Tuesday, December 5, 2006

48 Abell Street - by Jonathan Friedman, Intern Architect

A few thoughts before a more academic plee.

I came here by chance, by fate . . . and it changed my life.
The first person I met was Vincent, the caretaker. It was because of him I decided to live here.
The pipes are my church bells, they remind me of Rome. They are music to my ears.
The lot behind the building used to be filled with trees.
I trust the people on my floor even though I have never met all of them.
My studio inspires and allows me to create - to think, to design, to paint and to build
It is my home.

I have lived at 48 Abell Street for over 3 years now. It is my home in every sense of the word. It is scheduled to be demolished, and this is a mistake.
My interest in the building is not only personal, but also from a professional point of view. I am a young design professional working as an intern architect. And hopefully like many of you reading this, share a strong public conscience. Like you I am concerned about the current state of Toronto’s buildings and public spaces, and strongly feel we need more thoughtful,
responsible, vibrant and eloquent buildings and spaces. And Abell Street is without a doubt such a unique and rewarding place.

For years artists, musicians, photographers, architects, carpenters (etc. have inhabited these live/work loft spaces, energizing and engaging the neighbourhood and
in fact (ironically) spurring much of the recent development. The buildings have developed as part of Toronto's art/music/film/architecture scene as vibrant
places of collective talent and interaction. Consequently, Abell Street is an essentyial part of the Queen West Neighbourhood, and thus the larger Toronto community. PLEASE realize that spaces like these need to remain and be
built upon/with, and as such we cannot afford to lose them. Abell Street is a model of integration between people from all ages, incomes, backgrounds and walks of life.
In these simple brick walls is a center of cultural and artistic symbiosis.

Moreover, my studio, as with many others, is a unique and important part of my career - I gutted it and modified it when I moved in. I have used it to test architectural ideas, build furniture, construct art pieces for local exhibtion, and use it for photo-shoots. The open-ness, lighting and old texture cannot be recreated. More importantly, this is one of the few remaining authentic, inspring and affordable spaces for young artists and designers in this city and it must be protected and nurtured, not torn down and replaced.

I am certainly in favour of development and construction, but to make a succesful city, care and thought must be taken. And when something as unique and special as 48 Abell Street already exists, great care should be taken to preserve it and work with it, rather than razing it.


Jonathan Friedman (30)
Intern Architect
48 Abell Street, Unit 224
Toronto, ON

Eulogy for 48 Abell

The man who lived in the camper at the back of our lot was probably the first person I met when I moved in two years ago. I never knew his name, and we never exchanged more than casual hellos in passing while he was hanging out on his patio or else modifying his camper for winter. A while later another man set up on the property in a blue van, with whom I had much the same relationship. But whenever my nephew would visit, he would always stop us on our way by, rummage through a myriad of books and unearth some stickers or a small toy.

A lot has changed to the ladscape of 48Abell since then. As the hording went up along the back, one man's home burned to the ground, and not long after I came home one afternoon to find police crowded around an empty blue van. For me 48 Abell is more than just a building, it's a refuge for a motley of intriguing people. It's an environment that can't be duplicated and one that will be sadly missed.


My brick love affair

I love your beautiful bricks, your steel tensile connections around those heavy timber posts & beams. I don't mind the noise that the pipes make anymore. I use them to dry my clothes, since through my room runs some hot water pipes. This way they dry faster. Your bricks are old and weathered with layers of paint.

How is it that a place like this has fostered an environment that so many friendly creative people flock to? You've seen many come and many go. You've had many lives within your own existence. My unit for instance has been an event venue, a dance studio, a gallery space, a painting studio, a rehearsal space, a home. You are becoming a rare breed. A gem. A locus of place not soon forgotten.


Monday, December 4, 2006

Here's another pic of my studio

There's lots of room for all my papers... and high ceilings for my huge bulletin board!
-Sabrina Saccoccio

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Mark Laliberte, Unit 304

Okay, here's a long one........

My studio at 48 Abell is the perfect space for the kind of work that I make, and the kind of life that I live. My day job is at 'Descant' magazine, where I go to a nice office just east of Chinatown. But at night and on free days, I spend all my time in my live/work studio. Here, I design an art/lit scene magazine called 'Carousel'... we pour all our limited budget into lush production, so we can't afford an office; my studio is the unofficial "office" and workshop for this mag!



...I also work on artwork on a project-by-project basis. I'm a restless creator, so I jump around a lot in terms of scale, medium, discipline, and approach. So: I've got a lot of stuff, supplies, reference materials scattered all about, and the BIG open space and HIGH ceilings are essential.

