Niam, one of our students, has created a painting to help Light It Up Blue in celebration of World Autism Awareness Day.

Celebrate the start of Autism Awareness Month at Yonge and Dundas Square in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 1, 2016, at 5 pm. Join them to learn more about Niam and explore his artwork through the  gallery and Light It Up Blue.

Samsung, Autism Speaks, and Niam have partnered to help raise awareness about autism. In addition, Samsung Canada has donated 200 tablets as part of The Look at Me Project, designed to create a shared community to connect families with similar experiences. The Samsung tablets were preloaded with the Look at Me app and given to 200 families living with autism

The Look at Me app aims to improve an individual’s ability to make eye contact through digital devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

A multidisciplinary team of clinical psychologists, cognitive psychologists, and psychiatrists have dedicated their participation in developing the app’s curriculum. The app is currently under clinical testing to verify its effectiveness through research.

The app keeps children motivated and highly concentrated by using the camera function of digital devices that often appeal to children’s interests. It also features a point system, themed missions, various rewards, and visual or sound effects to keep children engaged. Levels can be customized based on the children’s achievements. Each mission in the app requires interaction between parents and their children to encourage positive relationships and connections.



A Mod, Mod World – Instructor Joseph Romantini’s art featured in House and Home

Artwork by our instructor Joseph Romantini has been featured in the April 2016 edition of Canadian House and Home.

The painting is from his Vento series that we recently featured on our blog.

View more of Joseph’s work on his website. You can pick up your copy of the magazine on newsstands today!

Joseph Romantini Mod Mod World House & Home_Page_1 Joseph Romantini Mod Mod World House & Home_Page_2

Honsberger Award Medal Design

IMG_2271Our very own Susie Whaley designed and sculpted a medal for the Toronto Lawyers Association Honsberger Award. Susie’s late husband Bruce Whaley was John D. Honsberger’s nephew.

The Honsberger Award is named in honour of John D. Honsberger, President of the Toronto Lawyers Association in 1967-68 and historian of the association’s first 100 years.  Through his extensive legal scholarship and contributions to the Toronto legal community, Mr. Honsberger exemplifies the three pillars of the TLA: Information, Education and Advocacy.  Among the many honours he has received in over 60 years at the Bar, are the Law Society Medal and the TLA Award of Distinction. In fact, he was the first recipient of both awards.


Instructor Profile: Allison Beula

Allison Beula holds an Honours BAA in film and is a recipient of the Norman Jewison Filmmaker Award. She furthered her training at The Randolph Academy For The Performing Arts, for whom she currently directs, choreographs, and instructs. Allison is also on faculty with Arts For Children and Youth of Toronto and has led workshops and classes for Mirvish (Lion King), The Toronto and Catholic School Board, and OISE. She has trained with Upright Citizens Brigade (NYC), Dance Manhattan, and is a graduate of the Second City Conservatory Program. Her recently choreographed video, Jeff Straker’s Hypnotized hit Much More Music’s Top Ten. Allison is a two-time recipient of an Ontario Arts Council grant for Artists in Education. Allison’s first musical, The Tiki Bikini Beach Paradise Party A-Go-Go!, which she wrote, directed and choreographed, made its debut at the 2011 Toronto Fringe Festival where it won Patron’s Pick and Best of the Fringe. It has received critical and public acclaim and was a part of the January 2012 Next Stage Theatre Festival.

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Best GTA Arts School for 2015!

best-of-2015-art-schoolEach year, Toronto4Kids conducts an in-depth survey among our readers to find the absolute best family destinations, and kid-friendly products & services in Toronto and the GTA, and we have been voted best art school for 2015, our second win in a row!
Thanks to everyone involved!

NBA Centre Court – Mural Project

A number of our instructors were involved with the Mural Project for NBA Centre Court. Susie Whaley (Project Manager) and instructors Jen Chin, Sandra Tarantino, Audrey Mah, Eva Ormut, and Barb Lilker all contributed to the project.
From Vibe Arts:

“NBA Canada created this beautiful video sharing George Harvey Collegiate Institute’s student’s journey in creating murals inspired by words connected to the sport of basketball; along with 350 children and youth from 30 schools and community organizations who worked under the guidance of 16 professional artists across the GTA who followed the same journey in creating 60 distinct murals.The murals welcomed NBA fans and NBA All-Stars to Toronto for the very first time in all of Canada. The murals tell the story of  how the game of basketball impacts the lives of many youth groups, and also the shared experiences between artists and basketball players. The 60 unique (4’ x 6’) murals were created on repurposed TTC advertising panels that are now original works of art to be appreciated. You can read the Toronto Star article to hear what some Mason Road Junior Public School students had to say about their experience in creating the murals and seeing them in the 31 TTC subway stations.
The artworks were created thanks to an exciting partnership with the NBA Canada, and PATTISON Outdoor Advertising. The hand-painted murals were on display in 31 TTC subway stations across the City of Toronto, at platform level from December 28, 2015  and will be there until the end of February, in celebration NBA All-Star Game 2016. See the murals before they are gone!”

Check out the video from Cloud in the Sky Studios:

NBA Centre Court & VIBE Arts from Cloud in the Sky Studios on Vimeo.

