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Pillars of the (Regent Park) Community
Design by Christine Mangosing

Where some people saw a structural element, graphic designer Christine Mangosing saw a way to bring a little bit of Regent Park flavour into the lobby of the Daniels Spectrum.

The three pillars inside Daniels Spectrum’s east-facing floor-to-ceiling glass windows had gone unadorned since the building opened, and staff had long seen them as an opportunity in waiting—a blank canvas that could be used to make the lobby feel warmer and more welcoming, and encourage passersby to pop in and enjoy the space.

“We wanted to represent the diversity of Regent Park in a way that would also complement the many ways the space is used, from community events to special events,” said Seema Jethalal, Managing Director of Daniels Spectrum.

Christine Mangosing, principal creative and founder of CMANGO DESIGN, was selected to lead the project. She had worked previously with several members of Daniels Spectrum’s community including the Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture, ArtReach Toronto, and Manifesto, and is deeply engaged with the youth non-profit arts and culture community in Toronto.

Mangosing toured the Regent Park area to get a sense of the public spaces and diverse groups that make up the fabric of the community, and to learn about the invisible history – the places that aren’t physically there any more but live on in the community memory. A community consultation was also held where community members and representatives of the organizations in the building engaged with the designer, chatting about Regent Park’s past and present and looking at fabrics, patterns and murals from around the world for inspiration.

“There was a sense among everyone present that they wanted to make sure the people in the community were represented in where they came from, and a strong desire for that diversity be reflected in the design,” Mangosing explained.

The result is a vibrant piece titled Tela, a digital illustration on vinyl that wraps around each pillar. Mangosing’s full artist statement, describing the fascinating array of cultural and visual allusions in the design, is included below. The designer says she’s thrilled with the result, and that the positive response she’s gotten from people who participated in the community consultation has left her with a strong sense of satisfaction about the project.

According to Jethalal, since Tela was installed on March 2nd  the refreshed pillars have been met with enthusiasm and delight by the building’s tenants and community members alike. “When they first see the pillars, people love them aesthetically. And when they learn the stories behind each element of the design, it adds a whole new layer of meaning, and their reaction goes through the roof!”

Tela, 2015

Digital illustration on vinyl
Christine Mangosing (CMango Designs)

Woven textiles in many cultures serve as markers of identity, lineage, and environment, among others. Similarly, totem poles, for the First Nations of the Pacific Northwest, are commemorative monuments of history, ancestry and people. With these cultural objects, along with sentiments on the spirit of the “old” Regent Park (shared by residents of the neighbourhood and tenants of Daniels Spectrum) as inspiration, my goal was to interpret a visual “fabric” of the community— as an homage to its people and its past, and a reminder to visitors and new residents of what came before.

Nestled within a grid structure modeled after the map of Regent Park (from Gerard to Queen, Parliament to River), motifs inspired by traditional textiles, beadwork and architectural details native to the cultures from which past and current residents hail, intersect with lines and symbols representing elements of the area’s landscape and original architecture. Shapes recalling the grillwork in an Islamic Indian temple and the geometric forms of West African mud cloth sit alongside lines depicting the rows of bricks and windows in a Regent Park high-rise. Embroidery from a Bangladeshi quilt evokes the chain link fences bordering the ice rinks and basketball courts that served as social meeting points for the youth of the community. Rows of tiny “shells” inspired by Anishinaabek wampum belts, form the shapes of the iconic “dog-bones” and “barbells” of the low-rise buildings seen from above, while stylized flowers inspired by a Vietnamese floral motif reference the neighbourhood’s community gardens and the numerous trees that had once populated the “garden city.”

In the same way that traditional textiles tell the story of their makers’ surroundings, these familiar elements, abstracted and intertwined, aim to serve as a reflection of spaces once inhabited and honour the stories embedded within them.

