our story, and to every story.

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York Region Dancers Take Over So You Think You Can Dance Canada

The 4th season of So You Think You Can Dance Canada kicked off  with the top 22 performing in Toronto last week. The Show airs every Monday (performance and voting) and Tuesday (elimination) on CTV.

This year, the highly anticipated show is satureated with incredible York Region talent. Here is a snippet from the CTV website about each dancer from YR – Get to know them!

Adam LoPapa

Age: 19
Occupation: Student, Dance Teacher and Assistant
Hometown: Woodbridge, ON
Audition City: Toronto, ON
Place of Birth: Toronto, ON
Nickname: Lo-pops
Primary Style of Dance: Jazz
Signature Dance Move: 540 or double fan over
Favorite Song to Get Pumped Up and Ready to Perform to: “Showtime” by Lil Wayne
Favourite Dance Movie: You Got Served
Couldn’t Live Without: Cell Phone
Motto: “Go Big or Go Home.”

Joey Arrigo

Age: 19
Occupation: Dancer and Dance Teacher
Hometown: Newmarket, ON
Audition City: Toronto, ON
Place of Birth: Newmarket, ON
Nickname: Joey-A!
Primary Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: Pirouette
Favourite Song to Get Pumped Up and Ready to Perform: Whatever song I will be dancing to once I’m on stage
Favourite Dance Movie: A Chorus Line
Couldn’t Live Without: Green tea
Motto: “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

Lindsay Leuschner

Age: 19
Occupation: Aspiring Professional Dancer, Teacher and Choreographer
Hometown: Stouffville, ON
Audition City: Vancouver, BC
Place of Birth: Richmond Hill, ON
Nickname: Leusch, Loo, Schner, Biscuit (bee-skwee)
Primary Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: My crazy pointed feet!
Favorite Song to Get Pumped Up and Ready to Perform to: “Inside Out” by Britney Spears
Favourite Dance Movie: Dirty Dancing
Couldn’t Live Without: Tiger Balm and my iPhone
Motto: “Cherish yesterday, dream tomorrow, live today.”

Melissa Mitro

Age: 23
Occupation: Performer and Choreographer
Hometown: Richmond Hill, ON
Audition City: Toronto, ON
Place of Birth: Richmond Hill, ON
Nickname: Mitro, Lissy
Primary Style of Dance: Contemporary
Signature Dance Move: 540 jump and leg turn
Favorite Song to Get Pumped Up and Ready to Perform to: “Bass Down Low” by The Cataracs
Favourite Dance Movie: Chicago and Moulin Rouge
Couldn’t Live Without: Deodorant or perfume
Motto: “Don’t allow yourself to think that you’re the best because there’s always somebody better!”

Shane Simpson

Age: 23
Occupation: Professional Dancer and Choreographer
Hometown: Thornhill, ON
Audition City: Toronto, ON
Place of Birth: Toronto, ON
Nickname: ShaneLoc, Simba
Primary Style of Dance: Jazz
Signature Dance Move: Front ariel
Favorite Song to Get Pumped Up and Ready to Perform to: Any version of “Show Me Love”
Favourite Dance Movie: Too many to choose from! An American in Paris, Bring it On, Center Stage, Show Girls and West Side Story
Couldn’t Live Without: Snacks! Any type of snacks!
Motto: “Live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment,” and “Winning is the only way!”

Though not living in York Region, dancers Geisha Chin, Kevin Howe and Jordan Clark have in the past and continue to train and teach at highly competitive studios throught the region.

Another interesting piece of info about Melissa Mitro and Joey Arrigo – they both competed in previous years in the York Region Celebration of the Arts Talent Search, Melissa winning the Publisher’s Award and Joey winning a bursary.

For more information on the show, visit http://shows.ctv.ca/SoYouThinkYouCanDanceCanada.aspx

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Coming Event List for the Aurora Jazz + Festival!

