Intuition: Hairstylists with Creative Souls

Anyone who’s had a great haircut knows that the best hair stylists are, in fact, artists. They’re sculptors whose medium is hair.

The current exhibit Intuition at Art Square Gallery and Café shows that hair — in its own right — can be sculpture. It’s the brainchild of hair stylists Erika Fung and Arisa Yamasaki and wearable art designer Shirley (Xue) Liang.

Every sculpture in this show features human hair, synthetic hair or extensions. Some hair was donated by friends. A lot was collected from the hair salon floors.

For Fung, who studied Fine Art at the University of Waterloo, it’s not that far a stretch to create sculpture from hair. She is a hairdresser specializing in avant-garde hairstyles. But the show was a chance to explore her emotions in more depth – hence the title Intuition.

“I had to get this stuff out, otherwise it would be cluttered in my head,” she says with a smile.

Natasha Gerschon, a professional image maker who produced photos and video for the show, says the goal of the exhibit is to give gut feelings a physical presence.

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These sculptures, to me reminiscent of bears, were created out of a bubble wrap centre encased in real human hair, all natural brown colour — some of which friends donated.

“Intuition is not tangible – but we’re giving a visual to go with it,” she says, noting that she chose dreamlike music to heighten viewers’ emotional response.

Shirley Liang added to the show’s spellbinding effect with dramatic masks, headpieces and a surreal chest piece. The piece below, which looks like seashells, is actually made of pistachio shells and sunflower seeds.

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Headpiece created by Shirley Liang featuring pistachio shells and seeds

After they brought Gerschon on board, Fung, Yamasaki and Liang recruited other creative talents in the fashion industry to collaborate on the show:

  • Kelvin Roman Lau, a recent Ryerson fashion grad, whose designs are highlighted in the photos and video
  • Tiffany Hung of Plutino Models, a highly expressive model featured in the video and photos
  • Makeup artists Melanie White and Christina Nguyen, who provided the model’s makeup

Fung says they provided each member of the collaborative team with a brief overview of what they were looking for, but encouraged them to use their own intuition in creating their work.

“If you give too much guidance, it’s forced,” she says.

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Model Tiffany Hung featured in Natasha Gerschon’s video accompanying the exhibit

Fung was delighted with the turnout to the opening, especially seeing her friends from the salon coming out.

“I was very overwhelmed,” she says. “Everyone was very happy and very supportive.”

Hopefully that support will encourage these hairstylists to make more art in the future.

The show is on daily from 9 to 11 a.m. now through March 5 at the Art Square Café and Gallery, 334 Dundas St. W.

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Grief

I lost a loved one this week. My mom’s cousin — a vibrant,  funny, strong and beautiful soul. A force of gravity, who drew friends and family into her orbit with fierce affection. It’s hard to come to terms with, but art helps. As I write, I’m listening to one of her favourite artists, Renée Fleming, singing arias, and looking at sketches of my cousin’s one-time country cottage. The sketches capture the charm not only of the place, but the woman herself. Art connects us all, living and dead. For that, I’m very grateful.

BINGO! Artist Stella Walker’s latest inspiration

To say Stella Walker is a multi-disciplinary artist is an understatement. And understatement is not her style.

Yes, her beautiful figurative and landscape paintings are introspective and dreamlike. She’s a classically trained singer who sings in multiple languages, has specialized in Yiddish art songs, and now writes her own music.

But that’s just the beginning. As an actor and singer, Stella Walker can be a ham.

“Life is a mixture of things, so why wouldn’t art be a mixture of things?” says Walker. “It has its tragic and comic elements.”

A perfect example is her new YouTube music video ‘Under the B – Busted.’ It’s a campy, operatic-style performance about her failure to win at bingo. You can see it here.

The video is a collaboration featuring her friends’ talents — on, off and behind the camera — including Stephen Granger’s work. He shot, directed and edited it.

He normally does corporate work, but lent his skills to this production after Walker performed her bingo song to him in a café. They storyboarded together, and shot the video in four hours at the OWL’s Club on Dovercourt Road. Walker provided additional video elements, including drawings of imagined winnings, like a Winnebago.

Central to the video is a dress made out of 300 bingo cards, all paper, created by Alison Conway — a costume designer whose credits include the Stratford Festival.

“Paper is so fragile, it would be easy for the dress to be a disaster,” recalls Conway.

