Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Introducing Youth Apprentice Domanique Grant and Youth Leaders Dorian Johnson and Emily Jones!

We're pleased to introduce you to Domanique Grant, who will be apprenticing with Red Dress Productions on the Bleecker Coop Memorial Project.

While emerging as a singer-songwriter, Domanique Grant's additional work as an actress, dancer and advocate, combined with her studies as a double major in Theatre and International Development at York University,  has set her apart as a young multidisciplinary using her versatility in the arts to help mobilize young people across Canada by using art to promote social change. At the age of 21, Grant is the youngest ever President of Atkinson Housing Cooperative, the youngest Vice-President of the Coop Housing Federation of Toronto and the Fine Arts Director for The York Students Federation. She has been featured in The Toronto Star and the Toronto Metro, with commendations for her work in the community.

We're also delighted to introduce distinguished youth leaders Emily Jones and Dorian Johnson! 

Emily writes: "I was proudly born and raised into the Bleecker Street Coop. I am a musician/songwriter and spend majority of my time working towards making my beloved hobby into a career. I have always been involved with different projects in the co-op, but I have never taken a leadership role such as this one. Therefor, I am eagerly looking forward to being involved with this project. I feel that I have a lot to learn, yet also a lot to teach. I am so thrilled to be a helping hand in our co-op's beautiful mosaic piece, and I can already tell that it will be such a great representation of not only Bleecker Coop, but of all the amazing housing we have in our city."

Dorian writes: "I have been actively involved in my community through school teams and clubs such as the Heritage Club and Peer Leading, which aim to foster a positive space for all students. I have also been involved in cooperative housing as a youth representative in numerous national conferences as well as the recipient of the 2006 Youth Award from the Coop Housing Federation of Toronto, and I now serve as the Treasurer on the Bleecker Street Coop Board of Directors. Growing up in Bleecker Street Coop, I have been surrounded by a supportive community which positively influences our members to actively involve ourselves in our own social development. Community leaders such as Diane Frankling have instilled a feeling of pride in the community at large which has contributed to amazing improvements within the co-op and our community at large. It is these values that drive me to commemorate the great work Diane and the community has done, in creating such a wonderful place to raise our children. I believe it is critical that we continue to strive towards creating a positive community and this project as well as previous mosaics are amazing and creative representations of the possibilities of such community collaborations."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Creating Legacy: Designing for Past, Present, and Future

We've now had several community meetings with Bleecker Coop members, directors, and staff, and many  ideas have been generated through creative explorations of motif, movement, positive and negative space, colour, texture, and abstract and representational elements. 

What had been initially been conceived as a two-dimensional mosaic mural, has grown into an environmental site-specific installation that will include a large-scale mosaic mural, and modular sculptural weight-bearing works. The progression of not only the concept but also the expansion of form and disciplinary modalities are attributable to the creative and aesthetic capacities of the Bleecker Coop community. 

Legacy often refers to the tangible or material evidence or "product" of a project or combined effort. We've been thinking for several months now about the other stuff -- that which can't be measured; the residual or "soft" stuff in community engaged creative endeavours -- and how to understand and more deeply cultivate this. 

At Bleecker Coop, we have the tremendous opportunity and honour to directly experience the fruits of our labour over time. We worked with community members on two previous large-scale mosaic projects (in 2006 and 2007), and it is this history of creating together that engenders confidence and openness in contributors to bring a wealth of ideas to the table, and explore those ideas through various mediums. On this project, we've heard folks say i/we can and i/we will more often than we've heard i/we can't. The creative capacity of the community here is a great part of its legacy, and for this, we acknowledge and remember Bleecker Coop founding manager Diane Frankling who stewarded and nurtured this cooperative and its communities in ways both large and small; tangible and residual. 

We look forward to continuing in the New Year with ceramics workshops lead by Enrique Campos (where we'll fabricate some of our tiles), and to the design unveiling and vetting meeting on January 12, 2012. 

In the meantime, I've posted a few images that invite you into my process of stewarding the progression of a design that emerges from our arts-based research with community members. 

