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East End Spotlight is a monthly news piece where we highlight a series of east end artists, arts organizations, creative spaces & professionals that we want to shine a spotlight on💙!

For August 2020, we got in touch with some new artists and arts organizations from east Toronto. Scroll down to read more about the following people and places this month:

  1. Children’s Peace Theatre – Arts Organization
  2. Claire Browne – Artist
  3. Fresh Paint Studio + Cafe – Arts Organization
  4. Julian Taylor – Artist
  5. Mike Nguyen – Artist
  6. Morro & Jasp – Artists

*Banner image from Claire Brown.

1. Arts Spotlight: Children’s Peace Theatre

Name: Children’s Peace Theatre

Type of Organization: Land based Arts for Social Justice

Website: www.childrenspeacetheatre.org

Social handles:
Facebook Children’s Peace Theatre 
Instagram  @peacetheatre 
Twitter @peacetheatre

Tell our readers a bit about your arts organization, your history, artistic mandate etc.: 

Children’s Peace Theatre uses the arts and artistic creativity as critical tools for personal and social transformation. Our mandate is to co-create a culture of peace using an arts based, intergenerational and decolonial approach that cultivates ecological, social and spiritual resilience with the individual and the community. We centre the voices of BIPoC young people and their communities to co-create imaginative solutions for equitable futures for all.

We are a catalyst for ideas, discussions and actions that make the arts more central and meaningful to people’s lives, in order to promote healthier young people, more vibrant democracies and equitable societies. ​It is our commitment to provide a space where young people can create and learn from artists and Elders.

What makes your arts organization unique or different?

Children’s Peace Theatre is pretty unique as an organization that works with children and youth to explore what decolonization means and the role that artists play in creating a more equitable world.

We are currently working on an Initiative called Soil, Spirit, Society. This is a comprehensive initiative that engages community to consider our connections and relationships to land, our own spiritual selves, and to each other. The project includes a 6-month artist residency for Black and Indigenous youth. It includes a garden program that has built community gardens for participants to learn to grow, and includes mentorship from Isaac Crosby from Evergreen, and Cheyenne Sun from Sundance Harvest.

It also has delved into research and engagement on what decolonial arts praxis and governance looks like in an arts space and the development of a Intergenerational Village governance model based on African and Indigenous paradigms. The initiative has been funded by Canada Council for the Arts-Sector Innovation, Heritage Canada, Toronto Arts Council-Strategic Funding, City of Toronto Community Funding, LUSH Cosmetics.

How have social distancing and the events of 2020 changed your arts organization?

We are living in a time of great suffering, confusion and division. Yet this moment is charged with the potential for beautiful and necessary transformation. The pandemic has unleashed the forces of oppression, and fanned the flames of fear. But to balance the scales, the increased brutality has ignited the fires of dissent and radical love.

2020 has asked us all to reflect and listen to what the Earth is telling us and what our communities truly need. We have taken seriously the need to slow down and consider our purpose as individuals and the purpose of CPT. We have taken this time to delve deeper into our practices and processes and build our capacity to explore what decolonial arts praxis looks like.

Right now Our flagship program Peace Camp is celebrating its 20th year and has moved completely on Line! Peace Camp provides opportunities for children and youth to work with professional artists to create public presentations that speak to the issues impacting their lives, while learning skills in Conflict Transformation. This year in the midst of a pandemic and a global uprising for justice, Peace Camp is exploring the question, What does it mean to Instigate Constellations of Resistance and Care? 

This theme is inspired by Black and Indigenous knowledge systems and traditions, and by the incredible care for community that springs from their wisdom teachings.

For me this theme is inspired by a quote from my fav writer, Leanne Betasmosake Simpson:

“Constellations exist only in the context of relationships: otherwise they are just individual stars”

What kind of relationships do young people need to hold them through this time of transformation? What knowledge, wisdom and actions will guide us to create a world that is more caring, more daring, and more loving? How can we as artists nurture them to live not as Individual stars but to know they exist only in relationships?

My wish is that this time creating together will birth new constellations of care for each young person.  That each of them will better recognize their purpose and their brilliance and shine their light as a beacon in the days ahead.

How can community members interact or support your organization right now?

Join the live broadcast of our show!

