THE CURRENT L. PROJECT: Mixed Bag Mag

Screen capture of website with content in the middle reading The Happy Show with a background of yellow.

Celebrating New Culture for a New World

In July 2012 I launched MIXED BAG MAG a blog (soon to become an online magazine) focusing on the transformative power of Culture.

My desire with this project is to explore how diversity in all forms, in the context of urban environments, has dramatically impacted design, the arts and community based initiatives.  Featuring Toronto as a model city for the 21st Century MIXED BAG MAG showcases artists, designers and social innovators as well as tricksters, storytellers, and community activists from around the globe.

The goal is to curate content for 21st Century Minds. My audience of change agents and cultural provocateurs are the type of people who recognize that as we layer and blend our diverse narratives we build bridges that close ideological gaps.

This is where you will be able to find more of what inspires me…

www.mixedbagmag.com | twitter @mixedbagmag | facebook /mixedbagmag

Mosaic, in vibrant colour, of many different people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds outside enjoying summer in the city and festivals

NOUVELLE VAGUE: Finding the Humour in a new wave of French Designers

Retroviseur Domestique by Onna Vautrin
Retroviseur Domestique by Ionna VautrinImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

Reposted from my article on Mixed Bag Mag, December 22

Humour, like most of our tastes and predilections, may be influenced by our culture but that doesn’t mean that if we are the outsiders we can’t be let in on the joke.

After coming to Toronto in the fall of 2011 as part of a lecture series at OCAD U titled “New Forces in French Design”, journalist and curator Cédric Morisset has returned in spirit with the exhibition Nouvelle Vague.  In this show at the Harbourfront Centre, he has brought together an interesting collection of work from contemporary French designers.

At the lecture I attended Cédric characterized contemporary French design as possessing an inherent sense of “serious humour”. At the opening reception for Nouvelle Vague I experienced a little more about what he was referring to.  Upon entering the exhibit one is greeted with some humour noir. “Souvien Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir” (Remember That You Will Die) by the design studio Pool is a replica of those ubiquitous white plastic seats – the chair that is everywhere from Palestine to Phuket. Why the grim face? Designer Jean-Christophe Orthlieb of NOCC explains to me that the cutout skull is a twist suggesting the fate of these chairs.  When our derrières no longer need to be seated and our souls have left this world they will remain, overpopulating landfills across the globe. Made with materials that might just be in a competitive dead heat with uranium for half-live cycles, the chairs are a lasting testament to our dependence on chemically toxic and environmentally devastating petroleum based plastics.

“Souvien Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir” by Pool
“Souvien Toi Que Tu Vas Mourir” by Pool Image courtesy Nouvelle Vague.

Hypertrophy Chair by NOCC
Hypertrophy Chair by NOCCImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague.

Jean-Christophe’s own chair designed with partner Juan Pablo Naranjo also utilizes some dark humour. The Hypertrophy Chair has its own ominous back-story.

“For Radiation Collection (in Chernobyl) we imagined a scenario in which traditional pieces of furniture would have endured some kind of radiation; where their genes would have mutated.”

Despite this chair’s inspiration arising from a dystopic tale it really is quite lovely as well as perfectly practical. It is this practicality I come to appreciate while getting to know this show.  The design that best exemplifies this is NOCC’s Elements.

“Elements is a shelving system that explores the concept of DIY (Do It Yourself). The actual object is a 1mm aluminum flat sheet that the user shapes by himself thanks to a special laser-cut folding system assembled with standard 18mm thick wood boards that can have any type of length and finish. The shelf can be assembled in a traditional upright way, as well in a deconstructed form, to better adapt its setting place.”

As someone who has a serious obsession with dense and large antique quarter oak furniture, I quite like the idea of packing brackets into a backpack with the ability to set-up-shop anywhere. In the spirit of being a 21st Century global nomad, it’s all about keeping the load light along with one’s carbon footprint. 

Elements shelving unit by NOCC
Elements shelving unit by NOCCImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague.

Getting back to this idea of “serious humour” the practicality is not without a sense of play. NOCC’s Elements brings to mind the memory of tinkering with my father’s childhood Erector Set snapping together the metal frames to construct whatever configuration was my fancy.

Another stunning piece that combines this ’practical playfulness’ is A + A Cooren’s Yabane chest of drawers that opens in both directions just in case you feel like being a little unconventional in your morning dress routine, a feature that also gives this piece the duality of being both a chest of drawers and a room divider.

