The works of Marcus Berns & Ethel Shoul are shown together at Gerrard Art Space (just West of Coxwell) until Sunday, July 10th, 2016.
Scissors, Paper, Steel: 2

evite 2016

You want to go. I missed their opening reception, but there are photos here.

I’m going to mostly let my own photos speak about the art for themselves, and you’ll notice that I’ve, for the most part, photographed their work together because there’s something incredibly special about the way their styles complement each other.

They use entirely different materials:  Marc, with his literally heavy sculptures made of steel, that somehow evoke very light feelings, contrasts Ethel with her own brooding sketches, often paired with pieces of the very photographs of the moments that inspire her masterful collages. Their work, at first glance, feels raw, and the gallery’s unfinished edges plays on that tone, but when you give yourself the time to immerse yourself into each piece, or collection of pieces, you are brought into a wonderfully deep and intricate world of the characters or moments they represent or symbolize.

From Marcus Berns’ G.A.S. member page:

Three approaches drive Marc’s sculpture: structural balance, composition and texture. The first two stem from his background as an architect, the third from his fascination with the way metals respond to heat, not only in shaping but in the colour and surface quality which result from the oxyacetylene flame and form the applied welded texture. Most often he has used found objects, scrap and new steel and copper, joined them together into personally evocative and meaningful pieces.

He has worked on his sculpture in London, Johannesburg, Toronto and Chatelus Malvalieux, France in the studio of Paul Flury Sculptor. His work has been exhibited in the UK in Hampstead; the Coningsby Gallery, London as part of the Urbanite Collective; and the Bath Society of Artists. In Toronto he has exhibited at the Pentimento Gallery and GAS (Gerrard Art Space). His work is in numerous private collections in Toronto, Montreal, Vermont and London, England.

From Ethel Shoul’s G.A.S. member page:


Ethel Shoul gravitates to the buzz and theatre of the city: a crowded bus, markets, tattoo conventions, skateboard parks, and life on city streets. The city stage seethes with the movement of bodies, and momentary glimpses, caught on camera. Currently, she has found fascination with circus performers who have become her muse.She begins her pieces with mark making, layering with elements of collage, forming a patina on the surface. The artwork is photographed and produced as a Giclee print with archival paper and inks.


Studied under Joseph Albers at Yale USA  |  BFA teacher and examiner in art education  |  Post grad diploma UCL (UK)  |  Two summer schools at Banff Canad  |  Experience photographer, Mahogany Designs (UK) for Notting Hill Carnival Album – presented to The Arts Council of England  |  Awarded The Gwen Shaw Cup for Weaving by The London Guild of Weavers   |  Commission of a woven triptych for the Woodford Chapel, UK  |  Commission of six paintings for Pathways Conference Centre, S.A.  |  Exhibition at Burgh House with weaver Maggie Henton   |   Coningsby Gallery, founding member of Urban Collective, Pentimento Gallery Canada  |  First Canadian Place   |  Show with sculptor Marcus Berns at Burgh House UK  |  Open Studios, Lambeth  |   Portico Gallery  |  Whippersnappers Gallery, Dulwich UK  |  Gerrard Art Space

If you’re lucky, when you visit, you’ll get a tour from the artists themselves:

Ethel Shoul, describing her newest series, Tattoo

Ethel Shoul, describing her newest series, Tattoo

Marc, describing the differences between some private works and those on display

Marc, describing the differences between some privately owned works and those on display at Gerrard Art Space

But even without their personalized touch, you’ll feel their presence in the gallery, because this is an exhibition with a tonne of heart. Don’t miss it:


“Eye Beam”


Top left: “Moon over Athabaskan” Bottom left: “Border Fence” On pedestal: “Votive”




“Art Room” & “Loss”




“Cactus” (top half of standing sculpture) & “Golden Girl”


Foreground: “Steppin’ Out” Wall: “Smoker”




“Untitled 1”


Wall: “Loss” Pedestal: “Untitled 1”

Marc saw me taking this next photo and said “That’s the back of it!” I told him “I know, but I like to see it from both sides with Ethel’s works as part of the frame.” After which, I took the following two. Clearly, this is a piece that requires space to walk around it.