Instructor Profile: Amanda Baron

Baron-Amanda Amanda Baron is a mixed media artist whose practice borders between digital mediums and painting. She has a BFA from the Ontario College of Art & Design University and had the pleasure of studying in Florence, Italy under the OCADU Off-Campus Studies Program. Amanda’s work has been exhibited internationally as well as locally, in Toronto. As an advocate of community arts, she has been teaching for several years, working with Visual Arts Mississauga and the Avenue Road Arts School. Amanda continues to use her student’s vibrant and energetic approach to art making as inspiration for her own studio practice.


Farida Zaman’s Toronto City Illustrations on the TTC

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The work of our talented instructor, Farida Zaman, is currently being featured on TTC vehicles on posters and guide maps. On the series, Farida says:

This was done for the Toronto Transit Commission as posters and the cover for the maps- (#ttcrideguide 2016). This is launching at the beginning of January for the whole year. Those who live in Toronto and take the ttc will come across it frequently. It was a really fun assignment to do, choosing the icons that summarize this fun cool city! I hope you enjoy it as much as I loved working on it!

Have a look at Farida’s work on her website and Etsy store!

Rediscovering the Musician’s High On My Rare, Restorative Vacation

Rediscovering the musician’s high on my rare, restorative vacation

Lola Rasminsky, Founder of Avenue Road Arts School and Beyond the Box.

By Lola Rasminsky, Founder of Avenue Road Arts School and Beyond the Box.
Originally published by the Globe & Mail 

The World is Too Much With Us

– William Wordsworth

Why don’t you just play hooky for the day?”

– My mom

If there is a statute of limitations on truancy, I’m pretty sure it’s expired by now so my late mother would be safe. But when I was in elementary school, Mom kept a keen eye out for those times when I was getting overloaded with all the stuff I was being asked to absorb and called a timeout.

She would suggest a day or two of R&R, and when I had calmed down she would write the requisite note to school alluding to an unspecified ailment. Back I went, refreshed and ready again to learn.

This strengthened our mother-daughter bond, making us co-conspirators against the excessive demands of a 12-year-old’s world. Also, it sustained me through the rigours of long division.

Now that I’m a grown-up, there’s nobody there to write that note, excusing me from work. Taking off days at a time feels almost like going AWOL in the military. But as I soldiered on in my demanding career, I knew that I would need a leave this summer.

I decided to ignore, for a while, my vocation as an arts entrepreneur and attend to my avocation as an (inconsistent) amateur pianist.

I had heard about the weeklong Toronto Summer Music Academy for amateur musicians being offered for the first time this year. Preparing for the piano masterclass would compel me to practise at the keyboard regularly – something I hadn’t done in years. It wasn’t as if there would be no pressure. I would have to perform and be critiqued in front of other pianists. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.

I wavered. Is this what you call a vacation? Putting yourself in a situation where failure is a constant concern?

As it happens, the gratification we get from learning and making music is enormous – something equivalent to a “runner’s high.” The pleasure we take in creating something beautiful – even in listening to music that moves us – has a documented physical effect. Endorphins, the “happiness hormones,” are released, flowing us into the “zone” where we become so intensely focused on the moment that we lose track of time and everything else loses importance.

Immersed in perfecting a piece of music, practising one phrase over and over, you can become almost addicted to improvement, surprising yourself as you look back at the distance you have travelled. A young clarinetist friend of mine once told me: “I eat, I sleep and I practise – and I love my life.”

Kevin Speidell for The Globe and Mail

There are so few places in our lives where we can feel totally in control. Practising music is one. Knowing that you’ve worked hard and can reap the fruits of your labour, brings a tremendous sense of well-being.

One of the lecturers in the program, Dr. John Chong, medical director of the Musicians’ Clinics of Canada, spoke about the “cocaine effect” of making music at a peak level.

Why should I have been surprised to learn that most of my fellow participants in the amateur music academy were accomplished professionals from a broad range of fields: tax law, psychotherapy, arbitration, pharmacy, medical research, journalism? Yet our conversations over lunch were almost always about our pieces, our best-loved performers and favourite instruments. We could have called ourselves Music Addicts Anonymous.

So what is it about this addiction that has allowed me to feel I was going on a really restorative vacation? The very fact that it’s so completely absorbing means you forget about your deadlines, your unfinished to-do list and all the people you still have to get back to. I couldn’t believe I felt no compulsion to check my phone to see who still cared about me. Six hours without looking at my phone is a record for me. It was a perfect escape.

I like to come back from a vacation enriched – having learned something I didn’t know before. Our “tour guide,” James Anagnoson, dean of the Glenn Gould School, offered insights that were not only about our playing, but about life. “You are so busy ‘doing’ that you’re not taking the time to listen to yourself,” he would say. This is my story. For years, I hadn’t been listening to the small insistent voice in my head saying: “You need to make more music.”

Did the week change me? That remains to be seen. What has changed is my recognition that the anticipation of this vacation was just as renewing as the week itself. I’m already anticipating next year’s downtown music-making getaway. I have 12 months to experience the “musician’s high” that is the payoff of practising.

I don’t ever want to recover from my need for making music. It fills a deep longing in my soul. And, unlike other addictions, it has a way of loving me back.

Lola Rasminsky lives in Toronto.