Thursday, December 16, 2010

Vintage Clothing + Sparkles + Wine | Bridge + Bardot Sale Tonight!


You know how we at the AFC love our vintage. Well, we love it that much more when it's hand-picked by our (multi-talented) girl Rose Broadbent and the Bridge + Bardot crew. Stop by their vintage clothing sale tonight 6:30 - 9:30 at The New Beat studio at 835 Bloor St. W and pick up something steezy (and green!) to dress up in for the holidays. There will be dresses and purses and sparkly things and some non-sparkly things (like flannels) for the boys. And there will be wine! You also know how we love our wine...

Vintage Clothing + Sparkles + Wine | Bridge + Bardot Sale Tonight!

You know how we at the AFC love our vintage. Well, we love it that much more when it's hand-picked by our (multi-talented) girl Rose Broadbent and the Bridge + Bardot crew. Stop by their vintage clothing sale tonight 6:30 - 9:30 at The New Beat studio at 835 Bloor St. W and pick up something steezy (and green!) to dress up in for the holidays. There will be dresses and purses and sparkly things and some non-sparkly things (like flannels) for the boys. And there will be wine! You also know how we love our wine...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Rob Ford Won But It's Okay | Positive Points in Song Form

We at The About Face Collective would like to extend our thanks (and a stiff drink) to all of you who helped spread the word and who got out to the polls yesterday. We would also like to thank everyone who came out to our After (Vote!) Party last night and the amazing crew at Insomnia for so graciously hosting it.

One member of this crew, our lovely bartender, was kind enough to remind me this morning of a text message I sent in advance of arriving when the results appeared to be pretty well decided: I'll be there in 20. Can you please have a stiff gin martini ready for me? And can you please throw it in my face? A pretty good representation of my sentiments at the time, and of course these were largely echoed by the artists and cyclists and... well, pretty much everyone in the bar last night as we watched the numbers come through.

If you were there, you got your stiff drink, but more importantly, we hope you got a little inspired. The general tone, though admittedly disappointed, was motivated and positive. I heard a lot of "We've got a lot of work to do!" and "Let's keep this momentum up!" And seriously, not referring to the pace of ingesting beer.

There really is a lot to be proud of and excited about; one thing is certainly that voter turnout increased from 39% in last election to 53.2% this year (also that this number includes a first ballot from my little sis, who beat me to the polls), cheers to that! And there really is a lot of work to do, and a lot you can do to help keep Toronto moving in a positive direction. Start by checking out (and supporting) Ranked Ballot Initiative of Toronto (RaBIT) and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for other ways to support things like art funding and bike lanes and food security in this city.

If, like us, you were maybe sipping a martini with a sigh rather than a victory cheers last night, we have a little cheersing up for you here. Our very own magical and incredibly talented Natalie Boustead (you may have read about her before here) tells us why Rob For Won, But It's Okay... in a song. This ought to make you happy.

If you're still sighing (you probably hate unicorns, but) Insomnia's open. And Damara makes a mean dirty with extra olives.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Today You Save Toronto | To the Polls!

This is it TO. Today is the day. We are about to round up our crew of neighbours and head down to the Cecil St Community Centre to cast our ballots, and we hope that you will do the same - not just vote, but get three, four, or five friends out too. Easy enough for us to say, when we live in the Toronto incarnation of Melrose Place, right? But seriously, just a few quick phone calls from each of us can make a massive impact. We like this quote from Manifesto & Beautiful City's Advisory sent out this morning:

"Please call 5 friends, pass on this message and urge them to vote. Email is good but it's not as effective as phoning your peoples. If we all inspire five friends to call five friends and so on, we can run an Obama-style campaign  that will empower Toronto's young people and safeguard the future of this incredible city. Please take ten minutes to make some calls and - your efforts will actually help save this city!"

See their Master Mayoral report card above and read the advisory here.

Steal our Vote posters below, make them your Facebook profile, change your status and get out to vote. Our City needs you to. 

And sign up for the Ranked Ballot Initiative newsletter to help make our future elections more fair, diverse and friendly and help eliminate strategic voting.