“Dancers” (rear) , Wall: “Art Room” & “Loss”




“Dancers” Wall: “Puppets in the Forest”

This last series highlights a piece of Marc’s that I’m very drawn to. I learned that it’s owned by a philosopher, and I’m not surprised. It has the sort of capacity to make you turn your thoughts around in circles and cycles in the same way that Marc’s manipulated the steel. Lucky philosopher. These photos also spotlight Ethel’s 5 part series, ‘Tattoos’, and also her ‘Smoker’.  Her ability to capture light, and highlight it with just the slightest touch of colour commands the viewer to pause and appreciate.


“Awakening” & “Tattoos”


Wall: “Smoker”, foreground: “Awakening”


Thank you Marcus Berns & Ethel Shoul, for gracing Toronto with your art.

Marcus Berns, with his art-loving grandson, Mike McGown

Marcus Berns, with his art-loving grandson, Mike McGown, below  “Puppets in the Forest, “Punch and Friend” and “Pippet in the Landscape” by Ethel

Lee-Anne, Mike, 'The Art Room', and Ethel

Lee-Anne (@littlebitesbig), Mike (Longboard Haven), “The Art Room”, Ethel, “Loss”

About Gerrard Art Space: You can also follow them on Twitter @gerrardartspace and like them on Facebook.

about G.A.S

I’ve always thought that the 21st is the first day of Spring, but many people’s social media posts on Sunday told me it was, indeed, the first day of Spring 2016.  Before 9 am I was on my bike and out and about, which brought me down an alley I’d noticed before, but with a bit of time to be able to check out this mural in detail…


and the funny little creature beside the mural:


These two pieces of art get their own gorgeous view in the mornings:

20160320_081901-1-1I decided to venture down to the lake but was distracted by some writing down a set of stairs, so I hauled my bike down them and was treated to a very typical urban exploring adventure under the bridge at Bathurst and Fort York:

It was time to go down to the lake, where I was tempted to try to get into the closed off Ontario Place grounds, but settled with a shot of the waking Toronto skyline:


I was very very very cold, but I went as far as the bottom of Roncesvalles to one of my favourite lake access points:wp-1458515790695.jpg

Going back up into the core, along the VERY cold and shaded Queen Street, warmth came from the colours in this huge mural I’d never seen before!


There’s a new LCBO in Parkdale that is just screaming for art on the big bare wall of its parking lot, but for now this is one of two pieces of art visible:


Heading further East, I checked out a terrible new ‘courtyard’ in front of a series of ‘Art Condos’ and was feeling sad for the state of public space in these new densely populated places.

Luckily, behind the Theatre Art Centre there’s the frequently photographed alley that’s just filled with art:


Continuing on, I passed another, quieter and less colourful alley, but I noticed this at the end.


“Don’t be mean to strangers on the internet.”

It was SO worth venturing down this alley, because it was absolutely FILLED with art, mostly by birdO, but also peppered with LoveBOT, Smoky/ Shalak and one by Rakems, Dizoe, Spud, Philth.

At this point, I was really starting to shiver. My feet and fingers were starting to go numb and I knew it was time to head home. But one more birdO was ready to be (re)discovered, and it was as glorious from afar as it was the first time I came across it up close.


I KNEW birdO was prolific, but every time I come across his work I’m baffled by how much colour he’s brought to our city, and I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface.  It’s certain there is more to be found on another day.

What’d you get up to on the first day of Spring?

Toronto was so alive yesterday. (*Note, this post was from March 13th, though being published on March 21st.)

People were out in droves; wandering & meandering in the parks and on the streets. The predictable mixture of the underdressed, shivering in stylish garb and the overdressed, drooping their excess winter gear over arms and pyrse straps hung out in groups in front of cafes and brunch spots.