Yabane chest of drawers by A + A Cooren’s
Yabane chest of drawers by A + A Cooren’sImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

“Jean” Clock by Pierre Favresse
“Jean” Clock by Pierre FavresseImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague.

But the collection would not truly be French without the contribution of beauty! A gorgeous piece that I fell-in-amour-for was Pierre Favresse’s “Jean” Clock.

 “Time and life are inextricably linked – we feel time pressures in our daily lives and wish we had more time; our time on this earth is limited and dictated by a clicking clock…Time therefore is something powerful yet fragile, which is why I wanted to encase it in a delicate white cloud of glass”

Explaining to me that perhaps it was his wife’s pregnancy at the time that informed the shape one wonders if it was not also the sentimentality we feel as our life’s rites of passages quickly slide by. We long to stop the clock and capture the moment so we can hold onto it forever.

Tidelight by Pierre Favresse
Tidelight by Pierre FavresseImage by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

Also by Pierre is Tidelight. For this piece he took inspiration from an automobile headlight which for me created a highlight of the exhibition as I love the way it feathers light across a surface. Along with his designs in glass, Nouvelle Vague features several chair designs by Pierre who is the Artistic Director for habitat.

Chairs from the Perch Collection by Pierre Favresse
Chairs from the Perch Collection by Pierre FavresseImage courtesy Nouvelle Vague

The irony of this show is not lost on the way the materials are used to explore opposites. The pièce de résistance is A + A Cooren’s vase, Tourbillon, literally an ironic twist of materials that plays with the rigidity of glass to create an illusion of fluidity.  We are left with the impression of flowing water and wild wind.

Tourbillon, vase by A + A Cooren
Tourbillon, vase by A + A CoorenImage by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag

Closing this Sunday, MIXED BAG MAG recommends this show if you are interested in the tongue-in-cheek visuals of contemporary French design.

Visit the Nouvelle Vague website. More information on Harbourfront’s website.
Show presented in partnership with the Consulate General of France in Toronto and the Institut français.

Logos for Consulat General of France and the Institut Francais

French Design exhibit Nouvelle Vague at Harbourfront Centre Toronto
In the foreground Louxor light by Pool. Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag

French Design exhibit Nouvelle Vague at Harbourfront Centre Toronto
Top image Hypertrophy Chair by NOCC. Bottom image Oeil de sorcière (Witch’s Eye) Ionna Vautrin.
Images by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag

French designers Jean-Christophe Orthlieb and Pierre Favresse at Nouvelle Vague
French designers Jean-Christophe Orthlieb of NOCC and Pierre Favresse.
Image by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag

Want to know about contemporary French Design? Read the 2011 series on “New Forces in French Design”

NEW FORCES IN FRENCH DESIGN Part 1: Cédric Morisset

NEW FORCES IN FRENCH DESIGN Part 2: Jakob + MacFarlane

NEW FORCES IN FRENCH DESIGN Part 3: Didier Fiuza Faustino

MIXING IT UP: On-the-Street Style Summer 2012

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

I love Mashup Style!

As a child I got visually hooked by some of James Bond’s leading ladies who I witnessed demonstrating fabulous syncretic style in entertainment magazines. Now I gravitate towards diaphanous kaftans, shawls twisted this way and that, and pasha pants. I feel my feet look best bare accessorized with ankle bracelets or the other extreme – super high strappy sandals. Not the best mix for a Canadian winter but summer in this city brings out the style flavors I love.


Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush from “Never Say Never Again”.


Jane Seymour as Solitaire in “Live and Let Die.”


Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki in “You Only Live Once”


Grace Jones as May Day in “View to a Kill”.

While covering events for my newest venture www.mixedbagmag.com, an online magazine that focuses on cultural hybridity, I have seen some juicy, feminine yet fierce, examples of mashup style.  Although the images below are more theatrical than your everyday (these were snapped at Caribana and Festival of India Parades) you can take away some inspiration and work it into your everyday.

And the best place to shop? For Chinese cheongsam dresses to rock with vintage jeans, second hand salwar kameezes  and recycled saris visit Kensington market. Just 1 bill will go a long way in stores like Dancing Days and Courage My Love, my nostalgic high school haunt.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.

Mashup Style at Festival of India.
Photography by Leah Snyder for www.mixedbagmag.com.

THE NEW MEDIA IS THE MESSAGE: Freedom in Syria, Down with Assad

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

In the 21st Century the Revolution will always be Digitized.