She wanted the bingo cards to move, and not appear like armour. As she researched solutions, Conway learned of a costume made out of feathers in The Magic Flute (read about that very costume in Backstage at the Opera: The Art of Costumes).

“If you can make feathers float, you can make bingo cards float,” she says.

With fittings and adjustments, the dress took a month to finish. Conway was pleased, especially with Walker’s reaction.

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Stella Walker’s bingo dress may be made of fragile paper, but is now immortalized in video.

“Bringing someone’s vision to fruition is very satisfying,” says Conway.

After performing ‘Under the B — Busted’ in the dress on stage, Walker hoped to give her friend’s work permanence. Hence the music video, a way to preserve it visually.

But what prompted Walker to want a bingo dress in the first place?

Cree class, Walker explains. Naturally.

Walker doesn’t just sing in multiple languages, she’s also multilingual. She’s studied the Cree language in Vancouver, Saskatoon and now at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.

One day, she bought a $3.99 bingo game as a gift for her Cree teacher, Susan Hunter. She thought it would be a fun way to learn Cree numbers from 1 to 75. It was so popular, it turned into a monthly bingo game in class.

She was flooded with inspiration — for the bingo dress, and for an interactive performance in which Susan Hunter would call out the numbers 1 to 75 in Cree for the audience, playing bingo. All that led to the music video, which features Hunter as caller, and many of Walker’s friends, including classmates, playing bingo.

“They were all volunteers,” notes Granger. “We had a lot of fun.”

While Walker’s dreams in the video are all fantasy, she really does want to travel. She’s developing a theatrical production — Stellavision: The 3D World of Stella Walker — and plans to tour it someday.

Part of the cost of the production is a $714.95 license fee for a composer. She’s selling one of her acrylic paintings for exactly that amount.

The painting in question is of a bingo card … of course.

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Proceeds from the sale of this 30 x 30-inch acrylic painting (‘Bingo Card #2435608’) will go toward funding her next production — Stellavision: The 3D World of Stella Walker

For more information on Stella Walker and her work, go to her website at stellawalker.com

Natural High: The Art of Bird-Watching

Creatures that fly on their own power, armed with sharp talons and sharper eyes, with calls that range from musical to threatening … birds would be mythical beasts if they didn’t live among us.

They soar in graceful silhouettes, build homes in trees, and demonstrate levels of intelligence that science is just starting to grasp. ‘Bird brain’ could be a compliment. They’ve moved poets and artists like John James Audubon to great heights – and still do.

Among local admirers: science journalist Genna Buck and nature photographer Lance McMillan. The duo joined hordes of Toronto bird-watchers for this year’s Christmas Bird Count, an event that brings out more than 70,000 people all over North, Central and South America, both professional ornithologists and citizen scientists.

The count is an invaluable contribution to science, indicating population and health of species. It’s also a chance to appreciate birds in their natural habitats. And watch other bird-watchers.

“I’m obsessed with subcultures,” Buck says. Essentially, if there are people with passions, she wants to meet them, even if it means showing up on a Sunday at 8 a.m. in snowpants.

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Early dawn and deer at Park Lawn Cemetery. (Copyright Lance McMillan)

McMillan arrived before dawn to get a head start. He’s travelled to Japan to photograph snow monkeys and the Galapagos Islands to shoot wildlife there, so was excited to focus on creatures closer to home. He and Buck reported to ‘Sector 2’ in Etobicoke and the Humber Valley, starting at Park Lawn Cemetery. McMillan was rewarded for his early arrival by spotting three deer.

Turns out Toronto is home to some wild wildlife: Birds of prey nest on condos, the highest spots in what used to be Carolinian Forest.

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Peregrine falcons are at home in Toronto, thanks to condos. (Copyright Lance McMillan)

“We don’t have old-growth forests here, but we have new-growth condos,” says Buck, relating a drama she and McMillan witnessed by the Humber River.

A peregrine falcon was circling a condo, then swooped down to kill a gull, dragging it to a rock.

“Then a kestrel came and head-butted him to take the seagull,” Buck says.

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During the bird count, a kestrel stole a peregrine falcon’s meal. (Copyright Lance McMillan)

The kestrel took off with the dead gull, but lost it. Kestrel karma.

