Above is my illustration for the current issue of Spacing Magazine, and my third contribution to the publication. The theme of the new issue is about our relationship with urban wildlife from mosquitoes, to white squirrels, to raccoons. The above is an illustration is for an piece by writer, Eva Amsen, titled “Citizen Scientists”. Here’s an excerpt:
Once in a while — more often than anyone would like — the media reports that a species has become endangered or is shifting its habitat. But where does this information come from? Who counts all these plants and animals?
Well, it could be you.
Enthusiastic amateur nature lovers often assist scientists by collecting a vast amount of information about the whereabouts of certain species. Many Torontonians take part in this “citizen science” as it is known, especially in the field of insect study.
Don Davis is one of these citizen scientists. He works for the Children’s Aid Society, but spends his spare time studying the monarch butterfly and attending meetings to exchange information about this species. The monarch butterfly migrates from Ontario and other Northern regions down to Mexico in the fall, and back north in spring. The generation that flies south is not the same as the one that flies north, and yet the butterflies always find their way. To study the flight patterns of the monarch butterfly, volunteers like Davis catch them, tag the wings with a unique code, and release them again.
To read the rest, pick up a copy of the current Spacing Magazine.
Mark down Friday Novemer 20th on your calendar. Myself and 12 other Toronto artists and illustrators will be putting a villain-themed show at Sleeping Giant Gallery. I’ve chosen a cast of eclectic bad guys from some movies that were made before my time. Above is a preview of two of my paintings and my cluttered work environment. To see the rest, plus a collection of work from some damn fine artists, check out the show. It runs from November 20th through to November 27th. You can RSVP on the Facebook event page.
My piece for The Wilding issue #2 curated by Fiona Smyth. She writes:
“Big news: Koyama Press will be publishing the second issue and Anne Koyama took some issues to Quimby’s in Chicago.
I’m going to be contacting NYC’s Printed Matter to carry The Wilding.”
The issue will be out…soon.
The Wilding issue #1
After 35 long, smelly days, it seems that Toronto’s garbage strike may come to a close tonight. Politics aside, it’s a good thing that the summer hasn’t been scortching or this month without waste pickup would have been unbearable. Both unions on strike have reached a tentative agreement with City Hall but the final agreement may not be for a few days. Read about it in the Toronto Star.
In the past month has been frustrating for homeowners, businesses and citizens who have to maneuver through garbage piles near the newly installed waste bins. Torontoist did an interesting documentation of garbage cans across the city and the state of the streets. When the strike began, every garbage bin in the city was sealed with a couple layers of industrial strength plastic wrap with delightful signs informing the bins were out of service and encouraged people not to litter. It makes you wonder how much waste all that plastic and paper will create once removed. Despite the pandemic, the city has managed to get by without being noticeably littered. If the strike did one thing well, it was to help people use less waste. In a poll in Now Magazine (only in print edition) about a third of homeowners adapted to finding ways to reduce the amount of garbage they go through. Others used dump sites at their local parks and recreation centres, and others simply let their trash pile up. If you live in Etobicoke, however, the strike will have barely affected you at all. The West end, west of the Humber River, has been business as usual because trash pickup is carried out by private contractors, not the city. It’s likely some of the same workers who have helped clean up after big public events like the Pride Parade or Afrofest, and have been cashing in by collecting from businesses in the city. Let’s hope the City and Unions strike up a final deal soon so Toronto can clean up its act.
In Toronto, the phrase, “war on the car” has been passed around a fair bit recently. A couple months ago, the city decided to change the composition of Jarvis street, a five lane roadway downtown with a middle lane that alternated direction according to the time of day. The plan is to get rid of the fifth lane, insert two bike lanes and widen the sidewalk. Brewing for quite some time, this was one of the events that brought upon the so-called “war on the car”. What it seems to be is simply right-wing rhetoric aimed to demonize the city’s acts of ‘diminishing’ spaces for cars and expansion of bike lanes and other forms of transit. After all, it was Premier Mike Harris who mothballed the Eglinton subway launched by Bob Rae in the early 90’s. What had been burrowed out for the subway tunnel was even filled back in.
In the past few years we’ve seen a new wave of environmentalism that has brought us green bins, hybrid cars, decreace of plastic bags and bottles, and global warming awareness. It’s only natural that our focus would eventually lead to the automobile, and it has been the subject of criticism many times in the past. We, the privileged nations of the world, have grown up with the car and have had the upmost dependability on it ever since the suburbs were galvanized in the mid-century. It has lead to us defining our cities with the car. After all, our quaint houses in the suburbs sport the garage as an object of prominence, not the house. The car was the golden chariot that took you to school, to work, to the mall. However, downtown and dense urban centres has all of those amenities and more within arms reach. Streetcars, bikes, and subways are alternate forms of transportation and are often more efficient. Yet, cars have always been graciously accomodated. In this age of growing awareness for the environment, it only makes sense that we need to shift our priorities.
Toronto should follow examples from countless other cities who are taking progressive steps to reduce the reliance on cars. Montreal has recently introduced the city-wide bike-share program, Bixi, where anyone can rent a bike from kiosks found all over the city. Even New York city has made significant changes to the urban landscape to make the streets more pedestrian friendly. Surely it wouldn’t hurt Toronto to make their streets more accessible and friendly towards all forms of traffic (foot traffic including). What the city is doing surely isn’t a war. What these righteous, outspoken motorists are really griping about can be compared to silly schoolyard ‘territory’ fights. To make this city better, we need to share the road.
The above illustration is for the upcoming Spacing Magazine on this subject and the conditions and politics behind it. Look for it on news stands in the late summer.
Toronto is currently going into Day 13 of its city-wide garbage strike. The waste bins are overflowing and the streets are littered with trash. The city has resorted to using parks as dump sites, businesses are hiring private garbage collection, but at the same time, there’s a certain peace amidst these desperate times.