We've often been asked: How do you steward the progression of a design working with ideas, motif, and art experiments that community members bring to the table?  The short answer is this: if you scroll down (or search blog entries tagged Bleecker Coop Memorial Project) you'll see a direct relationship between the design and its path. You'll see abstract and representational elements of Dorian's trees, Ali's bear, Liliana's woven collage, Kate and Heidi's orbs, Tristan's constellation,  Enrique's lines flowing from a bear, Irene and Minda's vertical columns, Gary's ambers and golds, David's forest, Joe's waters, and Emily's gingham pattern.

Experiment 1, Anna Camilleri, paper mounted on birch bark, 14" x 8"


I've chosen to experiment and think about relief elements in mosaic by weaving and layering paper.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Line and Colour

At our fourth Bleecker Coop Memorial Project community meeting last night, we focused on line and colour; movement and pattern. Here's some of what emerged from our inquiry. 

Photography by Katie Yealland.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

WRTN/SPKN: a creative writing and zine project with Triangle Program

WRTN/SPKN is a short video (5 min 13 sec) that features creative work that emerged from a story writing and story telling project that took place at the Triangle ProgramCanada's only high school for LGBTQ youth.  For several weeks, we explored creative writing (particularly memoir) through practices including free association, “cut-up,” word strings, found poetry, and collaborative writing. We experimented with voice and form, and the relationship between the written and spoken, and visually explored word. Throughout our creative process, students were encouraged to claim their place as storytellers and experts in their own experience. Our work together culminated in the production and presentation of individual zines.

Students gave me permission to photograph their work, and develop WRTN/SPKN, a video that anthologizes their zines. There was consensus amongst the students that the video should be  distributed and available online as an educational tool. Triangle students particularly want to reach out to other youth who have been or are being bullied at school—and those who can make a big difference: school boards and trustees, school administrators, educators, and guidance counselors.

Many students said that if it weren’t for the Triangle Program, they wouldn’t be in school. Triangle students recognize education as a right for all students, and that lack of safety reduces access to education for LGBTQ students, and many other students for a variety of systemic reasons. Triangle students would like their stories and creative work to contribute to change for all youth who are struggling with safety and acceptance.
Anna Camilleri, artist educator

WRTN/SPKN is posted here on youtube:

A zine is usually a non-commercial publication, kind of
 like a magazine but with a twist. The main difference between a magazine
and a zine is that zines are not out there to make a profit but, rather, to add
other, often unheard voices into the mix. Zines are usually made out of
interest and passion and are often self-published by the writer/artist/creator. 

The Triangle Program is one of three micro-schools that are part of Toronto District School Board’s OASIS Alternative School. Triangle classroom provides a safe educational environment for LGBTQ-identified youth. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bleecker Coop Memorial Project

Welcome to our gallery of images from the Bleecker Coop Memorial Project.

We've begun meeting to tell stories, brainstorm, and explore visual representations of our ideas using oil pastel, mixed media, foam plate printing on fabric and paper, and collage. As you scroll down, you'll find a series of solo and multiple pieces produced by project contributors. This arts-based participatory research is what will lead us to identifying themes and visual motif, and ultimately, the mosaic design.

All Bleecker Coop members are invited to join in as we continue our creative exploration on Monday December 5, at 7:30 pm. All materials and refreshments will be provided.

Red Dress Productions is proud to lead this project in partnership with Bleecker Coop. Our team includes lead artist Anna Camilleri, co-lead artist Tristan R. Whiston, community artist Heidi Cho, ceramic artist Enrique Campos, photographer Katie Yealland, events and outreach coordinator Ryan Hayward, and intern Andrew Henderson.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the citizens of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Toronto.

Foam plates, and prints on cotton and paper. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Community Art Apprentice Position
Project runs: December 2011 to March 2012
Flexible/variable hours: afternoons, evenings, weekends
Remuneration: up to a maximum of $1350.00 (based upon $15/hour for 90 hours)

Red Dress Productions is proud to lead the “Bleecker Co-op Memorial Project,” a new community engaged mosaic project. One equity-seeking youth will be hired as Community Art Apprentice to work directly with lead artists. The apprentice will be involved in every stage of project development, and will play a key role as part of the leadership team.

