Wander January 2017

January 2017 and I’ve started to wander again. It’s been too long but life sort of gets in the way sometimes. It’s not that I haven’t had time,  I just haven’t been motivated.  I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and that means exploring the city slowly on foot and letting stuff just sort of happen.

I’ve also started to remove myself from social media. Its just counter productive for me. I’ll start to write about the things here on my website. I use to do that religiously and I miss it. If you need any info or have any questions about anything please contact me at info@chrisshepherd.net

The following were taken over a period of three days as 2017 was ushered in. Each day I wandered for a few hours with no distinct destination planned.

Below is the back of the U of T Medical Sciences Building. You can access the spot via a modest little driveway called Discovery Lane. I’m not sure if you still call this style of architecture Brutalist because it’s embellished with these vertical aesthetic elements, but it looks interesting. It’s an eight story structure and all the deeper vertical members on the left hand side of the frame hide the windows on this south facing wall—at least from this angle. I’ve done a bit of post production tilt-shift to make the image work better for me using the Photoshop Lens Correction tool.

0m6a2697

I’ve taken pictures of the Toronto Spiritualists Temple on College around the Mod Club for years, but never with any success or never that ever resonated with me. It’s a very modest little church like building. In truth it’s more like a cottage with a few coloured windows. This frame shows a section of the front window unit and I’m pretty sure that’s just coloured glass, or even just plastic-coated glass you’re looking at. The building must be over 50 years old. It has a distinctly 50-60s feel to it. I like the rectangles within a rectangle thing in this shot, and the border that’s created by the white window frames.

0m6a2725

These next two images were taken close to home, adjacent to The West Toronto Rail Path. Both were shot through the clear acrylic fences that stop people from crossing the train track areas. This is probably a good thing because the corridor is very busy now with the Go, Via and UP trains all passing through at regular intervals.

The community had wanted green-living walls to be built to separate us from tracks and noise, but the powers–that–be thought these were the best solution. They sold us acrylic barriers and assured us they were graffiti proof. They must have tested them with water colour paints because they are now favourite targets for middle class taggers. Their paint has no problem permanently adhering to the acrylic. We can live with the tags no matter how lame they are but the real sad reality is the cleaning contractor uses a cheap-ass-toxic solvent to remove the tags and it doesn’t work and ends up creating the mess you see below. The smudgy parts are where tags have been melted off with some bargain basement solvent.

Looks sort of cool on a cold grey winter’s day. These two images are no-filter, colour photographs.

We love this neighbourhood, although the 10 years of construction is a bit tiresome.
0m6a2656 0m6a2665

Small note on the Wander process. I use a Canon 5Ds with a 55 mm Sigma Art lens. I shoot on aperture priority with an ISO of 200. I rarely change lenses, but when I do I have one other and that’s a Canon L series 17-35mm.

I’ve taken photographs of this Hydro Building Roof Access Ladder at Ossington and Dupont on a previous wander. On this occasion I simply positioned myself to capture the opposite angle. I was also a lot closer. I’m not sure why but these ladders are the same on almost all hydro buildings but I like them, I love the circular handles and how they stand out against the sky.

0m6a2781These pipes are across the street from G&H Furniture on Dupont. I have trouble taking pictures when I’m looking up or down. I’d rather be straight on. This is beyond my comfort zone, but the central straight vertical line is helping me to accept it.0m6a2777This is a weird little still life inside a weirder still display of another window. Located along the east side of the block the once was Honest Ed’s. Seriously—when is the last time you used the yellow pages? This forgotten gem must have been stuck in this space a long time ago. Although it’s rather specific, I have shot forgotten yellow pages before. I think that’s because the city is so big and I wander so much.

Everything about this weird window is engaging to me. It’s also the one picture I took of the Honest Ed’s block the day after it closed for good to make way for condos. I couldn’t help thinking that although it seeing the past disappear is sometimes a drag the change will be good for the Annex. The whole area has been pretty ghetto for as long as I can remember. The sad part is that this means a lot of people will be displaced. Gentrification happens and some parts of it certainly suck. As a weird aside I think there may be less interesting stuff to see when I wander because of this. Gentrification and the sanitization that accompanies it is not necessarily engaging.
0m6a2788

I’ve always loved these huge memorials to U of T students, faculty and alumni that were killed in the world wars. I’m assuming these are the list of the war dead. The font is amazing and the craftsmanship is truly wonderful to behold. Whenever I see these I think I want to take graphite rubbings of them on some huge pieces of paper.

