What’s this hairdresser-turned-art gallery owner doing during the pandemic? His mother’s hair, of course

Once a hairdresser, always a hairdresser.That is what Jamie Angell — one of the stalwarts of the Toronto gallery scene — implies. Celebrating 25 years since he opened the Angell Gallery in a modest storefront at 890 Queen St. W., he recently painted his trajectory from coifs to canvasses for me: “I had my own salon for a few years — 1983 to 1986 — with creme de la creme clients, and had the opportunity to connect with some really smart and savvy people. “Becoming a great listener is one of the key skills I learned as a hairdresser. Everyone wants to be ‘heard’ and it’s amazing what people tell you.” No doubt he applied some of those skills to work with artists and collectors. “By going to clients homes” — which he did even with clients in Paris and New York, back in the day — “already I felt comfortable walking into anyone’s home — this became valuable when I would bring artworks to clients homes for them to consider.” During the pandemic, indeed — when the gallery scene has been in stasis — Angell even moved in with his mother to take care of her, where he has obviously, he tells me, been doing her hair. The Wild Wild Queen West“I knew I wanted to open a gallery after visiting the Yorkville galleries starting in 1983. I spent time with a couple of artists, learning about their practices and ... knew in my gut that I had it in me to be a bridge between the artist and client,” Angell went on, filling in more of the gaps. Early on, he worked part-time with a private dealer based out of a gorgeous house in Forest Hill, from whom he learned a lot, especially the business side of things. Moving to Paris, too, in the ’90s, was definitive — where his immersion in art deepened. After living there, “I returned to Toronto and started at Civello Salon to make as much money as possible so I can follow my dream with opening a gallery.”Destination: Queen Street. “One day, I saw a rental sign in a storefront beside Swan Restaurant, one block over from Artscape. The landlord, Christina Jenning, took a chance on me. There was absolutely no foot traffic except for the patients at CAMH. I had to make a lot of noise to get people to visit the gallery.”To keep things afloat, he cut hair in the back of the gallery — during off-hours — but, luckily, due to word-of-mouth, and artists like Steve Driscoll, who he continues to represent to this day, momentum built. The scene then? “There were no galleries west of Trinity Bellwoods Park — commerce was dead after the ’92 recession and the area was depressed. I opened in 1996 and the next dealer to open her first gallery in 1998 was the indomitable Katharine Mulherin (who sadly passed away a few years back). Katharine was extremely instrumental in creating a ‘buzz.’ Starting in 2000, more galleries emerged, and soon, there were 20 galleries in the neighbourhood. The galleries were concentrated mostly on West Queen West, since 2010 they have spread across the city to Parkdale, Dundas West and the Junction Triangle.” (Angell Gallery itself moved to Ossington Avenue at one point, and is now housed on Dupont Avenue.)Asked about some of the biggest changes he has witnessed in the art-sphere, he says: “Social media is definitely one of the biggest changes across borders. In a word: connection. Social media has brought collectors into the gallery from across the world, and at the same time it is bringing them closer to the artists and their studios. That kind of ... potential for global reach was definitely not going to happen with the fax machine!”Eyes of the beholderGoing back further, the ebullient Angell tells me a little about his roots, being half-Lebanese, half-Greek. “Both my parents were first-generation Canadians. My dad was blond, blue-eyed ... I identify and look more like my Lebanese mother, who has the eye of an artist and whose family were merchants — that’s where I get my business savvy and hustle from. One thing both cultures have in common is the close love of family ties ... the support of my family has given me much inner strength knowing that I was unconditionally loved, something I do not take for granted.”As for places he cannot wait to get back to in Toronto when things are back to “normal” he tells me: “The one restaurant I miss is Union Restaurant on Ossington, I used to visit there regularly when I had my gallery on Ossington. They also have Cote du Boeuf down the street, which is Bistro/Bar/Take Out. There’s nothing in Toronto that can compare to these two venues.”On the agenda, too, when he reopens, among other things? A summer exhibition featuring work by Erika DeFreitas (a new artist he is working with who works in a variety of mediums — drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and video) and, up next, “The Distance of an Echo,” a feature exhibition for Contact Photography Festival with Isabel M. Martinez.Shinan Govani is a Toronto-based freelance contributing columnist covering culture and society. Follow him on Twitter: @shinangovani

What’s this hairdresser-turned-art gallery owner doing during the pandemic? His mother’s hair, of course

Once a hairdresser, always a hairdresser.

That is what Jamie Angell — one of the stalwarts of the Toronto gallery scene — implies. Celebrating 25 years since he opened the Angell Gallery in a modest storefront at 890 Queen St. W., he recently painted his trajectory from coifs to canvasses for me: “I had my own salon for a few years — 1983 to 1986 — with creme de la creme clients, and had the opportunity to connect with some really smart and savvy people.

“Becoming a great listener is one of the key skills I learned as a hairdresser. Everyone wants to be ‘heard’ and it’s amazing what people tell you.”

