Controversial painting draws crowds at Detroit museum's Van Gogh exhibit 

AE - Van Gogh Novel Reader January 27 2023

Well, that’s one way to get them to pay attention to a picture. For the past month the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has been in the centre of a legal storm over one of the paintings in its blockbuster show Van Gogh in America, which closed Sunday. No doubt the international controversy also happily kicked-up attendance numbers for the exhibit of 74 paintings - media reports showed crowds swarming the art work - outstanding for any art museum, the artist having the name he has. The latest turn in the soap opera was yesterday when a federal appeals court ruled the DIA could keep the controversial painting until the tug of war ends between the museum and a Brazilian man who claims ownership of the multi million-dollar work called The Novel Reader (1888). Art dealer Gustavo Soter claims he lost track of the painting until he found out it was on display at the Detroit museum. Soter’s lawsuit says he bought the painting in 2017 for $3.7 million but never took possession (the painting ia apparently worth more than $5 million now). Instead it was stored by a third party with whom he lost contact. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld a lower court ruling that the DIA did not have to give up the painting because it was protected by a federal law granting immunity to foreign artwork on display in the United States, the Immunity from Seizure Act. “The DIA will fully comply with the order from the U.S. Court of Appeals regarding the custody of The Novel Reader and will be responding on January 30 to the plaintiff ’s recent pleading,” DIA spokeswoman Megan Hawthorne said. “The DIA will have no further comment prior to a ruling by the court.” The exhibition opened in October and obviously ended with a bang.

Counselling available for audiences negatively affected by play content

AE - Theatre curtain December 20 2022

If you’re attending a University of Windsor student play and are somehow negatively affected by its contents you can call up to four counselling services affiliated with the university. The Need to Talk? program is appended to the University Players schedule of upcoming plays such as 365 Days/365 Plays in February and Twelfth Night in March-April. It’s uncertain whether the U Players are among the first Canadian or campus theatrical groups to post trigger warnings for counselling services for play content although more and more institutions and particularly universities have set up “safe spaces” for a variety of matters where people may be emotionally affected. Says the University Players website: “Often, theatre productions present content that may deeply affect some patrons. Please heed any warnings in our show descriptions. If you're feeling overwhelmed, in need of support, or just need to talk with someone, here are some great places to start.” The counselling services include the Sexual Misconduct Response & Prevention Office on campus, the Windsor-Essex Community Crisis Line, the campus Peer Support Centre and Good2Talk. No one at the university responded to several requests for comment. Twelfth Night of course is the Shakespearean romantic comedy about a “shipwreck, mistaken identity, unrequited love, and fools who speak the truth.” It’s a confusing farcical love tale where “love triangles are resolved.” The play is suitable for ages 10+, the Players say. Their other upcoming play is 365 Days/365 Plays by Suzan-Lori Parks, a US Pulitzer winning playwright. The play takes a “deep dive into the human condition, at turns hilarious, touching and gut-wrenching.” It’s recommended for ages 14+. More and more theatres appear to be adding “trigger warnings,” a controversial area. Mark Shenton of The Critics’ Circle says “You can’t protect people from everything. It will ruin the theatre.” But, said reviewer Brandon Lorimer, “People have always had concerns and sensitivities; it’s just that our society is finally giving space for these opinions amongst the emotionally hardened."

Intriguing downtown "bio art" studio at the intersection of art and science 

AE - Incubator Art Gallery Dec. 2 2022

Downtown denizens and passerby may have noticed an intriguing arts space on University Ave W., right across from the Capitol Theatre. It’s the University of Windsor associated Incubator Art Lab, a unique “bio art” gallery and studio. The lab actually opened in September 2021. The School of Creative Arts affiliated space describes its design as having an “Art Nouveau decorative/biological marquee” and is “unique nationally and internationally.” But getting anyone to talk about the studio and what bio art is proved next to impossible. put out several requests to the lab and associated parties with no response. Only one artist, listed on the website as being associated with the lab, Alana Bartol, said “I am no longer based in Ontario and I am not currently associated or working with the Incubator Lab on any projects.” The lab director is an acclaimed bio artist named Jennifer Willett, on U Windsor’s faculty. Again, from the website, the original lab, located elsewhere, was founded as far back as 2009 and is “at the intersection of art, science and ecology.” It says the lab “functions both as an apparatus in which environmental conditions can be controlled towards the assisted growth of life, but also as a site that supports the development of new ideas and artistic practices.” So, the lab seems to function at the intersection of science and art. Willett has taught at Montreal’s Concordia University and Netherlands’ University of Leiden. She has exhibited around the world including in Australia, the United States and Germany. Her installations include 'When Microbes Dream,' 'Gratitude Offering for the Organisms,' 'Calling all Untethered Organisms' and 'Baroque Biology.'

Another successful WIFF and some parking and security observations

AE - Dual parking meters Nov. 16 2022

The following is abridged from Ron Stang’s Windsor Detroit Film blog:

Another great year at the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) and in the wake of two years closure due to Covid, more than 45,000 tickets sold – a new record. Here are some general observations not so much about the festival but about its downtown footprint. Why can’t the city suspend parking meter enforcement during WIFF’s 11 days? Arguably WIFF draws more people downtown than any other event except fireworks and parades and they last only one day. Yet blocks and blocks of streets remained empty of cars because filmgoers were reluctant to pay the parking meters. The two-hour meter maximums also inhibited use since most films verge on two hours or longer. The meters also charge a rather pricey $2 hourly fee. Sure enough, despite the few parked cars, a parking enforcement Commissionaires vehicle was seen tagging expired cars. Suspending parking enforcement would be a show of further support by the city and would benefit downtown retailers. Two, could not the block immediately in front of the main festival venue - the Capitol Theatre and WIFF ticket office - have been blocked off? The next block east where WIFF’s entertainment tent was set up had been cordoned off. But regular traffic continued immediately in front of the theatre where filmgoers spilled out on to the street or crossed to walk to the Chrysler Theatre. Third, the surrounding neighbourhood could be more secure. Walking west along University Ave., especially at night, there were often sketchy individuals. A woman I spoke with was reluctant to park more than a block away from the Capitol Theatre for fear of her safety. And I in fact was attacked. Nothing serious, but an individual broke from a group of about a dozen people, some apparently drunk, and pretended to punch me out. There could be a better security or showing by police.

Stratford again buying major advertising in Michigan market

A & E - Stratford Det News ad October 18 2022

Big full-page ads in The Detroit News last week were the latest in renewed mass advertising into the Michigan market – one of the most lucrative - for Ontario's Stratford Festival. And it just happens to coincide with the lifting of the compulsory use of the ArriveCAN app by the federal government at the end of September. "Welcome U.S. Visitors" proclaims the ad, adorned with fall colours, as the festival continues its post-Covid seven month run until October 30. "News: ArriveCan is no long required! Come visit us this October and enjoy picturesque Stratford in its autumn glory." It adds, "Bonus: Your dollar goes further in Canada!" Stratford spokeswoman Ann Swerdfager said the ads were a "mini-campaign, featuring a print and digital push" after a season-long buy of broadcast and digital advertising in Michigan. Stratford obviously took a huge hit with the border closed or traffic heavily limited during the Covid era but as border restrictions were lifted a considerable amount of that traffic actually came back. "In a typical, pre-pandemic year attendance is around 500,000, with about a quarter coming from the US. I don’t have figures for this year yet," she said. "However, we’ve been very pleased to see large numbers of Americans returning to Stratford this season after the pandemic intermission, as border restrictions have been lifted." In pre-pandemic times as much as 25 per cent of the audience came from the US, with half from Michigan and 20 per cent from New York state. American visitors aren’t just key to the theatre festival. "Our American visitors are vital to our success," Swerdfager said. "They tend to settle in for a number of days in Stratford during which they see many productions. We look forward to welcoming even more back next year and beyond." At one time the festival ran a chartered bus service from Michigan. Will it resume? "Not at this time, but if there is demand we would look at it again," she said. Stratford won’t disclose the cost of the campaign. But Swerdfager said the print campaign was specifically launched "after the mandatory use of ArriveCAN was lifted." 