To the Polls!

And then to the bar. Join us at our After (Vote!) Party at Insomnia tonight. You vote, we buy you a drink!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

YOU! VOTE! How and Why It's Easy + A Bit of Magic and Sweat.

It was a month ago when I saw these witty little puppets made by Ottawa artist Gabe Thirlwall (Fish on Fridays) at the Queen West Art Crawl. Way back then, the weather was fairer, the leaves hadn’t yet changed colour, Rossi and, heck, even Sarah Thomson were still contenders in this crazy race, and the Toronto Mayoral Debate did seem a lot like the “Political Circus” Gabe had created in her show tent.

Now, with less than a week ‘til election day, it seems a little closer to a stampede. Or a spook house. Or something else that would warrant me waking up in cold sweats every morning this week.

True story.

I realize that admitting this solidifies my complete nerd status (beyond my gluten allergy and unicorn obsession combined) but I have actually woken up panic-stricken over this election on more than one recent occasion.

I’ve obviously taken this municipal election to heart (hovering over newspapers, stalking candidates websites… cursing in front of my Grandmother in one particular rant). So I’m surprised when I hear that friends of mine — many of them educated, socially-aware, environmentally-concerned, creative and generally “progressive” young folk—­ don’t plan to vote.

But only surprised for a minute. Because then I think about the whirlwind of information out there, a lot of which is difficult to digest. Or believe. And trying to can leave us feeling frustrated. Or… nauseous. And therefore uninformed.

And the number one reason these decided non-voters give for non-voting is “I just don’t know enough about it.”

Well, this is when it comes in handy to have a nerd friend like me around (this and in the circumstance that you need a unicorn fact verified – yes, they are magical).

I am going to give you two (magical) links that will provide you with simple, straightforward information on:

Issues that matter to you:

OneToronto has put together a short list of links to Mayoral Report Cards from groups like Artsvote, the Toronto Environmental Alliance and the Public Transit Coalition, grading top candidates on their plans for (you guessed it) arts, the environment, and transit.

Check out the grades and simple summary of their views here.

How and where to vote:

Find out what ward you live (and vote) in here.

If you have yet to register, fear not, you can still vote. Show up (to the place the last link told you to) on Monday with a piece of ID with your name, signature and Toronto address on it. If you don’t have one of those, you can make it happen with two pieces: bring one piece of ID with your name and signature on it, as well as something that shows you live in Toronto – a utility bill or bank statement with your name on it will do just fine. For a complete list of valid ID check here.

Monday October 25th. Do it.

We are at risk of abandoning plans for funding for art and lanes for bikes and food security for our neighbours and accessible, affordable transit.

It isn’t okay for us to sit back while the crew that will vote based on things like cuts to their property taxes… votes. And determines the direction of this city for the next four years for us.

And it definitely isn’t okay for a twenty-something female to be waking up sweaty because of anything to do with Rob Ford.

So I am begging you, Vote.

And once you do, come celebrate at our election party at Insomnia. I will personally buy you a drink. Actually.

A few more photos from the Queen West Art Crawl
Marvelous artist/ illustrator Jay Dart with a piece we really enjoyed called

 Our pal and art crush, Danielle Hession

 Loving this new, darker work from Danielle

 More of Gabe in the Fish on Fridays Political Circus

 Her fuzzy wolves. Love! 
Wish I'd bought one. I have a strong feeling they ward off election-mares



Sunday, September 26, 2010

Our City Needs You to Vote | OneToronto Emergency Community Meeting, Tomorrow!

Obviously, we at the About Face Collective have taken a keen interest in the upcoming Toronto Mayoral and Municipal elections, and we hope you have (or will) too. Like you, perhaps, we've felt that the issues closest to our hearts are not being discussed widely or with clarity in the media as of yet. There has been a lot of time in the spotlight for Tax Slashing and Jerry Springer episodes at City Hall, let's give some stage time to the real issues; things like diversity, the environment, the arts, and community services, all the things that make a city like Toronto great! 