Check Our Incredible Black History Month Exhibition

You are invited to experience Black History Month at Daniels Spectrum with a group art exhibition that explores past, present and future narratives of black consciousness in the African Diaspora through painting, photography, graphic arts, sculptures, audio and video works. We’re excited to present the show Through Generations for the month of February, featuring five local contemporary artists: Ato Seitu, Ella Cooper, Georgia Fullerton, Komi Olaf, and Mark “Kurupt” Stoddart. It also includes a collaborative display by the ZimArt’s Rice Lake Gallery and Zimbuktu Sculptures – Public Art Consultants, and a special installation brought to you by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Introducing…

A Jean-Michel Basquiat interactive installation, brought to you by the Art Gallery of Ontario and Daniels Spectrum.  One of the most acclaimed artists of our time, Basquiat was born in Brooklyn New York in 1960 to a Haitian father and mother of Puerto Rican descent.

Explore his art.  Create your own Basquiat inspired art card and become part of a city-wide art project – Now’s the Time for Basquiat.

Don’t miss our free opening reception on Wednesday, February 4 from 7 to 11 PM.

For exhibition open times, check our Hallway Galleries page.

Introducing our Interim Curator

Ashley McKenzie-Barnes is our new Interim Curator at Daniels Spectrum, and we’d like to offer her a warm welcome!

Ashley comes to us from The Remix Project as the Creative Arts Program Leader, and Manifesto as the Visual Art Director for the annual Manifesto Festival of Community & Culture. She’s also a practiced graphic designer with tons of experience under her belt. But her portfolio doesn’t stop there; she’s also a volunteer director of CARFAC (Canadian Artists Representation).

Ashley will be working part-time at Daniels Spectrum for the next few months, focusing her efforts on the upcoming Black History Month exhibition (save the date: opening night is Feb 4!), the Feminist Art Conference exhibit and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Meet Benjamin Jovero: Janitor by Trade, Artist by Passion
jovero_3

Exhibition at Daniels Spectrum, Project 2ron2, runs Dec 15 – Jan 25

On first glance, Benjamin Jovero’s sketches appear to be an ode to celebrity – deftly capturing the features and expressions of stars such as John Lennon and Bob Marley, but as I wandered through the gallery considering his selection of subjects, a theme became apparent. Each person portrayed in Jovero’s work has spoken out against poverty or for the environment, or has shown support for the arts or the LGBTQ community. These are Jovero’s “seraphs”.

Despite what many would consider a life of hardship, Jovero’s message could only be described as one of hope. He finds his inspiration from those who make a difference, who lend their voice and their celebrity to help the many causes that are dear to his heart. They aren’t all famous in the traditional sense, but to Jovero they are all stars. Among the portrayals of Jovero’s “angels of the highest order,” you’ll see Bono alongside the leaders at the Christian Resource Centre (CRC) and David Suzuki along with past resident of the Toronto Arts Council, Karen Tisch.

Sketches by Benjamin Jovero whose exhibition, Project 2ron2, runs Dec 15 – Jan 25

Jovero touched down in Toronto in 2008 after a decade in New York City and a life-time away from his roots in the Philippines. He found his home in Regent Park getting by as a janitor and later finding a home at 40 Oaks, an innovative affordable housing project of the CRC.

His custodial work provides materials and sometimes inspiration for his art. The second part of his exhibition is a kaleidoscope of colours and juxtaposed images on canvases of reclaimed particle board from the backs of disposed office furniture. The paintings, which represent his feelings about his background in the revolutionary movement in the Philippines, depict shadows of guns overlaid with Jovero’s symbols of peace, the emblems of the Red Cross, maple leaves and the oak leaf of the CRC.

He certainly has embraced his new identity as a Canadian. He speaks passionately about his local heroes and as I peruse the raw artwork he plays me ethereal Aboriginal music on a hand-made flute.

Jovero playing Aboriginal music on his hand-made flute.

When asked what his hopes are for this exhibition, Jovero says he would love for those depicted to come and see their own portraits. “They help (the arts and community), that’s the bottom line,” he says, “and for that I salute them.”

This is Jovero’s first exhibition. It will be free and open to the public at Daniels Spectrum in the 2nd floor Hallway Galleries from Dec. 15 – Jan 25.

Visit danielsspectrum.ca/hallway-galleries for hours and to learn about other upcoming exhibitions

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