Sunday, September 30, 2018

Nuit Blanche

Dundas Square

In Halifax they have an annual “Art at Night” event called Nocturne, and we have enjoyed exploring the Halifax art scene during his event. Our son researched things to keep us entertained while using his condo here in Toronto, and he discovered that Toronto has a similar event called Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night according to Google Translate). Last night we took the subway downtown and explored some of the art exhibits scattered around the city. The event went on all night so the transit system also ran all night.

Flashing Cars
It was a warm night, and we started our evening at Dundas Square, Toronto's version of Times Square. As you emerge from the Subway, you are instantly surrounded by illuminated buildings and billboards reaching into the night sky, and amazing crowds of people. Dundas Square is always busy, but this event multiplied the crowds tenfold. We picked up a nice map of the event showing where all the art installations were. The organization of the event was excellent and there were lots of volunteers handing out maps and advice.

Radical histories
The actual artistic installations were not so good. The first one we found in Dundas Square was simply not working. It looked impressive, but was supposed to be illuminated mirrors which was not happening. Next we went to see “Places Between” which was supposed to be “a collection of photographic stories centered around the domestic sphere”, But what I saw was a projector projecting random photos on a house window. We then walked down to Nathan Phillips Square where we discovered that Torontonians have a lot more patience for standing queues than I do. Most of the exhibits here involved waiting in lines for hours. There were even long lines for the commercial exhibits which had set up around the Art installations. One of the Nuit Blanche installations that was impressive was called “Radical Histories”. The artist had covered the front of Toronto City Hall with used Jute bags sewn together. The artist had traded new bags for used one from vendors in street markets in Ghana and fastened them all together to create this huge fabric mural. Although I'm not sure how the theme of Radical Histories ties in, it was an impressive display. The other interesting installation was a row of unmarked police cars with their lights flashing; it doesn't sound like much but with all the lights flashing at different times made for an interesting sight.

Although I must say I was disappointed in the art of Nuit Blanche, I enjoyed the evening. It was a huge social event with everyone there to see and be seen, some dressed in their finest or their most outlandish, and I enjoyed just wandering around watching the natives of Toronto in their element.
Toronto's People


A Toronto Parking Lot

Although Toronto is a city full of cars (I saw a Rolls Royce, an Aston Martin and Porsche all in one parking lot), it is not a city where I'd want a car for general transportation. You just do not need one, the transit system is great and will get you almost anywhere. Toronto's transit system is constantly improving, and every time I visit it seems to work better. In addition, there is UBER and LYFT if you need to get somewhere the transit system does not go. As a result, when we come to Toronto to visit our son and his partner, we prefer to fly in and leave the car at home.

When our son moved to Toronto he discovered a book called “Stroll” about walking in Toronto and I have been using it to find interesting places to explore in the city. On a previous visit I used the book to explore the Toronto waterfront.
Regis (Sarah) found her street

On our first day here I decided to walk down Yonge St. to try to find the new Alfa Romeo dealer to get some swag to wear while having fun in my 82 Spider, and I used the “Stroll” book to make the walk more interesting. It pointed out an interesting old cemetery hidden down an alley at one of the busiest intersections in the city. Although a small cemetary, it was once a very busy spot, and houses over thirty thousand souls. Unfortunately I could not actually get in to explore, but at least I was able to find it. I also visited what the author called “The world's fanciest liquor store”, a converted and restored train station. Had to purchase a bottle of wine, but their selection is so amazing it is always hard to choose only one bottle. We also passed the Staples store which occupies the former home of the Pierce Arrow Motor Car showroom. It looks like a boring “Big Box” store at first until you look closely and notice the ornate gargoyles which have survived the various renovations since 1939. I probably would have walked by all of these interesting buildings without the suggestions from Stroll.

The downside of “Strollin” is that we walked over 15 km, so the next day was spent relaxing and recovering for our next stroll, an evening trip downtown for Nuit Blanche, a nighttime live art show all over the city similar to Nocturne in Halifax.
Waiting for lunch to arrive