Let there be 'Light' - WIFF's opening film for first full festival since 2019

AE - WIFF opening film Empire of Light Sept. 20 2022

The Windsor International Film Festival kicks off its 11-day post Covid extravaganza this year with director Sam Mendes’s Empire of Light starring Colin Firth and Olivia Colman. Set in 1980s Britain the film is a love story set against the economic and social background of the era. Appropriately, it’s all about the movies, since the two main characters work in a local cinema; hence the name. The closing film, from France, is Hawa directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. This coming-of-age story about a precocious teen is about finding respite amidst personal upheaval. Other films announced so far are documentary Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On about the famous Canadian native folksinger and Indigeneous activist, who rubbed shoulders with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Another is Triangle of Sadness, winner of Cannes Palme d’Or, a kind of love boat gone far awry and starring Woody Harrelson. It's described as a “troubling, gleefully misanthropic social satire.” From Iran, Holy Spider is based on a true-life serial killer, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, who targeted prostitutes in his killing spree, and whose case is explored by an investigative journalist. Close, a France-Belgium co-production which won the Cannes’ Grand Jury Prize, is a searing story about the pitfalls of teenage friendship. Finally, from South Korea, Broker explores the phenomenon of “baby boxes” – child trafficking - where babies are dropped off and cared for by others. Says WIFF executive director Vincent Georgie, “We are bringing some of the biggest films of 2022, and that is only the beginning.” Opening night is Oct. 27 and the festival closes Nov. 6. The festival, the first in-person event since 2019 (the 15th edition), has been expanded by one day to 11 days.

Book on pro wrestling, film on town of Ojibway, awarded city arts grants Sept. 15 2022

A book on pro wrestling in Windsor, a film on Ojibway as a company town and a continuing art vending machine installation were among art projects receiving thousands of dollars in the second round of the city’s annual arts grants. Jamie Greer got $2000 for a book called Killers, Butchers, Cry-Babies & Canadian Destroyers: The History of Pro Wrestling in Windsor, Ontario. Walter Sviatoslav Petrichyn obtained $1000 for a film called Ojibway, a feature length documentary about a local company town known as Ojibway. Kristina Bradt was awarded $2500 for her ongoing Tiny Art Vending Machine. The travelling vending machine features miniature art from local artists. A person pays $4 and can reach in and grab a piece of art often from lesser-known area artists. Filmmakers like Frank Varga received funding for a film Dolores Goes Downtown. Filmmakers Michael Grainger Harris received  a grant for a film about Windsor rock band Huron Lines, and Elliot Hale for a venture called Falling Through a Dream. Gavin Booth obtained funds for a dramatic short film called Sunset Junkies. A couple of ethnic groups – the Filipino community and Bangladesh-Canada Association – got grants for a festival and exhibition. A couple of Trans and LGBTQIA+ associations received grants. Other monies went to artists in dance, choral music and opera, music videos, theatre, music, poetry and visual arts. The five-member jury awarded 27 grants – 21 to individuals and six to organizations. No grant was higher than $5000. There were 47 applications. A pot of $59,000 was available. Since the launch of arts funding in 2014, 750 applications have been submitted to the city and 393 funded. $832,000 has been awarded altogether

Comedian Dave Merheje - probably not exactly Windsor's best ambassador? Sept. 2 2022

Let’s assume it’s all a joke as Dave Merheje’s references to Windsor might not be the most flattering in the world. The comedian, who’s won international fame and now makes Los Angeles his home, grew up in a Lebanese household, the child of immigrants, in the City of Roses. He’ll be returning for a “Homecoming” performance Oct. 7 at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts, the college where he’s an alumnus. “His multiple award-winning act has gained a loyal following across North America with his ‘no fear’ approach on stage and a comedy style best described as aggressive in-your-face funny,” says a press release. According to St. Clair VP John Fairley, Merheje’s “stories of growing up in Windsor have been a part of his shows.” tried to reach the comedian for an interview but got no response. But a perusal of some of Merheje’s routines online left some of the following impressions. On Windsor: In a 2019 Just for Laughs comedy festival performance and referencing how people across Canada widely hate Toronto, he says “There’s rage. I understand that. I wasn’t born there. I was born in Windsor. That’s a shittier place. Do you understand that? It’s a way shittier place. They shut down the Tim Horton’s. Do you know how bad your town has to suck to shut down a Tim Horton’s? ‘What happened to the Tim Horton’s?! No more double doubles.’ Move, right now! You’ve gotta get out. There’s trouble coming.” And in a 2012 Absolute Comedy Club show: “I grew up in Windsor Ontario” (some Windsor audience members cheer) “Nice,” he replies. Then, he says, “Windsor’s a shithole (the Windsorites in the audience go “ahhhhh!”) He retorts, ”You know it is, calm down, they just shut down the Tim Horton’s - relax. You know how fucked up your city has to be to shut down a Tim Horton’s?” And here’s Merheje on Windsor’s relationship with Detroit: “If you live in Windsor (you) go to the ghetto in Detroit by take a weird exit, there’ll be construction and you’re fucked.” And on his Lebanese background: “I grew up with Lebanese parents so its hard to, like, there’s no emotion ….like my dad, you know, keeps it in here… mom’s like too much, she cries like it’s the Oscars.” Merheje also riffs on his seven-year-old niece, who told him he wasn’t a man because he couldn’t afford to buy her something. “How about I take you to a bus stop and just leave you there and then you start a panic attack because you don’t know what the bus route is? You want to play around like that? I pay rent. You understand that? (crowd applause) But this is why I don’t want kids.”

An Essex County rural playhouse is an idea whose time may soon come August 19 2022

A year-round live theatre likely in southern Essex County would fill a gap in both the local arts and tourism markets. Essex Mayor Richard Meloche is proposing the venture, likely a public-private partnership, that would be similar to other rural theatres in southwestern Ontario like the St. Jacob’s (photo) or Victoria playhouses. Meloche, a theatre aficionado who travels as far as St. Jacob’s for live theatre, says a local playhouse might capitalize on and draw some of the same market that already visits wineries along the County Rd. 50 tourist trail. There might already be an eager local audience. This summer there were six performances of the play Falling Awake in the Colchester Anglican church “and it was packed every show.” Meloche said that while he would like to see the playhouse located in his municipality, he’s not wedded to the idea. “I think Essex is very central and a lot of the wineries are right here, and it could be a very keen part of the County Rd. 50 tourism attractions.” But he thinks “it is larger than that and I think we have to look at the whole region.” There could be spinoffs, boosting the theatre community generally and offering summer spinoffs in amphitheaters like those in Lakeshore and Leamington. Meloche has already spoken with possible investors and has had informal talks with some people in the theatre community. Meloche said the playhouse could be built from scratch or be located in a converted existing building. The mayor also pointed to the large Detroit market to make the theatre a destination point. “People would come over and stay here and wine and dine – the whole works," he said. "And that’s what were aiming at, something that’s going to bolster our tourism and give the locals an opportunity to have it right in their backyard.”

Covid has changed Kingsville folk festival event - and for the better Aug. 3 2022

Covid has changed the concept of the traditional Kingsville Folk Festival with a new name, format and lots of potential. The last time the festival was held was in pre-Covid 2019. The new event is called the Greenway Jam and will be held Aug. 12-14. Whereas the festival was held at Lakeside Park the new event will have stages located within several hundred metres of one another at the very southern end of the popular Chrysler Canada Greenway trail, within the urban town of Kingsville itself. Kingsville Music Society director Michelle Law says the change was necessitated by continuing fears of Covid. Under the former set up more than 300 people would be in a food building for performers and volunteers. “Our thought was, ‘What if one person tests positive’ on the (first day) and then we have to shut that all down,” she said. So organizers decided to spread the festival out with different stages along the trail, all within easy walking distance. They’re the Groverdale House, Kingsville Brewery, Mettawas Station Restaurant and Grove Brewing Co. A wrap up party Sunday will be held a little further east at Pelee Island Winery. Instead of in-house food prep there will be limited outdoor vendors. The new concept also is a bonus for the town’s restaurants “that have been hard hit by the Covid closures,” Law said. Another plus is that, for the first time, daytime concerts will be free, “which is kind of exciting,” she said. And stretching performances along the Greenway opens that trail for a wide array of future events. Says Law, “wouldn’t it be awesome to be on your bicycle and ride along and there’s music and there’s artisans and craft vendors everywhere like an Art in the Park set up along the Greenway.” Otherwise the festival has a similar performance format with five acts each night on the main stage with a couple of headliners, some of whom will also appear on the daytime stages. There will be more than 20 local and national performers altogether. Among headliners will be Kathleen Edwards, Steven Page and Ashley MacIsaac. For more info go to

Image: Kingsville Music Society

'Lucy and Bonbon' - imaginative novel, set in Windsor and Detroit, explores physical and human boundaries July 21 2022

Windsor and Essex County figure large in a new book by author Don LePan. Called Lucy and Bonbon, the highly innovative novel takes a look at a number of issues that might come under the subject of borders. Whether that’s crossing the Ambassador Bridge, to the border between human beings and other animals, the novel is a stark and sometimes humorous telling of a working class Comber woman’s confrontation with both. The book’s cover shows the Ambassador Bridge taken from the Windsor side. (It looks like it was taken during Covid because there is only one car on the bridge!) LePan, who currently lives in British Columbia, chose Windsor-Detroit as a key place for where the story is set. Lepan has never lived in Windsor but visited the area several times and has “vivid memories” of the place. He says the bridge itself is “indeed relevant” to the story. “Lucy (one of the main characters) lives on the Canadian side but ends up having her child across the river in Detroit; she goes back and forth over the bridge at that stage of her life several times,” he told “When she moves to Alberta a few years later she crosses the bridge again, and has a tense moment or two with border security on the American side.” Borders are of “central importance” to the story. “The difference in the legal status of certain sorts of individuals in Canada and the US is a recurring issue, and the book ends with a confrontation at another border crossing, in Alberta,” LePan said. “More broadly still, the central question the novel explores is where we should draw the border between the human and the non-human.” According to one reviewer the novel is a “fascinating exploration” of ideas. Local readers will enjoy the accurate descriptions of both Windsor and Detroit with references to the sometimes anxiety of crossing the border and dealing with Customs to depictions of the rural landscape around Comber, and the urban thoroughfares like Sandwich Street in Windsor and the Cass Corridor in Detroit.