As I cycled thtough some favourite alleys and lanes, I came across photographers and models using the fresh paint or peeling murals as their spring fashion backgrounds.

I started my day with a ride towards this sparkling fabulousness.

I’m lucky to be able to see this mosaic mural multiple times in a week.

Next I came across this majestic lion, which I was surprised to not have noticed before, as it adorns the side of a Chinese Bakery on Dundas Street West that I visit on at least a twice-monthly basis.

The rest of these were new to me. They are mostly located behind the Hydro Building on Cecil Ave, with a few others peppered between the alleys between there and the entertainment district.


Lately, when I’ve run into some historical appreciators of my blog, they have questioned why I haven’t posted recently.   It seems I’ve given priority to visual noticing, observing and participating (my instagram game has been strong), while letting my writing slide.  I’m going to be kind to myself and instead think of it as a necessary break.  It has been reactivated through inspiration by two ladies who have put writing at their forefront lately.

Thank you Lea Ann Mallett and Written By a Workaholic for your lovely content.

Check out their blogs and if you’re reading this post, please do keep me accountable to upping my own scripted game!



A few brittle leaves cling to the branches. Rustling; too soft a word. They shimmy, defiantly, like the last protestors shaking their fists in a standoff.

I have really been relishing in the more frequent opportunities I’ve had lately to indulge in some relaxed laneway-loving alley walks. When I’m not able to do so, this button is basically my mantra:


I’ve definitely gone through portions of this Toronto lane before, but last night was a special treat.image

I am nearly certain that this lane is named after the family of my old boss, the inimitable Judy Perly of Free Times Cafe. She was as colourful and eccentric as many of the murals I was lucky enough to come across in post dinner meander.

Before entering this lane I saw spots of colour and delight in a few approaching alleys.

Then it was time to enter Perly Family Lane.
The first was a subtle experience.
There’s something incredibly beautiful about a covered car or boat in a back alley. It’s almost poetic; a symbol of past joyrides, blanketed over to protect from temptation:


Then my partner warned me, I was about to have ~an experience~.
Sometimes… no, frequently, I experience new things with such vigour that this card by Russell Alton at, (Which I souvenired from Vancouver for some good friends who go on these journeys with me at times) perfectly captures what I look and sound like:


This happened multiple times in Perly Family Lane.
I’m sure many people who live in the Annex – Christie Pits area of Toronto have seen the front of the house of Albino Carreira or seen his van go by, completely encrusted with small toys and insects. Well he doesn’t stop at the front of the house.  Knick knacks and small cuts of wood completely adorn his garage too:


He even managed to decorate further an already rather ornate granite siding:


Metro News did a piece about uniquely decorated houses in Toronto and not surprisingly his place on Clinton makes the cut.
A more in depth article about Albino’s whole life, and why his eccentric decor style is an homage to the spinal cord is available here on Raw Vision.

Next we came across a garage door that is just screaming for some eyes:


Did you know that our tendency to see faces in nearly everything is a really natural and common phenomenon and has a name? Pareidolia, which in Greek means, in essence, “faulty image.” (Source: LiveScience)

Perly Family Lane has lots of different kinds of art adorning the garage doors, but there is definitely a monopoly on the creation by one artist in particular. I still need to seek out and find out who they are, but for now, enjoy a gallery showcasing both their play with colour and lines, and their sheer abundance.

Sometimes I find in back alleys, that it’s hard to figure out which back of the house matches the front of the house. (Unless of course it’s like the eccentric one above and it’s unquestionable).  But this door takes all the guessing away AND is striking:wpid-img_20150708_234019.jpg

I was also particularly drawn to this next stencil-made door and wonder who created it. Were they inspired by a real meadow stroll or woodland wander?


I, of course, also appreciate the visual impact of mild urban decay juxtaposed with growing over of foliage. There were plenty examples of this in this alley, but this one was particularly beautiful.


So, despite the mass exodus of many of my friends to the ‘Best Coast,’ I will definitely stick with my alley-filled town and ignore this tag with vigour.


Happy wandering, lovelies!

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