Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Willard Suitcase Exhibit

My love for ephemera led me to an incredible online exhibit called, The Lives They Left Behind. The exhibit features the contents and owners of suitcases found in the attic of the Willard Psychiatric Center in NYC after it closed in 1995.

The belongings contained in each suitcase provide evidence of a life prior to being institutionalized - one that was filled with family, friends and a sense of normalcy. At the same time, a semblance of deterioration can be seen on the faces in these individuals as you compare the photographs of when they first arrived to that of their "mug shots". The images were somewhat haunting, at times. What is most shocking are the accompanying stories which often fail to demonstrate any attempts at treatment or healing for these individuals and left me wondering what the point of withdrawing these individuals from society was (if not just to segregate them).

If you get the chance, please have a look... It's quite fascinating.

The Willard Suitcase Exhibit

I think I'm in love...

This morning, J and I went to meet the graphic designer that is doing work for the feature film he has in production. Wow... I think I'm in love! Not just with the designer himself (though, J & I both agree that he was cute, extremely talented and also very cool) but also with his amazing designs! It was sooo inspiring to be in his studio and hear him talk about the project and how his concepts came to fruition. Many of the elements he used can be easily applied to the kind of book and cardmaking that I absolutely love to do. He even used a letterpress for some of the printing and some tactile features (such as raised paint used to simulate blood). It was all verrrry exciting! I can't wait for J to hand them out during the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival)... Apart from being a really brilliant film, the propoganda associated with it is certainly going to leave quite an impression! Love it all!

We're going back there today at 2pm to meet with the designer again to look at and sign off on the final copies. I can't wait to see what other creative pieces he's included!

Right now, I'm on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto in a cafe waiting for J to meet me after seeing his agent. It's buzzing with activity down here - the lunch crowd is in full effect and those enjoying the hot, sunny day. Earlier, I was on Queen Street and thought about how happy I was to live in this city. While I do miss Europe (and would move there in a heartbeat!), I love all of the little pockets and different neighbourhoods in Toronto. There are so many great things to discover in each... Great little restaurants off the beaten track, favorite shops to buy paper, supplies or wonderful little treasures, cafes offering delicious soy green tea lattes and of course, the best places to people watch for all of the different characters that Toronto attracts. My two favorite places to be are on Queen Street and Kensington Market. At any given time, I am able to find the most interesting and creative cards, vintage clothing, old books and funky handbags. They also boast amazing restaurants (like King's in Kensington Market where they sell the most delicious vegan meals including soy bites & soy drumsticks!).

Yes, Toronto is a great place to live. Won't you be my neighbour?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It never rains in California...

J attended a three day workshop in California on acting for directors in L.A. I tagged along and we decided to call it our 'working honeymoon'. During the day, he would attend his workshop while I explored different parts of the city. I spent the most time in Santa Monica which was great fun. We managed to squeeze in dinners and time with family and friends. My only regret was not actually meeting a fellow blogger that I had originally planned to. (Boo!) Fortunately, I know we'll return so hopefully, I can finally meet this special person...
The Walt Disney Concert Hall is an amazing work of art. It was designed by Frank Gehry and is absolutely stunning. I took a 45 min. self-guided tour and the inside is as impressive as the exterior. The detail that I found most impressive was the lettering used on the walls of the hall. The color and font were chosen to perfectly blend not just with the felt walls but into the felt walls, thus, creating a sense of continuity throughout. All of the lines in the building are continous and flowing and just divine. One of the main concert areas of the hall has been covered with a dark wood so as to mimick its affinity to the instrument that is being played within. It's all so beautiful and harmonious, isn't it?

I spent the afternoon in Little Tokyo where they were having the LA Tofu Festival. The festival, itself, was great... Lots of delicious tofu treats and kiosks of nice things to buy. I picked up a shirt designed by Spicy Brown which I love. Her designs are so adorable and very Japanese. My shirt has little octopus ball guys. So cute! I also wandered around Little Tokyo through their maze of restaurants and stores. At the end of the festival, the Nisei Association held a parade.

