skip to Main Content

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 October 2020, 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. Ange & Robin aka Trixie & Beever – Artists
    2. Areej Artists Centre – Arts Organization
    3. Diana Nazareth – Artist
    4. Poser ABM – Artist
    5. Say it with Crayons – Arts Business
    6. Stevie Driscoll – Artist

*Banner image from Poser ABM*

1. Artists: Ange & Robin aka Trixie & Beever

Names: Ange Beever and Robin Woodward aka Trixie & Beever

Discipline: Painting, installation, performance, craft-making, graphic and set design

Artist Websites:

www.bvrart.com
www.bbj.ca
www.trixieandbeever.com

Artists on Social:

BVR ART Instagram
BVR ART Facebook
BBJ Instagram
BBJ Facebook

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

We’ve been working (and living) together since the late 1990’s on a variety of creative pursuits, including a long-running craft business (bbj), performance, installation, design and visual art. We often call ourselves a branding nightmare because of the range of work that we do! Some of our favourite projects have been collaborations with other artists, creating sets or installations and performing within them, like The Beauty Salon, where we made an immersive early-60’s-era salon with a team, and gave beauty treatments to audience members in between song-and-dance numbers.

Ange has returned to painting recently with an ongoing series – Original Covers – of redirected works, adding to existing art and decor pieces to create new, often absurd, compositions. She is excited about this new direction, and is happy to resume building her brushwork skills.

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

Well the most obvious effects have been the cancellation of in-person events that were really important for us income-wise. Ange’s solo painting shows in 2018 and 2019 were clearly building momentum, but that couldn’t happen this year in June as planned. She’s still considering a modified fall exhibition… but second-wave worries have made planning difficult. Likewise our craft business’ reliance on a big holiday show requires a different approach this year. It was going to be our 20th year at One Of A Kind, and this moment of change is speeding up our evolution towards different techniques and creative products, and connecting with audiences who like what we do.

We’re grateful to have had the support of CERB while we figure things out. Motivation and inspiration have been challenging throughout the pandemic, with bursts of energy sometimes, but also periods of anxiety and that stuck feeling that makes moving forward in unstable times really daunting. And we deeply miss seeing art and culture and socializing around the work of our friends!

A positive effect has been that Ange’s painting work has an ecommerce home now; Toronto’s shopHERE program helped her create a website to sell paintings and prints, and Robin is working on re-launching an improved BBJ shopping site. It’s also been nice to work at home more (because cats!), though it’s sometimes complicated to have two workspaces.

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

Visit our websites! Shop local! Share the work of artists and makers you like, and post positive reviews when appropriate. This year it’s going to be more important than ever to support people in our own communities, so when we’re on the other side of this thing there are still independent businesses that bring life and soul to our neighbourhoods. We hope that increased online shopping doesn’t just enrich tech giants and that people seek out indie artists and makers. Folks like us can’t compete with instant free shipping, so it’s essential that we offer a human connection and more interesting stories, services and products.

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

The upcoming Toronto Year of Public Art (2021) is something to look forward to. We’re really big fans of accessible public art, so the idea of a real dedication to making more of it, and making more of what we’ve already got is exciting. There’s so much potential for new voices to bring new ways to build everyday experiences with art into communities across the city.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

Well it’s not exactly fun, but we consider it an honour that the great Oscar Peterson was buried in a pair of custom cufflinks we made with a photo of his music hero, Art Tatum. We were especially touched that his daughter Celine, who had placed the order, sought us out the following year to tell us that her father had loved them so much he chose them for his final outfit.

2. Arts Spotlight: Areej Artists Centre

Name: Areej Artists Centre

Type of Organization: Nonprofit Arts Organization featuring a gallery and more

Website: www.areejartistscentre.com

Social handles:
Facebook
Instagram

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

Areej Art Centre is a not for profit charitable organization for artists and art lovers of all age groups. Its primary focus is the visual arts. The Areej Art Centre incorporates into its philosophy the belief that the arts have transformative potentials and that every individual can benefit from the arts.

