Friday, September 25, 2015

LIO

It has been 100 years since the beginning of the Armenian Genocide which saw a systematic decimation of the minority Armenian population of the then, Ottoman Empire. By 1918 almost 1 million people were killed, the rest left homeless, stateless and scattered to the wind and hospitality of neighbouring countries. Persia, more commonly known as Iran was one country that opened its doors to the Armenians – and it is where 73 year old Lio Faridani was born.

Last night the collective memory of Toronto's Armenian community gathered for the Art and Memory exhibit at Arta Gallery in the Distillery District. The moving and powerful exhibit of paintings and sculpture is dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide.

Faces of desperate women reach out as you walk into the gallery. At 14 feet, Lio's painting depicting the suffering of the Armenian people through the anguished faces of the women left behind and in front of a row of soldiers, set up the visual journey through the collection of pieces.

Born in Isfahan, Iran, Lio moved with his family to Tehran at the age of six. He was always drawing and painting and interested in art as a boy. After high school he studied architecture and art in Florence, Italy which shaped and refined his life-long passion and talent as an artist. After a couple of years working on Poland and Denmark, Lio returned to Iran to continue working as a visual artist.

In 1987 Lio and his wife moved to Toronto where he has been working in architecture and art. "In my opinion, all architects should also be artists or they are not architects," he says laughing at his belief that the two disciplines are linked.

Of his huge painting at the gallery entrance, Lio prepared sketches over a long time detailing aspects of the genocide through research and personal stories growing up in Iran. A deeply personal piece, his painting is also a piece for the people and meant to survive for generations to come. "This is why I paint in oil, it is a medium that will last for people in the future to see," he says of the final work that took 2 1/2 months of continual work from the stack of sketches holding the collected memories of a tragic history.

You may see more of Lio's work here: http://contemporaryarts.ca/


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Thursday, September 24, 2015

ROMAN

Against a dull, drab background, Roman West makes a statement in colour and about his plans to fly.

Having only arrived in Toronto in June for school and work from his home in Barbados, Roman is finally getting to the end of all the immigration procedures to immigrate to Canada.

Roman is enrolled in flight school at Toronto Airways and wishes to eventually become a commercial pilot after working his way through becoming a private pilot. To help him afford school and live he will be looking for jobs in the aviation industry. At this point he is still dealing with all the paperwork, appointments and medicals required to move to Canada.

ROMAN FUN FACT: He came to Canada alone while his family is still back in Barbados. Asked how many in his family he laughs, "I don't know, it's huge, it goes on and on with many different generations"!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

GIUSEPPE

Caught just before heading out to taste some wine, Giuseppe Pelligra stops to say Hello. This warm and hospitable chef & owner of Fusilli Ristorante is a constant in this ever-changing city.

Born in Canada but moved to his parents home in Sicily when he was eight years old, Giuseppe grew up inspired by the land, the people, the wine and food of Italy. After university and meeting his wife, we wanted a change and to explore the country of his birth. He moved back to Canada. 

With two children, he has had a successful neighbourhood restaurant in Toronto's downtown east side for the last 27 years. Given Toronto's fickle restaurant culture, he is a survivor. Fusilli's has been serving savoury classic Italian food here since 1988. Though he has been here for a long time, he is always experimenting with new dishes and new wines.

When he is not wearing his apron, he is socializing with friends, camping, enjoying family walks and sports. He enjoys golf but says he's not very good - but plays for the enjoyment of getting out with friends and to enjoy beautiful surroundings.

Next time you are in Toronto's Corktown neighbourhood and have a hunger for good Italian fare in an intimate restaurant, Giuseppe will welcome you and make you feel like one of the family. www.fusilli.ca

GIUSEPPE FUN FACT: When he is not working the restaurant, he rarely eats Italian food! "Its food I already know! So he explores and enjoys the tastes of other countries.

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Monday, September 21, 2015

STEVE

The tall, colourful black and green butterfly flag tells you that Steve Polansky is close by. This flag is hard to miss on the west end of the Toronto beaches and is of a similar visual motif to one of his elaborate stacked kites. Frequent this area of the beach and you will often catch Steve's kite acrobatics.

Originally from Colfax, Washington, Steve's immigration to Toronto is a romantic one with interesting stops along the way. "I followed a girl here," he says of the reason he came to Canada in the early 1980's. Steve was working on a kibbutz in Israel for 10 years when he met a Canadian woman who inspired him to follow his heart. "When I arrived in Toronto, I didn't really know if Toronto was the name of the province or Ontario was"!

After arriving in Toronto, Steve worked with friends who stated a solar energy company. Having a mechanical background, Steve began his own company installing residential sky lights which he enjoyed for years. He now runs a private consulting business called, Cognitive Quitting where he helps people stop smoking by getting at the reason a person smokes and what drives them to smoke. Check him out if you need help: http://cognitivequitting.com/

Steve fell into flying kites after seeing them at the Toronto Home Show and observing them at a kite show at the Kortright Centre for Conservation. Years later, he has between 25 and 30 kites but his favourite kites to fly are Revolution kites with many angular wing shaped kites in a stacked arrangement controlled with two sets of spectra line. Even in very low wind, these elegant kites appear to hover without moving. Take a walk down to the beach in the evenings or on a weekend and you just may find Steve choreographing his kites in an elegant dance.

STEVE FUN FACT: Sometimes he has fun with people when flying his kites. Steve had a stuffed toy tabby cat named Rodney that he would often attach to the kite line. When Rodney was 80 in the air he looked very real indeed! Steve enjoyed the reactions of the passersby, some would laugh and  enjoy the spectacle, others would be horrified! "It was easy to tell who was uptight and who wasn't"!

PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

Sunday, September 20, 2015

RON & ADRIENNE

What do white guys know about heat? A fare question levelled at them by a heat-loving laughing Jamaican couple used to hot sauce. The answer coming from Ron and Adrienne Savoie would surprise you.

Born in Elliot Lake, Ontario, Ron was two years old when the family moved to the the small town of Neguac, a deeply Acadian community in the Canadian province of New Brunswick. Neguac claims the title of Savoie Capital of Canada, as almost every Savoie can trace their ancestry back to this area. Adrienne grew up in a dynasty town of a different sort – the General Motors capital of Ontario in Oshawa!

After a move back to Ontario the French speaking 13-year old Ron had to learn English quickly in Chatham where he spent his teenage years. After a few moves which included working as a miner for seven years, Ron met Adrienne in Oshawa. Ron, a City of Oshawa public employee and Adrienne a 30-year hair dresser retired happily to Costa Rica after a close introduced them of the Central American paradise.

It was an interest in cooking that led to developing the richly flavoured smokey hot sauce while running a tiny three-table restaurant in Costa Rica. Friends told them, and encouraged them to make more and to bring it up to Canada. They never knew then that the home made sauce would grow into a thriving business. Returning to Oshawa, they now have 15 sauces, snacks, spices and four stores! The residents of Oshawa, Pickering, Barrie, and Brantford are fortunate to find Jungle Heat hot sauces in their communities.

RON & ADRIENNE FUN FACT: "White boy don't know how to make hot sauce," a proud Jamaican woman at a trade show once teasingly told Ron and Adrienne! After being told that they have won 66 awards for their sauce, the Woman said, "No one makes sauce like my mom," and with that the challenge was on! It was after trying their hottest recipe and passing out for a short time, the woman came-to and pronounced, "This white boy knows how to make hot sauce"!

Note: If one day you see a huge hearse, emblazoned with flames rolling into your neighbourhood, take comfort in the fact that the coffin inside is ushering in hot sauce using their rolling billboard, and not the end of days!


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN