Coffee & Conversation with SALVADOR ALANIS and XIMENA BERECOCHEA

Grab your favourite caffeinated beverage and read our latest Coffee & Conversation interview with Institute for Creative Exchange (ICE) founders Salvador Alanis and Ximena Berecochea. This power couple facilitates workshops designed to promote artistic collaboration with a focus on creative processes. I got to chat with the lovely duo about the workshops, the importance of collaboration, and I even learned a few fun facts about the pair! 

 


1. Can you tell me a little about your background? I heard you were Flex Studio renters before you became Artscape Tenants.

Salvador: It’s an interesting story. I came here with a friend looking for a studio to rent while the building was in its renovating period. At the time, I was working television and inbetween productions. We thought this was a great place, but unfortunately the timing wasn’t right. Some years later, we needed a space for conducting workshops with the Institute for Creative Exchange (ICE), and after attending a Flex Studio meeting, inquired about rental costs. We had already rented the Flex Studios and were interested in having an office for more specific work. We spoke to Claire Leighton (Program and Flex Studio Coordinator) who informed us that at the time, there were no studios. Forty-five minutes later, Claire called back to say, “You know what, there is an opportunity.” We got the space and were so happy. Being connected to the Artscape community allows us to develop relationships between local artists and international artists from all over the world.

Image: Ximena and Salvador. First day as owners in their studio.


2. Can you tell me about The Institute for Creative Exchange?

Ximena: Our intention with The Institute for Creative Exchange is to bring together different disciplines through workshops. They [workshops] are directed by artists, writers, academics, or people devoted to the arts, in whichever area. The idea is to have a three to five day intensive workshop, demonstrating the creative processes of the individuals directing the workshop. The aim at the end of the workshops is for all of the participants to have developed something new, and work outside of their current mediums and topics.

Image: Workshop in action

For example, in our first workshop, we invited a very important writer and artist from Mexico. The topic was Art and Orthopedics. He was a victim of Thalidomide, a drug used in the 1960s to ease the symptoms of pregnancy, which was not tested properly, and as a result, children were born with birth defects.

Salvador: His novels are all a bit dark, but he is a very comical in person. He likes to play with this dual personality in his work.


3. Any new projects?

Salvador: We have a festival in Mexico. It’s an important arts festival and the aim is to develop a Canadian program for the festival. It’s a new project and we only just delivered the first show list of artists. Eventually, we will take those artists to Mexico for this festival. We’ve been in touch with different government entities to start this process of connecting cultures.


4. How can a creative individual turn a great idea into reality?

Salvador: First thing, the arts community in Canada is super active and vibrant.  I normally would answer your question with, “Don’t be afraid and work hard and do it.”  But that’s not the case. There is a lot of high quality production coming out of Canada. For me, the key is how to develop work outside the boundaries of institutions. The Toronto arts scene is socially dynamic because of the city’s changing landscape, which has cultivated the perfect moment for doing things collectively. Individuals in the arts community need to push for both independent and collective projects.

Ximena: The artist often works in isolation. With our workshops, we try to promote collaboration; a place to meet other artists, work in new mediums, and learn about other creative processes. In this way, the artist is always expanding their language.


5. What motivates you on a Monday morning here at Artscape Youngplace?

Salvador: Everyday for me is an adventure. Working in this creative enterprise is thrilling. I walk around with a smile because I’m happy to see the people in this building, and feel connected to them. I’ve been working for over thirty years in television and marketing, and have never felt this connection anywhere else.

Ximena: I agree with Salvador. Each time we get to that moment where our life becomes established with a routine, we like to break with that and do something crazy. When you are in a place like this [Artscape Youngplace], which is devoted to the arts, it’s hard to get to that point [routine]. It’s always changing and that’s what I like. That’s what makes Mondays the same as Fridays.


6. Fondest memory at Artscape Youngplace?

Salvador: Launching the first workshop here was fantastic. People from all over the world attended the event. We didn’t expect the amount of positive feedback we received from hosting the workshops.

Ximena: It was very emotional at the end of the five-day workshop. People were so moved that they were crying because they had made deep connections with each other. We got to the point we wanted to get to; to bring cultures and disciplines together. It really worked.


7. What’s your hidden talent? Or just a random fact about yourself?

 Ximena: More than a hidden talent we have a hidden history (both laugh).

Salvador: I’m a writer and continue to publish work in Spain, Mexico and Latin America, but not as much here. However, lately I’ve been passionate about food. I really enjoy cooking. In the last ten years, I think I’ve read more cooking books than literature, art, and culture books. I associate cooking with all the loves you have – things and people – and when you cook, you are communicating your love to the people you are cooking for. I’m also very messy in the kitchen.