Our centre through its programming creates the opportunities for individuals of diverse cultures to come together to express their creativity. Areej Centre is a global family united in creativity with a goal to support and facilitate positive change.

We believe in the following values:

  • To always value the unique talents and skills of each individual and to motivate them to
    pursue their goals.
  • To engage the public in a positive and productive manner.
  • To respect and appreciate cultural differences of everyone, promote inclusiveness, respect
    for others and to foster the love for the arts.

What makes your arts organization unique or different?

Areej Artists Centre is unique due to the diverse community we are able to support. We are a cultural hub for new immigrants and refugees coming from around the world, primarily east Africa, Asia and the Middle East. We also support artists who are new comers but have lots of experience in their home countries.

Our mission is to make the arts available to individuals of all age groups and to be a creative and transformative force within our communities.

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

Areej Artists Centre raises 97% of its funding through members contributions and unique fundraising activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected our ability to raise funds for our Centre. We used to host large events, art exhibitions, and group gatherings and cultural events before covid-19, but we are not able to do that now.

Recently, we started our ‘make a mask’ sewing event for seniors, and we ask that everyone who attends makes a reservation in advance, and wears a mask while in the gallery. We are hoping to have other smaller events similar to this, but we are adapting to the current situation, and we will try our best to support those around us.

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

Community members can support us by attending our ‘make a mask’ event, and our ‘let’s drink coffee’ event. As well, community members are always welcome to give us suggestions on events they’d like to see, and buy some of the cultural material and coffee we have in the gallery. Community members are encouraged to join us and get a cup of coffee while being creative. Also, community members can attend our Market Place to buy high quality and low-priced winter and fall items.

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

East End Love means a great deal to our organization, because there are many artists in the Danforth area, and we try to have collaborative events with them. East End Love to Areej means, how to love each other, and how to take care of each other. As a Muslim woman, I want to teach my community that art is valuable and that we can use art to lift each other up. A lot of the community members and artists witnessed wars in their home countries, so at Areej we try to offer support, and in a way its therapeutic for them. We try to show them that they are welcome here!

3. Artist Spotlight: Diana Nazareth

Name: Diana Nazareth

Discipline: Photography

Artist Website: www.projectkidsandcameras.com

Artist on Social:
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

As a photography educator, mentor, and workshop facilitator my programs are informed by an extensive study of Literacy Through Photography, PhotoVoice, and Visual Thinking Strategies: key progressive participatory methods that use photography as a catalyst for self-expression and awareness, critical thinking, creativity, visual and traditional literacy, as well community engagement, social action and advocacy. I have facilitated workshops to over 1000 participants of all ages, although I work mainly with children and youth ages 5-13.

One of my objectives as a photography educator is introduce and foster the photographic skills participants can use to express and share their personal narratives in new ways. As a teaching artist, I’ve learned that photography is inherently interesting to most people and that its potential as a catalyst for self-expression, community engagement, language acquisition, integrative-learning, and storytelling is limitless. The exploration of photography – and the skills one acquires through its practice – is an enjoyable, accessible, and interactive entry point for newcomers to share and amplify their diverse voices and stories.

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

Covid 19 has had a profound effect on my practice. But the affects have been both negative and positive. Since March of this year, most of my scheduled workshops have been cancelled or postponed resulting in a loss of income and the usual challenges that accompany less work, as I rely on my practice as my main source of livelihood. However, the pandemic also has blessed me with a bit of break during which I was able to contemplate how photography education could be adapted to address the current educational and emotional needs of kids and adults. Many of us are searching for new and creative ways of expressing ourselves, as well as safe and enjoyable ways to communicate and collaborate with others. I believe photography as a creative practice can play a vital role in student-directed learning across a diversity of online platforms.

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

The best support for any teaching artist is engagement, participation, curiosity as well as supporting arts-based courses, workshops and projects that may require a participation fee. Now is the time to support the arts, as well as the artists (and local arts organizations) who dedicate a part if not most of their practice to sharing their skills, knowledge, and resources with the community-at-large. The pandemic has greatly reduced opportunities for teaching artists to continue to work in a variety of local settings, such as in schools, libraries, and community centres, so it’s also crucial that audiences advocate for the return of such programs in ways that adapt to current social distancing norms, of course.

