by Mariya Guzova

The Mowgli’s are an alternative rock band hailing from Southern California that will have you cheering for love, kindness, and good old-fashioned rock and roll.

The band has seven members who work together to create music that spreads the messages of unity, love, and encourage people to perform acts of kindness everyday.

imageFrom left: Colin Louis Dieden, Josh Hogan, Dave Appelbaum, Katie Jayne Earl, Andy Warren, Matthew Di Panni, Spencer Trent.

When the Mowgli’s first got together they rented a house in Venice Beach and played as many shows as they could - sometimes five gigs a day.

They began recording their first LP, Sound The Drum, using a Kickstarter campaign to fund it. In the campaign they told their fans “they had been kidnapped by a record producing kangaroo who was known simply as ‘Kevin’.” The story has it that Kevin held The Mowgli’s and their LP hostage until their campaign goal was met and the ransom could be paid. Sound the Drum was released in 2012, and their single San Francisco garnered them lots of attention from new fans and from a record label.

“It’s definitely been a fun journey for us. I think working as hard as we have has really reinforced some of the very ideas we try and spread through our music,” said Matthew Di Panni, vocalist and bass guitarist with The Mowgli’s. 

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The buildings of Canada’s largest city have become huge canvases for the artists who call the city home. Highly complicated, evolved, and recognizable works can be found throughout the city, adding both character and beauty to the streets.

Piece by Anser on St. Clair West. Photo by Chris Jackson.

Some Toronto street artists have become recognizable by placing the same scene or characters throughout the city. One such artist goes by the alias Anser. His drawing of a woman’s face can be found in different renditions throughout Toronto. The piece has become well known and admired, and often dubbed ‘the painted lady.’ 

At Yonge and Bloor. Photo by Metrix_X.

"I’ve been doing traditional graffiti for a really long time. Then I had a fall out where I wasn’t into it. I wasn’t really appreciating it as much—I still liked it, but it just wasn’t me. And I had a bit of an epiphany after a while: I realized graffiti itself is very elitist…it’s only meant for people within the graffiti culture to really participate. And after a while I just felt like, it’s in the public realm, why not involve the rest of the public?"explains Anser.

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Ichwan Noor gained world recognition for his art when he revealed a spherical sculpture made out of a Volkswagen Beetle. The VW ball was part of series done by Noor. “The idea came from a personal perception of the objects of cultural products. I saw some objects as having a spiritual gesture, as having a magical identity,” explains Noor. “I am a man looking at things with an animistic attitude, and I’m trying to develop a concept of ‘totem’ today.”

Beetle Sphere, made from a 1953 VW Beetle

Noor hails from Indonesia, where he studied sculpture at the Art Institute of Indonesia. Art has always been a part of his life, and he has been drawing and developing new skills and ideas since childhood. “Art became a part of my life very early on. Growing up, I had a lot of potential, faith, and vision, and that’s why despite it being very difficult at times, I have found a lot of happiness in the world of art.”

In addition to happiness, Noor has found tremendous success within the international art community. His work has been on display in exhibitions around the glove since 1985, and he’s received a number of awards and honours for his work.

 

Aluminum Wheel Barrow Face 

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Dale Chihuly is a glass artist whose works have extended the medium beyond imagination. His sculptures have become bigger and his various artworks more complex, despite the difficulty of working with glass. His work can be seen in galleries and installations around the globe.

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Shots from a permanent Chihuly installation in the Denver Botanical Gardens.

Dale was first immersed into glasswork while studying in college. He started working with and blowing glass in a glass factory in Venice. Since then he’s started the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State, and led the movement of glass in fine art.

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Charles F. Huot is an up and coming producer and songwriter living in Montreal.

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Hout is making waves with his sythpop music under his stage name Dear Frederic.  He’s at work writing songs profusely and evolving with each tune.

Huot got into music early and instantly knew it was the life path he’d go down. “I was obsessed with Dave Grohl’s drum parts on the album 'Nevermind so after a summer of delivering newspaper, I bought a drum set and started playing music with friends. It has never been a leisure for me though, I always felt it was my job in a good way,” says Huot.

Huot officially started his career in 2008 with an indie rock band called Winter Gloves. After releasing 4 albums and working musically with popular shows like Degrassi and So You Think You Can Dance, Huot started his solo career in April 2014.

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The Beaches are an all girl indie rock band that are shaking things up in the Canadian music scene.

The group is named after the Toronto Beaches and made up of four girls whose coming of age has been reflected in their music since they first started playing together in grade nine.

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From left: Eliza Enman-McDaniel, Leandra Earl (keys), Kylie Miller (guitar), and Jordan Miller (vocals and bass.)

Formed originally as a teen pop-rock band called Done With Dolls, the girls found their success on stations like The Family Channel. “As we matured, we decided to change our band name and style to be more age appropriate,” explains Kylie. “Most musicians will find that their music will evolve and grow as they do. And we feel that way too. Otherwise you’ll just be writing about the same things forever, and your art will become boring,” adds Jordan.

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by Rina Nakazawa

Dorota Buczel, founder and director of Alchemy Center Makeup Art Studio and Boutique, is a professional body painter and visual artist. zeeBigBang spoke with her about her creative body painting projects.

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Body painting by Dorota Buczel

Buczel gets inspiration from everywhere including places, people, music, art and her surroundings. She explores her artistry, connection with the living canvas which is the model and leaving room for surprise. She uses a wide variety of motifs including animals, fallen leaves, butterflies, skeletons, ethnic styles and so on. Her creative process is “a client usually presents me with a concept and based on that I come up with the best idea to represent and promote them. I come up with whatever is needed to embellish the artwork to make a better statement.”   

