A veteran photojournalist on the Toronto arts and entertainment scene, Julian Bynoe is a Toronto-based cartoonist, artist and arts blogger. From 1996 to 2014, he was the arts/entertainment editor for the street publication The Outreach Connection, and has had articles featured in Realms Magazine, among others.

EDITION #46 - WEEK OF JUNE 8-14, 2015

Dad, My First Art Teacher

A Tribute

This past May, my father Charles Bynoe after a long battle with congestive heart failure, succumbed to his illness that he fought so long and hard against, which seems almost hard for me to believe considering how huge his heart really was. In the 79 years that he lived, he had seen and done more than probably most people could ever achieve, including myself.

Dad was mostly a sports guy, but he was also a cultivated man who loved music – he actually played bongos for a band in England in his younger days at a London strip joint that he failed to point out to me in a photograph, much to his embarrassment (and would learn about many years later), when I accidentally discovered it in my teens and thought would never see again until his funeral service – as well as literature (like me, he loved to read), dance, visual arts, cinema and theatre of all stripes and never discouraged me from discovering all of these things. In fact, you could say that Dad was my first art teacher who turned me onto this world and allowed me to become the artist that I am now.

Whenever we visited London, Dad would take me to see shows at the West End as a child and even now, I make it a point to see at least one during my visits there whenever I can. And whatever musical or big act rolled into Calgary when I was living there with Dad, we would go see it. I remember seeing acts like Wynton Marsalis and Ray Charles as my formal introductions to jazz, and even comedic great Joan Rivers at the Jubilee Auditorium one summer (and centre front row seats!).

About nine years ago, I dropped into Calgary for a surprise short visit coming in from Las Vegas after a working vacation there reviewing the number of Cirque du Soleil shows that were there at the time and one of them was their Beatles show LOVE, which was one of Dad’s favourite bands. I was telling him about this particular part near the show’s end where they’re playing “Hey, Jude” and a woman next to me was in tears watching it, all caught up in the moment. And at that point, Dad said this nugget of wisdom to me that still blows my mind to this day: “If it doesn’t move you, it’s not theatre.”

As sad as the thought of never being able to see, tightly embrace him in my arms again (he was a huge hugger) or hear his warm, gruff voice again that was strained by a bout of meningitis and strep pneumonia he contracted 15 years ago that almost killed him at that time, but only robbed him of his hearing permanently and had to wear a cochlear hearing implant in the end, Dad doesn’t really feel gone to me. Not a day goes by since I moved back to Toronto after art college that I don’t think about him and what he taught me about art appreciation. Hell, he’s still teaching me stuff I don’t know about (yet), including when to take criticism and how to develop a thicker hide for it. Of all the art instructors I’ve had, Dad taught me the most and still is the best.

Thanks, Dad, for everything.

Bringing the Americas Onstage

Playwrights and major acts come for the Pan Am Games arts component PANAMANIA

Left-right: Canadian dramaturge Robert Lepage’s onstage memoir 887, American hip-hop band The Roots and MIX by Brazil's Deborah Colker make up part of the Pan-Am/Parapan Games’ 35-day arts showcase, PANAMANIA starting in July.

Arts Preview

For those who look for a respite from all the sports of the upcoming Toronto Pan Am/Parapan Am Games next month there is the artisan counterpart, PANAMANIA, making a unprecedented month and five-day long marathon of music, dance, theatre and much more through free and ticketed events with over 1,300 artists in 250 performances and exhibitions during both the games’ run July 10 to August 15.

“The Games will be an once-in-a-lifetime experience, unlike anything this city has ever seen,” said Games CEO Saäd Rafi, who also held the portfolio for the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Community Safety as Deputy Minister. “Not only are we going to have some of the best athletes in the world compete in our backyard, we’re going to have 35 days of music, arts and culture that will inspire us and bring the city to life.”

The central hub for PANAMANIA lies within City Hall’s Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen Street West) that will not only have the daily live games coverage and nightly award ceremony platform broadcast from there, it will also have a place of nightly concerts and entertainment complete with nightly fireworks and a special July 10 broadcast of the Pan Am Opening Ceremony as created by Cirque du Soleil and Parapan Am Closing Ceremony on August 15.

Ontario Minister of State (Sport) Bal Gosal adds to the enthusiasm of PANAMANIA’s presence to the city and province. “Diversity is one of Canada’s greatest strengths and our future depends on growing together through our shared values and institutions. The $1.4 million investment (the Ontario) Government has made in PANAMANIA Live @ Nathan Phillips Square provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the vibrant heritage of our diverse regions and cultural communities while celebrating the Games.”