Roles and Responsibilities will include working with the lead artists to:
• Create a safe, fun, and welcoming project environment;
• Set up and maintain the studio;
• Support project contributors;
• Contribute to technical and artistic elements of mosaic making.

Applicants don’t need any prior experience/training/education in community art, visual arts, or facilitation, but must be interested in community art, be a reliable team member, and be prepared to learn and accept direction in an applied learning environment. Additionally, applicants must also:
• Be a member of any Coop Housing Federation of Toronto housing cooperative;
• Be under 25 years of age;
• Be interested in working in an anti-oppression framework;
• Have an ability to work with a diversity of community members;
• Be interested in learning about community engaged art, and particularly mosaic;
• Be comfortable working as part of a team;
• Have good work habits: punctual, reliable, and conscientious;
• Have a sense of humour.

Please submit an email application to with the following attachments:
1) a letter of interest outlining why you’d like to work on this project, and any relevant skills or experiences
2) your resume
3) the name and phone number of two employment or character references to:

The subject line should be titled “Hiring Committee – Community Art Apprentice”. Emails with a different subject line may be deleted without being considered.

The application deadline is Friday December 9, 2011.
Late applications will not be considered.

Red Dress Productions encourages applications from members of all equity seeking groups. Short listed applicants will be invited to interview during the week of December 12.

We acknowledge the support of the citizens of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and the Cooperative Housing Federation of Toronto.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Introducing Andrew Henderson

We're pleased to welcome Andrew Henderson to Red Dress Productions. Andrew found us by way of the Community Arts Practice Certificate Program, Faculty of Fine Arts at York University, where he is currently enrolled.

Andrew Henderson is a multidisciplinary and multilingual artist living in the Church and Wellesley community of Toronto, Ontario. Being born and raised in a tiny rural prairie village called Clandeboye (MB), his experiences growing up, gay and in the breadbasket, have inspired him to use art in the community context. He is continually inspired by visual artists in the Americas and, with his training as a blacksmith, percussionist and theatre manager/creator, he hopes to bring all of these mediums together and create works that explore living in an occupied nation as a gay white male.

Currently Andrew is completing a series of paintings that document his journey of discovering a hidden heritage lost through migration to Canada.

Welcome Andrew! We look forward to shared adventures in community engaged art making.

And a few words from Andrew: "I would like to thank Anna and Tristan for all their support, now and in the future. I am very grateful and excited to be working with Red Dress Productions!"

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Announcing the Bleecker Street Cooperative Memorial Project

Bleecker Coop Memorial Project is the creation of a large-scale mosaic artwork, created for and with community members who will act as contributing artists between November 2011 and March 2012.

Bleecker Coop is approaching its 20th Anniversary in spring 2012, and its impossible to celebrate Bleecker Coop and its accomplishments without recognizing Diane Frankling.

Prior to 1990, the rundown buildings on Bleecker Street were managed by City Home, and Diane Frankling was employed as the building manager. Diane worked with tenants to successfully campaign for conversion of the building into a housing cooperative, with Diane remaining as the co-op manager until her death in March 2011.

Diane’s involvement in cooperative housing movement spanned four decades, but it was here at Bleecker Coop that Diane’s best work was done as she set about working with the members to create an inclusive and vibrant community that offers safe and affordable housing, and much more. Diane didn’t just talk about diversity, she was fearless in taking a stand on issues of diversity and inclusion, and she insured that Bleecker set an example for the rest of the Canadian co-op housing movement. Under Diane’s leadership, Bleecker was the first cooperative in Canada to priority house people living with HIV/AIDS in the early 1990s, and Bleecker Coop has been recognized with more two dozen awards for excellence in management, social change, urban greening, diversity and inclusion, and youth leadership.