While this great city hasn't been immune to the effects of tough economic times and lower taxes might seem like a priority to us right now, we can't forget about what those taxes go toward. And though the results of the polls might make it seem like our fate is sealed, things are changing every day. If we all get out and vote, if YOU get out and vote, there is a darn good chance we can prove the true numbers to be quite different. 

Tomorrow, OneToronto is holding an Emergency Community Meeting to share their vision for the City, "a city that builds on its successes, cares for its neighbours, and does its part to protect the environment and values community". OneToronto is a coalition of arts, environmental, labour and social justice groups trying to re-frame the current debate around the municipal elections, engage voters and help them realize what's at stake.

Please come out!

Moday, September 27th, 7:30pm

Church of the Holy Trinity -- (located behind the Eaton Centre)
10 Trinity Square, Toronto, ON

For Facebook event click here

Please spread widely! Grab the images below, link to and post to blogs, facebook, send to your mom, whatever.

And most importantly, on October 25th, VOTE! (And tell your mom to, too.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

You Support the Arts, Does Your Next Mayor?

In the wake of national funding cuts, good things have happened this year for the arts in Toronto; organizations like and Manifesto have demonstrated the value of arts and culture to City Council and passed a recommendation to increase arts investment. Heading into this municipal election, knowing that "directed investment in arts and culture dramatically improves economic competitiveness, impacting innovation, creativity and producing a more vibrant city" [] we need to keep this conversation going.

Enter Artsvote Toronto, a network of volunteers who are working to make the arts an important part of the debate around next month's municipal elections. In addition to providing simple info on how to accomplish the daunting task of registering to vote, they have issued a "Councillor Report Card" rating Council candidates on their art-friendliness (high five to Joe Mihevc for earning top in class). So how about the grades of those in the run for the top spot? Come out to hear them duke it out at next week's Artsvote-hosted Mayoral Arts Debate at the AGO and judge for yourself. 

And in the meantime, soak in some of the TO culture we're pushing for at any of the numerous Manifesto events happening this week. The fest is on!

- L

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Little House in Bloordale | Local Fashion and Food in the Hot 'Hood

With a name like HAUS, I half expected to walk into some uberkool minimalist boutique at 1256 Bloor W. Maybe it had been transplanted from Berlin, missed its Yorkville destination and landed, confused but perfectly coiffed, on the wrong end of Bloor, smack in between Value Village and the Salvation Army? Visions of cigarettes dangling from hands at the end of crossed arms left bare by drapey black tank tops worn by waify blond boys... No?

Well, no. HAUS could easily have been called plain old, English “House” – not because it’s plain (it’s not) or old (well, partly vintage) or… um, English, but because it sort of feels like home. It has a comfortable air, a warm, cozy vibe; vintage suitcases piled around as displays for vintage shoes, local art in antique frames and writing on the walls (yeah, so, this sounds exactly like my house). And there’s a lovely smiling lady behind the counter waiting to greet you (I need to get one of these). It’s the kind of place that makes you feel like you could just pull up a chair and stay a while. And, well, you can. And, so, I did.

The smiling lady is Rachel Beauparlant and I’m still pretty convinced she didn’t mind my lingering - what a gem. Rachel is one of the team of three that runs HAUS. They’ve been stationed quite perfectly in the quirky little neighbourhood of Bloordale since March, though Rachel says people constantly ask them why they’re not on Queen West. They had the opportunity to move into the QWW/ Parkdale hood, but she, William and Maurizio (the other two owners) felt their hearts were in Bloordale.
She started to describe the draw to the eclectic area; the feeling, the texture, the mix of neighbours. I got it, “the grittiness?” I offered. We know the feeling of that draw to those character-infused pockets of Toronto, the potential locations for the About Face space. HAUS wants to support local and up-and-coming designers, artists and makers of all kinds and felt like moving in to their chosen spot was, in a way, also helping to support an up-and-coming neighbourhood.
And up-and-coming it sure is. Rachel says they’ve seen a lot of new love for the ‘hood even in the short time they’ve been there. It helps that Bloordale is a designated BIA (Business Improvement Area). Rachel gave me a copy of Bloor Magazine, an amazing little publication offering insight into the culture, politics, businesses and other intriguing stories (in a well-designed format, I might add) of the Bloor Street BIAs. Pick this up (download pdf free from their site) then head up, over or down to Bloor, or grab one from HAUS or other local businesses.