McMillan saw the whole thing play out in high definition through a scope (a small telescope), down to the blood dripping from the falcon’s mouth. Buck had a pair of opera glasses that served her well. (TIP: If you don’t have a scope, binoculars, or – like Buck – opera glasses, you can use your smartphone camera and zoom in to watch birds.)

The pair learned to identify robins from a distance because they look like flying apples (they’re really plump). They saw woodpeckers, red-tailed hawks, and in the public parks, they were swarmed by chickadees expecting to be fed.

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Overwintering Canada geese in the Christmas Bird Count. (Copyright Lance McMillan)

Most of all, they saw waterfowl. Some Canada geese overwinter here. The Humber River is alive in winter with rafts (that’s genuinely the term) of ducks: honey mergansers, long-tailed ducks and buffleheads.

For McMillan, while he got a lot of great shots, the bird count was a chance to learn where these birds hang out so he can go back and take more time.

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(Copyright Lance McMillan)

Both he and Buck found their best aid was their human guides, professional birders.

“You really appreciate the trained eye,” says Buck.

Bird-watching, for both amateurs and seasoned pros, helps train the eye, a boon to any artist.

“Don’t try too hard to keep up with the birds,” adds Buck, encouraging first-timers. “Do it as a way to see the city from a different angle.”

Special thanks to Lance McMillan for sharing his photos, including the featured image of the woodpecker at the top of this post. You can see more of his work at Lance McMillan Photography, http://lancemcmillan.com/

 

 

Merry Potters: The Artists of Woodlawn Pottery Studio

While online shopping is appealing, and dangerously easy, it’s still wonderful going out on an old-fashioned hunt for gifts that both come from the heart and are made by hand.

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Absolutely Luminous: Raku pottery by Kumiko Claros

This crisp December weekend, one such hunt led me to Woodlawn Pottery Studio’s 2016 Show & Sale.

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The Woodlawn Pottery Studio 2016 Show & Sale at Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw St.

The artists’ work shone in a light-filled former classroom at Artscape Youngplace on Shaw – a school-turned-cultural community centre near Trinity Bellwoods Park.

There are some people that just don’t take a bad picture; they look good from every angle. The same could be said for the pottery in this show.

Mind you, as one of the artists revealed, that’s not necessarily true of the pieces that didn’t make it to the show.

“When I was starting out in pottery, someone told me that if you make a piece that is ugly, don’t fire it because it will outlive you for decades,” said Michele Silveira, smiling.

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Woodlawn Pottery Studio artist Michele Silveira examines a fellow potter’s work

Silveira took time out from helping at the cash to tell me about Woodlawn Pottery Studio.

An artists’ co-op, it’s located within a YWCA woman’s centre in midtown Toronto. It started as one of the Y’s educational programs, but the program was cancelled in the 1980s. Several of the potters banded together to run the studio as a co-op, and so it continues to this day. There are 19 members, all women, but men are welcome to take courses there.

Silveira says several founders are still active in the group, including Joyce Wheatley, whose work reflects her lifelong fascination with East Asia, and Japanese culture in particular.

Wheatley’s mastery of technique is matched by the soul of an artist, 80-plus years young. As she writes: “In working with the clay, I try to capture that spontaneous instant when it does something magical and fresh. And when I do this then the piece has a vitality that a machine-made pot never has.”

Wheatley makes a living from her art, while Silveira – who works in radiation therapy at Sunnybrook Hospital – does pottery as a therapeutic hobby, though her work is highly professional.

“For me, I find it meditative,” she says. Part of that is the routine she has before she begins any piece, studying the clay for a long time, thinking about what would be good to do with it.

I ask if there’s an ideal potter’s personality — if most potters, like her, approach things slowly and methodically. Not at all, she replies.

“Some people work in a frenzy,” she says, adding that the members come from all backgrounds, including social workers, teachers, medical professionals and graphic designers.

Every potter’s style evolves, she notes. Silveira’s own work is evolving from more practical pieces to more expressive, emotional works, and figurative pieces.

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Michele Silveira was keen to demonstrate her evolution as an artist in the show

“My goal is to do a big sculptural piece,” she says, gesturing something almost life-size. It would depict a female figure.

The women of Woodlawn Pottery Studio have found an art that allows them not only to shape and transform clay, but themselves in the process.

For more information, or to learn about their courses, visit their website: www.woodlawnpottery.com

Gloria Swain: Art as Healing Space

Art galleries are calming, reflective spaces. They’re peaceful and quiet, a sanctuary from all the noise in the outer world. They’re a safe space.