Ximena: My hidden talent is to clean up after him!


For more information about The Institute for Creative Exchange, visit http://www.iceamericas.org


About the Interviewer

Elaina Pawelka is the Communications & Promotional Assistant at Artscape Youngplace this summer. She is completing her final year at Ryerson University studying the Creative Industries. Elaina started this series to learn more about the artistically diverse tenants working in the building, and offer inspiration to those interested in creativity or anyone looking for an insightful read.

SummerWorks at Artscape Youngplace

Beat the summertime heat and stay cool indoors with SummerWorks!

Join us for the SummerWorks 2017 Festival at Artscape Youngplace and see two shows happening in Flex Studios 107 & 109. TwoPenny café will also be open for a much-needed caffeine infusion and snacks!

 

SummerWorks Performance Schedule:

The Smile Off Your Face

Originally Created by Ontroerend Goed; Directed by Brian Postalian

 

Photo by Brian Postalian

 

Blindfolded and sitting in a moving chair, one audience member at a time is guided through this immersive performance. The Smile Off Your Face invites you into a sensory experience, moving through a room of imaginative wonder. Surrounded by eight performers, embark on a one-of-a-kind journey that’s all about you.

 

Where: Flex Studio 107

Show Times: August 3rd – 13th | Run-time on the quarter/half/ and hour for 30 minutes

Tickets: $15, $25 or $35 and can be purchased online http://summerworks.ca/artists/the-smile-off-your-face/

 

Paths

Created by Aria Evans and Jesse Wabegijig

 

Photo by Aria Evans

 

You are invited to enter an immersive environment of video, sound, design, and movement – a maze full of twists and turns, with surprise performances and interactive movement vignettes hiding just around the corner. Travelling in groups of six, you will wander through a world inspired by the four elements and our environmental footprint on the earth. There will be free gallery viewings of the installation at 2:00 pm on August 5 and 6.

 

Where: Flex Studio 109

Show Times: August 4th – 6th | Run-time on the quarter/half/ and hour for 30 minutes

Tickets: $15, $25 or $35 and can be purchased online http://summerworks.ca/artists/paths/

FRINGE at Artscape Youngplace

The Toronto Fringe Festival runs from July 5 to16 with live performances happening across the city.  Escape the summer heat and catch a show (or four) at Artscape Youngplace. Here is the list of Fringe shows we have going on:

 

White Wedding by Taylor Marie Graham

 

Lisa and her brilliantly analytical mind are having trouble understanding why we spend so much time celebrating painful emotions like love. Will attending her childhood best friend’s wedding at her old high school help clear things up? Maybe she should just hide upstairs.

White Wedding is a new site specific play written and directed by Taylor Marie Graham premiering at the 2017 Toronto Fringe. This bizarre comedy explores those inevitable life questions that come up after all the anticipation of a wedding is over. Who are we really? And what is the point of it all?

 

This is Not She by Julia Haist

 

It’s the first day of the new semester, and the grade eleven Shakespeare unit! Take your seat, open your books, and if something seems a little off about Mrs. Lee-Humbert, it’s not just you.

This is Not She is an interactive solo show written and performed by Julia Haist that explores the relationship between teacher and student, taking dark and unexpected turns along the way. Audience members can expect to read from one of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays, Troilus and Cressida, share their own thoughts on love and war, and get to know their teacher far more intimately than anyone anticipated, including the teacher herself.

 

Rise/Fall by Jake Fulton

 

Society has been separated by a wall. Witness the story of a revolution? But only from one side. Set in a not so distant Toronto, this is a dystopian story where a wall runs down the middle of the city and the wealthy leaders have banished anyone of minority to live on the other side. The audience will be split in two, and only watch from one side of the wall; they will only catch half of the story. This creation process has doubled as an experiment in theatrical techniques. Our cast members are in the same situation as our audience will be. Until the cast party after The Fringe, our actors will have no idea what happens on the opposite side of the wall. The reality of the fear and paranoia is magnified when the actors don’t even know if their loved ones are safe, or if their friends are really on their side.

Written and Directed by Jake Fulton (XXXposed – Broadway World Audience choice nominee, The Larami Project– Orlando Fundraiser), and starring a group of students, recent grads, and seasoned professionals, this is the perfect opportunity to see what a diverse and compelling community the Toronto theatre is.

What would happen if all of Trump’s promises came true? The world – and the audience – will be divided?

