For her latest project, illustrator Lichia Liu faced a delightful occupational hazard — a constant desire to snack. “People joke about ‘quarantine 15,’” says Liu, who teamed up with local entrepreneur Regina Sheung to ring in the new year in a mouth-watering way: by creating an Asian food calendar. “I’m pretty sure I have ‘calendar 15. Every week, I had either food reference photos open on my desktop, or the actual dish in front of me. Of course, I had to eat them all afterwards.”
Sheung, the owner of Carlton St. boutique Labour of Love, says she is always looking for ways to support local and independently owned businesses. The calendar, which features dishes from a dozen popular Asian Canadian-owned and -operated restaurants and cafes in the GTA, ticks this box and aims to give Asian cuisine the recognition it deserves.
“There seems to have been an explosion in the popularity of Asian Canadian food in recent years,” says Taiwan-born Liu. “Twenty years ago, not many people knew what bubble tea was.” Since then, shops specializing in that beverage have popped up everywhere, as have ramen and sushi restaurants. “And of course, we all remember the Uncle Tetsu’s Cheesecake craze in the 2010s.”
The pair met in 2006, when Liu frequented Sheung’s first downtown shop, Propaganda. When Liu founded the stationery and gifts brand Gotamago seven years later, Labour of Love was one of her earliest stockists. “She was the first artist to do Asian food illustrations on greeting cards in the Toronto art scene,” says Hong Kong-born Sheung. Liu returns the admiration: “I looked up to Regina as an Asian-identified, badass female entrepreneur.”
It wasn’t until the pandemic that they decided to work together. Liu, 38, was pondering how she could “help amplify Asian voices and inject more energy into my creative work by embarking on collaborations,” she says. “All these things intersected.”
The result, their “2022 Foodies Calendar: A Year of Decadence Celebrating Asian Canadian Restaurateurs” aims to give a boost to the pandemic-ravaged Toronto food and beverage industry. “Many of the restaurants featured in the calendar confided in us that they had been struggling in the past year,” Liu says. “It would make me very happy if the calendar could encourage more people to discover and patronize these local gems.”
Sheung, 50, had local business connections, so she scouted and selected the restaurants, making sure to feature several different cuisines, such as traditional Filipino, Vietnamese, Japanese ramen and Hong Kong-style dim sum. She chose places (including Toronto’s Bodega Henriette, Mi Mi Restaurant and Wong’s Ice Cream & Store on Gerrard St. E.; Roselle Desserts on King St. E; FIKA Café on Kensington Ave.; and Isabella’s Mochi Donut Boutique on Queen St. E.) where she had spent time and/or knew the staff and talked to the proprietors about what made their offerings stand out. A QR code on the back of the calendar leads to a webpage that contains interviews, profiles, photos, and addresses for the restaurants.
For each restaurant selected, Liu created an ink and watercolour illustration. “I love drawing food,” she says. “While visual appeal is a main factor, I also tried to select the menu item most representative of the restaurant, whether it’s a signature dish or a crowd favourite.” The drawings are annotated to create an informal, sketchbook-like feel, which, Liu says, “invites the viewer to step into the painting a bit deeper.” Some of the artwork took just a few days to complete, while trickier ones — like the Chestnut Mont Blanc from Mon K Patisserie on Coxwell Ave., whose “deceptively simple curves” required more than a dozen ink outlines — took longer. Photos of her work in progress were enthusiastically received by her 6,700 Instagram followers @go.tomago.
The calendar girls are already considering a 2023 collaboration on a different theme, but in the meantime, Liu says, they’re happy to celebrate the businesses that “are making food that is bridging differences and bringing cultures together.”
Their project — printed locally in a limited-edition of 1,000 — will also be helping in another way: $3 from the sale of each $25 calendar will be donated to the Toronto chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council, to assist in its work promoting equity, social justice, inclusive civic participation and diversity. “I love projects like these that weave together so many individuals,” says Liu. “It makes me feel like the world is a connected place, with abundance and humanity.”
