Monday, November 30, 2009

Birch Tree at Dusk

This picture, or at least the look, was inspired by the work of London artist Clark McDougall who died of a brain tumour at the age of 59 back in December of 1980.

McDougall did a number of paintings in which objects in the scene were outlined in black paint. A painting from this period in McDougall's career hung on the wall at The London Free Press when I worked there.

This is a birch tree just off Wharncliffe Road on the way to Lambeth. It was dusk and the tree had a wonderful warm glow which looked all the warmer juxtaposed against the cool, blue sky.

To learn how this image was created see my post on Rockinon: Photography.

Court House at Dusk

Many people don't like the look of the courthouse in London, Ontario. Intimidating, foreboding, an almost windowless fortress. Sounds as if the architect got it right.

Do we really want a cheery courthouse?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Modern Buildings - Old Street

The bright, yellow tree is one of the many steel painted trees enlivening downtown London and the brightly tinted reflective glass is the former Canada Trust branch at the corner of Dundas and Talbot Streets.

Being kitty-corner to the JLC one would think this would be an excellent location for a restaurant. A lot of other people over the past few years have agreed and voted their agreement with their wallets. A number of restaurants have come and gone since the branch closed and the voting on the benefits offered by the location does not seem to be closed.

The large, white building on the far left is the Bell building. It was originally the hub for Bell operations in Southwestern Ontario, and in a sense it still is. But today the building is no longer home to original large number of Bell employees. On the bright side, whether the building is populated by Bell employees or not, London still has a great building and we all know how London has treasured its downtown structures through the years.

I wonder what originally occupied the site of the present Bell building and of the former Canada Trust branch?

Doggone-it! I'm not going!

"Like to go for a walk?"


And there does not appear to be a lot of room for negotiations.

This lady taking her dog for a walk was sighted the other evening in London, Ontario, in one of the larger parks.

I think her dog was "parked."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Late November in Canada

Yes, that's right; This is a picture taken just the other day in London, Ontario. Posties walk a lot and they can get warm no matter what the weather. With a late fall rain forcing our mail-person to wear a bright, yellow slicker, the kind that traps heat, it was a day calling for shorts.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009


It was the Ghost Ship (left): a remarkable piece of art - a shipwreck made from dinosaur bones, or so it looked to me. I loved it. It carried such power.

So it came as no surprise when I noticed the name of the artist on the multi unit outdoor sculpture at the Provincial Court House in London: Walter Redinger. But Xabis, a work completed decades prior to Ghost Ship is not bones but flesh, or at least, for me, it was.

Xabis, done 1974, is a direct descendent of Redinger's Caucasian Totems series. But since being completed and installed, it has been restored, refurbished and redone. I believe Xabis is a work done in fiberglass and as such it does require periodic maintenance.

But like so often happens in London, when repaired it was a new sculpture with a new outlook. The colour of the work originally recalled the soft, deep folds of the flesh of heavy nudes. It used to take me back to my art school days in Detroit, Michigan.

Now, the work is more of a stone grey and the forms seems less organically right for the piece. The look is now one of a form imposed rather than a shape occurring naturally as the material is tugged downward by gravity.

Walter Redinger began his art training in London at the Beal Technical School and then he continued his art education at was then known as the Ontario College of Art. From there he moved to the Miensinger School of Art in Detroit.

I believe he is still and an active sculptor with a studio south west of London. A well respected artist, he represented Canada a the 1972 Venice Biennale. Redinger exhibits internationally in the United States, Italy and France to name a few. His works can be found in many museums and private collections.

It would be interesting to get in touch with Redinger and ask him about the shift in colour of Xabis.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fountain Times Three

Marcel Duchamp would be envious: three fountains.

One for papa bear, one for baby bear and one for? Can't be mama bear.

There seems to be a problem with my story.

Whatever, the Covent Garden Market in downtown London, Ontario, has a men's room well equipped with a urinal to suit every height.

