Between old and new, an artful transition

A neighbourhood’s transformation is never as dramatic as it seems in hindsight, wrote the Toronto Star Oct. 21. It morphs incrementally, often without long-term design. So sleepy, postwar bungalows give way to “monster” homes and towering condos.

It is this transformation, and the anxiety that can go along with it, that a collective of artists and researchers are hoping to explore in The Leona Drive Project, an ambitious contemporary art exhibition using five vacant bungalows on Leona Drive, a residential street a couple of blocks southeast of Yonge and Sheppard. The houses, owned by Hyatt Homes, are slated for demolition next month to make way for eight new homes.

“Willowdale is a space that’s in transition between the old suburb and the new suburb,” says co-curator Janine Marchessault, artist, professor and Canada Research Chair in Art, Digital Media & Globalization in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts. “I think (the project) is a way of engaging with material history that you wouldn’t get if you had just gone to a library or archive.”

The exhibit includes 20 installations, created by dozens of artists in a variety of media, exploring the shift from the traditional Canadian suburb to its modern incarnation. The interactive, sensory pieces – which include a house painted entirely green to resemble a Monopoly game piece, and a washroom decorated with more than 100 shades of red lipstick – blend the quotidian and the absurd in their reimagining of suburban life.

Two graduate students are also producing an archived history of the area to accompany the exhibition.

“History tends to overlook people like developers and builders,” says York graduate student Steven Logan, who has extensively researched the development of the area. “They’re not pioneers like David Gibson (remembered in the Gibson House Museum), so they kind of escape history.”

Logan said he hopes the exhibition and his research show the different layers of suburban life. “You think of the suburb as static but it’s not. It’s part of the process of urbanization.”

“There’s a utopian blueprint there for giving people a sense of community, of hope for the future,” says Marchessault.

Ottawa makes the right moves

The federal government is making all the right moves as it works to set up a single pan-Canadian agency to regulate the securities markets, wrote the Montreal Gazette Oct. 21 in an editorial.

Ottawa plainly believes it has the whip hand legally, since Section 91 of the Constitution Act puts “regulation of trade and commerce” among federal powers, along with defence, currency, the post office, etc. Legal experts agree. “The consensus view among most constitutional scholars is the federal government has the full authority to proceed,” Patrick Monahan, vice-president academic & provost of York University, told The Globe and Mail.

York wins OUA tennis crown in Oshawa

The York University tennis team defeated the University of Waterloo 4-2 in the gold medal match of the Ontario University Athletics men’s tennis championships, hosted by the University of Ontario Institute of Technology at the Campus Tennis Centre, wrote Oct. 20. The win marked York’s eighth overall men’s team title.

“The players on both teams played extremely well (Sunday),” said York head coach Michael Mitchell. “We knew going into the match that Waterloo was a tough opponent but we managed to come out with the win. Our entire team worked hard for this victory.”

On air

  • Irving Abella, history professor in York’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, and Ali Kazimi, film professor in York’s Faculty of Fine Arts, spoke about their research into Canada’s history of dealing with immigrants, on CBC Radio’s “The Current” Oct. 20.
  • Jennifer Hyndman, professor in York’s Centre for Refugee Studies, spoke about Canadian attitudes to the refugee system on CBC Radio’s “The World Today” Oct. 10.
  • Paul Delaney, professor of astronomy and physics in York’s Faculty of Science & Engineering, spoke about the discovery of new planets on CTV News Oct. 20.
  • Jim Gillies and Bill Dimma, professors emeriti in the Schulich School of Business at York University, spoke about pensions and executive compensation on BNN-TV Oct. 20.