Zombies descending on Windsor as filmmakers cast soon for film shoot July 7 2022

Zombies are descending on Windsor. Or about to. Local filmmaker Mike Stasko will be directing a new spoof on sci-fi and horror flicks, called Vampire Zombies…From Space! at various locations around Windsor. Stasko has made several films including Boys vs Girls (2019) starring Colin Mochrie and Kevin Macdonald and The Birder (2014) starring Tom Cavanaugh, Fred Willard and Graham Greene, both of which can be viewed ion Amazon Prime and Crave, and have been featured in numerous film festivals. Think of the films of Mel brooks, Ed Wood and the humor of South Park, and if you threw them together you’d get an “an over-the-top comedy feature that pays homage to, and satirizes, science fiction and horror films from the past,” the production team says. The plot: From the depths of space, Dracula has devised his most dastardly scheme yet. Residents of a small American town are turned into his army of, well, vampire zombies. A “motley crew” has to track them down: an old school detective, rookie cop, chain-smoking greaser and valiant young woman. Casting begins soon. Since the film is set in the 1950s “we will be utilizing many of Windsor's historic areas, like Walkerville,” says co-producer and writer Jakob Skrzypa. Skrzypa, of Essex, has produced MTV/Paramount’s The Challenge and worked on Survivor, Big Brother Canada and Nathan for You. The movie has secured funding but the filmmakers have launched a Kickstarter campaign to round out the budget and “make sure it’s filled with gruesome practical effects, b-movie miniatures, and gut-busting laughs.”

Group of Seven art headed to A'burg June 27 2022

The Art Gallery of Windsor is coming to Amherstburg. For the first time the gallery, rechristened Art Windsor-Essex (AWE), will bring an exhibition of “pop up” art to the county. The gallery recently experimented with an exhibition of art reproductions in places around downtown Windsor. More pop-ups are expected in other city neighbourhoods. Local A’burg movers and shakers Colleen and Richard Peddie were behind the move. There will be five art works located in the burg’s downtown beginning July 1. The exhibit is called Look Again! Outside: Amherstburg. The reproductions feature Canada’s famed Group of Seven (Arthur Lismer’s Tide Pools is shown above). The 10-day event will be located above the River Bookshop (another Peddie initiative) Hole in the Wall event space at 67 Richmond St. and admission is free. AWE executive director Jennifer Matotek will host an informal Q & A July 9 from 1 – 3 pm. The event is also sponsored by Cooper’s Hawk Winery. “Colleen and I enthusiastically support Look Again! 0utside: Amherstburg because we know it will help make our community an even more beautiful and interesting place to live and visit,” Peddie said in a statement. There will also be a Zoom discussion with author and illustrator Douglas Hunter July 7 at 7 pm. It focusses on Group of Seven co-founder A. Y. Jackson’s coming of age as an artist during World War I. Meanwhile the gallery tells that the reactions to its downtown Windsor exhibit were “overwhelmingly positive” and there was “no graffiti or damage” to the pieces. The Against the Current interactive experience, accessed through a QR code, was visited more than a thousand times. Art Windsor-Essex (AWE) is now choosing Amherstburg in part because “we found a willing and generous and collaborative partner.”  As well, the museum “feels the changes happening in Amherstburg are aligned with the kind of transformations we are looking to undertake.” 

You might find your pic in huge Devonshire multicultural mosaic June 8 2022

If you look closely you might see your picture in a huge new mural inside Devonshire Mall. The mural went up a few months ago but as foot traffic returns to the mall following Covid restrictions more and more people might take a look and see if they show up among the multitude of photos making up the artwork. The mural was installed, courtesy of Devonshire management, on a large wall in the former food court. It features thousands of photos taken at Carrousel of the Nations’ villages over the past three or four decades. “If you’ve ever had your picture taken at any one of the villages at Carrousel of Nations over the last few decades there’s a good chance that you might be able to find your individual picture in that mosaic,” Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County director Fred Francis says. The MCC got a federal grant to create the mural. “We wanted to do something to showcase the multiculturalism of the area,” Francis said. They contracted local artist David Creed. From afar you see large images of people of different ethno-cultural backgrounds who reflect the wide diversity of the local community. But when you walk up closer you see thousands of photographs of people attending Carrousel events. These make up the larger image. “Obviously everyone has a story and everyone has a unique value – right?” Francis says. “But when you step back and you take all the individuals together that’s where you have community.” Not only that, but the mosaic highlights the MCC’s largest yearly event – the two weekend annual Carrousel of the Nations, which kicks off in-person June 17th after a Covid hiatus. 

Discover art - virtually - around DT May 2 2022

Next time you’re downtown why not whip out your phone, walk around, and discover a little art. Art Windsor Essex, the new name of the Art Galley of Windsor, has launched the Against the Current app. There are eight locations, from the bus station to the riverfront, where you can link virtually to reproductions of paintings that are in the art gallery collection. When someone arrives at the location (directions provided) they’ll see a QR code to see a pop up as well as info about the art. For example, “Champion Innovation” at the Riverfront Trail. “Seth Arca Whipple’s The City of Windsor (1890) shows off an expert technical approach to marine art oil painting.” The app also provides the historical context – for example, the painting used to be displayed in steamship offices across the country. And there’s a mini game: recreate the painting through a drag and drop option. There’s another piece of art at the downtown bus terminal, Even Penny’s 3-D sculpture made of facial features from the artist’s memory. “The sculpture dares to question identity, reality and…life itself,” the app says. Other art works are at the DT Farmers Market, St. Clair College Centre for the Arts, Francois Baby House, Windsor Public Library, UW School of Creative Arts and Capitol Theatre. Artists represented are Emily Carr, Seth Arca Whipple, Prudence Heward, Evan Penny, James Kerr-Lawson, Mary Hiester Reid, Norval Morrisseau and Lawren Stewart Harris. Says spokesperson Petra Nyhuis, the app lists artists’ “accomplishments, how they challenged the status quo, or how they influenced art and thought in their time.” Downtown offers free public Wi-Fi. You can also collect unique “milestones” tied to the artists’ legacy and be invited to the museum “for one last surprise.” With four of eight stations completed you get a 50 per cent museum discount.

Windsor Jewish Film Festival is back in the seats for first time since 2019 April 22 2022

Emmy-winning Ed Asner stars in the Tiger Within, the film that kicks off the Windsor Jewish Film Festival, the first time the festival has been held in-person since 2019. As previous years, the festival takes place at Cineplex Devonshire Mall. Tickets are available only in person and sales start 30 minutes before screenings. The festival runs Monday April 25 to Thursday April 28 with usual afternoon and evening showtimes. Admission is $12 cash only. Tiger Within, set in LA, tells the story of an unlikely friendship between a Holocaust survivor and a cynical homeless teen. Asner stars in his last performance. It screens Monday 8 pm. Tuesday will see Love It Was Not, which tells the story of the transport of Jewish women and girls from Slovakia to the Auschwitz concentration camp and a secret relationship between one and a SS officer. Neighbours is set in Iraqi Kurdistan and focuses on the one Jewish family among a hostile Baathist regime. Berenshtein is the personal reflection of a Soviet army officer, a Jew, who discovered the Nazis' secret V2 rocket factory during WW II. On Wednesday it’s Kiss Me Kosher, a rom-com described as “hilarious and heart-breaking” about an Israeli and German woman about to marry. That’s followed by Betrayed, about the fate of a Jewish family in Oslo when the Nazis occupied Norway. Next is A Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto, a unique Jewish area in Rome now frequented by tourists but has a dark history. On Thursday One More Story, a drama comedy based on an Israeli bestseller, about the sometimes hilarious nature of dating and finding love. Valiant Hearts is based on the rescue of six Jewish children in France, hidden, in all places, among Louvre Museum artworks. Finally, Here We Are, an Israeli film, closes the festival, a drama exploring the relationship between a father an autistic son in his 20s, a festival crowd pleaser winning numerous audience awards. For more go to

