Friday, October 22, 2010

Week One - Update

In a city as busy as Toronto I’m amazed at the number of people who have taken the time to check out what has been happening in the window of SOHO Art & Custom Framing this past week.

It helps that SOHO draws a vibrant client base.  It also doesn't hurt that the store is nestled between two Roncey hotspots—a video rental shop that serves ice cream and a café with in-house baking, all within steps of a bus stop. Their customers are my built-in audience. I read on request from the categories they select and talk about the project while lattes are made or artwork is wrapped. Some even return to sit with me in the window after they have taken their packages to the car.

It’s the passersby that really get me though. The other morning, a man confessed he jaywalked through construction after movement in the window caught his eye. Another day, a commuter stuck her head in the door to ask if I was really reading. Recently, I’ve been getting a lot of that—people giving over to their curiousity. Voices at Hand hasn’t exactly gone viral yet, but it sure is resonating with people.

Since starting at SOHO I’ve read and processed 521 new letters. Add this to the Peterborough total and the sum is well over 2000. Visually this translates into wooden boxes, bookshelves and mason jars full of an incredible variety of colour and textures. I’m especially fond of the jars full of x’s & o’s and a box of homes (addresses). If you haven’t already, scroll down to get more complete feel for the project.

I’ve added four new categories to the existing 33.The Best Laid Plans, Code For and Text Messaging round things out nicely and today in anticipation of a series of letters to arrive on Saturday I’ve added Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

As to my favorite letters from the past week, there are several. A letter written in Petawawa in 1854 by a son asking his father to send snowshoes and a lead pencil is filed in the category Please. In Taking a Stand, is a note to a shop-keeper c.1925 complaining that corn syrup purchased at his store had “done his (the writer’s) corns no good.” In History is a nephew’s postcard from camp where the young lad reports on the weather, his canoe trip and the camp’s exciting decision to rent TV’s for the moonwalk. The list goes on an on. College students in ‘80s, young mother’s living abroad in the ‘60s’, a teenage girl on a grand tour of Europe in the 50’s are all personalities I’ve come to know.  

I’m immensely grateful to Tamar and David Kratter for hosting the Toronto chapter of this project and for embracing the idea of turning their storefront into a stage set, studio and laboratory. Everyone at SOHO Art & Custom Framing has made me feel most welcome!

And a big, big thanks to Canada Post for their sponsorship of Voices at Hand.

My residency in the window of SOHO continues until end of day October 27th. Hope you’ll drop by and bring me some letters.

All the best,


p.s The silver lining of construction on Roncesvalles Av. is free parking!

Voices at Hand

SOHO Art & Custom Framing
77 Roncesvalles Av
Monday – Saturday: Noon - 6:00
Sunday: Noon - 4:00

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