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Tangled Art Gallery at Suite S-122, 401 Richmond St.

For Gloria Swain, art itself is refuge, her healing space. As the 2016 artist-in-residence at Tangled Gallery, she shares works she has created in her process of healing, a process she says is ongoing.

Tangled Art Gallery is dedicated to promoting the work of artists with disabilities. In Gloria Swain’s case, her challenge – as with so many of us – is with mental health. Mental illness can be debilitating, but unlike physical disabilities, it’s hard to see, and even when we do see it, we turn our eyes away.

Swain uses visual art to make mental pain visible, and to draw the link between the experience of black women in our society and mental health issues. As she says, her art is political.

In a talk with students at Tangled Art Gallery this week, she shared the thoughts and inspirations behind the exhibit *Mad Room.

“We carry the memories of our ancestors in our bodies,” she narrates in a video.

In one corner of the gallery, paintings and sculptures are awash in blood red. There are references to abuse and secrets. A scroll depicts the names of black women who have been killed by police and anti-black violence, as part of the #SayHerName project.

Nearby is the installation Invisible. A wall of whitewashed art, a white hospital bed, white dressing gown and white mask depict her experience of hospitalization – and a sense of being invisible. Feeling invisible doesn’t stop someone with mental illness see and feel pain.

Pill bottles on a tray are labelled to reveal side effects of medications. Among them, pain, anxiety, hallucinations.

For the viewer, and for Swain herself, it is art that brings relief. The rest of the room is vital, vibrant, shimmering with colour.

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Gloria Swain uses art as a form of healing, and encourages others to do the same.

She describes it as her healing space. In her video (which is audio-described as well), she encourages people to identify their own healing space. To get in touch with their feelings, and with her art.img_0788

There is a blue hand painted on the wall encouraging gallery visitors to touch many of the paintings.img_0711

“When you touch my art, you touch me,” says Swain.

For more on Tangled Art Gallery and upcoming exhibits, visit their website.

*Sean Lee, the gallery’s acting gallery manager, explained that Swain chooses to own the word ‘Mad’ as an empowering act. Lee says the word ‘Crip’ is used in the same way by some members of the disabled community.

Saturday Morning in Regent Park: Dance Class

It’s 10:15 a.m. Saturday morning and already time for the third ballet class of the day at The Citadel, in the heart of Regent Park.

Miss Portia, a.k.a. Portia Wade, dance instructor, provides directions to the children to set up barres for practice. Quietly and efficiently, they do, and move to their spots.

“First position,” she calls in a kind, but authoritative tone.

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Man, she’s good. I’m tempted to move my feet into first position, while I’m just there to take pictures. Meanwhile the young students obey, looking straight ahead as they move their feet, even if they occasionally confuse left and right.

Miss Portia’s helpful and friendly assistant Sarah Holmes adjusts their feet with a professional touch. These students are being immersed in the internationally recognized American Ballet Theatre (ABT) system of classical instruction.

After barre practice, they rehearse to music from The Nutcracker. As the choreography becomes a little more complicated – and sometimes breaks down – their faces break into smiles and the occasional giggle.

The instructor points out one young student for her superb posture and how she is “smizing” – smiling with her eyes. The students are told to emanate that sparkle.

One dancer asks eagerly if they can do the stretching at the end of class. That stretching turns out to involve heavy core work, push-ups and sit-ups. But the kids love it.

“They’re so well-behaved,” I say to Miss Portia after class.

She smiles wryly, as if to say there’s room for improvement, but she agrees.

The belief in children’s potential – and the potential of these young people in particular – is the origin story of these ballet classes in Regent Park.

When the classes started in 2012, there was just one young student. Now there are 25, who attend one or more classes offered at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance through the week, including the five classes available every Saturday.

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The centre serves as headquarters for the dance company Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Beyond the company’s full-time dance productions, they are deeply involved in their community.

The ballet classes are free to any child in the neighbourhood. For students from outside Regent Park, they’re available on a sliding scale. Those parents who can afford to pay the full term fees do.

“About 80 per cent of the kids here take the classes on full scholarship,” says Laurence Lemieux, co-artistic director. “Some parents can afford tuition and that helps pay for the other students, but we have sponsorships and private donations, that’s how we work it.”

Daniels Corporation and TD Bank provide direct support. Canada’s National Ballet School also provides help, right down to offering leotards, ballet slippers and pointe shoes for The Citadel’s students.