Reform School rocks. It's an awesome little shop in Silver Lake that has all kinds of goodies including original prints, handmade/letterpressed cards, journals and wallets that were so hard to resist. Yum!
Giant Robot is one of my favorite magazines. I often daydreamed of one day going to see their amazing shop... and I did! In fact, it was quite close to where we were staying! Yippee! I bought some zines and stickers created by Pearl Esther Watson. I love her illustrations so much! The setting is in the 80's and is based on a journal that she found at a truck stop. Love it! At the back of the store is a little art gallery where I found the art of Camilla Engman!

J's awesome galpal, R, took us to the coolest place called the Cha Cha Lounge in Silver Lake. We had such a great time taking pictures and chatting and soaking up the atmosphere. They even had a selection of free postcards with really great designs that I helped myself to! :)

Back in da 'Peg

We visited my hometown of Winnipeg to attend the wedding of one of J's best friends. It was an absolutely beautiful wedding and the bride was just stunning. They had a DJ playing but they also had a traditional Ukranian band so the night catered to all of the guests (just not at the same time). At around 11 pm, they had a room filled with all kinds of dainties and sweets for the guests including a chocolate fountain. (Mmmm! My favorite!) To wash it all down, a martini from the martini bar set up next to the regular bar. The speeches were great and very entertaining (the groom is hilarious). The best part of it all was the great people we got to hang out with. It was so much fun. J was loving it all as most of his best friends were gathered together quoting SCTV and God knows what.

We had our own celebrating to do and were thrown a lovely brunch by my parents at a very nice restaurant. Only my immediate family, cousins and a few very close friends joined us. It was very intimate and special but also such an incredibly thoughtful gesture by my parents. (Thanks, Ma and Dad!)

My parents just love J and have welcomed him into our family with open arms. On the way home from the brunch, J commented on how he really loves my family and being part of it. I feel the same way about his and we both feel so incredibly blessed that things have turned out they way that they have. J's family has been nothing but kind and open when it comes to me and my little person. I never thought life could be this wonderful... J is so incredibly good to us and treats me with such respect and love. Above all, we're best friends who enjoy laughing together and sharing our hopes and dreams and just being together. He reminds me of what is important in life such as family, friends and love but most of all, he is a wonderful co-parent and partner.

We are all so happy, including the little person. She's excited to have her new aunties and a new family to be a part of. She even jokes around about adding J's name to her already hyphenated name.

Hello Cuties!
We drove out to Delta Beach where J's producer lives. Delta Marsh is just steps away and located at the Southern tip of Lake Manitoba. We had a nice visit and walked along the marsh catching frogs!


Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is gorgeous. D decided to take us there for the day. Just 112 kms. from Luzern, we arrived there in about an hour and fifteen minutes. When we arrived, we headed to Old Town where the infamous, Zytglogge (clock tower) is located in the heart of it all. Wide cobble-stoned streets stretched from both sides of the Zytglogge and were the site of shops, restaurants, cafes and kiosks. An interesting feature of this area was the bunker-style entrance to the shops underground. The streets were bustling with activity and people and excitement. Good times!


L told me about this really huge flea market that takes place in Zurich every Saturday and thought we should check it out. I may have actually began to salivate. Anyone that knows me can attest to how much I love scouring through vintage shops and junk stores for little treasures. I couldn't wait to go and with a sparkle in my eye, I began to daydream about the kind of ephemera that was waiting to be discovered. On the other side of the room, there was a different kind of sparkle shining in one's eyes... This one had Stanley Kubrick at the centre of it all. Apparently, at Sihlcity Zurich, a Kubrick exhibition was on discplay featuring props and paraphernalia from each of his films. Each film was contained in its own room and from the sounds of it, was an absolute must-see for any Kubrick fan. Luckily, D and J happened to fit the bill!

Zurich was fantastic and I'm not just saying that because I came home with a million little vintage postcards and a beautiful photo album filled with amazing shots. The city was alive with activity and as beautiful as Bern and Luzern. It was hot and sunny - a perfect day to be out and about. The boys loved the exhibit and even the little person had tons of fun exploring the city. In fact, if you scroll down below, you'll see that she even made a new friend along the way... (Yikes!)