 

The Food Project by Theatre By Committee

 

“Where does my food come from?” “How is it grown?” “What is the cost to the environment?” The Food Project encourages Canadians to question the cultural, environmental, and economic impact of our own food system. Join us as we cook, prepare, and investigate the complicated journey from the field to your mouth. Featuring an original script created by the company, songs, and maybe even a puppet or two, don’t miss Theatre by Committee at the Fringe!

 

Tickets: Day-of tickets will be on sale in the front entrance of Artscape Youngplace, 1 hour prior to show time

Purchase online: fringetoronto.com

Coffee & Conversation with Filmmaker MIDI ONODERA

Coffee & Conversation is a NEW interview series with tenants at Artscape Youngplace. Our first interview is with Midi Onodera. Midi is an award-winning filmmaker who has been directing, producing, and writing films for over thirty years. Her work spans from short to feature-length films and videos, and is exhibited internationally. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to interview Midi in her studio, and get the inside scoop on her latest projects.

Read the Full Interview HERE

Taking a Walk with the Lucky Penny

“For me, I feel like I have a lot of connections here, in the neighbourhood. I love seeing [the people at Artscape Youngplace] sitting out on my patio, and I love seeing them now here in their workplace. It feels good to be part of this.”

You might have noticed on our mezzanine The TwoPenny, a pop-up café led by Debbie Rix from the Lucky Penny, a one-stop grocery across the street. The pop-up is open for the month of May. So far, it has been a booming hit.

Debbie and employee Kenzie working at The TwoPenny

We’re delighted that Debbie is involved in Artscape Youngplace, as she is a bit of a Shaw Street legend. She has lived in the area for almost 15 years, and in 2014 transformed a former run-down building into the first commercial space on Shaw Street. The Lucky Penny has evolved according to the neighbourhood’s needs. “I didn’t start out with very many groceries,” Debbie says. “What people were asking for is almost exactly what ended up on the shelves.” The design for the Lucky Penny was inspired by an island cottage Debbie visited as a child. “In this marina you could get anything from marshmallows to worms to Wonderbread to comic books to milk, and all the candy. That was my favourite thing in the summer, and that’s kind of how those areas of the Lucky Penny developed.” We at Artscape Youngplace love taking a break in the Muskoka chairs just outside the Lucky Penny, which Debbie says are reminiscent of that cottage life.

A photo of the Lucky Penny building when Debbie first bought it

The Muskoka Chairs outside the Lucky Penny were inspired by a cottage from Debbie’s childhood

About Artscape Youngplace, she says, “I used to come to this building with my kids when it was still a school and it closed shortly after. I have a very fond history with this building because at the time that we were putting on the fun fairs, I set up a haunted house in the old classrooms. We had a lot of fun in here. For me, I feel like I have a lot of connections here, in the neighbourhood. I love seeing [the people at Artscape Youngplace] sitting out on my patio, and I love seeing them now here in their workplace. It feels good to be part of this.”

Debbie has also played a role in local Givins/Shaw Junior Public School, running the Parent Council for five years and starting the school’s annual Fun Fair. “A cohort of us got together and said we were going to make this school great, and we did. I got handed the parent council money, it was $200 at the start of the year, and at the end of the year we had $10,000.”

So, what first to try off the Lucky Penny menu? “Definitely the chicken panini. It was the first sandwich we had and it stayed, it is definitely the best seller.” Be sure to stop by The TwoPenny and say hi to Debbie before the end of May!

The Lucky Penny’s famous chicken panini

 

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival at Artscape Youngplace

Yes it’s that time of year again! The Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival has graced the city of Toronto with contemporary photography through a series of exhibits, public installations, and events during the month of May.

Artscape Youngplace is thrilled to host participating exhibitions from The Koffler Gallery, Critical Distance and Workman Arts. If you haven’t already seen these amazing works, we suggest you come on down and take a wander through our enlivened galleries and hallways. Please read on to find out more information about our exciting exhibitors!

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The Koffler Gallery welcomes back Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist 2Fik for his first solo show in Toronto. A Primary Exhibition of the 2017 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, 2Fik: His and Other Stories streamlines three recent bodies of work that explore cultural legacies as well as individual and national identity constructs. His photo-based work brings to life fictional individuals, embodied by himself, in a satirical manner. The exhibition showcases his latest compositions that dismantle and reconfigure allegorical representations of nationhood portrayed in several historic paintings.

 

Image: 2Fik – Manon au rat blanc

 

The exhibition takes place at the Koffler Gallery and runs until June 4th.