Several acts coming to PANAMANIA Live range from many musical genres like local rising jazz group The Heavyweights Brass Band (July 11), Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (July 24), legendary jazz fusion group Manteca (July 13), CanCon offerings Jann Arden (August 11), Joel Plaskett Emergency (July 14), Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq (August 8) and First Nations hip-hop rockers A Tribe Called Red (August 12), world music icons Kassav’ (July 15), Roy Cape All-Stars (July 16) and Sérgio Mendes (July 26) and conscious hip-hop neosoul heroes The Roots (August 8) in free concerts running between noontime (12-2 p.m.), evenings (6-11 p.m.) and weekends (12:30-11 p.m.).

Continuing with the music is at the Pan Am Park at Exhibition Place (200 Princes’ Boulevard), while connecting to venues hosting the beach volleyball, indoor volleyball, rugby and gymnastics events; will be Juan de Marcos & Afro Cuban All Stars and bluesman Colin James (both July 17), electropop queen Lights (July 20), Afrobeat rebels Antibalas (July 22), alt-dance duo USS (July 11) to East Coast folk group The Barra MacNeils (July 25).

Some special music events coming to Koerner Hall (273 Bloor Street West) include Panamanian jazz pianist star Danilo Pérez presenting a commissioned work, “Jazz of the Americas”, with the PANAMANIA Lula Big Band featuring his trio members John Patitucci and Brian Blade, Pedrito Martinez, Miguel Zenón, Canada’s Jane Bunnett and students from the esteemed Berklee Global Jazz Institute on July 22; the pan-continental YOA Orchestra of the Americas (July 21) and at the Distillery District’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Lane) has the quintet Yaíma Sáez y su grupo from Cuba on July 16.

Theatre has a place with several world premieres including the Jules Verne classic Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea July 11 to 14 and NIÁGARA – A Pan-American Story, based on the true story behind Cuban poet José Maria Heredia’s immortal work NIÁGARA (July 23-26), both at Regent Park’s Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas Street East); the alternative historical revision of Chilean leader Salvador Allende’s showdown against Pinochet’s coup with social media for La Imaginación del futuro making its North American premiere July 12 to 15 at Young Centre; the solo physical theatre of LEO July 17 to 19 and epic novel-poem adaptation of David Rakoff’s Love, Dishonour, Marry, Die, Cherish and Perish (July 16), both at Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queen’s Quay West) to Robert Lepage’s autobiographical 887, directed and performed by Lepage himself at the St. Lawrence Centre (27 Front Street East) July 14 to 18.

Also performing will be David Ferry and Lawrence Dean Ifill’s The Postman, telling of Toronto’s first African-Canadian letter carrier and former slave Albert Jackson July 12 and 14 to 18 at Harbord Street/Albert Jackson Lane, as summed up by co-writer/artistic director Ferry: “Being commissioned to create the site specific theatre piece The Postman for PANAMANIA has truly enriched my experience as a Toronto artist. Our unique ‘promenade’ performance piece on neighbourhood porches during this superb 35-day…festival celebrating the life of Albert Jackson, Toronto’s first black postman, is just one of many celebrations of the diverse cultures and artistic excellence that will provide ‘special delivery’ during the games,” he punned.

Filling out the roster of PANAMANIA comes the Québécois lumberjack circus Timber! July 23 to 25 at Fleck Dance Theatre; dance productions from the National Ballet of Canada’s The connected Creation of creative Connections July 15 at Betty Oliphant Theatre (404 Jarvis Street), modern Cuban dance troupe DanzAbierta’s Showroom at Fleck Dance Theatre (July 11-13), urban street dance crews b-boying for Battle for the North at the Young Centre (July 21-23) to celebrated Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker new production MIX (August 7-8) at St. Lawrence Centre and the visual arts all around town with the eco-photo essay collective Water’s Edge at Union Station and Pearson International Airport on water issues July 10 to August 15; the multimedia sail-by salute exhibit Watercolour July 12 and 19 at Sugar Beach (Lower Jarvis Street/Queen’s Quay East) to a contemporary First Nations artwork showcase InterNations/InterSections during Harbourfront’s Planet IndigenUS 2015 festival at the Aboriginal Pavilion at Fort York National Historic Site(250 Fort York Boulevard) July 13 to August 9.

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Ticketed events now on sale. For information, visit toronto2015.org/panamania.