Where to get the 2022 Foodies Calendar
Gotamago/Silver Antelope, 1231 Woodbine Ave.
Labour of Love, 223 Carlton St.
Restoration of Michelangelo’s Pieta statue in Florence reveals flaws in marble
The restoration of Michelangelo’s famed Pieta dell’Opera del Duomo in Florence has revealed that the single block of marble from which the masterpiece was sculpted was flawed, offering a likely reason for why it was abandoned before it was completed.
The statue, better known as the Bandini Pieta, represents the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene holding the body of Christ as he is taken down from the cross by a man, Nicodemus, whose face is the self-portrait of the Italian Renaissance artist.
“It’s a Pieta that has suffered and is very intimate… it is a really personal statue,” Beatrice Agostini, director of the restoration project, told Reuters.
The works of restoration confirmed that the 2,700 kg piece of marble had veins and numerous minute cracks, particularly on the base, which may have been the reason for Michelangelo’s decision to stop working on the sculpture before finishing it, a statement said.
The artist had initially planned to place the sculpture next to his tomb but only years after beginning to sculpt it, in the mid 1500s, a then 75-year old Michelangelo decided to abandon the masterpiece, giving it as a gift to a servant, who then sold it to a banker, Francesco Bandini.
Restorers did not find any sign of hammer blows, making it unlikely the widespread hypothesis that an unhappy Michelangelo tried to destroy the sculpture in a moment of frustration, the statement added.
The non-invasive restoration started in 2019 but was interrupted several times due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Deposits were removed from the sculpture’s surface, which was then cleaned, bringing it back to its original hue.
The project was commissioned and directed by the Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore and was financed by U.S. non-profit organization Friends of Florence.
“The operation has restored to the world the beauty of one of Michelangelo’s most intense and troubled masterpieces,” a joint statement said.
Visitors have been able to witness all stages of the process as the statue was always on display, in an open laboratory, on a platform, behind a glass screen.
(Reporting by Matteo Berlenga in Florence, writing by Giulia Segreti in Rome, editing by Angus MacSwan)
Art Beat: Arts Council keeps its friends close – Coast Reporter
Until Feb. 6, the Sunshine Coast Arts Council is exhibiting works by its members in a variety of mediums.
The annual “Friends of the Gallery” show is hosted in the Doris Crowston Gallery of the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre, at 5714 Medusa Street, in Sechelt.
Now in its 20th year, the “Friends” event began as a way to encourage emerging artists. Today, individual artists from the community are invited to submit one piece of work they completed in the previous year to be shown in the group exhibition.
Artworks are also available for purchase.
Youth Urged to Float Beachcombers-Inspired Creations
The Sunshine Coast Writers and Editors Society describes itself as “a magnet for creative souls on the Coast.” To mark this year’s golden jubilee of The Beachcombers, the iconic CBC Television program, the society is seeking to attract young creative souls through an art and writing contest.
Various types of submissions are welcome, including short stories, creative nonfiction, poetry, scripts, cover artwork and colouring for the planned anthology and exhibit.
Written entries must contain at least one reference to The Beachcombers, the Coast or the beach. Allusions to jet boat manoeuvres and amicable ribbing at the lunch counter of Molly’s Reach are likely assets as well.
Details are online on the Society’s website at scwes.ca. Submissions must be received by midnight on June 1.
Family Literacy Week: Tales on Trails
The Province of British Columbia has proclaimed Jan. 24 to 31 as Family Literacy Week, marking the fifth successive year that Family Literacy Day (Jan. 27) has overflowed with a sevenfold increase in bookish intensity.
“Children’s literacy skills expand and grow much faster when families read, play and learn together,” said Jennifer Whiteside, B.C.’s Minister of Education. “Family Literacy Week is a great opportunity to focus on dynamic ways to support our youngest learners so they can develop the skills they need to succeed in their school years and beyond.”
