The Emerging Retro Future Art Movement in Toronto

One thing about being the Ancestry Guru on WordPress is how it leaves me perfectly positioned to comment on the emergence of a Retro Future art movement on the internet.  Anyone who uses Twitter and subscribes to artists’ feeds is probably aware of how big the hashtag has become… And it just seems to be getting more and more popular in that medium.  Do you know what Retro Future even means?  Its art that depicts yesterday’s vision of tomorrow.  Clicking #retrofuture on Twitter will transport users to a thought-sphere of Retro Future art.

OPEN CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS at Galleries in Toronto.  Retro Future is red hot right now,

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Hashtag Gallery at 801 Dundas St W in Toronto is hosting a Retro Future Art Show scheduled to start at 7pm on Thursday July 3rd 2014.   Artists are invited to submit work in this theme that they wish to sell.  No painting will be sold for more than $300 – with the single exception being the Best in Show, which is the name of the game.  The show is curated by Graeme Luey, and seeks golden age sci fi glimpses of yesterday’s perception of the future.  There’s also particular quest to find a piece that will ideologically ennoble a cozy meeting room inside a boutique advertising agency in a historic part of the city.

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This piece above is from Toronto artist Ruth Wilgress and celebrates her vision of the future.

Retro Future is an emerging term used to applaud the more technologically primitive artist of the past’s vision of the future.  And it celebrates highly stylized art over accurate predictions.  The Jetsons would indeed be considered Retro Future, although probably the most pedestrian example of what are so many brilliant examples found on Twiiter or Flickr or PhotoBucket these days, or by doing a Google Image Search for Retro Future Art.

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green living blog

Green Living Blog TV Show in Toronto

Yesterday I donated 336 Glass Jars to the Bleecker Welselley Activity Network for their upcoming cooking classes. You can read more about my Earth Day charity action on the advice of my green living blog friend on Smojoe
336 glass jars donated to the Bleecker Welselley Activity network for senior citizens
Dog appIn other news, Urban Dog fitness spa / interview with Susan Rupert the owner of this amazing business is profiled on The Distillery District blog which showcases the use of modern technology including close circuit televisions so dog owners can watch their pet exercising with other dog remotely, to improve the quality of life for pets and owners and create jobs and happiness. The dog app was featured on Mashable.

Its a cool story all around and fits nicely beside the iPhone dog app innovation to allow dog owners to get together to walk their dogs and share their neighbourhood parks and scenic streets and maybe there is safety in numbers

The Urban Dog profile story got a lot of attention on the Distillery Facebook page.

coffee table made form recycled hardwood pallet

Toronto green TV blogger Nikki Fotheringham writes a green living blog in which she often demonstrates that green solutions can be aesthetically pleasing as well as environmentally sustainable.  and in many cases success depends on a third criteria which is whether or not the green option being showcased is economically viable as a market alternative.

I have begun crowd sourcing ideas for another TV show – green house

Earlier today I asked for ideas and pictures and ideas for recycled industrial material as household furniture items. I asked about green living on University Network, and i asked about green living furniture ideas on Red Flag Deals which i expect will get lots of attention. And i asked about green living blog on Canadian Content discussion forum and its got some feedback already.

Canadian Harvest – an Age-Old Tradition

Harvest time has always been a big deal in North America; take for example this popular song called “Shine on Harvest Moon”. Recorded over a hundred years ago in 1906, this song is still relevant to harvest season: “Snow time ain’t no time to stay outdoors and spoon,” are some of the lyrics… I wonder if “spoon” meant something different back then?
I’d thought the first day of autumn was today but it turns out it’s still summer…go figure, just when I’d gotten used to it. Anyway, in honour of autumn starting up in two days on September 23, Lenzr has just put out a great new photo contest!

Canadian Harvest Photo Contest on Lenzr

Lenzr wants to see imagery of the Canadian Harvest–show us what’s growing in Canada before the frost. Pumpkins, apples, gourds and squash, wild blueberries… Harvest is a happy time because of the plentiful crops, but it’s also a little anxious because it’s the last food of the season. Try to capture these emotions and more in your photograph and you could win a great prize!

The prize is $400 in cash + a photo licensing agreement with the contest’s sponsor, a brand personality consultant who wants to license your winning photograph to her website.

This contest started September 1, 2011. Voting begins October 15, after which the  top ten  user-ranked photos advance to the sponsor for judging. The winning photograph will be announced on November 1, 2011.

Metal World Photo Contest on Lenzr

Can you think of any cities made entirely of metal? No? That’s because there aren’t any…yet. This new Lenzr contest, Metal World, is asking for submissions depicting a futuristic-looking setting made entirely of metal. A black-and-white setting on your camera might lend  a formidable ambiance to your photograph–make it cold and impersonal!

The prize is a Sony Laptop with a very unique skin, courtesy of this contest’s sponsor, an Ottawa metal roofing company.

