Altos de Chavón

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The vision of Robert Copa, a former set designer for Paramount Pictures, can be realized as you walk along the cobblestone paths of Altos de Chavón in La Romana, Dominican Republic. His inspiration could have come from any one of the small towns nestled along the Mediterrean ,only here, the palm trees sway in the breeze, tropical rains fall and the pink bougainvillea’s splash a colourful backdrop for the stone buildings. The village overlooks the winding Rio Chavón and around the bend you will find a stunning Roman-styled, 5000 seat amphitheatre where the voice of Frank Sinatra once echoed into the night air. Other performances include: Buddy Rich, Santana, Duran Duran, Alicia Keys Andrea Bocelli and Sting. A quaint church, Iglesia San Estanislao de Cracovia, can be found near the square along with a few rustic restaurants, shops and tropical gardens.

“The Winter Vault” and Art Deco

Clarendon“It was past midnight by the time they reached Toronto. Clarendon Avenue was treelined,empty. The leaves of the maples gathered in the warm wind. Jean pushed open the wrought-iron door of an old stone apartment building, pendulous glass lanterns glowing in the entranceway.

-Step outside,said Jean,holding the door open for Avery to enter.

Inside,the foyer ceiling glowed with stars.

– This is where my mother and father lived when they were first married,said Jean. The painter J.E.H. MacDonald designed everything – the symbols of the zodiac,the patterns on the beams- and a young man named Carl Schaefer, climbed the ladder and painted them.”

An excerpt from “The Winter Vault” by Anne Michaels. The book was on the short-list for the 2009 Scotiabank Giller Prize. The author also wrote “Fugitive Pieces”.

I read this book a few years ago for a book club discussion.The book was well received for its beautifully written story and descriptive detail.

A good friend of mine knows how much I love architecture and history so she introduced me to her brother who happens to know a lot about Toronto’s history. He met us on a chilly fall day and gave us a very informative and fascinating tour of city architecture. One building in particular –  the highlight of the tour, was this building on Clarendon Avenue.

The scene in the book literally came to life for me that afternoon ; it was like walking into the novel itself. When we read fiction, the writer’s words are descriptive on the page and each reader has their own visual interpretation of those words – that’s what makes the connection between writer and reader so intimate and anonymous.

The foyer, as described in the book, was painted by Canadian Artist, Carl F. Schaefer in September and October of 1928.  J.E.H. MacDonald designed the ceiling and was also a renowned Canadian artist ;  a leading member of the  Group of Seven. The owner and builder of the Clarendon building was Henry Falk, an American who had an appreciation for the arts and so he specifically hired the top Canadian artists at the time for his buildings. The colour and design of the ceiling took on an Art Deco style of the twenties, and the paint included gold leaf in the mixture. Also, a technique used for the first for its time; the ceiling was textured, poured concrete.

Carl F. Schaefer –

J.E.H. MacDonald –

The Winter Vault

© 2013 Ann Ivy Male

Union to Tower – Toronto

It was a special trip into the city this afternoon to spend time with my dad and baby sister on her birthday. I chose to capture the day in collage with three different impressions.

In De-Constructing Union Station ; I was amazed by the number of cranes, concrete trucks, hard hats and dump trucks in and around Union Station. The sun, reflecting off the gold RBC building, left some very interesting shadows on the tired train station that is now getting a well-deserved facelift.

Next, we have Bird’s Eye View ; it only takes 58 seconds to get to the top of the CN Tower, but once you are there – the view is breathtaking. Taxi cabs look like tiny Tonka cars, sky-scrapers no longer look intimidating, and a glass floor invites you to view the city just like a swallow does. The architectural wonder opened on June 26th,1976 and was designated the tallest tower in the world for over three decades. Now that’s World Class!

Lastly, we have Whimsical City ;  a Yellow Maple, Mountie Moose, Pepsi and the CBC- not much to explain, just things that caught my eye.

De-Constructing Union Station

Bird’s Eye View

Whimsical City

© 2012 Ann Ivy Male