0m6a2693There’s a Salvation Army Shelter for Women in the Junction. It’s across from what once was McBride Cycle but is now the almost complete DK Condos on Dundas West. It always makes me think about the relationships between men and women, because I imagine that most of the reason for these women to end up here is that men fuck them up. Maybe that’s unfair, but as I get older I really do think that men are basically irresponsible children that never grow up and that a huge portion of them cause a lot of grief and anguish to others.

I took this because the scene was simple and reminded me very much of Thomas Demand. I really love that work and because of it I see “Found Demands” everyday. 0m6a2647Crane cables form the construction area beside our house. I’m terribly sick of this construction cycle that literally began with the remediation of the land about eight years ago. But I’m also aware that it’s quite a first world problem.
0m6a2750

 

 Facebook Twitter

Underground

Announcement_2B

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival Feature Exhibition 

May 1st-31st, 2015
Opening Reception & Artist Talk May 2nd, 2-4p.m.
Bau-Xi Photo
324 Dundas Street West, Toronto
contact:

Julie Watt

Nell Crook

416.977.0400

info@bau-xiiphoto.com

www.bau-xiphoto.com

Bau-Xi Photo preview images for the show.

As a continuation of his acclaimed subway series that began with ‘Transitions’ in 2007 and ‘Waiting’ in 2010, Underground is an exciting revival of the subject that introduced Shepherd to the Canadian art scene. Encompassing imagery from his most recent exploration of both the Toronto and Montreal subway systems, the work is unified by the artist’s signature approach to lighting, composition and form.

Submerged from view in both Montreal and Toronto, the subways of each metropolis weave, burrow, anchor and nourish the structures and urban life aboveground. Montreal’s metro is the third busiest network in North America — behind only New York and Mexico. Toronto’s subway is a close second in size to Montreal, moving fewer people but reaching more stations than it’s Francophone sister. Underground is an exploration of both city’s subterranean networks, but rather than capturing the frenetic activity of each system, Shepherd instead turns our attention to the fleeting moments between the perpetual cycle of arrivals and departures; the ignored hallways, staircases, platforms, mezzanines, tunnels and inanimate skeleton of the transit lines. Each image depicts quiet details of the everyday, resonating with a silent beauty that transforms the utilitarian spaces into painterly tableaus of contemplation. Shepherd describes his compositions as ‘”temporal blips in the consistent hustle and bustle of everyday life.” As part of an ongoing study, the images are inherently bound to the archives of each city, serving to document and re-document the chronological life-span of the spaces as they continually adapt to the changing needs of the urban-dweller.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Chris Shepherd began his artistic practice as a painter and studied art history, film and artistic practice at Ryerson, Waterloo and McMaster Universities. After moving to Toronto, he turned to photography as a means to familiarize himself with his new city. It was this process of exploration that piqued Shepherd’s interest in urban landscapes and led to a long-running fascination with the often passed-over or under-appreciated elements of metropolitan life. The serenity and reserve of Shepherd’s photographs often contrast with the locations they are depicting. Shepherd captures fleeting moments in time, whether they be a brief moment of quiet in the perpetual cycle of arrivals and departures in the subway, or the fallow vacancy between tenants in commercial buildings.

Shepherd’s art has been exhibited across North America, and is included in major corporate collections in Canada including Seneca College, TD Bank and Bank of Montreal.

 

 Facebook Twitter

December Montreal

December in Montreal and it wasn’t cold. It certainly wasn’t balmy but it wasn’t ear-splitting cold and although I only had about an hour to wander around between appointments, I was pretty interested in what I stumbled on.

Montreal looks better ever time I go back. This time despite the dreary rain it was no exception. There’s still a lot of empty real-estate, but it doesn’t feel depressed. Maybe that’s just me. This huge empty retail space below was the first discovery. The expense on immense space in relative darkness then the brilliant illumination of the fluorescent landing pad was other worldly, or at least science fictiony. The metal structural members in the ceiling are very cool as were the patches of paint all along the delineating walls of the space

Closer to the hotel was this rather more contemporary space. I wasn’t very good about mapping my locations as I walked so it might be pretty hard to title some of these images if I plan to print and show. This space, with it’s contrasting concrete minimalist, man-made sensibility is contrasted by the photographic prints of a birch tree stand that hang in the windows.

