Toronto Storefronts as Art

I have been experimenting lately with a technique in Photoshop on some images of storefronts. The technique involves creating a “cartoon-like” black and white image with black outlines and shading, and then selectively re-introducing colour back into the image.

My first series of images focuses Toronto storefronts. These are small businesses that I usually just stumbled across while walking along the street. Each storefront has something unique that made it worthwhile to capture.

Each image has been framed using an outline, shape, pattern or colour that is derived from the storefront. For example, I found a background of bats to include with the image titled Protected by Witchcraft, as there are bats depicted in the sign above the shop. In The Lucky Spot, I framed the image with a white ring as a play on the word “spot.”

Each storefront has a door, which is my pretext for posting these images on a Thursday in order to participate in Norm’s Thursday Doors blog.

I plan on creating more Storefront Art images in the future, so please follow along on my Flickr site or stay tuned for another blog post. Any and all comments are welcome.

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The Lucky Spot
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BBQ Express
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The Pomegranate
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Protected by Witchcraft

Festive Windows

It’s not that easy to find festive window displays in downtown Toronto during this year’s Christmas season. One go-to is the Hudson’s Bay store on Queen Street West, which features a few windows sponsored by the American toy brand FAO Schwarz. This is the first appearance of FAO Schwarz in Canada, as it has opened up pop-up spaces in Hudson’s Bay stores across Canada. Their windows are elaborate displays, but both the displays and the pop-ups are not expected to stay for long.

The city skyline window is a conglomeration of Toronto facades – some more recognizable than others – plus some vintage streetcars circling on a track. Maybe some long-term residents of Toronto are able to identify all of the buildings.

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FAO Schwarz – city skyline

The second window is a classic display of large-scale toys – a great place for window watchers young and old.

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FAO Schwarz – toy display

A second type of festive display is located in the windows of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Front Street. There are a number of panels, each one created by a local artist as his/her interpretation of the holiday season. This display is rooted in celebration, diversity and community, and reflects the multiculturalism of Toronto. Each piece is being auctioned by public bid, with the proceeds to be donated to Toronto’s Daily Bread Food Bank.

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‘Une Connection’ by Gabrielle Lasporte
northern lights
‘Northern Light’ by Patrick Hunter
good tidings
‘Good Tidings’ by Vivian Rosas
chinese lion
‘Chinese Lion, Burning Bright’ by Dylan Glynn

Door Potpourri

The word “potpourri” originated in the French language, and can be literally translated into English as “putrid pot.” It was used to describe a Spanish stew of various meats. [Source: Merriam-Webster online dictionary.]

More recently, this word has two common meanings. One refers to a mixture of flowers, herbs and spices, usually kept in a bowl or a jar, to create a pleasant scent. The other use of potpourri is to describe a miscellaneous collection or medley of things.

Norm Frampton has suggested that regular contributors to his Thursday Doors blog should consider posting a year-end recap of door discoveries over the past year, in celebration of the end of the year. As my final door post for 2018, I have chosen to feature a potpourri of forgotten doors from around the world that didn’t make it into a previous post. You could also refer to these as my “B-side” doors. For other year-end door contributions, be sure to check out Norm’s Thursday Doors blog for December 20, 2018.

My first door has an A-side and a B-side. The A-side has the address of 10 Adelaide Street East, Toronto (“A” is for Adelaide in this example). This building was opened in 1909 as the headquarters for a financial institution. The doors and the facade reflect the prosperity of the times in Toronto over 100 years ago. Like many cities, Toronto had its big downtown fire in 1904, and this new building was designed to meet stricter fireproofing standards. [Source: Ontario Heritage Trust website.]

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Ontario Heritage Centre – A-side

This building is now home to the Ontario Heritage Trust, which has the mandate to identify, protect, promote and conserve Ontario’s heritage in all of its forms. The OHT is trying to preserve Ontario’s Anglophone and Francophone heritage – a mandate that seems to have been half forgotten by Ontario’s new Progressive Conservative government.

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Ontario Heritage Centre – B-side

My B-side image was taken from the interior of the Ontario Heritage Centre when it was open to the public during Open Doors Toronto in May 2017. For more of my images from Open Doors Toronto 2017, you can use the following links:

Doors Open Toronto – Part 1

Doors Open Toronto – Part 2

Doors Open Toronto – Part 3

The next four images could have been included in a Doors of the UK series, but I could not find a theme for grouping these with any other doors.

Following these are two more door images that could have been included in my collection of Doors of Southern France. I love these doorways for the elaborate stone work and carvings that surround the doors.

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One French door
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Two French doors

My original French doors attracted a lot of interest from readers and have received more likes than any of my other blog posts. Here are the links:

Doors of southern France – Part 1

Doors of southern France – Part 2

My final door image for 2018 is a blue Police Box. This style of police box was used in the UK during much of the 20th Century. The box (usually blue) contains a public phone, but the phone is not inside the box, like you would expect to find in a phone booth. The phone is actually located behind the hinged door on the door on the left. Fans of the UK TV program Dr. Who may recognize this as the TARDIS – which is Dr. Who’s time machine. [Source: Wikipedia – Police box.] This police box is actually located in a small town in Australia. This must be Dr. Who’s actual time machine – how else would you explain its relocation 1000’s of miles to the southern hemisphere?