Yesterday, I had some work open in the 'G(ift) HUNTING' exhibition just a few blocks away at G+ Galleries (50 Gladstone Ave, one block north of the Gladstone Hotel). I'll attach an image of the work in the space; here's the blurb for the show: over 50 national and international artists will be offering unique artworks at awesome prices, ready to be the targets of your holiday gift-hunting expedition. All artworks in this exhibit are economically priced under $345, before taxes / Dates: 11/29/2006 – 12/10/2006 / Gallery Hours: 1-6pm (Tue to Sat)



A few weeks ago, I went to Windsor, ON to participate in a residency/ exhibition with 4 other artists. Most of the work that ended up in the gallery was created in a three day period out of primarily found materials (we spent a day rummaging through abandoned spaces in Detroit and found all kinds of cool stuff), though we did go in with a few key things just to make sure we had it covered. All the participants in this show share a real interest in the following: hybrid texts, various forms of collage gesture, an odd fascination with aging paper & popnoir scavenging... and a history deeply rooted in zine culture. The work wasn't created in my studio this time, but it's sure to end up stored here!

hope you have a moment to take a peek:


We'll go one more:

For the 'Nuit Blanche' project that just happened in Toronto this fall (the evening of September 30, 2006, to be exact) I cut the final versions of a few video projection works that played out larger-than-life above the pool at Harcourt House, University of Toronto. It was a very small part of the art collaborative team Fastwurms' large-scale 'Dark Pool' event.

The videos were completed in my studio on a very mid-level computer system. It was the first time I showed this work publicly, which you can read more about here...



...so that's a taste of what I'm up to I'm up to these days behind the doors of Suite 304 in our cool warehouse space tucked just behind Woolfit's Art Supplies (of course, I live with my partner Chantale Michaud, who does her own thing: maybe I can convince her to post about what she accomplishes in our space real soon....)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Post from Elliott Mealia

My wife and I moved to Toronto around 3 years ago to pursue careers in the arts. Toronto was quite intimidating at first but then we found our way down to Queen St. West and 48 Abell St. We now live and work in our studio, and we love the people in the building and the space. The building and community made us feel welcome and part of something. Comming from a city that does not hesitate to tear down its heritage buildings I thought Toronto had a different perspecetive. It is very easy to see that 48 Abell was instrumental in making Queen west what it is today, a safe and vibrant arts community. From this it makes sense that developers would want to move in. But it would be wrong to remove that which created the commuity to make space.

Elliott Mealia
48 Abell St.

Post from Joe Flasko

Hi, I'm Joseph Flasko and I live & work in a studio
at 48 Abell Street. The reason is quite simple, high
ceilings, open space and this area. This building is a
living, working community and very much a part of this
vibrant creative neighbourhood. There are so few of
these buildings left and when this one goes so will
the fire in the soul of the 'art and design district'. This
neighbourhood will become just another lifeless,
faceless condo ghetto.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Post from Sabrina Saccoccio

Hi everyone!

I'm a resident 48 Abell St. I rent a studio that I use to both live & work in. I'm a television producer at cbc tv, but also a journalist & freelance writer for newspapers and do the odd art project... so it's important for me to be able to use my studio at night to work on stuff. This is me and Adam in my studio, working hard.

I'll post more later...


Friday, November 17, 2006

A Funeral For A Building

Saturday November 11th, 2006
IS QUEEN STREET DEAD? followed by A Funeral For A Building
LECTURE PANEL @ 3:15pm at the Gladstone Hotel in the Melody Bar
Moderated by Misha Glouberman w/ Roberta Brandes Gratz,
Michael Toke and Margie Zeidler
PUBLIC PERFORMANCE @ 6:00pm at the Corner of Queen W & Abell Street
with Jessica Rose, the Residents of 48 Abell and You!
| presented by Toronto Alternative Art Fair International | TAAFI.ORG |

Dearest Queen Street Residents, Friends, Neighbours, Lovers and Developers, etc :
Participate in a series of activities about our beloved Queen Street West this Saturday!
Discuss death in a Karaoke Bar with Michael Toke (artist, Bohemian Embarrassment), Margie Zeidler (creator of 401 Richmond) and NYC urban critic and journalist Roberta Brandes Gratz (author, The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way). Join the flashlight procession and sing a song to save the Queen. Eulogize a building -48 Abell Street - with artists, residents, and surprise guests. Break a world record while dressed in funeral attire by forming the LARGEST human chain ever around our 118-year old icon to acknowledge (and resuscitate) 48 Abell as an important part of Toronto's cultural heritage.

Come together to wrap your head and heart around Queen Street West (and your arms around a building).

- - - - - - - - - 
You are invited
to the funeral of our beloved building,
The heart of West Queen West,
Forty-Eight Abell Street, Toronto, M6J 3H2
On the eve of the Eleventh day of November,
Two-Thousand-and-Six at Six O'clock P.M.
To eulogize its immanent transformation,
From an 118-year old Artist Building
To a Condominium.
- - - - - - - - -