If you work up an appetite shopping, I HIGHLY recommend heading toward the Junction and treating yourself to brunch or dinner (now serving!) just West on Bloor at Zocalo. The adorable little cafĂ© –clad with reclaimed furniture and hand-picked flowers– is tended to by its equally adorable owners Paul Hardy and Heather Braaten. The dishes on the menu are every bit as creative as the clothing down the street and they’ve also chosen to source from our local offerings. Local and organic ingredients go into their daily vegan (but still so creamy) soups, served with corn bread (made with organic whole wheat and fresh corn) and current preserve. YUM. And the egg mash, (oh, the egg mash) which I “sampled” (slash, licked off the plate) from my fellow diner, complimented with fennel, mustard seeds, Quebec Brie and homemade tomato relish… I’ll just say that the content of the last set of brackets was not exclusively for effect.

Now the fresh breaths, Zocalo and HAUS are set to be mainstays as this strip of Bloor inevitably flourishes. For the moment, HAUS is happy to hang between the thrift shops -I should also take a second to shout out Bloordale pioneers Freedom Clothing and the 69 Vintage Collective- offering a selected option for the vintage hunter alongside local labels like Jool by Julie Phelps, our friends the Muttonhead Collective and affordable staples like Cheap Monday. And they just seem quite excited to finally have a space to do with whatever they like; art shows, photo shoots, parties. Rachel, for one, is just thrilled to finally be allowed to write on the walls.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Chronology of City Repair: Everything you thought was not possible in the city

Imagine what your community could look like if people truly knew and cared for their neighbours.

Imagine what your community could look like if art, beauty and celebration were intrinsic values fostered by local home owners, business owners and local government officials alike.

Imagine what your community could look like if people ACTUALLY knew about and used their democratic rights and systems and went above and beyond them.

You might envision something very similar to what is happening and has been happening for years in Portland, Oregon. The neighbourhoods and citizens of Portland have been working year after year for about 15 years to create healthier, sustainable living spaces for themselves, and the results have been astronomical.

They've artistically taken over busy, car-filled intersections and converted them into public meeting spaces, spaces that are severely lacking (*on purpose*) in most North American cities.

They've begun to build cob structures everywhere, from houses to local Newspaper stands (full of community stories and HAPPY news) to community saunas where they host "Get Naked With Your Neighbour" events on a regular basis.

What started out as essentially "illegal" acts of street vandalism and public gathering has turned into public policy. Putting up more bike parking and less car parking was scoffed at by City Hall, until these communities implemented in themselves and were so successful that now their local government is mandating such acts across the city.

Democracy can look this beautiful. Cities CAN be transformed. People have to want it bad enough. Bad enough to go door to door to engage with those around them. Bad enough to call their city councillor when they hear about something exciting that can be done, or something awful that absolutely should not be done.

Beauty and Love are as contageous as greed and power. People want to be a part of something meaningful and beautiful. Please watch this video by Mark Lakeman about the Chronology of City Repair and be inspired. If you feel so inclined, please contact us to see how you can be a part of our visioning processes here at the About Face Collective and/or transformative community groups that we are associated with in the Dupont and Spadina area.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The CoolEST Girl | Songs by Natalie Amber

For bragging purposes and the good of the world:

We at About Face are proud to count among our leading ladies, one very (multi) talented wonder by the name of Natalie. Aside from being a totally captivating writer, passionate environmental and social activist, events (and everything) coordinator and skillful feathery head-decorator and friendship-bracelet-maker (correct me if I'm wrong about the last one, Nat, but I feel this is ought to be accurate), she has also succeeded at weaving dreams in the form of light... I mean sparkles... I mean... songs (you may actually be convinced that all of these suggestions are true upon first listen). I don't think it's going too far to say that these songs may help to save the world in just as great a capacity as her other efforts. Actually, as an artist, I'll go ahead and confirm that it's probably a scientific fact.