No doubt he applied some of those skills to work with artists and collectors. “By going to clients homes” — which he did even with clients in Paris and New York, back in the day — “already I felt comfortable walking into anyone’s home — this became valuable when I would bring artworks to clients homes for them to consider.”

During the pandemic, indeed — when the gallery scene has been in stasis — Angell even moved in with his mother to take care of her, where he has obviously, he tells me, been doing her hair.

The Wild Wild Queen West

“I knew I wanted to open a gallery after visiting the Yorkville galleries starting in 1983. I spent time with a couple of artists, learning about their practices and ... knew in my gut that I had it in me to be a bridge between the artist and client,” Angell went on, filling in more of the gaps.

Early on, he worked part-time with a private dealer based out of a gorgeous house in Forest Hill, from whom he learned a lot, especially the business side of things. Moving to Paris, too, in the ’90s, was definitive — where his immersion in art deepened. After living there, “I returned to Toronto and started at Civello Salon to make as much money as possible so I can follow my dream with opening a gallery.”

Destination: Queen Street. “One day, I saw a rental sign in a storefront beside Swan Restaurant, one block over from Artscape. The landlord, Christina Jenning, took a chance on me. There was absolutely no foot traffic except for the patients at CAMH. I had to make a lot of noise to get people to visit the gallery.”

To keep things afloat, he cut hair in the back of the gallery — during off-hours — but, luckily, due to word-of-mouth, and artists like Steve Driscoll, who he continues to represent to this day, momentum built.

The scene then? “There were no galleries west of Trinity Bellwoods Park — commerce was dead after the ’92 recession and the area was depressed. I opened in 1996 and the next dealer to open her first gallery in 1998 was the indomitable Katharine Mulherin (who sadly passed away a few years back). Katharine was extremely instrumental in creating a ‘buzz.’ Starting in 2000, more galleries emerged, and soon, there were 20 galleries in the neighbourhood. The galleries were concentrated mostly on West Queen West, since 2010 they have spread across the city to Parkdale, Dundas West and the Junction Triangle.” (Angell Gallery itself moved to Ossington Avenue at one point, and is now housed on Dupont Avenue.)

Asked about some of the biggest changes he has witnessed in the art-sphere, he says: “Social media is definitely one of the biggest changes across borders. In a word: connection. Social media has brought collectors into the gallery from across the world, and at the same time it is bringing them closer to the artists and their studios. That kind of ... potential for global reach was definitely not going to happen with the fax machine!”

Eyes of the beholder

Going back further, the ebullient Angell tells me a little about his roots, being half-Lebanese, half-Greek.

“Both my parents were first-generation Canadians. My dad was blond, blue-eyed ... I identify and look more like my Lebanese mother, who has the eye of an artist and whose family were merchants — that’s where I get my business savvy and hustle from. One thing both cultures have in common is the close love of family ties ... the support of my family has given me much inner strength knowing that I was unconditionally loved, something I do not take for granted.”

As for places he cannot wait to get back to in Toronto when things are back to “normal” he tells me: “The one restaurant I miss is Union Restaurant on Ossington, I used to visit there regularly when I had my gallery on Ossington. They also have Cote du Boeuf down the street, which is Bistro/Bar/Take Out. There’s nothing in Toronto that can compare to these two venues.”

On the agenda, too, when he reopens, among other things? A summer exhibition featuring work by Erika DeFreitas (a new artist he is working with who works in a variety of mediums — drawing, painting, sculpture, photography and video) and, up next, “The Distance of an Echo,” a feature exhibition for Contact Photography Festival with Isabel M. Martinez.

Shinan Govani is a Toronto-based freelance contributing columnist covering culture and society. Follow him on Twitter: @shinangovani

Source : Toronto Star More   

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Short is sweet: Radium Girl author Sofi Papamarko shares her favourite Toronto short-story collections