I made a colour print but somehow this photo just looked so much better black and white. I think black and white can be distancing and this picture benefits from being given a little extra distance.

For more on ready-made art see: Move over Marcel


"A wilful act of vandalism"

More than two decade ago the well respected art critic Clement Greenberg had the art world in a turmoil over his treatment of a few David Smith sculptures.

During his life Smith had respected Greenberg and when the artist died Greenberg gained control of some of Smith's last sculptures. Smith had experimented with mixing painting and sculpture. Greenberg did not approve and had the works under his control, which Smith had given a coat of primer, placed outside to weather.

This was not the first time a sculpture painted by Smith had been altered. When a coat of red painted had been stripped from one of his works in the '60s, Smith had angrily denounced the action as, "a wilful act of vandalism."

Many of the buildings that were once part of the war veterans village have been left to rot. Others have been renovated to the point that they no longer have their original cottage look. There was an indoor swimming pool and a bowling alley among other amenities in the village. It was a remarkable little place sitting on rolling land on the southern edges of the city.

So here's the question: who are the vandals? The folk who paint graffiti over the walls and even roofs of the dilapidated structures or the folk who left the buildings to weather, to be stripped of their paint, to rot?

If you'd like to know more about the village, reporter Kate Dubinski and photographer Sue Reeve of The London Free Press have posted an article with photos on the paper's Website. See: 'Hidden gem' nears end.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flock at The Forks

Tuesday is set aside for telling you where the graffiti shot posted recently was taken, I promise, but today and Monday I am running this picture of ducks at the Forks of the Thames; They are competing for food thrown by some children. I told their parents about the picture and if they and their children come looking for "their birds" I don't want to disappoint them.

Those of you who returned to find out where the graffiti shot was takenuh, I guess you I can disappoint. Sorry.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Where is it? Tune in tomorrow.

Graffiti is everywhere. When my wife and I visited Italy a few years ago were appalled at the graffiti defacing old Roman structures. Graffiti artists: artists with no class, no respect, no appreciation of the art of others. Graffiti artist equals selfish artist. This graffiti is in London and marks an area that may soon be gone. At least, the graffiti will go along with the buildings. I have mixed feelings at the loss. Tune in tomorrow to see where this graffiti was found.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

A sign of winter

It wasn't the first frost; that was in October. But this morning we had the heaviest frost. It's time to get out the windshield scrapers.

I'm not going to dwell on this because I like winter. I like the bite of the cold, the crunch of the snow underfoot. I get really tired of the constant whining of some folk about winter.

Buy some skies, get a toboggan, make sure you have snow tires, get a toquenote the order that these things come to mind. (The best thing to get is a kid, one about three or four-years-old and together make a small snowman. I refuse to call Frosty a snowperson.)


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Like I said, I appreciate our farmland . . .

Beautiful, isn't it? This is just a short walk south of my home. To the south of here, homes. To the north, as you know, more homes. And soon, very soon, there will homes to the east and to the west. Finally, this will be homes.

There has to be a better way.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I appreciate our farmland...

London is constantly expanding, urbanizing the surrounding farmland. Face the setting sun and one captures a purely rural image. Turn around you have a picture of new homes butting up against the open field. I should have turned around and taken a second picture, which I could have run smaller than the main image. Sorry.

I was just so excited by the sunset. I knew there had to be a picture and headed out of town on Byron Baseline. At the top of the first hill, there it was — picture. I parked my car, climbed the fence and ran into the field. I ran from tree to tree trying to create some foreground interest. In the end, I chose one of the shots taken as I ran from one tree to the next.

When I was young I didn't appreciate Southwestern Ontario. But after driving through the American West a few times, I appreciate our rich farmland. I wish other did.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Trying to catch the wind

When a still shooter tries to catch the wind he uses a slow shutter speed. Then the stuff that is blowing in the wind will be a bit of a blur in the image. It is hoped that this motion blur will capture that feeling of movement, of swaying, buffeting by the wind. It's an effect difficult to control with a simple point and shoot camera.