The wall below is on the edge of parking lot at the corner of rue Sainte-Catherine and rue Clarke. It was quite treacherous making my way across the sheet of wet ice and leaves. I’m careful though. I don’t want to break a hip. It looks pretty gloomy but that’s not what I was thinking when I shot it. I really liked the mottled concrete that transitions into the variegated pattern. The map-like patchwork of light and dark concrete was a big draw but the shattered wooden pallet that felt sort of “Raft of the Medusa” to me, was an added bonus.

Yet another forgotten space but this one might just stay forgotten for a lot longer. I think it use to be a garage or gas station on the left surrounded by a parking lot or now empty gravel yard. This spot is an alley to nowhere. Here the colours and the geometry of the place suited me.

I’m going back soon. Hopefully 3 or 4 days will allow me a good start. I’m also thinking it’s time to visit and shoot the Metro but that will have to be done on a separate, dedicated trip.

So all in al for the day that I was there –other than missing a visit with my nephew–was a success. Hotel Galt here we come.

 Facebook Twitter

Purple

Purple was someone’s favourite colour.

I’m not sure what this place was but apparently it was closed because the block at this particular place in the city has been sold to make way for condos. This is just north of the North East corner of Yonge and Davisville. The building is on the corner of Yonge and Millwood. Just south of this place is another huge empty retail place that was an LCBO. Weird that the LCBO up there has been so nomadic.

The light in here was brilliant. I’m going to return tomorrow and see if perhaps I can get crisper files. Right now these images are quite grainy because it’s all low, available light. I’d love to shoot them on large format film, but that’s not going to happen soon and I bet this place is torn down before then. That’s even more likely because it will be a while before I get my act together with the large format. I should get a new bellows for the thing in a week and that’s a good step in what I’m sure will be a long journey of discovery.

It’s definitely a lot of purple. It also has the feel of a financial institution on the exterior. It’s very TD-Canada Trust looking but I doubt I’ll ever know what it was. It’s also been empty for a very long time. The Google Streetview image doesn’t give anything away, but you can see it was a bank at one time.

The light is truly spectacular. There are a lot of windows on two sides of the building. It  also helps that there is nothing too tall in the area surrounding so the morning sun can make it’s way through the glass despite the crazy sunrise angle.

The shots I got today will be uploaded tonight, and they are much more subdued. There was no sun this morning but as I expected they are way more crisp, which i like for the possibility for printing large which has become sort of a habit. Although I love the sunlight, I like the images without it way more. See below.

 Facebook Twitter

Hamilton

Hamilton was not what I expected. I visited the downtown on Sunday morning from about 7:30 till 10:00 a.m. I think it will take me a little while to get use to it again. The last time I spent any serious time there was about 20 years ago. Maybe 25.

I grew up there. In truth I grew up in Burlington, but I spent a lot of time in Hamilton. My grandmother lived there when I was a kid so I’d take the bus in every Saturday morning to visit her and walk the downtown. That was pre Jackson Square time.

When I got older I lived there for about 7 maybe 10 years. I worked on the strip I use to hang out on when I was a kid at a place called Book Villa that sold porn and had a baseball bat for security behind the counter. It was 24 hours. It’s no longer there. I worked at the AGH as a security guard, the McMaster Art Gallery before it was moved into it’s present location, I did construction work and I worked at HMV. I lived in a warehouse in the steel manufacturing area of town and drove my motorcycle into the building’s elevator and down the hallway into my unheated room.

The last time I was living there I had a place in Hess Village and commuted to Toronto. It’s where I started taking pictures.

James Street North is transforming. The artistic community has sort of taken over which is very sweet. It resembles the Parkdale strip of Queen. The streets are clean and there’s weirdly no Graffiti. I find that sort of suspect in itself. Either there are a lot more shelters, and Community Centres than I ever remember and way more people that rely on them, or I remember poorly. I have a sneaking suspicion that as Toronto gets more unaffordable and gentrified the less fortunate get pushed somewhere and Hamilton’s downtown core seems to be where they’ve ended up. Indeed the central area around where all the buses meet is teaming with people on a Sunday morning, but they just seem to be walking around waiting for stuff to open. It’s unsettling.