Parents also swap the leotards and ballet slippers as their children grow. Some parents even join the dance company’s board to help out, like Catriona Ferguson, whose daughter Zoe is taking a pointe class with Portia Wade.

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As a dancer and a parent, Ferguson says she wants to support the company and programs that expose kids to art forms like dance that they may not otherwise enjoy.

“There should be access to amazing things like this for everybody,” she says.

Lemieux says that ballet is an expensive hobby for most Canadians, but she wants others to enjoy it as she did as a child in Quebec, where her ballet classes were publicly funded by the province. That led to her pursuing her passion as a professional dancer.

“There aren’t the same opportunities here. Some parents can’t afford tuition. It should be accessible to all,” she says. “It’s financial, but it’s also social.”

To learn more, go to Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie’s website.

Discovered: Pianist Jean-Michel Blais

It started with a conversation at work in September. My colleague Deena asked if I’d heard of pianist Jean-Michel Blais.

She’d heard him on the CBC radio show q. She described his experimental style, a mix of classical and improvisation; Deena was impressed. I listened to a sample of his music on YouTube. His style was experimental, yes, but also warm and melodic.

Within minutes, we’d bought tickets for Deena, me and our friend Sam for a November concert at The Great Hall in Toronto.

Other than listening to that one piece on YouTube, I was going in naïve, as was Sam. I have to admit that’s how I enjoy a lot of art. Like an explorer making a new discovery.

Blais is all about exploring and discovery himself. He’s travelled the world. Born in rural Quebec, he’s lived in Guatemala and Germany, and speaks several languages.

Now based in Montreal, most of his exploration is of a musical nature. He experiments with the piano itself, plucking the strings so it sounds like a harp, or a balalaika – or using it as a purely percussive instrument. It can sound like a whole orchestra.

He maps the expanse of human emotions, taking his audience on inner journeys through melodies and silence.

“It’s so evocative,” I whispered to Sam. “This could totally be a film score.”

“Yeah!” she whispered back. “I was thinking the same thing. He should be writing scores for movies.”

We had discovered Jean-Michel Blais.

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Jean-Michel Blais photo by Isis Essery, courtesy Arts and Crafts

He’s used to that. He’s been discovered throughout his life. Self-taught in piano and later studying with a teacher in his hometown of Nicolet, he was such a natural that at 17, he was given a place at the Conservatoire de Musique du Québec à Trois-Rivières. A true innovator, he rebelled against rigid instruction, and left to explore.

He was discovered ten years ago at 21 by Quebec playwright and film director Robert Lepage, who loved Blais’ compositions. The pianist continued experimenting, but held down day jobs working in special education and as a CEGEP professor in Quebec, helping students prepare for university.

Then he posted some of his music online on at Bandcamp. As an interview there relates, Blais was discovered again this year, by Cameron Reed, another minimalist pianist with the Arts and Crafts label. Reed introduced Arts and Crafts to Blais and they signed him.

Their discovery of him was a turning point. As he told us at his concert, he can now devote himself full-time to composing. And he’s loving it. Just four weeks in.

With a major label behind him, the world is going to discover Jean-Michel Blais.

Blais’ album Il is available now. Go to his website JeanMichelBlais.com for more information.

Special thanks to Samantha (Sam) Emann for the featured image in this post.

 

Backstage at the Opera: The Art of Costumes

Opera is something my Dad listened to on the radio when I was growing up. I didn’t understand what they were singing. It felt remote.

Years later, friends invited me to the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Salome, staged by filmmaker Atom Egoyan. I’d seen his film Exotica, which involved some similar plot points – older men, younger woman. Voyeurism. Raw emotion. His artistic direction in an opera could be interesting.

As the lights went down and focused on the stage, I saw SURTITLES™, the COC’s brilliant invention. They’re like subtitles for a foreign film, projected above the stage. Suddenly I understood the words.

There were extra visual clues. These exceptional singers were equally great actors who conveyed plot through movements. Themes were conveyed in set design, choreography … and costumes. Magic. I’ve been going every year since.

“It’s all visual,” says COC Costume Supervisor Sandra Corazza. “And people are getting more and more visual, demanding things be more different and better.”

It’s working. The COC posted a $32,000 surplus for the 2015/16 season, a return on investment in artistic excellence — including the wardrobe department.