Now, about the picture...It was taken from a hill overlooking southwest London, Ontario. On a clear day, from here one can see the farm silos of Arva above the northern edges of the sprawling southwestern Ontario city.


A sign of the past

It has been years since Walter Spivak trucked gravel, sand and other aggregates from this site. But two decades ago sections of the open space behind the Byron Somerset Public School were deep gravel pits which were coming to the end of their productive lives.

The aggregate business is an interesting way to earn money. You dig a hole in rocky land and make oodles of money selling the stones. You then charge folk to dump clean fill, dirt dug from other sites, and you make more money. With the land restored, you sell it and make another killing. And the really funny thing is that society benefited every step of the way. (At least, society benefited here. Spivak supplied a lot of important aggregate to a growing city and the reclaimed gravel pit has provided land that has been put to excellent use. For once, we are building on something that wasn't A1 farmland.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Geek Dinner features caribou

The monthly Geek Dinner, held last night at the Black Shire Pub, featured caribou — oh, not on the menu, just on the program.

SocialMedia, a Toronto company specializing in the fermenting of word-of-mouth campaigns, gave the organizer of last night's dinner a kit to promote a campaign being waged to save the woodland caribou.

If you're thinking you don't give two-bits for the woodland caribou, you're wrong; It's antlered head adorns the Canadian quarter. Once abundant across the country, they are now found only in Ontario and in people's pockets. Boreal woodland caribou require undisturbed habitat — no logging allowed — if they are going to survive. They also require a lot of support from concerned Canadians.

What groups use the talents of Social Media? Well, the David Suzuki Foundation , Greenpeace, Canopy and ForestEthics all are behind the Save the Bou campaign. Like to sign the online petition? Click the Save the Bou link above.

Geek Dinners are always interesting 'cause Geeks are cool.

Café Milagro

I love this little story. I'm going to write it, post it and tell Mai, the lady whom I believe is shown in the picture. If there are errors, she can let me know.

For years the Café Milagro has been a fixture in the centre of Byron, the now suburb but former village in the southwest of London, Ontario. The little restaurant was already here when I moved to Byron eons ago. I believe it was a Spanish-owned café at the time, hence the name.

Today it is owned by a lovely woman named Mai, who came to Canada from Thailand. Under her ownership the menu changed and expanded,  now featuring an international mix with an emphasis on Thai cuisine.

Where else would one be able to order pad Thai, Italian wedding soup or a Chicken Fajita Wrap from the same menu? I've heard the pork tenderloin with roasted red potatoes is delicious and others have remarked on a cheesecake dessert served warm with a hot fruit sauce.

I've been there a couple of times and it can be crazy. Mai was the only one waiting on tables the evening that my wife and I were there. We were not in a hurry and so it was not a problem. The food was good, the service friendlybut Mai did look a little stressed.

I love supporting local businesses, especially ones that I can walk to. I find the Café Milagro worth the walk. Be warned: the last time I got enthused about a place, my review got mixed reviews. Some folk had a good experience and others... 


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Row of Houses on Pall Mall Street

At one time this row of houses on Pall Mall Street facing the CPR tracks and the former CPR passenger station were looking a little worse for wear. Today they show what can be done with a little money and a lot of imagination. You may notice that there are no driveways to be seen. There is a rear laneway running behind these homes.

View Larger Map

Monday, November 2, 2009

Midnight Fog

Spring and fall are the best seasons for fog in the London, Ontario, region. Some might question the use of the word 'best.' As a photographer, I like the stuff.

The other night, passing through our front foyer, I noticed this thick midnight fog. The lights on our suburban street actually do have a warm glow.

I admit the effect is greatly enhanced by my digital camera. I thought of shooting the scene with other settings, but I liked the warm look.