Serving up Detroit-themed artwork March 3 2022 

Want to buy some Detroit-themed memorabilia? The Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is selling Motor City merchandise. The products can be bought in person or online. Some of the art features images of the city itself like the old downtown Hudson’s department store and a street map of downtown Detroit (image). There are also cork boards of the north and south walls of the DIA’s famed “Detroit Industry” murals by Mexican artists Diego Rivera. Besides cork boards there’s aluminum art available on the store's website. Made by local artists and exclusively for the DIA, the designs merge colorful graffiti patterns with historic imagery and are ready to hang in your home, office or wherever you choose. Another image is of the old Michigan Central railway station, which can be seen from the Ambassador Bridge and is now being restored by the Ford Motor Company. It’s not the first time the DIA museum shop has worked with local artists, says the museum’s retail merchandise analyst Gina Thomas. “We like to work with as many local makers and artists as possible, as it aligns with our mission at the DIA,” she says. “We frequently collaborate with local companies to produce one-of-a-kind, high-quality products, often representing the city of Detroit.” Thomas says the museum solicits ideas from the artist community or sometimes ideas are pitched to the museum shop. “There is a good push and pull, sometimes the vendors offer great ideas which we refine before creating a final product, and sometimes we have an idea that our vendors work to expertly execute - both result in producing unique high-quality products that reflect our city and institution.” Meanwhile, each of the aluminum panels as well as the Detroit Map Cork Board “were all designed in collaboration with our local partner-vendor using original graphic designs created in house,” added Jennifer Borthwick, E-commerce and Specialty Sales Coordinator. “As for these unique designs themselves they were all uniquely created.“

Image: DIA

A Windsor book of Covid memories February 16 2022

Got a memory about how the Covid-19 pandemic affected you? Museum Windsor wants to hear. The museum, which runs the Francois Baby Hoouse and Chimczuk Museum, is asking people to fill out their thoughts on pages of a Covid Memory Book. “It is our goal to assemble a COVID-19 artifact, photo, document and journal collection for use in future exhibitions or research,” museum curator Madelyn Della Valle says. There is no date for an exhibition. But the museum will soon be displaying a community quilt. It was made by the Windsor Essex Sewing Force. It honours and recognizes all those “who played a part in getting masks on faces and caps on heads.” This was at the beginning of the pandemic when Windsor Regional Hospital asked the public if they could supply cloth masks. It was a response to a major shortage of PPE. As for the full Covid exhibit, including the memory books, that will have to wait “until we are definitively through the pandemic,” Della Valle said. This will also provide a chance “to let the future historical interpretation mature.” People can submit their memories when they come to the museum. Or they can print out the pages and submit their written thoughts or simply provide their thoughts via email. The website is These contributions will become part of the museum’s Covid-19 collection.....Meanwhile, for Heritage Week Feb 21 – 27, there will be free admission to the Chimczuk Musuem. There will be scavenger hunts, crafts and a display of objects recently donated to the museum, as well as the chance to write in the  COVID Memory Book. Ongoing exhibits are Navigating Our Way, Maps of Windsor and Essex County, and Bustles and Bows:  Women's Fashion from the Victorian Era through the 1920s. The Francois Baby House will also feature a scavenger hunt and children's crafts. 



New honour for woman who singled-handedly restored Mackenzie Hall January 20 2022

Evelyn McLean, the person who single-handedly was responsible for one of Windsor’s first major historic building restorations, Mackenzie Hall, will be honoured with a corner wall memorial in the famed west side building. McLean, who died in late 2020, also founded Friends of the Court, the civic group which has overseen the stately building since it was renovated and converted to an arts and cultural centre in the early 1980s. “From soliciting funding, hiring an architect, overseeing the reconstruction of the inside of the building and cleaning the outside, and maintaining the integrity of the building, Evelyn was the one in charge,” says a letter from the Friends seeking permission for the memorial. The limestone building on Sandwich St. in Olde Sandwich Towne just underwent a $750,000 facelift. Mackenzie Hall was built in 1850s by Alexander Mackenzie, who became Canada’s second prime minister. The building also was a county courthouse until 1963 and then became the county’s administrative headquarters.  McLean herself was accomplished. She was Dean of Women at the University of Windsor, the city’s first heritage planner and author of several booklets and papers on Windsor's oldest buildings. “Evelyn was an extremely talented intelligent person, both in her art as well as in her interest in protecting the built heritage of Windsor and in particular Sandwich,’ the Friends’ Don Wilson said. The memorial will see a framed memorial of McLean herself, flanked by some of her art pieces. McLean died at age 89 of Covid-19.

Famous musicians endorse Windsor sculpture of CKLW's music legend January 4 2022

Two big names in Canadian showbiz have endorsed a local artist’s proposal for a statue honoring former CKLW Big 8 music director Rosalie Trombley. Gordon Lightfoot and Dan Hill wrote in support of local artist Donna Jean Mayne’s sculpture of “The Girl with the Golden Ear,” which could be located on Windsor’s waterfront or in Jackson Park, or even as part of the city’s planned Civic Esplanade downtown. Trombley, who died in November, oversaw the famous pop station’s musical playlist in the late 1960s and 70s. Her uncanny ability to spot hits sparked or helped the careers of Elton John, Bob Seger, Alice Cooper and Kiss as well as Motown faves like Stevie Wonder and The Four Tops.  The 50,000-watt station punched way above its weight for the community from which it broadcast, its signal heard widely in North America and even beyond, the music station becoming one of the most influential of the era. Said troubadour Gordon Lightfoot, in supporting the sculpture, Trombley “possessed the ‘ears’ to determine which songs has that ‘hit’ factor.” He said once Trombley picked a song it often was chosen by other radio stations and skyrocketed up the charts. “Personally, I am grateful that Rosalie added/played many of my records in high rotation.” Meanwhile composer and singer Dan Hill said he “cannot think” of anyone who is more deserving of such recognition as Trombley. “I personally benefitted immensely when Ms. Trombley, in 1976, added my single ‘Growing up (in the shadow of the USA)’ to her vaunted playlist.” Hill called Trombley a “mentor” for him and “countless gifted Canadian artists.” Mayne has also received support from Trombley’s family. “Her work is stunning and she is amazingly talented!” Trombley’s daughter Diane Lauzon said of the sculptor. The artist had requested $55,760 from the city towards a $155,760 project, fundraising making up the other $100,000. But in an update to the city’s public art advisory committee she said that the original bronze sculpture could be done in granite, at “approximately half the cost,” adding she can now “fundraise for less money.” Mayne says she contacted CKLW and owner Bell Media but has so far received “no response.” Excess donations would go to St. Clair College’s Music Theatre Performance program.

Image: Donna Jean Mayne

Windsor a market "we can count on" for Asian films, Cineplex booker says Nov 23 2021

You’ve heard of Bollywood. Now there’s Pollywood – the world of Punjabi cinema - and playing at Cineplex’s Silver City cinemas. In fact, Punjabi films have been screening there for several years as part of the theatre chain’s expanding showcase of Asian films. Besides Punjabi there are of course Bollywood, or Hindi language films, as well as Chinese movies. Why has Windsor been selected to screen such a wide variety of films from Asia? “In a lot of Canada it comes down to just regional immigration,” Robert Cousins, Cineplex’s VP of Film Buying, says. “Hindi for years has been the main language of our South Asian business. But Punjabi in Canada is the predominant other language.” Originally, South Asian films booked in Windsor came from US distributors whose advertising in Detroit “was bleeding over into Windsor and who said, ‘why don’t we take a date in Windsor.’” Attendance in the succeeding years “has been good,” Cousins adds. “Windsor has been one of those markets that we can count on when we open up a big film.” In terms of general attendance Asian films, like those of Hollywood, vary in appeal “title by title,” he says. “Big titles do extremely well.” The market is “very star-driven” and themes are important. “For the longest time we used to do extremely well with romances, and then there were more action movies,” Cousins says. Films just don’t last a week. “We treat our South Asian business like we treat out Hollywood business, as long as the public comes to watch it, it plays.” And the films can be watched by the non-Asian community since they all come with English sub-titles. In fact, some non-Asians have discovered this cinema. “They went to one and they realize these are full blown productions,” Cousins says. As well, there are movie styles “that we in North America don’t do anymore.” Melodrama, for instance. “Whether they be Chinese or Indian or other markets heightened emotion – heightened melodrama – is still a big part of the market.” In Windsor Silver City is exclusively the place to watch Asian films. “You want to make sure you can park the films in that theatre” so the audience realizes that’s the place to go to see them. 