This past week, I had the treat of visiting Corazza and her team in that very department. We started in a room stacked floor to ceiling with jackets, shirts, trousers and boots, the first of many such rooms. I gasped.

The department has a big budget, but has to, Corazza says.

“If you’re doing a play, that doesn’t compare to an opera chorus of 40, with a dozen supers [extras], eight soloists,” says Corazza. “You cannot feed that many people with one chicken.”

And they recycle. She describes the investment they made in the wardrobe for The Magic Flute — back this season — as similar to investing in a Little Black Dress or men’s suit to last for years.

“It’s ours, we built it,” she says with pride. “And because we know we used decent fabric and put seam allowances and side seams in [to every costume], we can put it on again and know it will still be beautiful.”

The COC’s original Magic Flute wardrobe just returned from the U.S. Co-productions are common now, helping distribute cost. Corazza shows me how the U.S. company treated the costumes with respect. She pulls out a skirt worn by the lead female singer. It was hemmed, not cut. Now Corazza’s team can simply take out the hem to lengthen it.

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Natassia Brunato works on the women’s wardrobes for opera productions

There’s still a tonne of work to do. In addition to The Magic Flute, the COC is staging an all-new production: Riel. They’re building the wardrobe from scratch.

There are challenges. Fitting, for example. One of the male cast members stands 6’8” — not your standard tall guy. Every performer must be measured individually.  Natassia Brunato takes care of the female cast, and Christie del Monte outfits the men.

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Christie del Monte is painstakingly polishing all the men’s shoes

They work in subtle details that make a huge difference. Louis Riel’s supporters will all be wearing black jackets. Corazza says if the jackets were identical, the men would merge into a single silhouette — not the desired effect. So every jacket features a different texture and hue.

Some Magic Flute costumes have to be recreated. The complex ones will be sewn by tailors across southern Ontario. Corazza shows me a skirt for a character called Papagana.

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Sandra Corazza exhibits the exquisite design of one of their favourite tailors

“The person who made Papagana, the talent on her finger — it’s incredible,” says Corazza with awe.

She says operas have a significant role in keeping the craft of tailoring alive. And by helping to build dreamlike and breathtaking productions, the wardrobe department does its part to keep opera alive.

Once Upon a Time at the Reference Library: The art of fairy tales

Like so many kids, my earliest exposure to visual art was in the pages of children’s books.

Jean de Brunhoff’s illustrations to accompany the Babar series pulled me into the elephant’s adventures. Even if there were scenes of imminent danger, something about the softness of the watercolour and pencil drawings was reassuring that everything would turn out fine in the end. And it did, of course, which is how de Brunhoff’s son Laurent was able to pick up the series and continue adding instalments to this day.

From simple line drawings to the most elaborately detailed scenes, art in kids’ books is a key part of building literacy. Illustrators convey ideas and emotions from the text in pictures so children can process them.

It’s also an introduction to art appreciation, as close as the library or bedroom bookshelf. Many illustrators are such talented artists that their works could be hung in a gallery.

Which is exactly what’s been done at the Toronto Reference Library in the show Once Upon a Time.  Located on the first floor in the TD Gallery, it’s an exhibit of fairy tale books and illustrations, taken from the Osborne Collection of Early Childhood Books

It’s a pleasingly small exhibit. If you’ve got a toddler with you, it’s easy to explore in a mere 20 minutes, with puzzles and questions to entertain kids at their eye level.

At the same time, it is a thoughtful retrospective on the evolution of fairy tales from oral tradition to picture books for adults to linger on.

I was amazed to learn Beauty and the Beast is based on a second-century story Roman story. And way back in the 17th century, Charles Perrault, grandfather of modern fairy tales, gathered stories from neighbours and wrote them down in a volume of Top 10 all-time hits, including Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Puss in Boots and Little Red Riding Hood.

You’d think the endings to such classics would be set in stone, but they vary depending on time and place. Perrault’s Red Riding Hood got eaten by the wolf. The End. The Brothers Grimm had a huntsmen help her out, and in a similar story from China, Grandmother Tiger, the little girl is her own heroine.

Just as the stories are fluid and varied, so is the artistic interpretation, a mirror of changing time and cultural influences, and the unique talents of illustrators themselves.

Once Upon A Time: Fairy tales from the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books is on now at the TD Gallery in the Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge. St. from now through Jan. 15.