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An image of Fay & Fluffy outside, sitting on chairs. Fay is holding up a picture book and has a yellow wig, pink gloves, and a floral dress on. Fluffy has a pink poncho, leggings lined with cats, a pink wig and pink glasses. They both have a large smile on their face.

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💙!

June East End Artist Spotlights

For June 2021, we got in touch with some new artists and arts organizations who live or work in east Toronto. Scroll down to read more about the following people and organizations this month:

    1. Allison Palmer – Artist
    2. Charlie C Petch – Artist
    3. Fay and Fluffy – Artists
    4. Mel Bartel/Nendowaamjiget – Artist

*Banner image is an image of Fay & Fluffy by David Hawe*

1. Artist Spotlight: Allison Palmer

A headshot of Allison with light skin tone, long dark hair in a red shirt. She is holding up 4 heart-shaped cookies decorated with pink and red icing.

Name: Allison Palmer

Discipline: Baker (Food Artist)

Artist Website:

www.beeatfull.com

Artist on Social:

Instagram:

@alliejpalmer

Artist Pronouns: She/Her

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

I am an Indigenous Baker from Toronto and offer custom cookies, cupcakes and cakes. My happy place is in the kitchen and I have spent countless hours over the past 9+ years recipe testing and whipping up desserts for my friends, family and roommates. My love for baking started as a hobby before working at several Toronto bakeries and since then, it’s been my dream to have my own baking business. I am very grateful for the support I’ve received thus far and I’m excited to be starting this adventure! I plan on sweetening people’s day by providing thoughtful, beautiful and delicious treats that are just as unique as the people that eat them.

What are you excited about for the future of your arts practice?

I am excited to meet new customers, to be inspired by their ideas for their custom orders and continue challenging myself while developing new skills. In the near future I am planning on opening a storefront or shop and that is beyond exciting!

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

Give me a follow on Instagram and enter my monthly giveaways. If you’d like to show additional support, I am currently enrolled in a baking competition. Voting happens here: https://greatestbaker.com/2021/allison-palmer

What are some upcoming Toronto arts events, programs or initiatives you’re interested in?

I am interested in participating in upcoming markets, pop-ups and looking into selling my treats in local shops in the East York/Danforth area.

What does #EastEndLove mean or look like to you?

To me, #EastEndLove means showing love and support to your local businesses and your neighbours. It means a united and strong community.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

In my spare time, I co-host Seventh Fire, a podcast available on Spotify, interviewing some of Turtle Islands most interesting artists, activists, elders, professionals, and creatives on their journeys.

2. Artist Spotlight: Charlie Petch

Name: Charlie Petch

Discipline: Performance Poetry, Multidiscipline Theatre Artist

Artist Website:

www.charliecpetch.com

Artist on Social:
Instagram @sawpoet
Facebook @sawpoet1
Twitter: @sawpoet

Artist Pronouns: They/Them & He/Him

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

I am a disabled transmasculine multidiscipline artist who has been working in the areas of poetry, theatre, music and lighting design for the past 25 years. I’m currently launching many projects, a multimedia performance poetry piece, “Daughter of Geppetto”, with Wind In The Leaves Collective in late summer, my libretto, “Medusa’s Children”, is forthcoming with Opera QTO, and my first full length poetry collection, “Why I Was Late” with Brick Books will be out this September. My work is based in queerness, decolonial practice, humour, and unexpected heroes. It’s also very cognisant of creating atmosphere around work which is music and lighting and collaboratively based.

What are you excited about for the future of your arts practice?

I am excited for larger audience to find my work. For queer and trans youth to experience “Daughter of Geppetto” which is a reimagining of Pinocchio as a transmasculine character. For “Medusa’s Children” to showcase Pegasus as a non-binary character, sung by a non-binary opera singer. For “No one’s special at the hot dog cart” to be workshopped at Theatre Passe Muraille, which honours the homeless people and sex workers who protected me when I was a teenage hot dog vendor in the city, and doubles as a de-escalation workshop and also speaks to working as a first responder and health care worker in the city.