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Blue Police Box – AKA the TARDIS

Old School Doors – Series 2

Central Technical School is located on Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto. The school was opened in 1915 as the Toronto School Board’s flagship technical school.

The front entry has some interesting features. There are three pairs of oak doors at the front entrance to the school. Above the doors is a stone archway with some carved features. These include two sculpted gargoyles that represent industry and science, or technical and academic, depending on how you wish to interpret the two educational streams.

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Central Tech main entry

Featured above the archway is the original City of Toronto coat of arms, with the motto “Industry, Intelligence, Integrity”. It is the only school in Toronto to display this coat of arms, because the school was fully funded by the municipal government. It is also an early version of the City’s coat of arms. The shield consists of four quadrants, depicting the following: three lions, alluding to the coat of arms of England; a beaver (a symbol of the City’s history for industry and activity); a ship; and a sheaf of wheat. Standing on either side of the shield are an indigenous chief, with an axe and a bow; and Britannia, bearing a trident. A crown and another beaver are positioned above the shield.

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Central Tech entry details

Some of the doors at other entrances are painted blue – the official school colours are blue and white.

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Central Tech blue doors

This is my second post dedicated to old school doors – to see my previous article, please check this link. Like all of my other posts on doors, this is my contribution for Norm’s Thursday Doors this week.

 

 

Fast Food and Beer

All of these images were shot on a walk along Bathurst Street in downtown Toronto. The street has a rich diversity of subject matter, and like much of the rest of the city, it has a mix of old buildings and redevelopment.

None of the doors in this collection are noteworthy – it is the stories behind these doors that make them interesting. These are my contributions to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of August 9, 2018.

Tim Hortons has been in the news a lot lately. Once an iconic Canadian fast food outlet for coffee and donuts, the company expanded in the 1990’s when it merged with Wendy’s International and became an American company. It was later bought out by a multi-national congolomerate in 2014. Restaurant Brands International is now trying to make every cent they can out of a cup of coffee and a donut, and many of the Canadian Tim Hortons franchisees are feeling the revenue squeeze.

In Ontario, these problems were compounded in January 2018 when the provincial government increased the mandatory minimum hourly wage to $14. Some franchisees were accused of stripping benefits, banning tips and removing paid breaks because they were not permitted to increase their prices to accommodate the wage increase.

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Tim Hortons

Things have been much quieter at McDonald’s, which operates as an independent Canadian company within a world-wide corporation. It seems to have escaped any of the bad publicity. McDonald’s is the second largest fast food chain in Canada after Tim Hortons, and it is stil best known for its hamburgers. A few years ago, McDonalds got serious about the breakfast market, and incorporated McCafe outlets within their restaurants. Breakfast bagels were also recently introduced in Canada.

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McDonald’s

The Beer Store is where you go to buy a case of beer in Ontario. Established in 1927, the Beer Store is a private business owned by a group of breweries. Until recently, the ownership was monopolized by three multi-national brewers, but smaller craft brewers now have opportunities to be shareholders and sell their products.

Each province in Canada has its own unique system for the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages. In Ontario, you can shop for liquor, wine and small volumes (six-packs or less) of beer and cider at the government-owned LCBO. For larger volumes of beer, you go to The Beer Store. Pubs and restaurants must also purchase their beer from The Beer Store. Wine, beer and cider are also sold at some groceries and small retail stores.

All alcohol containers are sold with a deposit, which can only be refunded by returning the empty bottles and cans to The Beer Store.

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The Beer Store

Lowering the price of beer became a campaign slogan for the newly-elected Progressive Conservative Party in Ontario this year. One of their campaign promises was a return to “a buck a beer.” This seemed to be a bizarre item to include in a party platform, but it must have appealed to some of the voters, along with other regressive promises such as a return to the sex-ed curriculum of the 1990’s in all public schools (but that’s another whole topic of concern).

You can also order your beer online for pick-up or delivery through The Beer Xpress, to go along with your drive-thru or takeout food. Maybe this is where the first “buck a beer” will become available – although you might have to buy a case of 24 to get the “deal.” There’s an app for that!

Doors of Happiness

I recently visited the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. The AKM opened in 2014, and celebrates the arts of Muslim civilisations from the Iberian Peninsula to China.  The collection includes various artefacts and cultural objects that span from the eighth Century to the present.

The stated purpose of the Aga Khan Museum is that it will become “a centre of education and of learning, and that it will act as a catalyst for mutual understanding and tolerance”.

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the aga khan museum

Among the items on display I found and photographed three pairs of double doors, which are displayed here as my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors for the week of July 12, 2018. There was no indication of the context in which these these doors were originally used, so they can only be admired for their design and craftsmanship.

The first pair of doors are from Northern Iran, and are very specifically dated to have been carved in the years 1486-1487 AD. In the Muslim calendar, this is equivalent to the year 892 H (Hijri). The geometric design is quite unique, especially when compared to contemporary arts and crafts design in Europe.

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Iranian doors, 1486-87

The second pair of doors originates in either Iran or northern India, from the late 18th or early 19th Century. The doors are embellished with carved and painted floral patterns around the edges of the frames and inner panels. The Persian inscription in cartouches at the top is translated to state:

Open the door of happiness for the owner of this door, opener of doors.

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doors of happiness

There is very little information provided about the third set of doors. They are constructed of wood, metal and mother of pearl, and probably originate from Gujarat, India, in the 19th-20th Century.

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pearly gates