The tables are turning on Big Brother and new media is smoking the foxes out of their holes.

The images here are from a demonstration that took place in Toronto on Saturday, July 7.

Syrian-Canadian families gathered to denounce the Syrian dictator Assad and the violent attacks on the most vulnerable of citizens turning this fight into a crusade for children. For more information on how you can participate visit www.assad2012.com or Follow on Facebook or Twitter.

“FREEDOM IS EVERYONE’S BUSINESS”

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

Freedom for Syria Protest in Toronto.

LUMINATO 2012: K’NAAN, Nelly Furtado & a lil’ Neil Young in the mix

Mary being interviewed by the CBC at K'NAAN
Mary talking to the CBC about why she likes Somali Canadian singer K’NAAN.

Last night’s opening performance for LUMINATO is why we may just be on to something here that we can share with the world. Let’s strike while the iron is hot!

Last year I gave myself an assignment to start the ball rolling on what was ultimately going to be my bigger project – MIXED BAG MAG. I needed to produce a portfolio of work that demonstrated my skill at exploring, gathering, and then curating a theme, a stream, an undercurrent. For me it became about going out into this city that is now my home to find other people that spoke a new 21st  language – intercultural, interdisciplinary, socially innovative –  and with their creative initiatives were sparking flames all over Toronto that could lead to BIG change.

I wanted to explore who and what made this city special and a model for what a progressive 21st Century city can be.

So it made perfect sense to start this project covering what I feel is the perfect example of a 21st Century arts festival – LUMINATO.

LUMINATO is the ideal mix:

  • It celebrates all the arts, this year even expanding out into the Culinary Arts

  • Not just cross-disciplinary, LUMINATO also makes cross-cultural dialogue the cornerstone upon which is has built an interesting series of hybrid commissions including last year’s 1001 Nights which brought together the talent of British director Tim Supple and Lebanese writer Hanan Al-Shaykh
  • LUMINATO goes out in the community and each year has created successful education & outreach projects

As well, LUMINATO has utilized New Media and Social Media to leverage an enthusiastic and loyal audience who have helped it grow in an extremely short time to be one of the definitive Toronto arts festival that we look forward to each year.

For LUMINATO 2011 I cleared out my account and bought all the tickets I could afford. Along with my bank account, I cleared my calendar and for next 10 days immersed myself into all that I love – visual art, dance, music, film, literature, design…! Extraordinary was already in season for me in 2011 and with 35+ events attended in all LUMINATO was undoubtedly the highlight of my year!

Yesterday, the anniversary of my commitment to start my own flame was spent seeing one of my favourite performers open up LUMINATO 2012 – K’NAAN.

A beautiful soul whose light keeps getting brighter, K’NAAN lit up last night’s crowd. I believe that he is one of the many ambassadors of a new mindset, a global nomad who understands that ‘home’ is as much a state of mind as a physical place and with his performance that included a surprise visit from Nelly Furtado and a cover of Neil Young’s Heart of Gold, he welcomed us in.

Mary, Victoria, and Immaculate singing K'NAAN's Waving Flag for the CBC

K'NAAN and Nelly Furtado
Mary, Victoria & Immaculate singing K’NAAN’s “Waving Flag” to the CBC

The crowd at K'NAAN
Surprise visit by Portuguese Canadian singer Nelly Furtado.

The crowd at K'NAAN

The crowd at K'NAAN

The crowd at K'NAAN

K'NAAN performing for the opening of Luminato 2012

Luminato logo 2012

LAUNCH OF A DREAM: A Mixed Bag Mag

Mixed Bag Mag description

Looking for other dreamers to come along…

Yesterday I launched a campaign on indiegogo.com. For those of you who may not know what indiegogo is, it is a website that allows for creative types to campaign for their dreams and raise the financing for their projects through micro-donations. It is a great idea and I love it for the fact it allows so many of us arty types to circumvent the wait on whether we may or many not receive grant money. Plus it gets people, a lot of people, involved, engaged and participating in your dream which means SUCCESS!

My campaign will be up for 40 Days in total and you can read more about it on my indiegogo page!

For each day that the campaign is live – 40 Days in Total! –  I will be posting on my campaign page an image of Toronto, this diverse, innovative and engaging city I call home.

So check it out! You may learn something about the city you never knew!

First Nations artist Darren Cottrelle outside of Native Child and Family Services, Toronto.
First Nations painter, Darren Cottrelle, in front of Native Child & Family Services of Toronto,
Sunday May 27 during Doors Open Toronto. Visit www.nativechild.org.