I also have several workshops that support artists to grow and give them tools to do better performance, everything from making the best of your lighting and sound with hacks at home, to how to know what to ask for and how to ask camera people, lighting techs and sound techs. Having worked professionally in all these areas from film, to photography, to theatre, I can have you looking like a pro adjusting mic stand in no time. I love seeing my students thrive!

It is an honour to create content that is trans and non-binary originated. I wish to create the kind of shows I have needed at any age, to feel seen, to know we’ve always been here. I am also very excited to be in a position to bring dream collaborators onto projects. East End artist Emmie Tsumura has made one of my favourite book covers ever (for my book eeek!), & recent East End Arts spotlight artist Apanaki Temitayo Minerve is doing the image for Medusa’s Children, you’ll see it developing on her Instagram. I am also honoured to be working with dancer Sze-Yang Ade-Lam on “Daughter of Geppetto”.  Do yourself a favour and follow these artists! 

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

You can follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and I have an artist’s page on Facebook. You could also sign up for my newsletter on my website which I put out no more than monthly. I also have a few albums on bandcamp including “Saw Poems” which I recorded at the Banff Centre for the Arts, and also my radio play “Mel Malarkey, Odes & Acts” which is an album that accompanies my vaudeville show. It’s very fun and also kind of heartbreaking. It features my original music recorded by incredible musicians including Rudy Ray, a local horn player, a session gem. It won a “Best of 2017” from my hometown of Peterborough’s local music and culture magazine “Electric City Magazine”. I’m so proud of this word and how the characters have grown and developed as I transitioned. At first, it was all about Mel Malarkey, and now, one can feel that, at the heart of it, the true narrator is Victor, Mel’s “Male impersonation” act. Imagine the lives of trans performers at the beginning of the depression, watching those stages that affirmed them get closed in the name of movie houses. 

What are some upcoming Toronto arts events, programs or initiatives you’re interested in?

I founded Hot Damn It’s a Queer Slam, and the current board is running bi weekly shows and workshops that are always amazing. I have a big love for my friend SPIN ElPoeta’s series Raza which has been a great open mic series. Of course I’m always excited for Word on the Street and the Toronto International Festival of Authors. I’m also catching a lot of online workshops and shows with Glad Day Bookstore’s GDTV channel. I’m also over the moon that Randell Adeji, founder of RISE Edutainment which is based in Scarborough, has been appointed the Ontario Poet Laureate and am looking forward to what that will mean for spoken word in schools. I’m also interested to see the Pride window display of East End Artists at Lazy Daisy Cafe, which has been a wonderful host to many spoken word events. 

What does #EastEndLove mean or look like to you?

It looks like less skyscrapers and more local business, like my old employers Michael Garron Hospital, and South East Toronto Family Health Team doing some of the best outreach and vaccination clinics for our communities. It looks like little messages saying “You Matter” stenciled on sidewalks, like disappearing into Taylor Creek Park so deeply I can’t see the city past the trees, like outdoor music and farmer’s markets at East Lynn park and East York Civic Centre. It looks like Lazy Daisy Cafe turning into a general store in response to lockdowns, like the community fridge at “Old’s Cool General Store”, and a dream to have a refreshing bevvy at my dear friend’s bar “Sauce”. It’s saying hello to our street community and stopping to share a laugh, an ear, and some economy. It’s sitting near the sweat lodge at MGH, it’s walking dogs and Queen Bookstore pausing. It’s dreaming of Shisha starting back up and relaxing on those couches and watching sports. It’s friends and neighbours looking out for each other, and Wag on the Danforth being there for me when my sweet Zoedog died. It’s so many things that make me happy that we feel a bit undiscovered and hope it stays that way.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I once got picked up hitchhiking by sports exposé novelist, and shunned knuckleballer Jim Bouton, the creator of Big League Chew

3. Artist Spotlight: Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime

A headshot of Fay & Fluffy in front of a white background. Fay has a yellow wig on, pink gloves, and a red strapless dress on. Fluffy has a light blue wig and a patterned green, blue, white and blacktop . They both have their face resting on their right arm, with the other arm touching the table in front of them. Name: Fay & Fluffy’s Storytime

Discipline: Drag performance and storytelling

Artist Website:
www.fayandfluffy.com

Artist on Social:
Instagram @fayandfluffy
Facebook @fayandfluffy

Artist Pronouns: Kaleb: He/Him, Fluffy: They/Them, JP: He/Him, Fay: She/Her

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

We have been doing Drag Storytimes since June 2016. Based in Toronto, we have been fortunate to do so many local events at some of Toronto’s biggest cultural institutions, as well as hit the road to adventures beyond the city. Our special events focus on books, songs and include lots of laughs to show that Reading is FUN-damental! We especially want to support families with LGBTQ2S parent(s) and gender variant children, and read culturally diverse books, by providing a supportive and inclusive environment focused on fun. Everyone is welcome!