One of our twelve (12) food vendors for the Aurora jazz+ Festival won a BBQ Big Grill Catering Award and was interviewed by Amanda Persico for the Banner on Wednesday:  Congratulations to Kevin & Naomi Finch owners of The Big Grill which is usually at the Aurora Farmers Market on Saturday morning.  The Big Grill will be with the Aurora jazz+ Festival in the Park for the entire festival.  We have food from all over the world represented in the Park!  Lots of vendors, lots to do, great music, artists and so much more – the excitement is building

We have the Alex the Beaver from the CNE coming out on Saturday from 3 – 5pm to hand our free CNE passes for the kids.  Brian Master of 88.5 will broadcast live from the Park Saturday 2 – 6pm.  York Region Water Truck will make its first appearance in Town Park offering good drinking water and reducing environmental waste….

Info for you:

COMING EVENTS LIST: (and see letter below re July 21st Kick Off Party!!)

JULY 21st Jonathan’s Official Jazz Hot Spot – Kick Off Party – Thursday July 21st @ 7pm. Launching our Official Hot Spot and leading up to the 2011 Aurora jazz+ Festival while supporting CCAA and Safehaven with a $5 donation at the door;  3rd Annual Aurora jazz+Festival. Live Entertainment; Beer/Wine Tasting & Great Food as always R.S.V.P. 905 841 1807

July 29 – 31st Aurora jazz+ Festival – Town Park :: Enjoy the civic long weekend in Our Town at the festival; including fabulous music, visual artists, Festival Marketplace; food vendors, Beer & Wine Garden; Kids Craft Blast Zone (Sat/Sun) & Boogie Boy Blues interactive concert July 31st 3pm at the Aurora Cultural Centre. Also MultiMedia Film Festival of York Region offers viewing of award winning films at the Cultural Centre Sat. July 30th.     Festival:  $5 daily – children under 12 and seniors 65+  free

July 30th – Multi Media Film Festival of York Region providing a screening of Award Winning York Region Films in the Aurora Cultural Centre from noon – 4pm

July 30th & July 31st – Kids Craft Blast Zone at Town Park during the Aurora jazz Festival. Kids create musical items using recycled materials – with Helen Rodrigues.

July 31st 3pm Boogie Boy Blues Interactive Theatre Concert at Aurora Cultural Centre brought to you by the Aurora Festival of the Arts  –  FREE

Celebrate Jonathan’s Restaurant the first Official Hot Spot for the Aurora jazz festival!  Jonathan’s is offering live jazz all 3 nights of the festival from 7pm.  It’s the place to continue the party after the Festival closes each night at 10pm and to go anytime for great food and service. 

But why wait for the festival – let’s Party! Everyone is welcome to Jonathan’s our Official Jazz Hot Spot – Thursday July 21st @ 7pm to support owner Mary Georgopolous and stimulate excitement for this year’s festival!  Help us thank Mary for her continued dedication and support of the arts, culture and those in need.  Enjoy great food, good times and music with George St. Kitts (AJF Artistic/Musical Director) and surprise festival musical guests.  Mary has organized beer and wine tasting and lots of fun activities to make the night a blast for us all! 

$5 donation at the door will be given to Safehaven www.safehaven.to and Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness (CCAA) www.abusehurts.ca  the 2 charity partners of the AFA.  CCAA and Safehaven representatives will be at the party to meet you and they are bringing the Safehaven Teddy Bears and some fabulous fashion accessories so you can also shop!

So, if you enjoy celebrating good people, food, music, and laughter while helping others then you will want to be at Jonathan’s Thursday July 21st at 7pm.  Can’t wait to see you there! 

Thank you all for your continued support of the Arts.

Mariposa Folk Festival

This past weekend I performed at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia. And I had a great time. I heard everything from the Idlers, a Newfoundland band playing ska and reggae, to Adonis Puentes, a fabulous Cuban singer, to Elisapie Isaac, an Inuit from Northern Quebec who sings in French, English, and Inuktitut, to Yeshe, a world traveller who plays instruments from all over the globe.

 Now if you don’t know about folk festivals, or if you think you’re not a folk fan and are therefore put off by the idea, there’s something you need to know. Over the past 20 years or so, these festivals have changed. They’re no longer a series of WASPy folks earnestly strumming acoustic guitars and singing mournful, lengthy ballads about Scottish maidens dying on the moors.