Recent titles have been romantic comedies Paani Ch Madhaani and Honsla Rakh. And coming this week Warning and Antim: The Final Truth.

Drag queens will kick off Chrysler Theatre season with a bling bang October 14 2021

In what might be a Windsor first, at least on a large scale, the Chrysler Theatre will be bringing in a drag queen show some time in November. Theatre manager Veronica Mancini says she can’t disclose the name just yet until details are finalized. But the show will provide a bang to the re-launch of Chrysler programming after the pandemic put programming on ice for the past 19 months. In fact, the theatre had a soft opening of sorts last week with the first of three family fare movies, The Goonies. Almost 100 attended. Ironically, that was the same day the province announced theatres could resume full capacity with masking and vax certificates. Mancini said the Chrysler has 1100 seats. This was the theatre’s “slow opening,” she said. “The reason we decided to start with the Friday night movies was because of the capacity limits.” She couldn’t make money on more expensive shows with limited capacities. Upcoming Friday night movies include The Princess Bride, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Beetlejuice, with more added in November. Mancini said she has a few clients interested in November and December dates “although we don’t have much left for this year.” But in January expect dinner shows featuring the BeeGees tribute and Legends of Motown. “We postponed them so many times,” Mancini says. On Feb. 12 the Original Whalers (Bob Marley’s band) will play the Chrysler and Mancini is hoping for Mini Pop Kids in February. Meanwhile, the St. Clair College musical performance students will be back with their annual Christmas show. “They’re very thrilled that they will have a larger capacity audience to see their wonderful annual show,” Mancini said. 

Photo: Chrysler Theatre

Surround yourself by 'The Kiss' Sept. 22 2021

 Want to be embraced by a kiss? Or The Kiss? That’s the famous art work by Austrian artistic icon Gustav Klimt. A huge “immersive” exhibition of Klimt’s work is coming to Toronto Oct. 21. It follows on the current, Immersive van Gogh, located on Toronto's waterfront at 1 Yonge Street. That’s the Toronto Star’s former printing plant now turned exhibition hall and called Lighthouse Immersive. The wrap around digital exhibit features 500,000 cubic feet of projections, 60,600 frames of video and 90 million pixels on giant screens that surround patrons. Immersive Klimt is created by the very same world-renowned master of digital art, Italy’s Massimiliano Siccardi. Klimt’s striking works are world-renowned for their “colours, shapes and patterns without inhibition or limitation,” the exhibit says. “From the streets of Imperial Vienna to the natural world of water lilies, vibrant blooms and mermaids, to his acclaimed Golden Phase,” exemplified by The Kiss, patrons can literally lose themselves in this massive exhibit.  Klimt painted just before World War I in a collective that “celebrated all the colours and vibrancy of their era, embodying their motto ‘to every age its art and to every art its freedom.’” Besides the much-celebrated The Kiss patrons will see other famed works like The Tree of Life and Flower Garden, among others. “Provocative, sensual and bold, Klimt’s art and subject matter pushed boundaries, exploring the human form in new, expressive ways,” the exhibit says. The oversized exhibition might be just the thing given Klimt’s comment, “Truth is like fire; to tell the truth means to glow and burn.” Lighthouse Immersive was founded in 2019 as the city's first experimental entertainment multiplex, designed to host large scale events of all art forms. 

Photo: Lighthouse Immersive


Film lauds the famed Boblo boats August 24 2021

A new film about the iconic Boblo boats of local lore will debut next month. Boblo Boats: A Detroit Ferry Tale, opens the eighth edition of the Freep Film Festival Sept. 22 at Detroit’s Redford Theatre. The debut documentary by Aaron Schillinger and narrated by famed Motown singer Martha Reeves, follows preservationists’ efforts to keep the more than century old boats alive. The vessels carried hundreds of people each trip form downtown Detroit to Boblo, a decades old amusement park on Boblo Island opposite Amherstburg. The park closed in 1993. The Redford screening will be the film’s world premiere. (There is no indication yet on when the film might screen in Canada.) Freep Film Festival director Steve Byrne told that generations “love to reminisce about Boblo, and this doc will send them right back to the glory days of the beloved island amusement park.” Byrne said that despite the nostalgia the film is “very grounded in the present.” It follows the efforts of a “number of dedicated folks who are trying to save the decaying Boblo steamships from the scrapyard.” The film shows how a New York-based nonprofit is resurrecting the SS Columbia as a traveling museum on the Hudson River. Meanwhile, the SS Ste. Claire, which has deteriorated further and was consumed by fire three years ago, is nevertheless still the object of restoration. And by “an unlikely band of heroes: a doctor, a psychic and an amusement park fanatic.” Said filmmaker Schillinger, “I wanted to pay tribute to those memories while simultaneously peeling back the layers of nostalgia to see what stories or characters might be hiding underneath.” Shot primarily in the Detroit area, the doc features interviews, archival footage and photos and stop-motion animation. This is designed to tell the story of Sarah Elizabeth Ray, an African-American who in 1943 was forbidden to ride the SS Columbia and took her segregation battle to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Photo: Freep Film Festival

Art show highlights "Bridge Artists" August 10 2021

If you look closely you can see artwork on the towers of the Gordie Howe International Bridge. A construction box where crews pour concrete as the towers rise also has Indigenous art on the outside. Those artists are represented in a collaboration at the Art Gallery of Windsor, opening August 12. The tower art was actually recommended by workers on the bridge. “As part of our community benefits plan we integrated art from Indigenous people into the tower forms,” Windsor Detroit Bridge Authority spokeswoman Heather Grondin said. “People can actually see that art when you’re driving down Sandwich Street or Ojibway Parkway, even from EC Row Expressway. You can see that art already about 15 stories into the air.” There is also US-themed art on the American side tower. “Every side has a different design,” Grondin said. The AGW’s “Bridge Artists” exhibit features drawings (including concept ones for the bridge), paintings and textiles. They are Anishinaabe artists Teresa Altiman and Daisy White of Walpole Island First Nation and Naomi Peters of Caldwell First Nation. One of the artists, Theresa Altiman, told it was difficult to paint on the tower boxes as they were corrugated metal. “You’re trying to do straight lines. It was very difficult to do it on this kind of material,” she said. There is a video showing how the work was done. Altiman has also created art along the Herb Gray Parkway’s multiuse path, The exhibit is one of three as the AGW reopens since being closed during Covid. The others are “Conversations,” a triennial of 16 artists. “They’re trying to create different conversations about things that are happening in our community, culture, in the world,” gallery director Jennifer Matotek said. The third exhibit is works by Sorel Etrog, who has had a special connection to Windsor. His “King and Queen” adorn Windsor’s waterfront. Finally, Catherine Blackburn: New Age Warriors, "contemporary interpretations of traditional forms," rounds out the exhibitions.

Stratford has - mostly - all new line-up after the 2020 season cancellation June 29 2021

When this year’s Stratford season kicks off in July productions for the most part won’t be the same as those scheduled but cancelled last year due to Covid.  “This is an outdoor season with Covid protocols so it is very different from what we could do normally indoors,” spokeswoman Ann Swerdfager said. “Typically, we sell about 7,000 tickets per day when our four theatres are open and each play has as many as 32 people in it, plus a huge backstage crew.” But that isn’t possible as the province, effective tomorrow, moves into Step 2 re-opening with crowd limitations. Consequently, there will be smaller cast sizes - no more than eight performers each play - and smaller crews. “We have a maximum of 600 tickets per day available, three shows a day at each canopy,” Swerdfager said. However, two plays from last year were again able to be produced by virtue of their small scale. One, The Rez Sisters, will be performed at the Tom Patterson canopy. And, said Swerdfager, Three Tall Women, “which we've decided to move later in the season” indoors in the reimagined new Tom Patterson Theatre Centre once the province reaches Step 3 re-opening. The 2021 season altogether features five plays: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, R+J, Tomson Highway’s The Rez Sisters, Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women, Serving Elizabeth by Marcia Johnson, and I Am William, with text by Rébecca Déraspe, music by Chloé Lacasse and Benoit Landry, and English translation by Leanna Brodie. There are also five cabarets. Tickets go on sale July 6 for members and those with cancelled 2020 tickets and July 12 for non-members. In a way the festival returns to its roots. Stratford's first season in 1953 held outdoor performances while the first indoor theatre was being built. And that season also didn’t begin until July. In years since the festival has started in Spring and run through late fall. 