Because people seem to like comparisons: think about what would happen if Regina Spektor, Feist, Kimya Dawson and Joni Mitchell rode their bikes out to the beach and left only a poem and a trail of cupcakes for someone to find them with. Well, I'd put all my bets on Nat. And I'd go double-or-nothing that she'd find a unicorn to ride out on. Or that she is actually just made of cupcakes. None of this makes sense? Perfect. It doesn't matter. Just listen. Then go kiss someone. Or at least smile at a few.

And if you're wondering if "Cool Girl" is about me, well, it is. Okaaaaay, it isn't. But please don't tell, I plan on making this my claim to fame when everyone falls in love with Natalie's music. It's only a matter of time.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Brainwashed in San Francisco

So, it's been a long time coming, but I've finally found the time to write about my experience in San Francisco this past January. Although I could talk about the million reasons why I love this gloriously colourful city, specific to this blog would obviously be my visit to the Brain Wash Cafe, a thriving laundromat/cafe/indie music venue space located in the historic Mission District of San Fran.

Walking in mid-day on a Tuesday, the cafe was packed with late brunchers like myself, filling themselves on the cafe's excellent and filling breakfast menu, while others lounge
d in the adjacent laundromat, complete with pinball machines and other such fun leisurely instalments.

Obviously I was already excited to be in a space so similar to my own imaginings, but even without my romantic view of it, I was able to clearly discern some truly great business ideas going on in this space.

The most eye catching idea was their giant sign advertising their "happy hour" for laundry do-ers. As you can see, the concept tied in the laundromat to the cafe by offering a dollar off any purchase in th
e cafe from 4-7 if you did your laundry during that time. That "happy hour" also means cheap beers in the cafe, so you can get home from work, grab your laundry, and then grab a cold one, all in one place! Brilliant!

When talking to one of the many amazing and quirky staff members about our project back here in Toronto, she said to me "the most important thing to have when running a cafe like this one is to hire someone with oversized novelty glasses" (which she just happened to be wearing herself, and which I must admit did help make her seem more interesting :P)

Although they aren't integrating the solar power angle that we'd like to include, the Brain Wash Cafe still demonstrates the success of combining cafe, community, and laundry into one convenient space, and are certainly one of our inspirations moving forward!

You can now find their second location in Montreal! Woo hoo!

Obama Drama | US Health Care Bill Passes. I cry.

I was at the (sadly, non-solar-powered) laundromat last night when Barack Obama's Facebook post popped up in my news feed (Yeah, we're friends. No big deal.). When I realized that this meant the US health care bill had officially been passed, well... tears. Sniffling, choking and at least three actual tears.

Here's the scene: exhausted, confused, over-worked, me standing knee-deep in a pile of every one of my launder-able possessions. (Might I mention that at this point, I have been standing in a similar position for over half an hour, just bending and twisting to move my clothes and other sewings from one side of the pile to another in an effort to mathematically compile colour-appropriate loads? I feel this somehow justifies my ridiculous emotional explosion. I'm not sure how to justify the forty-five minute sorting spree.) I decide to take a well-deserved break and scan through the latest FB updates on the internet. On my PHONE. (Technology! I know you more advanced humans have enjoyed this for some time, but am new to the world of phones that think they're computers.)

Anyhow, as previously stated, tears ensue. The poor, lovely, sane woman patiently awaiting her drying in the corner is obviously praying that I were not standing between her and the door, her only escape route...

This is what I read:

To the untold millions who knocked on doors and made phone calls, who organized and mobilized out of a firm conviction that change in this country comes not from the top down, but from the bottom up: this moment is possible because of you.

So yes, my reaction may have been slightly dramatic and I may be posting this three days late, but this really is a monumental event and incredible progress for the land of the free. And I think I may speak for a lot of us when I say that it’s amazing to see some real change happening under the man we fell in love with in hopes of just that. The above image is a piece by our friend Justin Broadbent from the recent Creative Type II show at 52 McCaul (post coming soon). On why he chose “Barack Obama” as the text for his piece: “He was the nicest person I could think of.”