The Canadian Football Hall of Fame is still there, and I still love the building. It’s on the right hand side of the frame above. It’s got to be 50 years old and it is definitely still a cool mod building. The concrete mass that surrounds it on the two sides above is a court house of some sort. Directly behind me as I take this shot is Hamilton City Hall which is another beautiful building. Below is the wall and vacant lot beside a spectacular block of restoration work called the Lister Block. I’ve thought about this image a lot since I took it. Today I thought it would be cool to revisit this location with a glass end table and vase of finely arranged flowers. I could place them in the middle of the frame and re shoot. That thought got expanded and I found myself elaborate floral arrangements that I could drop into inaccessible and garbage strewn corners of the city and then photographing them. I Could come back to re shoot them as they wilted or became unkempt. If only I was a man of unlimited income. I’d quit the day job and start doing stuff like that.

Just a 1/2 block away from the Lister Block is the side of a building that had a nice reflection on it. I think it’s the glass from a neighboring structure. I’m standing in a very small grass parkette between the two buildings. I like the totemic nature of the reflection and the underlying colour schema of the wall is pretty cool.

Finally the wall below was in the same block as the other images. It really sums a lot of Hamilton up for me. It’s unpretentious and practical with a solid utilitarian charm but a bit rough.

After thinking about it Hamilton was impeccably clean. It seems to be prospering with the exception of around the Bus Terminal area — which is really just part of the John Street strip. I imagine if I was to go to downtown Toronto and hang around the bus terminal on a Sunday morning it would be pretty sketchy too. Hamilton’s core may be actually worse than Toronto’s because this city is completely unaffordable and Burlington and Oakville are just to damn boring. I think I’ll be happy to go back and explore some more. Hopefully I can make it out to Burlington Street and areas of the more industrial sections of town. I bet Stoney Creek is still pretty dodgy.

 Facebook Twitter

Landscaping

Landscaping is the tentative title for new work that explores the nature of the city — literally. This series will hopefully end up being a combination of observations about traditional ideas of beauty and nature but within the context of the metropolis that’s filtered through my perception. At it’s simplest Landscaping is meant to be a celebration of the city and it’s idiosyncrasies. Like my previous work it will be populated by cenes and locations that people don’t typically know, or take part in. These are not secrets, but to me their a big part of the the mystery, and a key element to why I love the city.

I could call this series Commute. All of these images are taken from either my bicycle or  TTC trip  to the day job everyday. There are shots along the Bloor West Bike Path, inside the traffic islands that are created by the 4 entry/exit ramps at Eglington and the DVP, along The Lower Don Path, and from the street at Yonge and Bloor.

Landscaping, like previous work is a bunch of observations of the mundane, and pedestrian: elements of our day to day lives in the city that hold little interest to the mass but capture my imagination and optimism. These are small moments but I love them.

 

 Facebook Twitter

I Could Never Live in the City

I imagine it’s a common refrain: “I could never live in the city”. It’s a shame if it is because Toronto is just so crazy beautiful.

This is a view of the Rosedale Valley Road at about 7:30 a.m Friday morning, the 7th of September. It’s taken from a bridge just west of the Castle Frank subway station. Underneath all the trees is a steep and winding 2 lane road that links the east end of the city to the core.

I’m elated with this image. It’s definitely a departure from subways and public schools but it still relates to my earlier work. these images are still about noticing things that others might not, celebrating the beauty, and in a way embracing the city.

The other thing I love about this image is that I think it captures the aesthetic of Romantic painters like those of the the Hudson River School. I didn’t set out to do that when I took the picture. I think this is funny and somewhat strange considering my friend Andrew Wright referenced another romatic painter –Caspar David Freidrick– about a year ago in a photo he took that I love.

Thisnis an arial view of the Don River Valley from the Millwood Valley bridge that I shot about 20 minutes later. This one reminds me of the cover for Power Corruption & Lies by New Order which is a reproduction of the painting Basket of Roses by Henri Fantin-Latour.

 Facebook Twitter