Photo: Michaela Washburn, The Rez Sisters: Stratford Festival, David Cooper

WIFF pop-up weekend film event still possible later this year - Georgie June 11 2021

While the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) has cancelled its regular 10-day event again this fall – for the second year in a row – there still may be films in the pipeline for a sort of “pop-up” mini festival later this year or early next. Director Vincent Georgie said once the film distribution system gets back up and running, after major disruption because of Covid, and matters like health and venue availability are nailed down, programmers may schedule several films over a weekend indoors. “As soon as we sort of think, hey, there’s some sense of normalcy or whatever we’re going to pilot test, yeah, pop up a couple of days with five six movies - and really with only the goal of seeing how people are feeling,” he said. The festival announced this week it was cancelling the 10-day event, Canada’s largest volunteer run film festival and was in its 15th year in 2019. Georgie told this was largely due to films not being available from distributors, even this far in advance of the mid-autumn festival. “Speaking to all of our distributors across Canada they’re all like, we still don’t really have a handle on fall 2021, everything has a question mark on it and we still can’t get into any agreements,” he said. (165 films were booked in 2019.) There was also the question of venues like the Capitol and Chrysler theatres. These facilities themselves are “unsure what their operational plans will be even when it’s legally allowed to go back to sort of normal,” he said. As well, the festival’s “core” audience are retirees, many of whom buy 10-day passes. This is also the same demographic most at risk for Covid-19 and therefore would likely be “most reticent” to attend, said Georgie. Finally, though more countries are seeing their vaccine numbers increase there are still travel restrictions. That makes it almost impossible to fly in filmmakers which is a major festival cachet. “Filmmakers are really reticent to travel if at all,” he said. But don’t despair. WIFF, like every other organization, is monitoring the state of health, vaccinations and eased public gathering rules, and could in fact hold some mini event late this year or during the winter. “Could that happen in November or December – absolutely,” Georgie said.

 (See also front page story “WIFF riverfront drive-in movie theatre expands and becomes an annual tradition”)

Top city arts grant goes to Walter Cassidy's 2SLGBTQIA history project May 25 2021

The City of Windsor’s 2021 first round top arts grant in terms of funding has gone to the  “creation of a document of the 2SLGBTQIA community history in Windsor-Essex.” The ask by artist Walter Cassidy was $4,460 and the city’s arts fund granted $4000. The project is one of 22 that saw funding totalling almost $47,000 in the first round of city funding this year. A second round of an equal amount will also take place. Forty-nine people or organizations applied asking almost $200,000. Maximum grants are $5,000. The next biggest award this round was $3500 to Austin DiPietro and his Bishop Boys pop album of original music. There were a few $2500 grants. One was to Leslie McCurdy and her What I Know Now project for a performance piece on Black history. The other went to Angelina Ebegbuzie from Our Truth, Our Story for a doc on the city’s Afro-Canadian community. Frank Varga received the same amount for a film on “life and community in small towns.” One of the more intriguing projects is Donna Jean Mayne’s The Golden Ear. She got $2000 to prepare a future “sculptural tribute” to legendary CKLW music director Rosalie Trembley. Abridged Opera Co. got $1500 to perform “a live, socially-distanced performance of Mozart’s opera.” And Rachel Pieters received $1500 to paint local drag queens for PRIDE Weekend. Those receiving the awards must be from Windsor and must account for their work. This could be such things as keeping a count of patrons who have seen the work, the number of CDs sold or performances given. 

Photo: City of Windsor

Ottawa Street is home to two more David Derkatz - 'DERKZ' - murals May 13 2021

One of the area’s most prolific graffiti artists and muralists, David Derkatz – “DERKZ” – is just finishing up his latest work, a mainly two-toned depiction of the Prohibition era on the side of an Ottawa Street restaurant. The 50 by 20 ft. painting shows several characters gathered in a speakeasy on the side of the Bourbon Tap & Grill. Derkatz calls the commissioned work “elegant, kind of classy” with black and gray tones. The only other colour will be the golden look of the booze in a whisky glass. The prolific artist hasn’t kept track of the murals he’s painted around the city. “It’s up there though”,  he says, definitely over 50. After he completes the Bourbon Tap’s image, he’ll head down the street to the law office of Legal Focus. There, he’ll paint a smaller colourful mural commissioned by the Ottawa Street BIA. “There will be blues, magentas, oranges, hints of red and greens - it’s a very vibrant mural, very bold,” he said. The images are hands portrayed in different perspectives, showing the give and take of human nature. Usually, Derkatz's murals take a week or two to do depending on weather. “We’ve been getting rained out a lot” lately, he chuckled. Last year Derkatz completed a mammoth mural on the side of the Penalty Box Too restaurant, a tribute to health care workers during the pandemic. Others of his works include one on Maiden Lane downtown – “pink and magenta – an older gentleman is giving a rose to a younger woman.” And another on Pitt St. on the side of Panache restaurant. He has several in Ford City. The images are eclectic, from dreamscapes to figures like a boxer or a girl crowned with flowers. The visual effects are striking, whimsical and bold. He uses industrial bucket paint for backgrounds and spray paints the images. Derkatz was born and raised in Windsor. He started as a graffiti artist. “I kind of gained skill using spray paint through that.” He dropped out of college. “I wanted to figure out how I could paint murals and I was finding myself skipping class and dropping out of college to go door to door and asking for opportunities to paint free murals so I could get my name out there.”

Photo: DERKZ facebook page

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Noted golfer Alice Cooper live in person

AE SH - Alice Cooper

Detroit native and noted golfer Alice Cooper will be live in person at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor Feb. 3 at 7 pm. The shock rocker, whose albums go back to 1969 and whose best-known hits are School’s Out, Eighteen, Only Women Bleed and No More Mr. Nice Guy, will be on stage to discuss his new film, also being shown, Super Duper Alice Cooper. There’ll also be a book signing with the discussion hosted by Gary Graff, former Detroit Free Press writer and author of Alice Cooper at 75, and WDET DJ Rob Reinhart. Cooper, by the way, is also known for his golf prowess. - 27/1/23

Teacher alert – Stratford interactive is here

AE SH - Shakespeare Hamlet

Stratford is, well, bringing Stratford into the classroom. The Ontario seasonal festival has lunched Classroom Connect that will allow students access to the festival’s vast library of digital content including new and classic plays. There’s filmed theatre productions, dance, podcasts, interviews and documentaries, accompanied by lesson plans and study guides. It also includes Illuminated Text which combines animation, calligraphy and street art to “reveal the intricacies of Shakespeare,” the festival says. The interactive experience, for example, allows students to explore text from  Hamlet (photo)  using the learning style of their choice – rhetoric, imagery or sound and rhythm. Cost for up to 150 users is $180 for five months. – 12/13/22

WIFF festival favourites return to the Capitol Theatre

AE SH - WIFF banner

The Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) is coming back to downtown, less than two months after the yearly 11-day event ended. It will be re-screening "festival favourites" such as French-thriller Black Box, A Year in the Forest, about a local Windsor old growth forest (it actually exists!), Walkerville's Willistead Manor: The Home That Shaped a Community, and Peace by Chocolate, about Syrian refugees in Nova Scotia. Screenings are at the Capitol Theatre Dec. 14, 15 & 16. Check out the WIFF website for more info. - 11/29/22

The Tea Party returning with symphony Feb. 3

AE SH - The Tea Party

The Tea Party will perform for the first time in 20 years with a symphony orchestra when it returns to Windsor for a performance Feb. 3 at Caesars Windsor. The band, which has played the world and calls Windsor home, is known for its progressive rock with Middle Eastern influences dubbed “Morrocan roll.” The band, originally formed 30 years ago, has released eight albums and sold more than three million units. It has received 14 JUNO and 22 MuchMusic award nominations. Its return here will be a benefit for Transition to Betterness and “essential and frontline workers.” It will perform with the International Symphony Orchestra, a 55-member band bridging Sarnia and Port Huron. – 11/15/22

Several public art pieces damaged by elements - good and bad

AE SH - Love for All statue

Public art, being out in public, is subject to the vagaries of the elements. Not just due to the weather but vandalism and theft. Such was the case with several art installations in the city in 2021, the last report available. The Jackson Park Ukrainian Monument granite base suffered cracking and is being replaced. Last spring the Black Historical Murals in Patterson Park in Sandwich Town were vandalized and have now been fully restored by the original artist Jermain Baylis. The Man on the Horse sculpture in the riverfront Windsor Sculpture garden  was stolen but now has been restored “and reinforced,” says the Community Public Art Committee. Meanwhile  Love for All Hatred for None, (photo) a globe raised by sculpted extended arms, on the riverfront and installed five years ago, had its rusting base recast in stainless steel. Finally, the Mary and Henry Bibb plaque located next to Mackenzie Hall was stolen. The plaque was federally owned and Parks Canada was looking at  reinstalling it by the end the year. -10/19/22