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

I’m the admin of a Facebook page called, Child and Youth Photography Educators’ Network (CYPEN). As a group, we’ve been brainstorming about collaborating on a global photography education online conference to take place in March 2021. Our goal would be to connect kids and youth around the world through our love photography by providing them with free and affordable online workshops and classes. Our workshops would give participating youth an array of critical and technical photographic skills they could apply towards participation in a global photo project centered around themes of mindfulness, self-expression, identity, diversity, hope and resilience. I’m super excited to spearhead this initiative!

A fun fact about you for our readers:

I have a small collection of Charlie Brown socks!

4. Artist Spotlight: Poser ABM

Name: Poser ABM

Discipline: Large-Scale Works, Muralism, Graffiti

Artist on Social:
Instagram

Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your art:

I’ve been painting murals for over 15 years in Toronto, Ottawa, and abroad. As well as letter-based works, I am also known for my distinctive ‘bunny’ character and my architectural style murals.

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

As a self-employed graffiti artist, I haven’t been excessively hindered by the events of 2020. My day to day habits and hobbies are mostly socially distant by nature and I spend a lot of time under bridges or exploring nature in my work, away from crowds and most of the general population.

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

I always have t-shirts and prints for sale and I’m always available for commission work of any sort! Feel free to contact me anytime through email or social media.

 

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

I’m excited to continue to pursue large scale muralism projects in the city of Toronto but due to the resurgence of Covid, I unfortunately don’t have any upcoming art events to look forward to at the moment. I’m excited to work on some personal projects this winter.

A fun fact about you for our readers:

Aside from graffiti and muralism, my free time is spent working on old project cars or getting out of the city to explore the natural world.

5. Arts Spotlight: Say it With Crayons

Name: Say It With Crayons

Type of Organization: Artisanal

Social handles:
Instagram

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

Say It With Crayons is family passion project. We ignite the child creativity and imagination while saving the environment. We take unwanted, DISCARDED rejected, broken crayons to a better place, where they will be recycled into new fun shapes.

We collect crayons from restaurants across the GTA. This “recycling” education, community service will make it possible to stop more than 120,000 pounds of unwanted crayons from going into landfills with the help from restaurants and organization across this city.

We donate the colours that we don’t use in our recycling process to bring art to vulnerable children in our community.

We are partners with Birthday Angel, so we bring the happiness of birthday parties to kids in shelters.

What makes your arts organization unique or different?

Really I go back to purpose. Protecting mother earth while doing something that is creative, fun and educational. The fact that it is a family project conceived with our kids with the intention to do something to save the environment, where they, at their young age, are engaged and interested. That each item itself is an open invitation for the kids using it to dream and think differently. That our project is a collective effort. We all, and by all I mean all, schools, restaurants, individuals, community, can (and we invite to) donate used crayons so we can re-purpose them and give them another life, instead of them going to the landfill.

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

While my goal was to participate in more markets this year, COVID have changed a lot of that resulting in more communication and outreach with clients and potential ones via social media and other channels.

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

In the post-COVID world, we all need to support each other. Re-purposed crayons can make for great, educational and fun gifts or keep sakes. By supporting Say It With Crayons, community members will be supporting local and artisanal craftsmanship, and will be contributing toward the vision of saving our planet, while creating something that is fun, educational and engaging, for children and teens alike.

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

East End Love means community; it means loving your neighborhood, your neighbors, your friends and supporting them; it means being there for each other and working with each other to enrich each others’ lives.

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

I love to stroll and visit art exhibits, and there are many of them in our great city, with the kids and family to be inspired. We also love to participate in local and neighborhood markets where we meet like minded individuals, families, neighbors and entrepreneurs. I love volunteering at Withrow Park Farmers Market and other events in the community.

Back To Top Skip to content