What are you excited about for the future of your arts practice?

We have some exciting things currently in development. We have done two large scale shows at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre during Pride, before Covid. We continue to create community and connect families through our LIVE ZOOM Storytimes. We look forward to continue developing our relationships with Queen Books in Leslieville as well as The 519 and the Early On programs throughout the city.

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

Check out our page on Instagram for updates to our Storytime Shows on Zoom, and hopefully, before the end of the year, we may actually be able to be in shared spaces again. Fingers crossed. 

What are some upcoming Toronto arts events, programs or initiatives you’re interested in?

We are always excited to support Arts endeavours. We are especially excited about Pride this year and having opportunities to meet and engage with many new families and children.

What does #EastEndLove mean or look like to you?

It looks like honouring and celebrating the amazing artists and up and coming creatives who live in the East End. What a drab world it would be without the Arts and Culture. Think about how the Arts has been a vehicle for so many of us who have been isolated during the Pandemic. It inspires us, connects us and really keeps our communities alive and thriving. We support artists. Pay artists. Celebrate art. #EastEndLove is about celebrating all of those in our community who continue to create and make the world a much more beautiful and inclusive place. 

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I (JP) am a kindergarten teacher at William Burgess Public since 2003. I have been performing as Fay Slift since 2008. I helped to establish Theatricks Theatre Company for Kids in the Beach in 1995. I love my community and the families I am honoured to work alongside with. Kaleb is an Arts Hustler, who is a huge community advocate and adores working with kids. 

4. Artist Spotlight: Melanie Bartel/Nendowaamjiget – Wolf Clan

A headshot of Mel Bartel, with long brown hair, beaded earrings and glasses. She is looking directly into the camera. Name: Melanie Bartel/Nendowaamjiget – Wolf Clan

Discipline: Indigenous Contemporary Art and Bead work

Website:
www.melaniebartel.com

Artist on Social:
Instagram @Bead.For.Me
and @melbartelart

Artist Pronouns: She/Her

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

Toronto-based, 2 Spirit, Nishinaabe artist Mel Bartel believes that all art is healing and therapeutic. It doesn’t matter if you are viewing it or creating it, the effects are the same. She is known for her expressive and intuitive ability to capture emotion, personality and spirit with paint & mixed-media on wood cradled panels. She studied art at Claude Watson School for the Arts in Toronto and at OCAD briefly.

Mel grew up on the Manitoba prairies in a Mennonite family. When she learned she’d been given up for adoption by a single Ojibway mom from Lac Seul First Nation, she began exploring her Nishinaabe roots. She continues that journey to this day and knows it will be a life-long journey of discovery. Mel met her birth-mother in her 20’s and keeps in touch with her. Recently, she connected with her half brother and cousins. In 2019, Mel received her Nishinaabe Name, Nendowaamjiget ~ which translates to “Seeker” in English. Mel is Wolf Clan.

What are you excited about for the future of your arts practice?

I’m very interested in combining my abstract art with my earrings.

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

I love it when people share my art and beading with loved ones. Word of mouth – or social media sharing really helps.

What are some upcoming Toronto arts events, programs or initiatives you’re interested in?

I’m currently in talks with writing a book based on my experience that will have my artwork and translated to Ojibwe.

What does #EastEndLove mean or look like to you?

East End Love to me means and looks like neighbours knowing each other and helping each other out. We also have a ton of nature and water just a few minutes walking.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I have a series called “Big Chicken” and it’s based on a funny story about how I could not complete a childhood rhyme…. Always ending with Big Fat Chicken. 

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