JPP Paper Sample Wall

Nancy Jacobi is an extraordinary woman. She is the kind of person that when you meet once you wish to remain in the company of for forever. She is understanding, intelligent, insightful and passionate; liberally offering words of encouragement to those who meet her. In some ways, she is familiar, like an old friend is familiar. There is a kind of ease about Nancy, that is more kind than modest, poetic, but also practical, and overall, genuinely, authentic. Nancy brought all things Japanese to Toronto, and then the world. She is the founder of The Japanese Paper Place. Read more

JPP Sign

A couple of years ago, I noticed a popular paper shop in Toronto, The Japanese Paper Place, with a new sign out front, The Paper Place. Curious, I walked into the shop, not only finding an old acquaintance of mine working in the shop, but also co-owner of the revamped store. As it turned out, Nancy Jacobi, owner and founder of The Japanese Paper Place, set shop as a supplier and resource for artists in her Brock Avenue offices, and sold her existing Queen West retail business to her senior managers, Kevin Anderson and Heather Sauer.

Fascinated with the new storefront, the new business and the new guard (or guards, in this case) I probed further as to what future Nancy envisioned for her original business, mission and creative goals, as she left one pursuit for another. What I found was a remarkable story about a person who believed that anything was possible, that artists were essential in creating a community, and the art the artists created was part of building a thriving, world-class city.

Originally, I had written this article for the Devil’s Artisan. Unfortunately however, I somehow managed to mix-up my writing deadline and missed my window for the editorial lineup. (To this day, I feel awful about that!)

Although this profile remains as a draft, and the information is suspect to fact-checking and an update (The Japanese Paper Place has celebrated a few more birthday since its twenty-fifth year in business) I’m including my findings below, in parts, for two reasons. First, I feel Nancy’s lifework and contribution to the arts, worldwide, should have an audience (one that extends beyond my hard drive). Second, for anyone struggling with a dream or where to start, I want to emphasize the importance of the extraordinary possibility of an idea–no matter how unusual (original!) or arbitrary (opportunity!) it may be, since it is usually that very auspicious thought that’s one for the books! Read more

Trudy Gertrude Kearns

Last week I was going through one of my scrap books for a bit of inspiration when I noticed towards the end of the book, a postcard, wedged between two pages where the book had remained blank. The postcard was a portrait of John Bentley Mays by Gertrude Kearns; an invitation to her solo show, United States of Being (the John Bentley Mays portraits) at Lehmann Leskiw Fine Art, Toronto. The show ran for about a three weeks in 2005. Unfortunately, I never made it. (I think I had picked up the card on one of my Queen West gallery walks, made a note to go, and then never got around to it.) In hindsight however, I think that was a good thing. Read more

Cupcake Dance

Another resto review for your reading pleasure. Dig in!

Wanda’s In the Kitchen With Dinah | 1057 Mt. Pleasant Road | 416 483-0399 | M–Sa 10–7, Su 11–6

Ladies who Lunch kept a mental note to shop Wanda with Di when they happened to notice it on a drive in the city. The food and catering shop is nestled within a residential area, slightly out of the way from the shops and services down the road. The outdoor whimsical coloured sign, partially covered by overgrown branches, was the tip-off that this was more than some junk-dressed-up-as-collectibles store. Then again, with that kind of entrance, one can’t be too sure. After a failed attempt at acquiring some new duds (alas, the shopping gods were nowhere to be found) Ladies went out of their way to sample edibles from two well-loved ladies who do lunch and everything in between, Wanda Beaver and Dinah Koo, of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky and Dinah’s Cupboard fame. Read more

Karen Norberg Brain

I’m sorry, but if this isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is. Genius!

The Fiery Furnaces

So in the last while I’ve been noticing something entirely unusual. Man lit. (More trademarking!) Lots of it. In reprints and on its way to a bookstore near you. Peculiar.

Humour me.

Average Joe writes a blog about average day as being a father. Average Joe’s day includes, among other things, hockey, young son, and “hot wife.” Average Joe’s writing of average day gets noticed by more-than-average publisher. Before you know it, Average Joe blogs about tentative titles for his life-as-a-father story as beyond-average book deal is in the works. Average Joe settles on Rage Against the Meshuganah as the book’s final title.

Average Jane is flummoxed.

Again. Read more

Pride Playbill

I wrote the following article last year, after a spectacle I witnessed, really betrayed me on how I felt about Gay Pride. I thought to submit the article for the back essay section of Jane, only to find out, that the mag was holding out for two more (already galleyed) issues before folding.

On a whim, I did submit it to the Facts and Arguments Essay back-page of The Globe and Mail realizing the point of view I took in my writing was more political than personal and therefore highly unlikely to be picked. So, like other posts published previously (and many others to follow that have been written but have yet to encounter an audience) I’m including it here for your review. I know there’s a lot of grammar issues, and I’m sure it could use much massaging and tightening up, but the subject matter to me is so pressing, that I feel, for now, a polished draft will have to suffice. (The writer thanks you for your patience.)

And so, without further ado.

Every year, across the continent, Gay Pride is celebrated. Every year, major cities become flooded with people ready to wave, raise and salute to the Pride rainbow banner. And every year, on the day of the Pride Parade, I stay at home. Read more

Purple bags delish

Lately, for no apparent reason, I’ve been feeling down. Nothing is really wrong; I just can’t seem to escape the dark cloud I’m under. (Truthfully, I think I’m coming down from a big adrenaline kick in trying to deal with too much all at once.) All I know is, it feels like I’m having a delayed February reaction in the middle of summer and that just doesn’t seem right.

Believe it or not, colour is usually what cures it for me. Actually, I think that’s why I can’t handle the grey of overcast days (even though it’s the BEST for taking photographs). I think it’s because grey skies tint the landscape into a dullness where life once was; buried, blanketed, and bed-ridden. (B.C., are you reading this?) Just a little bit of poppy pink, flecked-hosta green, and candy-orange tiger lily are the exact things that perk me up when I’m down and dumpy, rabbit hole and all, and what feels like light years away (and then too close) to planet earth, the hearth, and all of it.

Since the weather has been acting funny in them these parts, the summer blooms have been coming and going at an alarming rate, rarely in sync with other flora, and so the palette I’m hunting for hasn’t really happened as expected. I’ve been cheating however. I’ve been spending time at Sephora ogling at all the pretty eye shadows set in sleek, black display cases. I’ve been zig-zagging my way through the accessories section at H+M and looking at what hit of “pop” can make the old feel new again. Oh, and I’ve been hanging around Williams-Sonoma; looking at the Emile Henry sets that are on sale, patting down orange-and-green striped dish towels, reading the ingredients on the back of the Sprinkles pre-made cupcake mix containers, and foolishly bringing up scented liquid soaps–completely sealed in plastic containers–right up to my nose, thinking that I’ll get a whiff of Meyer lemon and lavender amazingness if I just inhale hard enough.

So, I’ve been shopping, but on a leash. I call it RRT: Restricted Retail Therapy. (I’m trademarking that too!)

Sounds so medical doesn’t it! That’s because it is! Read more