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'Like riding a bike': Pandemic, commuting and the art of bicycle repair – OrilliaMatters

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As spring turned to summer amid COVID-19 lockdowns, Brendan Kinnon wanted to get in shape, save money and avoid the crowded Toronto subway he took to work each day.

So he decided to buy a bicycle, even though it had been four years since he’d ridden one.

He was hardly alone. Around Canada, retailers were selling out of bicycles, parts and accessories as thousands of new cyclists embraced two-wheeled transport in the era of social distancing.

So the 26-year-old actor considered himself lucky when he tracked down a 1980s-era Raleigh road bike for $300 on Kijiji.

“After a few messages, I went over to the guy’s place, took it for a two-minute test ride, paid in cash and rode it home,” he says. “It’s true what they say: it’s just like riding a bike. It was great.”

A week later, the chain snapped. Kinnon took it straight to a professional bike shop in downtown Toronto, paid $50 for parts and labour, and rode it away the same day.

“My own knowledge of bikes is not very high at all,” he says. “I’m not doing any of my own maintenance. I go to the shop to get anything done, just for security and the peace of mind that it’s done properly.”

Kinnon had been back in the saddle for a month, and was enjoying Toronto’s new bike lanes, when one of his brake levers snapped. He took it in to a different mechanic and asked for a full service, which set him back $120. Worse than the cost, he says, was the fact it kept him off the road for a week.

“It’s super frustrating that I’ve already spent about half of what I paid for the bike on repairs,” he says.

Even so, he estimates he’s saved more than $600 in transit costs since May. And the experience has made him keen to learn more about bike maintenance and repair, both to save money and be more self reliant.

“Every bike shop I’ve been to has been great, but it would be good to know the basics in case I’m ever in the middle of nowhere,” he says. “I’ve got some friends who are more into bikes, so I hope that by being in contact with them I can learn. It definitely seems doable.”

“It’s doable” is the message Sunny Nestler would like to send. “Anyone can learn to do some aspect of their own bike maintenance,” says the programs manager at The Bike Kitchen, a community bike shop in the University of British Columbia.

Nestler recommends new cyclists start with the “ABCs”.

“A is for air, learn about tire pressure, tubes and compatibility. B is for brakes: learn how to do a quick brake check to make sure it’s safe to ride. C stands for chain, knowing when your chain needs oil, oiling it and making sure your drive train in good working order.

“If you do the ABC maintenance and get a tune up once a year, your bike will last you a really long time. I’m riding around on a bike that’s older than I am. Maintenance saves you the cost of a new bike over and over again.”

According to Nestler, learning the basics takes around two hours. Even a more advanced introductory mechanics course can be finished in eight. And you don’t need much equipment: tire levers, a stand and a pedal wrench are helpful, but common tools like Allen keys and block wrenches can be used in many basic repairs. Otherwise the most useful tools are oil, rags and zip ties.

For those who are already mechanically inclined, Nestler says there are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube. Otherwise, she recommends checking bikecollective.org to find your local community bike shop. The benefits of learning how to repair your own bike might even go beyond the financial.

“It gives you more independence, you can go anywhere. Understanding how mechanical objects work is a skill that translates into every other aspect of life,” Nestler says.

“There are zero drawbacks to learning how to do the basics.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 10, 2020.

Alex McClintock, The Canadian Press

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Irina Antonova, head of top Moscow art museum, dies at 98 – The Record (New Westminster)

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MOSCOW — Irina Antonova, a charismatic art historian who presided over one of Russia’s top art museums for more than half a century, has died at 98.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts said Antonova, its president, died in Moscow on Monday. It said Tuesday that Antonova last week tested positive for coronavirus, which exacerbated her chronic heart ailments.

Antonova began working at the Pushkin museum after her graduation in 1945, and in 1961 she became its director. She held the job until 2013, when she shifted into the ceremonial post of its president. The 52-year tenure made her the world’s longest-serving director of a major art museum.

As the Pushkin museum director, Antonova spearheaded major art exhibitions that saw the exchange of art treasures between the Pushkin Museum and top international art collections despite the Cold War-era tensions and constraints. Those exchanges, facilitated by her extensive personal contacts with colleagues in the museum world, brought Antonova wide acclaim worldwide.

She also was very active in promoting the museum’s treasures to the public.

Antonova has received numerous Russian and foreign state awards.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president often met Antonova at the museum and “highly appraised her deep expert knowledge.”