Decoda Literacy Solutions, a province-wide literacy organization, is hosting a photo contest. Participants may take a photo using a “Let’s Be Active” theme and submit it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it on social media using these hashtags: #LetsBeActive and #FLW2022. There will be a class prize and a prize for individuals.
To mark the occasion, the Gibsons and District Public Library has encouraged families to host “reading walks” in which families and individuals stroll through local parks, reading along to stories.
The Coast Reporter encourages all such literary ramblers to glance up from time to time, in order to avoid mid-chapter collisions incurred while covering one’s tracks.
Library Line: Parrott Art Gallery open to viewers online – Belleville Intelligencer
By Wendy Rayson-Kerr
Although the Parrott Gallery is closed until at least January 26 due to public health restrictions, we are still working to bring you art. We hope that our awesome gallery supporters will sign onto our website to view new virtual exhibitions, participate in online art workshops and register for free Armchair Traveller presentations on Zoom. We’ll also be increasing our social media posts, so please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to view artwork from our current exhibitions as well as from our permanent collection, because everyone could use a little more art in their life right now!
Coming next: The Bay of Quinte Modern Quilt Guild is presenting an exhibition called, “Outside the Block” which will be available to view online through our website starting on Saturday, January 22. The traditional Log Cabin Quilt design, generally speaking, starts with a center shape which is surrounded by strips of coloured pieces that follow a specific sequence of light and dark patterning. Colours have meanings in these quilts, whose shapes can be seen to symbolize log cabins with both dark and sunny corners, and much has been written about their connection to North American pioneers. In our upcoming exhibition, this traditional pattern has been given a modern interpretation. The twenty quilters represented in this group show have all used the Log Cabin Quilt pattern as their inspiration, resulting with an assortment of unique designs. Each artwork is as original as the artists themselves, and we certainly hope you will log in to view them on our website (for now) as well as get the chance to view them in our gallery in the near future.
Another exhibition that will soon be available to view online is called “Corona and Friends” by George Kratz. This prolific Stirling artist has assembled a large collection of paintings that he has been working on over the past two decades. He describes his Corona series as, “an abstract journey” which he completed during the pandemic. The earlier work in his Friends series is equally intense, full of symbolism both borrowed and unique to the artist. George Kratz is a story-teller and this exhibition tells the story of vivid colour, strong lines and imagery you will not soon forget.
Both of these online shows will be available to view in person when we are allowed to re-open our doors once again.
We continue to offer Online Acrylic Pouring Workshops at the Parrott Gallery. These monthly projects are meant for beginners and skilled artists alike, and are the perfect way to learn knew creative skills. Prepared and presented by Warkworth artist Sheila Wright, these workshops are fun and easy to complete. Each kit costs thirty dollars and contains all you will need to create a unique artwork, including materials and video instructions. The January project is a painting called “Rainbow Swipe” and the deadline to register is Saturday, January 22. Please email us at email@example.com or call us as 613-968-6731 x 2040 if you are interested or would like more information.
On February 19, Photographer Lydia Dotto will be sharing her online Armchair Traveller presentation on the Antarctic. From the comfort of your own home you can take a journey across the globe, for free! “The Antarctic: Abundance of Life” is your chance to view a place that most of us will never have the chance to visit. You can register for this live Zoom presentation through our website. When we re-open our doors, our Corridor Gallery will feature the photography of Susan and Clint Guy, in a show they have called “India: The Golden Triangle”. Plans for an in-person presentation are also under way, so stay tuned for this next part of our Armchair Traveller Series.
We know 2022 is going to be an exciting year of exhibitions and programs here at the Parrott Gallery, so we won’t let the current closures discourage us. We hope that we will be open for in-person viewing again soon.
Wendy Rayson-Kerr is the Acting Curator of the John M. Parrott Art Gallery
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