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Body painting by Dorota Buczel

Buczel chooses her models based on the body painting that she wants them to represent. “I like to work with models who are patient and appreciate art. I rarely use fashion models. I prefer to use dancers, life drawing models or real people who have a passion and appreciation for art.”

She gives the models instructions how to prepare their skin for painting and how to best remove the body painting afterwards. Buczel tries to connect with the models as much as possible. What she pays attention to is “making them feel special and comfortable; giving them breaks as needed and reinforcing their performance.”

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Body painting by Dorota Buczel

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There is a district in Beijing seldom visited by tourists called the Shijingshan District. Within it hides a gem of international art called the Beijing International Sculpture Park. It is a multifunctional location that brings people from around the world to enjoy scenery that lends itself as the perfect stage for over 200 sculptures from over 40 countries. 

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Construction of the park began in 2002, and the 162 acres of park were open to the public by the end of 2003. The park has an east and west side. The east is full of humanistic style sculptures, while the West has a pastoral or abstract flavour.

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The combination of the natural landscape and manmade sculptures permeates the design of the park. “As you enter from the North gate there is a symmetry, and the sculptures follow a theme that help accent the natural elements in the park,” explains Aiguo Yofu, an art correspondent of ChinaDaily, and an avid fan of the park.

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by Rina Nakazawa

The Toronto Fringe Festival, part of the “Fringe movement” – a worldwide network of indie theatre festivals where anyone can put on any shows, will take place in Toronto from July 2 to 13.This year’s festival features 148 shows in 35 venues.

A cry for help from Dreams of Summer’s End and The Dying Picture Productions

zeeBigBang spoke with Tristan Rivé who is a director of the theatre company, The Dying Picture and an actor about his up-coming piece, Dreams of Summer’s End.

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Nisheeth Proshanti (left) Tristan Rivé (center) Karina Lynn (right)

Rivé said the play is inspired by Chris Brown’s admission of losing his virginity at the age of 8 to a 16 year old girl. What was fascinating about this was “that there were a lot of articles coming out particularly in feminist websites about how there are culturally raped boys that we are forgetting about. Statistics show that boys who are raped, or girls who are raped, at a younger age become much more violent and much more like those who raped them. We expanded on the idea of our relationships with our sexuality and how those relationships affect our lives and the people around us,” Rivé explained. 

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The Art Nouveau poster by Keegan Thomas Youngfor 

This piece deals with four people in two groups and the struggles with their sexuality. From family, to marriage, to children; sexuality is the force that dictates how they live their lives. One group of characters examines sexuality in sexual relationships that society deems “abnormal”. It explores how a boy’s experience of being raped drives him to rape a girl and explores their struggles. A second group of characters examines how sexuality in sexual relationships that society deems “normal” leads to the loss of the personal identity and purpose in life. Rivé based the name of the play on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night’s Dream drawing from its sense of fate and turmoil. 

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Daniel Cristofori (left) Karina Lynn (right)

Rivé has been working on bring this piece to life on the stage since last August. All shows at the Fringe are chosen at random by lottery and he won Toronto and Hamilton Fringe. “That is exciting because Toronto is the hardest and the best one to get into,” he said.

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by Peggy Geddes

The orchestra of The National Arts Centre (NAC) in Ottawa, Canada is conducted by Pinchas Zukerman, considered one of the finest violinists in the world.

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Conductor Pinchas Zukerman is one of the finest violinists in the world, photo Kenn Taylor

“The orchestra is very active heading their concert series and performing whenever the NAC hosts Broadway musicals or visiting dance companies,” said Rosemary Thompson, of NAC Public Affairs. “The music department also operates an elite education academy open each summer to 100 selected young musicians from around the world and mentored by the NAC musicians. We spot great talent and invite them to the summer boot camp. We’ve become a hub for young musicians.”

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Summer Music Institute participants in performance

More recently the NAC has sent its orchestra abroad to China and next year it will go to the United Kingdom. Thompson said, “When we go we don’t just play Beethoven. We play John Estacio, Malcolm Forsyth, Alexina Louie - all Canadian so International audiences are hearing really great Canadian music. When we go we don’t just perform - we teach - all through the music schools and conservatories and universities.”

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Pinchas Zukerman conducting the National Arts Centre Orchestra, photo  Dwayne Brown

Every year The National Arts Centre hosts 1,200 shows with 60 musicians and a budget of $70 million. It is the largest Performing Arts Centre and Education Institute in Canada. zeebigbang  interviewed Thompson, to learn more about this vibrant Canadian treasure.

The NAC has dedicated funds to invest in artistic creation across Canada and is open to partner with artists. Here’s how it works according to Thompson. “For instance a small theatre company may have an idea for a new play or even a play that has started that has had some success. NAC might invest in that play so that it has a longer life. Using another example she explained, “If you are a composer you might be selected as one of the NAC commissioned composers. Right now we have three of them. They are writing music not just for our orchestra but what gets written gets shared with everybody [orchestra]. We do the same thing in theatre - both English and French theatre - and the same thing in dance for say a choreographer to set up on tour at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre, or Montreal or whatever you are working on. We are seen as kind of a catalyst to help propel Canadian artists. “

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Scene from “Les Justes,” presented by NAC French Theatre, photo by Brigitte Enguérand

Every two years NAC shines a spotlight on artists across the country through Scene Festivals. A different region is selected each time. “The last one was the North and we had in excess of 300 artists that came from the three territories.” Thompson explains that the festivals embrace all art forms and emerging and established artists.   

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Aboriginal singer-songwriter and Northern Scene performer Leela Gilday

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