For more information on how to become involved please email Red Dress Productions at reddressproductions@gmail.com

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the citizens of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NEA Creative Placemaking Webcast

A really interesting discussion about creative places and who and what makes them:


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Goings On

Dear Readers, Creative People, and Change-makers,

We haven't posted here in a while but things haven't been quiet at Red Dress Productions. We've been working with partners on imagining the framework for three new interdisciplinary projects -- one of which is beginning this fall -- we're entering a mentorship with a York University Community Arts student, and we've been grant writing to support our creative endeavours.

We've also been widening our view to more deeply consider how to sustain our work -- both as artist-creators and as a production company -- ten, twenty, and thirty years down the long road. The word legacy comes up a lot. On that note . . .

The plaque for "Many Hands Make Light Work" (Sherbourne Health Centre Community Mosaic Project) was designed by Tariq Sami and fabricated by the folks at the Lettering Shop, and is now installed.

Please click on the image for a (slightly) larger view.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Th Sherbourne Health Centre Mosaic

This is where we began.

And this is where we are now. Thanks to Rafaela Vidinha Dominici for still photography of the completed work, pictured in this series.

June 2011
18’ long x 8’ high

Many Hands Make Light Work: a partnership between Sherbourne Health Centre and Red Dress Productions. 300+ community members contributed to the conceptual development and building of this mosaic between January and June 2011. At 12 community consultations, we brainstormed, we told stories, and we made art with a range of materials including pastel and foam plate printing on fabric and paper. At the end of each consultation, we reviewed our findings from this participatory arts-based research (notes, brainstorm maps, sketches, and prints). Many individual and group pieces were created, and themes emerged: a desire to welcome people to the centre; diversity, inclusion, access, and safety; the connection between health, communities, and our environment; mentorship; transformation and life transitions.

Lead visual artist Anna Camilleri stewarded the progression of this arts-based research into a design, and the mosaic studio was opened. We built the mosaic together: 2000+ volunteer hours were invested into the creation of this public artwork.

The Sherbourne Health Centre Mosaic Project was led by project directors and lead artists Anna Camilleri and Tristan R. Whiston of Red Dress Productions, with community art apprentices Heidi Cho, Rafaela Vidinha Dominici, Daniel Ellis, and Jay Stewart, and associate artists Chantelle Gobeil and Katie Yealland.

We’re grateful to the individuals and organizations who supported this project in a variety of ways: Suhail Abualsameed, Melissa Benner, Dr. Decina, Janet Godin, Amy Goudge, Ryan Hayward, Mark Jankie, Michael Kell, Doug Kerr, Loree Lawrence, Tim Leeder, Skye Louis, Suzy Malik, Caelin Meredith, Jose Portilla, Pam Sloan, Andrew Suri, and Mike Yealland; Neighbourhood Arts Network; staff and students at the Sherbourne Chiropractic Clinic; Bleecker Street Co-operative Homes; Tile City Ltd.; working group committee members Clare Nobbs, Nancy Granda, Jen Keystone, Mark Egtesadi, Heidi Cho, Nicole MacLellan, and Marc Piccinato; installation technicians Katie Yealland, Doug Reid, and Hunter Marino; and the board of directors and staff of the Sherbourne Health Centre. Special thanks to Clare Nobbs and Suzanne Boggild for championing this project.