IT’S MY BODY POLITIC: Slutwalk Toronto 2012

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Written on the skin

Whether it’s a government telling us to take the veil off (they say, “it indicates you are oppressed”) or the police saying you should have put something on (they say,  “it indicates you are a slut”) all we are saying is that we want to make our own choices as to whether we cover up or show some skin. And that whatever we choose we can know there won’t be reductive thinking that shrinks our humanity down to a stereotype.

More on SlutWalk Toronto.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Slutwalk Toronto 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

All photography by Leah Snyder.

JANE’S WALK: The Die is Cast

Statues in Toronto. Jane's Walk 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Sculptures around Leaside and Mount Pleasant Cemetery taken during Jane’s Walks Toronto 2012.

Why is that statues cast in bronze have more life than some of the people beside me on the TTC?

Statues in Toronto. Jane's Walk 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Statues in Toronto. Jane's Walk 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Statues in Toronto. Jane's Walk 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Statues in Toronto. Jane's Walk 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Statues in Toronto. Jane's Walk 2012. Photography by Leah Snyder.

All photography by Leah Snyder.

MY FAVORITE PEOPLE: Ian McMurrich

Artist Ian McMurrich. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Sentimentality seeps through.

The work of artist Ian McMurrich was on my wishlist from the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibit 2011 (TOAE). We got to talking about how if he ever needed models for his work I would sit for him. If you know me then you probably know how much the voyeuristic photographer in me hates taking on the role of exhibitionist in front of the camera. I agreed to Ian because he creates these phantom like portraits where faces are layered over other faces and my image would hover (or hide!) like an apparition behind, in the-middle-of or above someone else. I  would be suspended – somewhere in the in-between – a space I am quite at ease in!

Last Friday was my big day in front of the camera and it only seemed fitting that I do a switcheroo and get Ian in front of mine for my series of portraits.

Why this object?

“My brother and I collect this style of glasses. We have a running competition as to who can amass more. I think I got this one from my Grandmother and I believe she told me they were sold with peanut butter in them. When you were finished you would then have a glass! I think about how our collections can be an albatross and a burden but if I could collect just one thing it would be these glasses. I love the design and at one point I thought about incorporating the graphic element in my art.

Sentimentality runs counter to what I do in my work although I chose this piece because it connects me to my Grandmother and my brother. I aspire to move and work beyond sentimentality but none of us can get beyond it.”

It is interesting that ‘sentimental me,’ when interviewing Ian on his work last July, wrote this:

“Ian’s work would translate well as an interesting family portrait– a distinctive ‘legacy’ piece. When I mentioned this to Ian he shared an idea he had to do such a piece with his father, brother and brother’s son. The stratum of encoded genes and common facial mannerisms of the three generations shadow one after another forming a link between a family’s past and its present.”

I guess Ian is right. There’s no escaping it!

View Ian’s work here.

Artist Ian McMurrich. Photography by Leah Snyder.

JANE SAYS: Toronto’s weekend of Jane’s Walks

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

From Sao Paulo to Tel Aviv millions of footsteps follow the path of Jane Jacobs spirit of urbanism based in knowing, exploring and protecting the neighbourhoods we live in.

“No one can find what will work for our cities by looking at … suburban garden cities, manipulating scale models, or inventing dream cities. You’ve got to get out and walk.”
-Jane Jacobs

And so we did! From noon until 5:30 we explored graveyards, sculpture gardens, art deco architecture, churches and back alleys.  With the most INCREDIBLE weather as our backdrop when it was all wrapped up over a beer at the Rivoli we agreed it was a great day to be in the city!

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.

And huge shout out to Jason Kucherawy of Tour Guys! Jason gave an amazing back alley investigation of graffiti along with the history of graffiti and street art. Stops along the way included the mural at Toronto’s Manifesto office as well as the street art of Banksy painted on the North wall of Hotel Ocho on Spadina.  The rat was rumoured to have been painted during Banksy’s covert stay in Toronto during the screening of the doc on him at TIFF – Exit Through the Gift Shop.

Learn more about Jane Jacobs and the Jane Walks here!

FYI – For my readers that want to be in the know every Saturday @ 3 pm (starting under the palm tree at the El Macombo) the Tour Guys offer their Graffiti Tour. The cost is $29 but if you punch in the promo code JANESWALK you will get $10 off!!

Jane's Walk in Toronto, the Grafitti Tour. Photography by Leah Snyder.