 Now it’s true that Mariposa did feature a fair number of white, North American singer-songwriter types (me included) – though given that this is Canada, at least 4 of the Canadian acts played in French, or in French and English (me included). But there were even more acts that represented or melded all sorts of genres and influences, such as rock, blues, bluegrass, classical, jazz, country, world music, spoken word, and more.

 That’s because the definition of folk music, and folk music itself,  has become pretty elastic. As Louis Armstrong once observed, “All music is folk music; I ain’t never heard no horse sing a song.” Sure, there are still some traditionalists out there who won’t listen to anything that involves a drum kit or an amp or that wasn’t written by Anonymous, but for the rest of us, there’s plenty of variety at these festivals, which is what makes them a delight.

 So next time you hear about a folk festival happening not far from you – and there are lots in Ontario in the summer: see http://www.northernjourney.com/cdnfolk/canfest.html for a list – even if you don’t think of yourself as a folkie, take a chance and check one out!

…………………..

 Marie-Lynn Hammond is a co-founder of Stringband, a seminal Canadian folk group, and a critically acclaimed songwriter living in York Region. In past lives she’s written plays and magazine articles and hosted national CBC radio shows. In between working on two new CDs, she freelances as an editor of both fiction and nonfiction. www.marielynnhammond.com

Aurora Festival of the Arts Sports Red Hot Canadians in Aurora’s Canada Day Parade for the 2011 Aurora Jazz Festival

AURORA JAZZ FEST A STAR AND A WINNER IN THE 2011 AURORA CANADA DAY PARADE ON YONGE STREET JULY 1ST

AJF CAME AWAY WITH THE BEST DECORATED FLOAT AWARD!  MANY AGREE IT WAS ALSO THE MOST ENGAGING & ‘FUN’ FLOAT IN THE PARADE WITH FABULOUS MUSIC AND DANCING ALL THE WAY DOWN YONGE STREET celebrating our nations birthday and our local artisans!!

THE 3 PINK BUBBLEGUM GIRLS IN BOAS, PINK WIGS AND BRIGHT SPARKLING SEQUENCE DANCED ON PLATFORMS WITH LOCAL BODY BUILDING STARS CARM & ABI FROM FITNESS CLUBS OF CANADA – AND BOY ARE THEY EVER FIT! 

THE COMBINED POWER OF MUSIC AND MUSCLES RIPPED A SEGMENT RED HOT CANADIAN JOY, DANCE AND LAUGHTER DOWN THE PARADE ROUTE AS FESTIVAL FANS (AND RED HOT CANADIANS) WAVED AND DANCED WITH THE PARTICIPANTS ON THE FLOAT….

MORE THAN A DOZEN RED HOT CANADIAN SPIRITED STUDENTS VOLUNTEERS DANCED AND GREETED FELLOW CANUKS AND MUSIC LOVERS ALONG PARADE ROUTE.  THEY DRESSED IN MERRY ARRANGEMENTS OF CANADA HATS, FLAGS, TEES AND CARRIED MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS, DRUMS, TAMBORINES AND NOISE MAKERS OF ALL KINDS!!  MY JAM SPACE FAMILIES AND ORGANIZER MICHAEL LANTEIGNE WERE THERE UP IN THE BIG BEAUTIFUL BLUE TRUCK DONATED BY KEVIN & FAMILY OF MASTERCUT. 
ARTIST DEBORAH CAMPO DANCED BESIDE HER EASLE, CANVAS AND PAINT BRUSHES REPRESENTING ALL THE LOCAL ARTISANS WHO WILL BE IN THE FESTIVAL AT THE FESTIVAL MARKET PLACE 
THE FLOAT WAS MAGNIFICENTLY DRESSED UP WITH RED FLAGS, RED HOT CANADIAN POSTERS AND AURORA JAZZ FESTIVAL BANNERS – IT WAS ALIVE AND COLORFUL…
A CONSTANT SUPPLY OF GREATEST HITS AND TUNES WERE SPUN BY D.J. GEORGE ST. KITTS
IT WAS A GLORIOUS DAY FOR CANADA AND THE FESTIVAL
WANT TO JOIN THE FUN?  COME OUT TO AURORA TOWN PARK JULY 29 – 31ST www.aurorajazzfest.com