Monday, March 14, 2011

In the Soil

What’s in the soil downtown this April; an arts festival that will delight and inspire you. In the Soil, Niagara’s Homegrown Arts Festival is rounding the corner on its third year.
Developed in 2008, the festival was created in the idea and realization of all the terrific talent in downtown St. Catharines and throughout the Niagara Region. Four vibrant members of the arts community founded the festival and put out the call to artists; you must have a tie to the Niagara Region and create original works to contribute.
April 27 to May 1 you can check out this years line-up of talent showcased throughout downtown at various locations.
Get down and dirty In the Soil the last weekend in April.

It's BIG Time

Suitcase In Point-local Theatre Company takes a spoof on The Oscars and hosts The 45th Annual Big Time World Theatre Awards. Suitcase In Point is taking us back to 1957 with this year’s theme including a hip after hop party. The fundraiser supports the company's annual production each fall.
Headquartered in downtown St. Catharines Suitcase In Point's official space, "The Harris" is located on St. Paul Street downtown. The collective was formed in 2001 and comprised of Theatre students from Brock University along with a few enthusiastic artists from downtown.
The Big Time Awards starts at 7 with a red carpet pre-show; then full awards ceremony (where they announce their fall production), a silent auction and is catered by The Office Tap and Grill. The Big Time is held at Robertson Hall behind the Folk Arts Centre on Church St. downtown. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for artists and students. This event will rock your socks! You'll laugh, you'll eat and you'll dance the night away.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pan Cafe

The Classic- you chose from either scrambled or poached eggs, served on De La Terre Bread (artisan baked and made with only the finest of ingredients), along with that comes Lake Land Meats peameal bacon and if you’re me you order a side of avocado and fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Yum!
Owned and operated by Alex Hlinyanszky, a self-determined young woman who, after cofounding Suit Case In Point Theatre Company, decided to open the much needed breakfast spot that was for more than just nursing a hangover but nursing the soul.
Alex changes her menu with the seasons and features whatever she finds fabulous at the local market.
Pan believes in serving food that is natural; and that means that all her produce is local and/or organic, meat and dairy is drug-free, hormone free and grain-fed. All that comes from her kitchen is made from scratch.
Stop in for breakfast or lunch and be sure to fall in love with this charming spot downtown.

To Market

On any Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday of the month you can come downtown and visit the Farmers Market.
Market shopping is the best kind of shopping, it is an incredible way to eat fresh and smart. It is also a terrific way of supporting your local community and ensuring that the quality of your produce, meats and cheeses are top notch.
The ability to communicate with the growers and vendors is my favorite part of the market. It adds a character element to the experience, you get to know farmers and vendors by name and develop relationships with them; this makes supporting those locally even more important.
Over the years the market has expanded to include, bakery fresh breads, fresh cut and potted flowers, local honey, seafood, meats, beef and ethnic food selections, truly appealing to all the eclectic tastes that make up our community.

Market Hours:
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday 6 am to 3 pm.
The market is open year-round.
Market Square, 91 King St., on the corner of King and James streets


Niagara Artists Centre (NAC) is more than just an art gallery - in fact staff at this funky art spot in downtown call it your friendly artist run centre.
Managed by the charismatic artist Stephen Remus and staff, NAC is one of only a handful artist run centres in Canada. NAC works to distinguish Niagara through contemporary visual art.
As a grass-roots organization they develop and promote regional artists. NAC has 296 members and a twelve-member board of directors, comprised of a majority of working artists, elected annually at a general meeting.
The Show Room Gallery gives artists a place to present their work. NAC regularly shows films and hosts lectures and community gatherings.
It's most notable community event is STRUTT and has grown to become Canada's largest wearable art show with over 1000 guests at this year's event.
I have been fortunate enough to be involved in STRUTT over the last few years. As a volunteer and as an artist participant in the event, myself and two others created wearable art piece made out of purple cabbage that was chosen as one of the winning pieces in the 2008 event.
You will definitely want to be in the loop on what happens at the NAC, it's always different and always fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Out of the Past

Nag Champa incense is burning in the soil of a small, potted ponytail palm next to me. Instantly the smell triggers thoughts of Out of the Past, one of my favourite places downtown. Out of the Past was first opened in 1983 by Tammy Ziegler and is now co-owned with Lizz Yakovich. The store is known for pumping out unique vintage clothing, accessories, shoes, records and my preferred choice of incense.
Two years ago this July, Out of the Past and two other stores (one empty and the other occupied by Liberty Bicycles) suffered devastating effects of a fire that forced them from their St. Paul Street homes.
I remember being downtown the morning of the fire and feeling an overwhelming sense of disappointment and loss for the owners, employees and patrons of these affected businesses.
In May of 2010, less than a year later, Tammy and Lizz opened their new doors at 340 St. Paul Street. The trademark vintage clothing store was re-born Out of the Past.
Passing the store this weekend I was tempted by a sign urging me to come in and shop. So I did. Inside, loud indie rock played as I sifted through vibrant wool sweaters, old silver rings and wonderfully worn leather coats. If you like different, I suggest stopping in for a visit. They are kind and helpful or will ignore you if you prefer. Clothes and accessories are reasonably priced and unlike most things you will find in a typical retail store.
Number of Items Purchased: 4
Items Purchased: Brown suede clutch, silver saucer ring, fluorescent yellow leg warmers, 2 boxes of incense
Cost of Items Purchased: $29.74

One happy downtown shopper

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The City's Lights

Last Wednesday evening I set out to the snowy streets of downtown St. Paul Street. On my way, I started to think about how relationships develop between people simply because they are part of the scenery in downtown. We see one another on our way to destinations unknown, we smile or wave and there it happens.
That is how I came to know Sue Ann Chmay and Steve Smith. Together, the two own City Lights Restaurant and Lounge and since opening their doors just over a year ago have settled into their restaurant quite nicely. 
Inside, the long narrow space is lined with tall booths, cushioned benches and warm low lighting. On that evening the atmosphere was coupled with the acoustic sounds of grass roots, folk and rock. Local singer songwriters Jesse T. Reid and Bryson Waind were kicking off their Ontario tour, “The Bruce and the Shield.” 
Jesse and Bryson are individual artists who frequent downtown’s performance roster. Bryson has released two albums; his most recent titled 2009 Grape Country and Jesse has released his third, Dumb as Chance. 
The two artists differ in musical style but share a similar vision that will take them to the wintry February roads.
Musicians, songwriters and those crafting original work draw a refreshing alternative to the sometimes-redundant cover band and painful spins of top 40. I say, let’s pay more thought to these flavourful performers.