Project contributors include A.J., Allias, Suhail Abualsameed, Kacii Alexus, Teresa Allen, Nickolai Anderson, Anne, Antonio, Alvaro, Terrance B, Shanea B, Carl B, Alexander Baali, Matt Bahen, Joshua Bailey, Lynden Bailey, Maxine Y. Baines, Kanthy Bala, Nivedita Bala, Christine Balmes, Lorraine Barnaby, Selina Bavinka, Elisa Bekri, Adam Benn, Drew Birka, Gary Blaize, Stephan Blizzard, Sabrina Bloomberry, Melodie Boccioletti, Suzanne Boggild, Daniel Bois, Neil Boyce, Afi Browne, Catherine Bruhier, Elizabeth Burns, Richard Burns, Dana Bustard, Craig C., John Caffery, Anna Campbell, Zulema Cardenas, Jessica Carfagnini, Richard Carrier-Bragg, Bryanna Carter, Angela Cassidy, Cecilia, Sara Chambers, Parul Chaturvedi, Bernice Chau, Chris, Michele Clark, Damion Clunis, Ursula Conlon, Lexii Cooper, Muriel Cooper, Jeanette Cournoyer, Fran Creed, Kat Dandy, David, Sebastian Di Trolio, Aerissa Roy Dupuis, Dashiel Dwyer, Tammy Ebuen, Mark Egtesadi, Rachel Epstein, Megha Eswaran, Bradley Farough, Alex Filion, Ryan Firestone, Juilan Flemmings, Matt Caron Francino, Mararet (SP?) Franklin, Lisa Freeman, Alexander Gonzales, Ilaneet Goren, Amy Goudge, Gloria Gil, Lilian Gessner, Rachel Green, Markus Harwood Jones, Charlotte Hastings, Maxwell He, Ewaldine Hei, Bethan Amanda Henry, Lee Hicks, Holly, Mike Holton, Avery Hornick-Rowe, JP Hornick, Katy Hornsby, Lisa Huang, Joey Huff, Alicia In Baptiste, Teruma Ikeda, Mark Jankie, Heidi Janson, Clare Jarrold, Chris Jeethan, Jen, Jessica, Jennifer Jewell, Murray Jose, Jude, Asif Kamal, Tjinomasa Kandundu, Thom Keeler, Michael Kell, Doug Kerr, Jen Keystone, Stella Kim, King, Ambrose Kirby, Adrian Kirkland, Kirien, Kaeren Knight, Gillian Kranias, Ursula Kranias-Stewart, Melissa Krause, Irene Lambert-Gobeil, Jessica Larabee, Bernadette Lettner, Chelsey Lichtman, Alex Looky, Lauren M – B, Madhushan, Terry MacDougall, Jordyn Mackay, Nicole MacLellan, Jim Maggi, Alice Man, Zara Mansion, Codey Margeson, Justin Matthews, Julie Marentette, Hunter Marino, Maritza, Maxwell, Kathryn Maxwell, Melinda, Felipe Mendes, Patrick Miclette, Joey Miles, Shamiia Miller, Al Milton, Heron Mitchell, Jordyn Monroe, Snoopy Monroe, TKO Monroe, Twysted Monroe, Alain Mootoo, Aintony Mortimore, Anthony Moscar, Ice Musceo, Devan Nambiar, Mahes Nampi, Crysta Neilson, Zoe Neilson, Clare Nobbs, Colin O’Brien, Liam O’Handley, Geramie O’Shea, Amy O’Sullivan, Pam, Ena Papp, Jevon Papp, EK Park, Ann-Marie Peart, Julia A. Perez, Leslie Peters, Danny Phan, Marc Piccinata, Jose Portilla, Emery Potter, Jothi Ramesh, Jade Reid, Remy, Janet Rowe, Aerissa Roy-Dupuis, Selena Roposo-Rois, Rose, Judy Rowley, Paul Andrew Rye, Dane S., Jamie S, David Sanders, Alyssa Santos-Romeiro, Mateo Santos-Romeiro, Vera Santos, Scarlett, Dane Scott, Michael Schwartz, Katya Sh, Jennifer Shandard, Dwayne Shaw, Shawna, Lee Shields, Dane Shortt, Keith Showers, Shyana, Fox Silver, Jason Sinclair, Mala Singh, J. Sloat-Spencer, Maverick Smith, Laura Sparrow, Silas Sparrow, Andy Sprung, Michael St. Clair, Juno Stewart, Nick Torok, Corzi Toussaint, Natalyn Tremblay, Donna Turner, Natasha Tutt, Donny Vivid, Benjamin Walsh, Jing Wang, Mark Warren, Dorothy Whiston, Paige Whitewax, Paris Wright, Ryan Woods, Marcos Zelaya, Yadira Zelaya, Amele Zewge-Teffera, Heidy Zunn, and others who have chosen to remain anonymous.

The Sherbourne Health Centre Mosaic Project has been made possible thanks to the citizens of Ontario through the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council.