Photo: City of Windsor

Yes, it's Comic Con time in the Motor City

AE SH - Motor City Comic Con

Now that we're - almost - free - to cross the border (the Americans still require two shots) you might want to take in the Motor City Comic Con Oct. 14 - 16 at Suburban Collection Showplace located in Novi, Mi. Scores of celebrities from TV, movies and streaming, and Comic and Crafter guests will be on hand for Michigan's longest and largest comic and pop-culture extravaganza since 1989. A vast collection of pop-culture merchandise, like comics, art, t-shirts, movie memorabilia and posters will be available. Over 250 comic book creators, writers and artists attend. Guests can attend panel discussions, attractions and explore various exhibitor vendors. Schedules and additional fees vary per guest and event. To purchase tickets and for more information, please visit - 5/10/22

$200,000 for new museum website

Art Windsor-Essex, the still relatively new name for what was the Art Gallery of Windsor, has unveiled an updated website. Officials (photo) revealed it last week. The bright easy to navigate site breaks down into sections like current exhibitions, what's in the permanent collection and educational opportunities. It was created from a $201,500 grant by the province and Ontario Trillium Foundation. AWE executive director Jennifer Matotek said the website will help get the word to more people. “To meet this demand and maintain our artistic vision, AWE must increase its marketing and communications footprint,” she said. – 9/20/22

It will be a Starry starry night in the Motor City

One of Vincent Van Gogh’s  most famous themed paintings, Starry Night, will have a place of honour at the upcoming Van Gogh exbibit at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It’s the first time in more than a decade this particular Starry Night from Paris's Musée d'Orsay will be on display in the US. It's not the more well known version, on display at New York's Museum of Modern Art. The exhibit, featuring more than 70 works by the tormented Dutch artist, runs from Oct. 2 to Jan 22. The DIA was the first museum in America to buy a Van Gogh painting, Self Portrait in 1922. Appropriately, the exhibit, Van Gogh in America will also celebrate the 100th anniversary of that acquisition. Tickets are on sale now. – 9/6/22 (Updated with correction 9/8/22)

Rosalie Trombley's greatest hits

Rosalie Trombley - “The Girl with Golden Ear” - the famed Big 8 CKLW’s music director in the late 1960s and 70s, is renowned in pop music circles for breaking some of the biggest hits, and careers of all times. A statue is being made in her honor by Windsor artist Donna Jean Mayne. Here are some of the songs that Trombley, of Leamington and who died last year, made famous.

• Heavy Music and Ramblin Gamblin Man by Bob Seger

• Show Time by the Detroit Emeralds

• Both Sides Now by Judy Collins

• I’m Eighteen by Alice Cooper

• Sweet Sweet Baby (Since You Been Gone) by Aretha Franklin

• These Eyes by the Guess Who

• I Want You Back by the Jackson 5

• Love Child by Diana Ross and the Supremes

• Ain’t No Mountain High Enough by Diana Ross

• Do I Love You by Paul Anka

• If You Could Read My Mind and The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

• Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers

• Cloud Nine by The Temptations

• What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

• Superstition by Stevie Wonder

• Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones

• Me and Mr. Jones by Billy Paul

• If You Don’t Know Me By Now by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes

• Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith

• Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen

- 8/23/22

Hot Lips and Klinger gracing fall comic con

Hot Lips and Toledo’s very own Klinger will be paying a visit to this fall’s Motor City Comic Con. Sgt. Maxwell Q. Klinger aka Jamie Farr and Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan aka Loretta Swit, both of TV M*A*S*H fame, will be attending Michigan’s largest and longest running comic book and pop culture get together. They’ll be signing autographs and posing for photos (for a fee). It takes place Oct. 14-16 at Novi’s Suburban Collection Showplace. The TV stars will be there all three days. Both actors trace their careers in film and TV to the mid-1950s. No word on whether Farr will bring wardrobe changes. – 8/10/22

Audition call - The Pride Monologues

You may have heard of the Vagina Monologues. Now there’s the Pride Monologues. These are a collection of real stories set for the stage. They feature stories written by LGBTQ+ people and friends. The monologues are “funny, uplifting and true” and premiered in Chicago during Pride month, according to the producer. Now Windsor will be the second site for the production. Shadowbox Theatre (photo) will host the show Aug. 7. The producers have put out a casting call for volunteer performers, as proceeds will go to charity. Contact

- 7/22/22

Photo: Shadowbox Theatre

You'll pay more to buy movie tickets online

Convenience just got a little more expensive. Those hoping to avoid lineups at the cinema will have to pay extra for the privilege. Cineplex has introduced an additional $1.50 to buy a ticket online or through its mobile app. Canada’s largest theatre chain says the reason is to “further invest and evolve our digital infrastructure.” There will be no such charge if you show up at the box office or theatre ticket kiosk in person, however. Those who are members of Cineplex’s Scene Plus rewards program will only have to fork over $1. And those who are members of Cineclub, a monthly subscription service, won’t have to pay extra at all. – 7/8/22

Plaques remove “inappropriate language” 

Two new plaques were unveiled at two of southwestern Ontario’s most significant Black settlements. Ontario Heritage Trust says the plaques “were rewritten to remove inappropriate language and recentre the experience of Black communities and individuals.” The plaques are for the Buxton Settlement (photo), west of Chatham, in recognition of the legacy of the “thriving free Black community” in the area.  As a testament to the settlement’s legacy, thousands return to the village every Labour Day weekend for a homecoming celebration. The other is for the Wilberforce Settlement north of London. In 1829, a group of free Blacks from Ohio set out to establish an organized colony “where they could enjoy freedom, self-determination and equality,” The Trust says. - 6/7/22

Photo: Wikimedia 

Funk Brother led band at former Windsor club

Joe Messina, one of the legendary Funk Brothers who backed Motown acts in the 60s and 70s and who has recently died, at one time led the Joe Messina Orchestra at Windsor’s Metropole night club. The guiarist died of kidney failure at 93 in suburban Detroit. “That insistent guitar figure that percolates throughout Diana Ross and the Supremes’ ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’ — was Joe Messina,” said a recent Detroit News article.  The Metropole, or Metropole Tavern (photo), was locate at 917 Walker Rd. at the corner of Niagara St., now occupied by the Walkerville Eatery. – 6/3/22

Photo: SW Ont. Digital Archive

Detroit chain ups the customer experience

Detroit’s Emagine theatres have introduced a host of inventive audience amenities. These include sensory friendly screenings. “What does Sensory Friendly mean?” asks the home-grown chain. “First, it means sensory friendly experience (lights up a bit, sound down a bit). Second, if your child needs to get up, move, dance, sing.... No problem. Third, guests are welcome to bring a safe snack for any food allergies or food avoidance/restrictions.” This was for a special screening of the movie Sing. The chain also introduced open captions at select screenings of The Batman in March. “Guests who experience hearing impairments will be able to enjoy the movie-going experience with audio subtitles displayed on the big screen for all to see.” And who says theatres can’t be open in the morning? Emagine will host a breakfast buffet at its Royal Oak location May 1, a 10 am screening of The Bad Guys. - 4/27/22

Detroit whale mural covered - for now

It’s a familiar sight to Windsorites attending a ball game at Comerica Park, the giant “whale” mural on a skyscraper back of right field. That mural has been there since 1997 and was done to show how water, such as the Great Lakes, connects to the ocean. The artist was former Detroiter Robert Wyland. The mural helped spark a renaissance to revitalize old abandoned office towers in Detroit’s downtown core. Now that painting is being covered by another, sponsored by Rocket mortgage companies. It says “Detroit is Home” and features a group of funky smiley faces, also by another Detroit artist Phillip Simpson. The vinyl ad is not permanent. – 4/11/22


Biblioasis features authors' live conversation

Windsor’s Biblioasis, the publisher and bookstore, will be co-hosting a live event with Baltimore's The Ivy Bookshop featuring Canadian author Elise Levine’s latest book, Say This. Levine will be in conversation with Baltimore-based writer Jung Yun, author of O Beautiful.  The book, published by Biblioasis and set in Baltimore, is described as “Two crystalline novellas linked by one devastating crime: Say This is an immersive meditation on the interplay between memory, trauma and narrative.” The event will take place online Wednesday, March 9 at 7 pm on Facebook and Twitter. - 28/2/22