Gallery Artist: 2Fik

Exhibitor info: http://kofflerarts.org/exhibitions/2016/10/27/2fik-his-and-other-stories/

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Critical Distance is delighted to present a Featured Exhibition of the 2017 Scotiabank CONTACT Festival, Signals & SentimentsThis two-part exhibition examines how gesture functions as a mechanism for the production of identify. Exhibition curator, Katelyn Gallucci, has placed a unique selection of sculpture and photo-based objects in context with each other, exploring how seemingly opposite artistic expressions might fundamentally derive from inadequacies of language, disposition, desire, and whim.

Artscape’s stairwell spaces are also a feature of the exhibition, temporarily home to three site-specific installations, which address the more exterior and transitory dynamics of gesture; exploring themes of self-discovery, the relationship between perception and memory, and the search for emotional connection through time.

 

Image: left – Sebastian Benitez, Untitled (from the series Not This Way Either), 2012; right – Josée Pedneault, NÆVUS, 2013–in progress

 

The exhibition takes place in the Critical Distance gallery (Suite 302) &  Artscape Youngplace Stairwells and runs until June 4th.

Gallery Artists: Sebastián Benítez, Petar Boskovic, Shelby Fenlon, Maxwell Hyett, and Mickey Mackenna.

Stairwell Artists: Maggie Groat & Jimmy Limit, Karen Henderson, and Josee Pedneault

Curated by: Karen Gallucci

Exhibitor info: https://criticaldistance.ca/program/signals-and-sentiments/

In conjunction with Signals & Sentiments, Mountainburger is a glorious 8-foot image by Kitchener-based artist Aislinn Thomas, which can be viewed on our Billboard on Shaw Street until August. Thomas’ artwork was selected for the Spring 2017 Billboard on Shaw, a partnership with Artscape Youngplace.

 

Image: Aislinn Thomas – Mountainburger

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Workman Arts presents Mindset 2017, an annual juried exhibition presenting works by participant artists and artists who are members of the Workman Arts. The selected  works featured in this exhibition explore how individual and collective experiences of trauma, illness, isolation and recovery are processed, supported by personal and interpersonal beliefs and behaviours.

Workman Arts is the longest running multidisciplinary arts and mental health organization in Canada and in the world. For over twenty-five years, Workman Arts has empowered aspiring, emerging, and established artists with mental illness and addiction issues to develop and refine their art practice through multifaceted arts training programs and public performance/exhibition opportunities.

 

Image: Brad Necyk – Just A Hard Rain

 

The exhibition takes place on the Second Floor Hallway Gallery and runs until May 27th.

Gallery Artists: Teresa Ascenção, Stephanie Avery, Marco Buonocore, Cara Cole, Heather Fulton, Sheldon Laporte, Esmond Lee, Barbara Mann, Jaye Martin, Anita McKernan, Brad Necyk, Julie Riemersma, Annette Seip, and Tanya Louise Workman

Curator: Claudette Abrams

Jury Advisors: Jeff Bierk, Yuula Benivolski, and Tanya Louise Workman

Exhibitor info: http://www.workmanarts.com/mindset-2017/

 

Flex Member Feature: Patti Kain

We are lucky to have so many inspiring and active community members come through the doors every day. Patti Kain, a neighbourhood legend and Flex Studio member is one of these people. Having grown up in an artistic family, (her father is a children’s cartoonist) Patti was always encouraged to be involved in the arts. “I would consider myself in the Arts, to be a jack of all trades, a Master of none.” A trained dancer, Patti has studied Visual Arts and has worked with children over the years. “I dance 5-7 hours a week, I do visual artwork and I make music, and I book my own daughter’s gigs. The volunteer work that I do with kids in the arts really came together after I became a parent, when my daughter went to Givins-Shaw. Many of the parents are professional actors, musicians, dancers and visual artists and so the community really values creativity.”

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In addition to running an arts-focused after-school program for kids using our Flex Studios, Patti organized and curated a kids and youth art show most recently on display in our second floor Hallway Galleries. “Artscape Youngplace has been an amazing place for me. I was involved in a lot of creative projects when my daughter was at Givins Shaw, and now that is no longer the centre of my universe. I find Artscape to be receptive to my ideas; its kind of a hot bed for creative community activity. There are people constantly meeting and talking about ideas here.”

This show has been a true representation and culmination of Patti’s work and dedication to these kids. “My feeling is that I don’t think people give kids enough credit. I think kids are generally brilliant human beings and it’s super sad that people don’t stop and pay attention. Children act the way that you treat them and they have a lot to offer. The kid’s artwork in this show is as interesting to me as any adult work I’ve seen.”