Indeed. I'm sure there are a few Americans who would agree.

Become friends with BO on FB here (run by Organizing for America). Just tell him I sent you. Read some initial coverage here (keeping it Canadian with CBC) and some recent updates here.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Buttermilk Sky Forecast - Accurate

Danielle Hession (pictured below) and I ventured over to the opening of White Cloud, Buttermillk Sky at Hotshot Gallery on Thursday night, and of course it was every bit as adorable as we expected. The collection of OCAD illustration students involved in the group show made for a whimsical little Thursday night adventure. Andrea Manica, (above with her work) whose work you may recognize from our September event at Arta Gallery did an amazing job pulling the show together, designing the poster and her work (close-up below) was a highlight. You can still see the show for the rest of the week at 181 Augusta Ave in Kensington Market. Eat a cupcake and kiss a baby. Then, do it. *Free wish with entry.

Cute! Things by Melissa Luk.

The Ted Gudlat & Eunice Luk corner.

My fashionably late and super talented date Danielle Hession.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Art! Wine! Cuteness!

Some of our very talented friends including the adorable Eunice Luk and charming and quirky Ted Gudlat (Ted, get a website!) are showing some of their very amazing work at Hot Shot Gallery starting today! I'm sure you're already convinced to by the enchantingly named White Cloud, Buttermilk Sky, but if some beverages and a gathering will further entice; view the wonders with wine in hand at the reception this Thursday, March 11th from 6pm til midnight or (and again) during business hours until March 21. Facebook event here. See you there!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

About Face on Torontoist! Check it out!

I met with Alixandra Gould last week to interview for this article on The About Face Collective for the Torontoist. We've always been a fan of the TO-centric blog, its witty writing, band of great Toronto illustrators, on-point coverage, and all-round awesomeness. After drinking matchas with Alix (hopefully she agrees that we're tight to the point of short-forms now) and seeing Olivind Hovlind's illustration for the piece today, we're pretty much convinced that everyone at the blog is rad as jazz.

Read the article here.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

About Face Collective + Muttonhead Collective = Love

It’s true. We’ve fallen. It all started years ago in a magical living room far, far on the other side of Bathurst… okay we’re not really sure, but there was wine involved. Anyhow, there were definitely sparks from the moment we met each of the Muttonhead Collective members. Like, major girl crush sparks. And although we could easily sit around with this crew all day, every day and braid each other’s hair and have pillow fights, we’re happy we have developed one of those healthy relationships where we actually let each other run around and do our own thing, since Muttonhead’s thing happens to be our new favoritest Canadian apparel line.

Not only is their collection of unisex outerwear and innerwear the bees knees, it’s made using natural, sustainable, locally-sourced and recycled fabrics and produced right here in our own snowy backyard (that’s metaphor talk for Canada), swoon!

AND it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Take, for instance, their pleated pullover, made with hand-dyed hemp cotton, a simple piece with the magic in the details; inset pockets, pleats from the yoke up, contrast buttons, rounded seam edge and a great fit. Price? A hundred bucks! Ladies and mans, put down those two disposable, child-labour-wielding hoodies that you’ll throw the same dollars at and watch disintegrate next week (but never biodegrade), exit h&m and come a runnin! Except, don’t come quite yet; Muttonhead’s premiere line hits stores for Fall/ Winter 2010/11. Get excited! We can’t wait to get our hemp cardigans, recycled Mexican blanket sweaters, leggings with recycled leather patches…

For now you can view the collection online and watch the space for their upcoming Readymades collection. Here you’ll be able to pick up one-of-a-kind Muttonhead pieces; tweaked vintage finds and recycled fabric garments. Heart!

Oh, and their Goretex outdoor jackets and suspender pants with recycled features are totally slope-worthy. So you can guess where we’ll be taking the Muttonheads on our next date, organic Canadian whisky and hot-cocoa equipped.


**Bonus: One lucky winner will score a Muttonhead collective sweater by counting the number of body-part references in this post.

***Editor’s note: Sorry, but Lauren already stole your prize. xo