This contest started on September 1, 2011, Voting starts October 15, after which the top ten user-ranked photos advance to the Lenzr judges. The winning photograph will be announced on November 1, 2011.

Landscaping and Lawn Care Photo Contest

This is an interesting time of year because September and early October contain the best of two seasons–summer and fall. The new Landscaping and Lawn Care photo contest on Lenzr is looking for submissions from late September–show the judges gardens in their zenith–flowers reaching up to catch the last rays of the summer sun.

The prize for this contest is $250 in eco-friendly garden tools, courtesy of an 100% emissions free property maintenance company.

This contest started on September 1, 2011. Voting starts on October 15, after which the top ten user-ranked photos advance to the Lenzr judges. The winning photograph will be announced on November 1, 2011.

Lenzr.com: New Look, New Contests

Lenzr.com has been quietly revolutionizing the concept of online storytelling for the past two years through its serial photo contests. Now, as of June 1, 2011, Lenzr.com has an updated website featuring new technology so compelling it’s possible that photo contests may be the next big thing in terms of online marketing. It’s still essentially the same great site: budding photographers compete with each other, upload photos to the sponsored contests, persuade their friends and family to vote on their work and vie for real prizes whilst participating in a competitive, but also encouraging, photography community.

What the new site offers that the old Lenzr.com never had are ‘Community Contests’. These contests can be set up by anyone (an individual, business or organization) at any time, to show (not tell) the world about a story topic of their choice.

In addition to these exciting new changes, Lenzr.com has just launched four new sponsored contests, for prizes of laptops and digital cameras!

Summer Photo Contests on Lenzr.com

Construction Sights Photo Contest on Lenzr.com

The Construction Sights photo contest is hoping to receive submissions illustrating a necessary summer protocol in the city: Construction. Like the glass analogy, there are two ways of looking at construction sites–positive or negative. On one hand, it’s hot, there’s dust flying around, and your bus has been detoured thanks to another construction delay. On the other hand, roads are being improved, housing is being created and many people are busily employed with construction work. There are two sides to this story–show us how you feel about the Construction Sights in your area and win!

The prize is a Sony laptop, courtesy of this contest’s sponsor, a family-owned Ottawa roofing company.

Best Office Staff Party Photo Contest on Lenzr.com

The Best Office Staff Party is looking to see submissions that juxtapose a stuffy office environment with a rollicking good time. How does your office let loose? Mini cupcakes? Interns working the ‘bar’? Who’s the life of the party–your boss? Show us your hilarious office party moments and don’t forget to include a sentence or two to put the photo in context. Also, while we want to see shots of people having a great time, make sure your co-workers are OK with your entry before submitting it–we are not responsible for any trouble you might cause!

The prize is a Sony laptop, thanks to an incredible IT staffing agency located in downtown Toronto.

The A Counting Exercise photo contest is looking for submissions featuring a repeating visual pattern to be counted. Tap into your inner Count von Count and take a look at the world from an arithmomaniac’s perspective: sure, those may be faces in a crowd, lines on the highway or a handful of pretzel sticks, but they’re counting exercises, too! Get creative with this one–this contest has received a lot of entries already featuring many amusing counting exercises. Show your never-ending profile in a three-way mirror, the Lego pieces your kids left all over the floor or a parking lot full of bicycles in a progressive European country–give the Lenzr judges something to count and you could win!

The prize is a Sony laptop, courtesy of this contest’s sponsor, a team of North York accountants.

Finally, the Shafts of Sunlight photo contest is looking to see tangible lines of natural sunlight in the submissions. There is somethiShafts of Sunlight Photo Contest on Lenzr.comng divine about the way light can take on the appearance of matter–observe in the picture to the right–these shafts of sunlight look almost like monkey bars sent down from the heavens. Try to capture a similar effect in your photo. This is the most specific contest; the rules state very clearly that shafts of sunlight, not other light tricks, are the desired outcome. Snap the most spectacular shaft of sunlight and you may win!

The prize is a Sony Cyber-Shot digital camera, courtesy of the contest’s sponsor, fittingly, a sunrooms installer.

2011 Antique Bottles Show and Sale in Toronto

The history of the industrial age is written in glass. The ‘slug plates’ that make the embossed labels in Canadian whiskey, soda, dairy, liquor and medicine bottles, read like pages in a book.  The names of the merchants and the contents of the vessels are from a simpler time of men and machines.

There is no better place to study this history then at a large bottle show in an urban center. The area’s most valuable glass is on display and the dealers are storytellers with lots of rare and precious knowledge locked up in their heads.

The annual Toronto Bottle Show, was Sunday April 17th 2011.