Patti’s experience with exhibiting work started by showing her daughter’s artwork in adult shows around the Queen West area, and has grown to include dozens of kids from the neighbourhood of varying ages. Patti is full of ideas for future exhibitions and programming opportunities. “Every year I think ‘why wouldn’t I do this show again?’ It was so successful and so pleasant for me. I have a million ideas, with dance, music, for this I would love to expand the exhibition and have an auction at the end.”

patti4

It is impossible not to be inspired by Patti. The joy and care for her kids and for the arts can be felt all around her. “That’s what excites me, pulling people into different art forms. You hear people say ‘oh I can’t sing, I can’t draw a stick man, I can’t do this’, but unless you’re showing work at the AGO, you should just go for it, make some art and not worry about what people think.”

For Patti, it’s all about participation, “All people are happier when they’re involved in the arts, and it takes absolutely zero skill to gain happiness, connection with community and fulfillment from involvement in any of the arts. Art should be shared, and not every piece of kid’s art should go from the fridge to the garbage. It doesn’t take very much to suggest to a child that they could fold it in half and give it as a card, or that they could give it to one off their neighbours. I think it brings people together.”

Her philosophy surrounding the arts is one that she carries in all aspects of life. “I believe that everyone’s self-expression is valid. It’s very important to make yourself happy. If you spend part of your life doing something that is ideal, you will in that segment of your life be your most brilliant self and you will show that to the world.” The roots of Patti’s philosophy are participation and the benefits when experiences come into fruition. “I don’t think there is any reason not to get up on a little platform and sing a song for 4 people, and it doesn’t have to be on a big scale. I don’t think we stop enough to share those parts of our day.”

“If I do something that is 100 or 99 percent me even if I can only do it for 2 hours a week, I am bringing into fruition a completely pleasurable experience where I will appear to be someone people want to be around. Generosity in art and in life does not have to be a sacrifice. Just say yes to opportunities and figure it out later!”

You can catch Patti around the neighbourhood and grooving in the hallways after school.

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Apply by Jan 20! Food Service Operator Opportunity at Artscape Youngplace

Artscape Youngplace has included a café space on the mezzanine level since the building’s opening in 2013. Artscape is seeking a new operator for this popular venue with an established clientele and is open to your ideas and concepts. The ideal food service operator will contribute to the programming within Artscape Youngplace and the facility’s overall vision.

With windows facing Shaw Street, the finished space accomodates 20 patrons and includes tables and chairs. An adjacent lounge area provides seating for an additional 55 people at no charge to the café operator. We plan to add an outdoor seating area on Shaw Street in Spring 2017. Leasehold improvements are at the tenant’s option. The space is outfitted with a café counter, water, drainage and electrical receptacles. The café is zoned for food service with the option to obtain a liquor sales licence from the AGCO.

Access the Call for Proposals document (PDF)

HOW TO APPLY:

Access the Call for Proposals document (PDF)

For information on short-term or event rentals visit artscapeeventvenues.ca.

Now Hiring: Superintendent

Artscape (operator of Artscape Youngplace) has just posted the position of Superintendent at Artscape Youngplace and Artscape Sandbox. You can find the original posting on the Artscape website, or keep reading after the jump. This exciting position starts as soon as possible. The application deadline is Nov. 27 at noon. Join our team!

Position Type: Full-Time
Location: Artscape Youngplace, 180 Shaw Street and Artscape Sandbox, 301 Adelaide St. W.
Start Date: As soon as possible
Application Deadline: December 16, 2016 at 12:00pm but please note that qualified candidates will be interviewed upon receipt of application.

Reporting to the Director of Property Management, the Superintendent will maintain the building and grounds for two Artscape properties:  Artscape Youngplace and Artscape Sandbox. The Superintendent is based at Artscape Youngplace, which constitutes the majority of duties. The Superintendent also works closely with the Technical Director to address building needs and repairs at Artscape Sandbox.  Duties at Artscape Sandbox are on an as needed basis and typically require 2 to 4 visits a month. From time to time s/he might also undertake or assist with maintenance duties at other Artscape buildings. The work schedule may vary and may include weekends and/or evenings. The Superintendent will be required to be on-call. Unscheduled hours are paid with time off in lieu.

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Job Opportunity: Part-Time Admin Assistant

 

Artscape (operator of Artscape Youngplace) has just posted the position of Part-time Administrative Assistant at Artscape Youngplace. You can find the original posting on the Artscape website, or keep reading after the jump. This exciting position starts asap. Application deadline is Nov. 20 at noon. Join our team!

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