  • T’karonto/Toronto, ON—Children’s Peace Theatre, 305 Dawes Road, Toronto, ON M4B 2E2
  • Under the guidance of our team of, Director Karen Emerson, Theatre Director Sedina Fiati, Music Director Ruben ‘Beny’ Esguerra and Visual Arts Director  Kaya Joan, and Dance Director Shameka Blake we present:
    Supernovas and Galaxies: Igniting our Constellations of Resistance and Care
  • Matinée Performance: Friday, August 7th, 2020 at 1 p.m.
  • Gala Performance: Saturday August 8, 2020 at 4 p.m.
  • Tickets: Pay what you can, service charges extra
  • For more information, please visit childrenspeacetheatre.org. Tickets can be obtained at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/114664223780 
  • Media Contact:Savroop Shergill | E-mail: communications@childrenspeacetheatre.org | Phone: (416) 752-1550 Facebook: /ChildrensPeaceTheatre | Instagram:@PeaceTheatre | Twitter:@PeaceTheatre
  • You can also donate via Canada Helps/ Paypal or etransfer to Karen@childrenspeacetheatre.org

What does #EastEndLove mean or look like to your organization?

The East End has been our home for 20 years. We have built some deep roots here and worked to engage children and youth in celebrating the brilliance of this community through our Peace Camp, our annual Peace Parade, and many, many youth programs that happen in our space.

#EastEndLove means working to celebrate our many different communities within this community and working to ensure everyone has a voice and safe place to live and thrive in peace.

#EastEndLove means creating community solidarity. It looks like supporting Indigenous Sovereignty and Black liberation. I love seeing the community come out and support the land claim movement Wiigwikaasa in Taylor Creek Park, and businesses like Old’s Cool leading anti-racism work. I love seeing the East end involved in movements for defunding the police and building community care networks.

What are some upcoming art events or initiatives you’re excited about?

We are really excited to continue working on ourselves during this time. We have been exploring governance, evaluation and how to work as a team in difficult times. We look forward to our next Soil, Spirit, Society Artist Residency that will launch back in late Fall 2020.

We are also so excited by the incredible work of the Grassroots Youth Projects that we support on our Peace Platform. We are so grateful to build relationships with all these young people and support them in small ways to adjust their work on line and support communities to build communities of resistance and care all across Ontario.

2. Artist Spotlight: Claire Browne

Name: Claire Browne

Discipline: Visual Artist working in acrylic and oil paint, printmaking and other visual art media

Artist Website: www.clairebrowneart.com

Artist on Social:
Instagram: @clairebrowneart
Facebook: Claire Browne Art @clairebrowneart

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

I am a visual artist interested in creating work about place and the botanical world. Story plays a role in the type of imagery that I engage with as I consider my own relationship to space based on the stories told to me during childhood, especially those about the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

My paintings are an exploration of my relationship to the Black diaspora, the Caribbean diaspora.

I have come to treat painting and visual art as an opportunity to present new perspectives of seeing to the audience and an opportunity for larger conversations about cultural exchange, identity and the importance of our stories.

How have social distancing and the events of 2020 affected your art practice? 

The reality of a COVID-19 world and social distancing was definitely difficult, especially in the early days as an artist. I felt so worried and consumed by the information of what was happening to people globally and in my own community. So much so that I was not able or interested in creating new artwork for the first few months.

I have since returned slowly to the art studio creating smaller artworks or studies with a mindset of working up to a larger body of artwork which I planned to create this year.

How can audiences support the work you’re doing right now?

There are a number of ways that people can support the work that I’m doing right now. If you enjoy my artwork, please consider purchasing work. It means a lot to know that a piece is with the right collector, and the support helps with the creation of new ideas.

I have some of my artwork available for purchase on my website and I always welcome an email or message if you are interested in knowing about available artwork.

Also, following along on social media or sharing my work with friends goes a long way!

What are some upcoming art events or initiatives you’re excited about?

I am excited that art galleries are starting to open their doors again. These institutions house so many works of inspiration and opportunities for learning. So I will be trying to visit the different galleries and museums that are now opening up around Toronto over the next while.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

Fun fact…I have repainted some buildings or places because of the personal importance to me. Each time the place is interpreted a little differently. Places can resonate with me and have required multiple visits as subjects of thought in the studio.

3. Arts Spotlight: Fresh Paint Studio & Café 

Name: Fresh Paint Studio + Café

Type of Organization: A creative community-based art studio and cafe

Website: www.freshpaintstudio.ca

Social handles:
Facebook – @FreshPaintStudioCafe
Instagram – @freshpaintTO

Tell our readers a bit about your arts organization, your history, artistic mandate etc.: 

Fresh Paint Studio + Café is a community-based art studio focused on connecting the community through art.  The studio opened its doors in February 2016 with a focus on building a creative space for kids and adults to create art fearlessly. The studio offers art workshops for kids and adults, painting parties, freestyle drop in painting and corporate team building painting sessions. Fresh Paint Studio is also the home of the Art Slam – a live art competition and fundraiser that fuses a live DJ and live painting into a vibrant and creative event.

What makes your arts organization unique or different?