Dwight Fryer, UK and European poisons at the bottle show

The annual Toronto Bottle Show event is produced by the Four Seasons Bottle Collectors, one of Canada’s oldest and most respected clubs.  On this wet and rainy Sunday afternoon, more than forty antiques dealers tables proffered over 5,000 glass bottles, crocks, jugs, cans, cards, comics and period advertising pieces on tables inside the Humber College gymnasium.

In the picture above you can see Dwight Fryer sitting behind a massive collection of pretty blue and green ‘window bottles’.  These are actually poison bottles and he’s one Canada’s foremost poison bottles experts – almost all of the very pretty cobalt blue and green and amber glass you see here was priced to sell quickly between $30 and $50 each, and Dwight was selling off these gorgeous glass bottles hand over fist. It was a moment in time.

If you study glass bottles you’ll find there’s no better place to see such a huge assembly of everything that’s decent and worthy of display in the antique glass bottle collecting discipline.  Here’s some of the great stuff.torpedo bottles and terry matz on display at 2011 Toronto Bottle Show

These are absolute treasures – look here at the aqua green and cobalt blue torpedo bottles in Terry Matz display case . These are all dated between 1855 -1885 and they are all super rare. The average price for any bottle in that display case is approx $1200.  The guy sitting behind all those pretty torpedo bottles is Terry Matz, and he’s an expert and very passionate storyteller.

Dumpdiggers like Newf have large collections of salt glazed stoneware

salt glazed stoneware 2 gallon jug - merchant J.Steele, Brantford Potterymetal signs at the 2011 Toronto Bottle Show, Ed LockeThere not making anymore of these salt glazed stoneware jugs.

A real sweet spot for buying antique bottles,

Old advertising signs are growing harder to find and more valuable because they look great in modern offices and condominiums. The contrast between the new building and old signs is cool. The white walls need old paper posters, framed glass pictures and painted metal panels , and two or three colour wood or good condition cardboard advertisements. There are a lot of freshly painted white walls in our society that need embellishing with antique signs

People generally bring really rare, one-of-a-kind pieces to the bottle show.

The fellow named Ed Locke, seen in the photo to the right, brought in a Solnhofen Stone printing slab which was used in the early days of lithographic printing – $150 this piece shows an early advertisement for a Brandon Manitoba brewery which is also extremely rare.seen below

Solnhofen stone, lithographic printing, advertism,ent, Brandon, Manitoba, brewery

This is real early lithographic printing technology with a period  advertisement stamped on the surface of the limestone.  The piece stands as a reminder of how far we have come; there is a lot of water under the bridge in the evolution of this platform to the digitally replications done today. Our modern printable coupons have barcodes and expiry dates. To make such a system in the 1800s would mean hand carving a new stone for every coupon issued  Yet there are examples of the world’s first discount media buyers doing exactly that in the early 1900s. This exremely fine limestone block may only be obtained from one quary in Solnhofen Germany.

The history of pop bottles and beer bottles is another fascinating chapter in this Canadian history book. The screw cap is a very recent invention, and today’s most dominant closure method.

H. CHRISTIN stoneware ginger beer bottle, crackled glaze, OttawaThe closure mechanisms slowly evolved from simple corks to cod stoppers and complex ‘gravitating stoppers’, hinged plugs and Charles G. Hutchinson’s five bottle-stopper patents.

Here’s a cream and tan stoneware ginger beer bottle from a proprietor named H. Christin who was a brewer in Ottawa in the 1880s. This vessel was made by Brantford Pottery right here in Ontario, or  ‘Upper Canada’ as it was then known.

This bottle had a cork stopper and from this point forward there would be many different closures vying to be the dominant method. The crown cap became industry standard for this type of beverage in the 1920s.

Sharpen your eyes for cottage kitsch

Cottagers know that Kitcsh is King and the most simple furnishings and colourful trappings look great in cottages. The bottle show has lots of stuff with charm and character like some Mennonite furniture and folk art,

The chemistry of our culture dictates that cottages needs campy collectibles to feel cozy.

Modern muskoka cottage needs kitsch to look more like a cottageThe modern Muskoka cottage suffers from being too sophisticated, clean and culturally void of character

Each new domicile in the Muskoka Lakes needs large amounts of kitsch to look and feel more quaint. So many of the million dollar mansions that border Lake Muskoka are ultra modern constructions. They’re not made of pine or poplar anymore – they’re not timber frame houses at all, but rather insulated concrete forms , steel and glass monstrosities.  They lack the quaint charm of a cottage and often feel too sanitary. They dont have the charm of a family cottage, but rather feel like a house in the suburbs.

Things that look great in new cottages include,  utilitarian items like 1950’s 60s and 70s kitchenware and beer coolers, antique fishing lures, vintage boating equipment, art deco furniture and native crafts. These items find ready buyers in antique markets and in online auctions

I wrote a longer and more detailed account of the 2011 Toronto Bottle Show on Dumpdiggers blog; it’s about ten pages of text with over twenty pictures. The piece profiles 15 of the 35 dealers present at the show.