Antonova will be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery alongside her husband, who also was an art historian. Funeral ceremonies will be closed to the public amid coronavirus restrictions.

The Associated Press


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Art world star gives back by buying work of the undiscovered – Bowen Island Undercurrent

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NEW YORK — Painter Guy Stanley Philoche, a star in the New York art world, had wanted to treat himself to a fancy watch after a hugely successful gallery show. Then the pandemic hit, and he feared for all the struggling artists who haven’t been so lucky.

So he gave up his $15,000 Rolex dreams and went on a different kind of buying spree, putting out a call on Instagram in late March to any artist anywhere who had creations to sell. The submissions rolled in, hundreds at a time.

He’s spent about $60,000 so far with plans to continue as long as he can, and Philoche’s own patrons have taken notice and asked him to make purchases on their behalf as well.

“It’s about artists helping artists,” said the 43-year-old Philoche, who came to America from Haiti with his family at age 3, nearly nothing to their names.

“I’m not a rich man,” he said, “but I owe a big debt to the art world. Art saved my life, and I made a promise to myself that once I made it, to always buy from artists who hadn’t gotten their big break.”

Philoche has a budget, seeking out works in the $300 to $500 range. He buys only what he loves, from as far away as London and as close as the studio next to his in East Harlem. An abstract mixed-media piece by Michael Shannon, his studio neighbour, was his first purchase, leading Philoche to include him and others he’s discovered in an upcoming group gallery show.

About half the artists Philoche has chosen are people he knows, many in New York. The others sent him direct messages on Instagram with sample work in hopes of being picked.

Philoche, who went to art school in Connecticut where his family settled, has lined the walls of his tiny apartment with his Philoche Collection During Covid, ranging from graffiti-inspired work and portraiture to pop art and a huge pistol done in bright yellow, red and blue paint.

Philoche’s own work goes for up to $125,000 a piece. During a recent interview at his studio, he slid out from storage large canvases from his breakthrough, Mark Rothko-esque abstract Untitled Series and a collection of female nudes with duct tape over their mouths. Often whimsical, he has also produced paintings inspired by Monopoly and other board games, as well as comics such as Charlie Brown.

Among his clients: Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and Barclay Investments Inc., along with Uma Thurman, George Clooney and fellow artist Julian Schnabel.

Giving back isn’t something the affable Philoche just recently decided to do. Over his 20-plus year career, he has tried to stick to a simple rule to support other artists: Sell a painting, buy a painting. But it was a chance meeting with a friend and fellow artist who was anxious about the pandemic with a baby on the way that set him on his pandemic buying spree.

“I’m not on the first line, but my community was impacted as well,” he said. “It was just the right thing to do. I love waking up in my apartment every morning seeing the walls. There’s paintings on the floor, all over. Some of these people have never sold a painting in their life.”

His feisty French bulldog Picasso at his side, Philoche recalled his own meagre start in New York after he put himself through art school while working full-time as a bartender.

“People didn’t open the doors for me. I had to get into the room through the back door, or through the window,” he said with a laugh. “But now that I’m in the room, with a seat at the table, I have to open doors for these artists.”

Leanne Italie, The Associated Press

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Irina Antonova, head of top Moscow art museum, dies at 98 – Bowen Island Undercurrent

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MOSCOW — Irina Antonova, a charismatic art historian who presided over one of Russia’s top art museums for more than half a century, has died at 98.

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts said Antonova, its president, died in Moscow on Monday. It said Tuesday that Antonova last week tested positive for coronavirus, which exacerbated her chronic heart ailments.

Antonova began working at the Pushkin museum after her graduation in 1945, and in 1961 she became its director. She held the job until 2013, when she shifted into the ceremonial post of its president. The 52-year tenure made her the world’s longest-serving director of a major art museum.

As the Pushkin museum director, Antonova spearheaded major art exhibitions that saw the exchange of art treasures between the Pushkin Museum and top international art collections despite the Cold War-era tensions and constraints. Those exchanges, facilitated by her extensive personal contacts with colleagues in the museum world, brought Antonova wide acclaim worldwide.

She also was very active in promoting the museum’s treasures to the public.

Antonova has received numerous Russian and foreign state awards.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his condolences. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the president often met Antonova at the museum and “highly appraised her deep expert knowledge.”

Antonova will be buried in Moscow’s Novodevichy cemetery alongside her husband, who also was an art historian. Funeral ceremonies will be closed to the public amid coronavirus restrictions.

The Associated Press


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