May is Short Story Month, and we here in the GTA are lucky enough to enjoy a sparkling trove of these tiny literary gems. “Toronto is a great city for short-story writers — and writers in general — because just about anything can happen here,” says short-story writer Sofi Papamarko. “It’s not difficult to flex your creative imagination when you live in a place where thousands of different languages are spoken and millions of fascinating human interactions happen every day.” Her much-anticipated debut collection “Radium Girl” is filled with a rich variety of memorable characters, from teenage conjoined twins to a woman who cruises funerals. Short stories also make for excellent entertainment at this stage of the pandemic, Papamarko says: “Months of constant vigilance and anxiety can really sap one’s energy stores and kill attention spans dead. Short stories are the perfect format for the COVID era — they don’t ask much of us in terms of time and effort, and they deliver magic in return. A short story offers a means of escape without the significant time commitment of a novel. I love that I can immerse myself in a character, a conflict and an entire capsule world from start to finish in less time than it takes to down a cup of coffee or watch yet another episode of that thing on Netflix.” Here, Papamarko shares her picks for Toronto-penned short-story collections:“Radium Girl” by Sofi PapamarkoI try to see the good in everyone I meet; just about everyone has something endearing or admirable about them. I try to do the same with most of the characters in “Radium Girl.” There are some truly vile and unethical characters within these pages — but I bet I’ll make you fall in love with at least one of them. My greatest hope is that someone will remember a story from my collection and will continue to think about it and carry it with them. Writing short stories is all about reflection, connection and our shared humanity.“We So Seldom Look on Love” by Barbara GowdyI read this beautifully dark and disturbing collection as a teenager and it has stuck with me for years. It was Barbara Gowdy’s indelible characters, bizarre situations and exquisite prose that really opened my eyes to the possibilities of the short story.“How You Were Born” by Kate CayleyEvery last one of the stories in this Trillium Book Award-winning collection is breathtakingly beautiful, sad and deeply human. The memorable bookends are connected meditations on lesbian motherhood and what it means to be chosen family. Other stories include queer love stories, being haunted by the past and yearning to run away with the circus. One of the strongest short-story collections I’ve ever encountered.“Machines of Another Era” by Bess WinterOld Toronto takes centre stage in this collection of short stories spanning eras and styles, and hitting every note on the emotional spectrum. These stories unfold with the depth and colour usually reserved for cinema, telling equally heartbreaking and uplifting stories of the people of Toronto. I’ll never see my own city in the same way ever again.“And Also Sharks” by Jessica WestheadJessica Westhead’s characters are so earnest, so deeply kooky and so often hilarious, usually without realizing it themselves. This particular collection resonated with me at a time in my life when I was yearning for a child because motherhood was clearly on the author’s mind, as well; there are stories about pregnant women and women who have suffered miscarriages, as well as one especially memorable story about a shoplifter who casually steals an actual baby. As a freshly minted mom (to a non-shoplifted baby), I’d like to revisit this collection and see it through the bleary eyes of motherhood.

Short is sweet: Radium Girl author Sofi Papamarko shares her favourite Toronto short-story collections

May is Short Story Month, and we here in the GTA are lucky enough to enjoy a sparkling trove of these tiny literary gems.

“Toronto is a great city for short-story writers — and writers in general — because just about anything can happen here,” says short-story writer Sofi Papamarko. “It’s not difficult to flex your creative imagination when you live in a place where thousands of different languages are spoken and millions of fascinating human interactions happen every day.”

Her much-anticipated debut collection “Radium Girl” is filled with a rich variety of memorable characters, from teenage conjoined twins to a woman who cruises funerals.

Short stories also make for excellent entertainment at this stage of the pandemic, Papamarko says: “Months of constant vigilance and anxiety can really sap one’s energy stores and kill attention spans dead. Short stories are the perfect format for the COVID era — they don’t ask much of us in terms of time and effort, and they deliver magic in return. A short story offers a means of escape without the significant time commitment of a novel. I love that I can immerse myself in a character, a conflict and an entire capsule world from start to finish in less time than it takes to down a cup of coffee or watch yet another episode of that thing on Netflix.”

Here, Papamarko shares her picks for Toronto-penned short-story collections:

“Radium Girl” by Sofi Papamarko

I try to see the good in everyone I meet; just about everyone has something endearing or admirable about them. I try to do the same with most of the characters in “Radium Girl.” There are some truly vile and unethical characters within these pages — but I bet I’ll make you fall in love with at least one of them. My greatest hope is that someone will remember a story from my collection and will continue to think about it and carry it with them. Writing short stories is all about reflection, connection and our shared humanity.

We So Seldom Look on Love” by Barbara Gowdy

I read this beautifully dark and disturbing collection as a teenager and it has stuck with me for years. It was Barbara Gowdy’s indelible characters, bizarre situations and exquisite prose that really opened my eyes to the possibilities of the short story.

“How You Were Born” by Kate Cayley

Every last one of the stories in this Trillium Book Award-winning collection is breathtakingly beautiful, sad and deeply human. The memorable bookends are connected meditations on lesbian motherhood and what it means to be chosen family. Other stories include queer love stories, being haunted by the past and yearning to run away with the circus. One of the strongest short-story collections I’ve ever encountered.

“Machines of Another Era” by Bess Winter

Old Toronto takes centre stage in this collection of short stories spanning eras and styles, and hitting every note on the emotional spectrum. These stories unfold with the depth and colour usually reserved for cinema, telling equally heartbreaking and uplifting stories of the people of Toronto. I’ll never see my own city in the same way ever again.

“And Also Sharks” by Jessica Westhead

Jessica Westhead’s characters are so earnest, so deeply kooky and so often hilarious, usually without realizing it themselves. This particular collection resonated with me at a time in my life when I was yearning for a child because motherhood was clearly on the author’s mind, as well; there are stories about pregnant women and women who have suffered miscarriages, as well as one especially memorable story about a shoplifter who casually steals an actual baby. As a freshly minted mom (to a non-shoplifted baby), I’d like to revisit this collection and see it through the bleary eyes of motherhood.

Source : Toronto Star More   

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