Photo: Biblioasis

WIFF will continue Covid protocols for March screenings

Ontario may be removing theatre capacity and vaccine passport rules March 1 but the Windsor International Film Festival (WIFF) will keep the current 50 per cent limit when it hosts three films March 3, 4 and 5. “To ensure the comfort and safety of our audience, WIFF will be adhering to the Covid-19 public health measures as set out by the province when tickets first went on sale February 8th,”  the festival says in an announcement. “WIFF understands that the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 restrictions are continuously evolving and we will re-assess these protocols for any future screenings.” To gain admission, filmgoers will have to show a QR code, wear masks, there will be 50 per cent capacity “and physical distancing measures in place.” Screening at the Capitol Theatre will be the Japanese film Drive My Car, Danish film Flee, the Spanish film Parallel Mothers and Norway's The Worst Person in the World. - 24/2/22

Windsor's other film fest celebrates 25th

Windsor’s other home-grown film festival, Media City, will offer all its films free online during the festival’s 25th edition, taking place through March 1. More than 70 films will be available at The festival features unconventional, edgy and experimental work from around the world and is recognized internationally for its critically curated content. Indeed, filmmakers from a multitude of countries have long exhibited their work at the festival. “Audiences will gain unfettered access to incredible new works, world premieres, restorations, amateur films, and historical masterpieces from legendary artists and filmmakers,” says artistic director Oona Mosna. The festival remains online until such time as “public safety allows” resumption of in-theatre audiences, Mosna says. - 16/2/22

Ladies and gentlemen, Pine Knob is back

Pine Knob is back. Or at least the name is back. But, of course, you always called it that anyway. DTE Energy Music Theatre, the name of the venerable outdoor concert site north of Detroit, was always too much of a mouthful anyway. Pine Knob opened in 1972 but the name changed under new sponsorship from DTE Energy in 2001. That 20-year sponsorship ended and two new sponsors have agreed to return the 15,000-seat venue to its original much-loved name and are keeping a lower profile.  The venue has seen thousands of acts over the years and often set attendance records for the top grossing outdoor venue in the US. That includes in 2019, its last regularly scheduled year prior to Covid, when almost 600,000 concertgoers passed through its gates. The facility is run by 313 Presents which also produces events at Little Caesars Arena, the Fox Theatre, Meadowbrook Amphitheatre and Comerica Park. “The renaming couldn’t come at a better time as the 2022 summer concert season will mark the renowned venue’s 50th anniversary,” 313 says in a release. The first scheduled show is AJR on May 27. – 1/25/22

Windsor's Poet Laureate program to be more inclusive 

The city’s Diversity Committee wants to expand Windsor's Poet Laureate program by adding an Indigenous Storyteller and Multicultural Community Storyteller. The city started its program 10 years ago and Marty Gervais (photo) was the first poet laureate, now Poet Laureate Emeritus. City Council had requested the program be further expanded. “In the past when applications were received for poet laureate, they did not receive applications from Indigenous or multicultural or marginalized communities,” says the city's Diversity Committee minutes. Museum Windsor has had “tremendous consultation” with these groups. However, it found Indigenous and multicultural people “would not resonate with the title poet laureate.” The Asian community suggested sharing their culture through dance, “a valid form of storytelling.” And an Indigenous community representative said they would “play the drum; present the Eagle Song and the Song of Welcome and Unity and share their culture through traditions.” Hence the committee suggested an expansion into “storytelling and community traditions.” – 1/4/22 

Photo: City of Windsor

Windsor native's marriage to Chris Noth "hanging by a thread"

Windsor native Tara Wilson’s marriage to Sex and the City star Chris Noth is “hanging by a thread” according to the New York Post’s Page Six. The couple have been married nine years and opened the imaginative Once Upon a Teacup on Windsor’s east side more than a decade ago. The celebrity gossip page says sources have told it Wilson “has removed her wedding ring.” This follows accusations this month that 67-year-old Noth sexually assaulted three women. “Tara is upset and things are hanging by a thread,” the Post reports. “She just wants to protect the kids (Orion, 13, and Keats, 22 months). That is her (top) priority.” A spokesperson for Noth declined comment and the actor has denied all accusations. Noth came to Windsor in 2008 to help Wilson publicize the child-oriented tearoom. Once Upon a Teacup is for moms and their kids to meet up with friends, drink specialty teas, and dress up in costumes. – 12/23/21

Photo: Wikipedia

Suspected slain DJ had a Windsor radio connection

John O’Leary, the Detroit disc jockey found dead in his Highland Park home, had a Windsor connection. In the 1990s he worked for a time at Radio 4, comprised of four radio stations – FM’s 89.1 and 93.3 and AM’s 580 and 800. O’Leary was found dead from stab wounds. Highland Park police have arrested a suspect. O’Leary, 67, worked at many Detroit radio stations including WABX, WWWW, WLLZ and his last gig at WCSX. – 11/23/21

It's A'burg's Art by the River - only indoors

It’s Art by the River, only the indoors version. Amherstburg’s venerable Gibson Gallery, the decades old gallery in the former Michigan Central Railroad station off Richmond St., will be holding its Artisan Shoppe, just in time for Christmas. The shop runs Nov 18 - Dec 12 on Thursdays through Sundays 11 am – 5 pm. Fourteen artists or studios are being represented. Works include rustic house signs, watercolour cards, glass, jewelry, basket weaving, body care, thread painting and candles. The gallery is run by the Fort Malden Guild of Arts and Crafts. And, oh yes, the traditional outdoors Art by the River returns next year Aug. 27 & 28 at Fort Malden National Historic Site on the Detroit River. – 11/15/21

Photo: Gibson Gallery

No response on when University Players will perform in-person

The University of Windsor Players (UP) is performing plays in virtual format. The province since Oct. 9 allowed theatres and concert halls to open at 100 per cent indoor capacity, subject to vaccine screening (passports) and mask-wearing. However the UP's autumn play If We Were Birds, directed by Lee Wilson, was presented live via “Zoom webinar” and incorporated recorded performances from the university’s studio theatre. When will the UP perform live once again? Neither the Players nor the dramatic arts department responded to several requests for comment. – 11/8/21 [UPDATE 11/22/21: UW Players has now responded: "We're still making our plans for the upcoming semester and we won't be able to confirm our capacity just yet. We'll be making an announcement as soon as we go live with ticket sales for our in person shows in the coming year."]

Brace yourself for a night of scary Halloween music

Strange apparitions may scare the innocent at Halloween. But music can play a part as well. The Windsor Symphony knows just that. It’s scheduled a night of scary Halloween-theme music just in time for the Trick or Treat event. “Remember the music in Psycho, one of Hitchcock’s scariest films…or the music filled with suspense, intrigue, and humour from the  cult-classics Rocky Horror Picture Show and Little Shop of Horrors? How about Sondhiem’s haunting music from Sweeney Todd? This is the perfect program for Halloween!” Symphony conductor Robert Franz will direct St. Clair College Music Theatre students in the hourlong Halloween on Broadway concert at the Capitol Theatre Oct. 30 beginning 7.30 pm. - 10/15/21

Photo: Windsor Symphony

Unique tote bags support local artists

You can get a limited-edition tote bag and support local artists. The Arts Council Windsor and Region is selling the Voices Tote Bag through Oct. 31. Cost: $20. Each bag sports a different design by a local artist. The bags also promote the council’s New Voices billboard. The 6x6 board is located on the outside wall of ArtSpeak gallery. It features interchangeable letters for language-based exhibits and poetry. It’s designed to provide an outlet for “underrepresented and marginalized voices in our community” including new generation, new immigrant and artists of colour, the council says. – 9/22/21

Photo: Artspeak’s example tote featuring Alexei Ungurenaşu’s Hold, Twist Release.

Immerse yourself in Claude Monet's iconic paintings

Those who love French Impressionist artist Claude Monet can glory in a multi-media immersive exhibit now through Oct. 3 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The three part multi-sensory experience combines music, sound effects, and projection. Beyond Monet provides an audio visual journey through the artist's most iconic works - Poppies, Impression: Sunrise, and the iconic Water Lilies series. Viewers in fact become one with the paintings as the larger than life projections swirl around, immersing the observer in colour and light. – 8/24/21

Image: Beyond Monet

AGW reopening reflects separate museum status

The Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW) is re-opening this week, despite the fact other city museums are remaining closed until fall (see front page). Jennifer Matotek, the AGW’s new director, (photo) who took over as Covid came on the scene last year and has presided over a mainly closed museum, said the AGW is opening earlier because of its independent status. She said the gallery has a “separate operating model” than, for example, Museum Windsor, which runs the adjoining Chimczuk Museum and nearby Francois Baby House. “We have been ready to go for a while with our reopening." Matotek said. -  8/10/21