Fresh Paint Studio is an artist-run studio with a focus on fostering a creative space for all generations. Our programming is diverse and creative and attracts everyone from professional visual artists to beginners.

How have social distancing and the events of 2020 changed your arts organization?

The events of 2020 and social distancing have forced us to shift our focus to developing and promoting virtual events including, virtual parties for kids and adults, virtual art workshops and virtual corporate team building art sessions. We have also curated a series of creative art kits for kids and adults that can be done from the comfort of home.

How can community members interact or support your organization right now?

Community members can support us by following us on social media, signing up for a virtual workshop or event or purchasing one of our creative art kits.

What does #EastEndLove mean or look like to your organization?

#EastEndLove looks like nurturing the vibrant businesses in the East End that are the heart of the community. It means spreading the word, sharing positive stories and supporting East End small businesses.

What are some upcoming art events or initiatives you’re excited about?

We are excited about some of our innovative virtual creative offerings including abstract art, illustration and more.

4. Artist Spotlight: Julian Taylor

Name: Julian Taylor

Discipline: Singer/Songwriter

Artist Website: www.juliantaylormusic.ca

Artist on Social:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter
YouTube

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

I started playing piano when I was around 5 years old. When I was about 11 years old I picked up the acoustic guitar. My cousin Ronke had a classical acoustic guitar that she lent me and I’ve never looked back. I like writing songs in any style and I love the process of creating. I released my first album with the band Staggered Crossing in 2000 and my most recent recording came out on June 19th, 2020. I hope I get to create music for the rest of my life.

How have social distancing and the events of 2020 affected your art practice?

I honestly haven’t been writing the way that I use to. I haven’t been doing a lot of writing at all.  I’ve just been trying to get through each day. I hope that eventually all of this will inspire a creative surge in me. I haven’t been playing live in front of audiences and when I did a little show for my neighbours and found that I couldn’t remember some of the words to a bunch cover songs I should know by heart. It’s in the muscle memory you know and that scared me a bit. I have released a new album called “The Ridge”. It’s been received well so far so I am happy about that.

How can audiences support the work you’re doing right now?

The best way to support me right now happens to be the same exact same way as it’s always been.  Well maybe not exactly.  It used to be going to shows but right now that’s not in the cards.  If people chose to purchase my recordings directly from my website www.juliantaylormsusic.ca then that’s probably the most solid way to support me and any artist.  I also started a Patreon profile and that’s a forum for monthly subscribers. I post exclusive content there at www.patreon/juliantaylormusic

What are some upcoming art events or initiatives you’re excited about?

I am very excited about a bursary that I helped create in the name and honour of my late friend and bandmate Bruce Adamson. He was the guitarist in Staggered Crossing. Last year I teamed up with SHINE and we created a bursary for at risk children who are interested in pursuing music. I’d love people to check it out and consider donating: http://shineconcert.ca/bruce-adamson/

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I love chopping wood and building fires. I once fell in a fire for real and that led to the creation of a JTB song called Bobbi Champagne.  People like that one a lot and it seems to go over well at shows.  I can’t wait to play a show with my friends again.  Soon come.  Soon come.

5. Artist Spotlight: Mike Nguyen

Name: Mike Nguyen

Discipline: Watercolour sports artist

Artist Website: MikeNguyenArt.com

Artist on Social:

Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

I got back into art in 2019 after a 20 year hiatus from painting. I found my passion for art again and I’m finally fulfilling my childhood dream of becoming a professional artist!

How have social distancing and the events of 2020 affected your art practice?

I was fortunate enough to paint a few hockey and football paintings that were hits in Winnipeg last winter while I was living there. Then in January 2020, two of my Edmonton Oilers paintings were featured on Sportsnet during two hockey games. So my artwork was seen more and more online early on this year, so it was an easy transition to continue selling online when the pandemic hit.

How can audiences support the work you’re doing right now?

They can support my art journey by following me on Instagram/Facebook and by sharing my work online with other sports fans!

What are some upcoming art events or initiatives you’re excited about?

I enjoy sharing my artwork with my local communities through Facebook and Instagram. But I also love giving my artwork away for free during the summer through my art hunts all around the East York area. I started this fun event last summer and really enjoyed it, so I continued doing it when I was in Winnipeg, and also in Edmonton. I usually hide my art in the little free libraries, or popular places around the neighbourhood and give clues on my Instagram. I hope more families get involved this month as the weather gets nicer!

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I bumped into my favourite art teacher from grade 7 last summer at a craft fair. He used to teach me art at Bowmore Public School and I haven’t seen him in 25 years! It was great to see him again considering I’m finally back into art and love sharing my work with him again!

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