Friday, May 9, 2008

Call for Painted Chairs for Bay & Algoma corner

Call for Painted Chairs to line the Bay & Algoma Street corner lot during the SuperiorFinn Midsummer Art Festival, Sunday June 22 11 am - 5 pm. Find an old chair and get creative! Paint it! Bead it! Upholster it! Mosaic it! While the poster shows only blue and white chairs, you are not limited to only these colours. The chairs in the poster are from the Finnish festival in Marquette Michigan a few years back; the whole town decked itself out in blue-and-white chairs in honor of its residents of Finnish descent.

For our Painted Chairs there are 3 themes:

1. Midsummer Garden
2. Finnish ancestry or history
3. Bay and Algoma St. history, cultures, families, shops, etc.

Open to all! You do not have to be Finnish to participate. This call for painted chairs is to draw attention to the new Midsummer Garden being created behind the Hoito. Drop your chair off before 11 am. on June 22nd. Using the chairs, we will make a path to the Midsummer Garden lot. There will be a People's Choice Award. You can either keep your chair afterwards, or donate it to the Silent Auction with all funds going to the Midsummer Garden. I will post more information about the SuperiorFinn Juhannus (Midsummer) Art Festival later.

Yesterday, I went up this narrow flight of wooden stairs at the Finnish Labour Temple. I was surprised to see that the newel post at the base of these stairs is almost identical to the one on the stairs at my house! My house was built in 1908; the Labour Temple was built 1910, but both must've got the oak from the shipyards, where surplus oak from making the captain's quarters of ships, was sold. These stairs lead up, up towards the tower, to the "Red Room" just below the tower. In that room is a ladder, a sturdy old oaken ladder that you have to climb to get up to the "cone", the space midway to the tower (see below). At the top of this old ladder you have to climb through a hatch and then climb another old sturdy wooden ladder to get into the tower. These stairs are the easy part; they are found behind a small skinny wooden door in the room on the second floor that used to be the bar, aka The Finn Bin. My son said, look at all the cigarette burns on the carpet. I said, Well, it was a bar. What do you expect?

The room at the top of those skinny oaken stairs is here, in this photo taken by my sister, Katja, who is a photo artist.The Red Room at the top of the stairs is found above the yellow brick. You can also see "the cone". The window on the right is...

the south window of the Red Room, looking out. You can see the corner of Bay& Algoma Streets from this window. Out down Bay St. towards the horizon you can see a glimmer of Lake Superior and the Three Sisters Islands. The brown brick building on the southwest corner of Bay and Algoma used to be the old Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, where I used to work after I finished high school. All the old Finnish bushworkers used to come to my wicket as I was the only Finnish speaker; I have lots of stories about those old men that others called Bay Street bums. Now the bank is the Madhouse Restaurant, great food but watch out for cougars and married men on the prowl on Friday and Saturday nights! Kitty corner to the Madhouse is where the Painted Chairs will begin their march, and extend in the direction of Secord St.!

In the Red Room I found some old dusty music books, some probably close to 100 years old, heaped haphazardly in open boxes. The books are covered in dust and my fingers became black with dirt from handling them! Many contain handwritten song sheets for entire orchestra arrangements. Some song sheets were mailed from the US, as one envelope had a 3c US stamp on it. The song that this black book opens up to says Kesa Ilta Walssi [Summer Night Waltz]. I am going to photocopy some of the pages to make "Musical Chairs" for the Painted Chairs of the Midsummer Festival. In the "wrestling room" behind the Red Room I found some dusty old oak chairs. I plan to decorate 2 chairs with copies of these old music sheet pages, and bring this old music to life again in a new way!


ainur said...

This is a great craft idea. I can't get over the cute names: Hoito Restaurant, the Finnish Labour Temple, the Finn Bin! So sweet...

Last year, I saw a documentary on Finnish TV about Finnish utopian socialists who emigrated well before the civil war and tried to create their ideal societies in the wilderness of North America. There were also other projects (not only socialist) in Brazil and other places, if I remember correctly. You probably know more about Matti Kurikka's Sointula in BC.
Finnish Utopias (I like this site because it doesn't draw the simplistic conclusion that the utopias were 'just' failures. I think there's a lot to learn from utopian ideas.)

About the Punalippu song: The first thought that comes to me is the Italian Communist song Bandiera Rossa (Finnish translation here, scroll down), it's pretty old but I have no idea when it was translated to Finnish. Then I found a song with the title "Punalippu" on Wikisource. It's a "march of the Russian revolutionaries" translated by Severi Nuormaa (Nyman) and published in 1924 in a songbook by N.R. af Ursin, a curious character, a nobleman who became a socialist and even lived as an exile in the Soviet Union for a few years.
Reminds of a story about another nobleman who was later active in the Finland-USSR friendship association, and when some particularly rabid party hardliner shouted at a meeting: "There's a bourgeois here!" he immediately protested: "I should say not, I'm a baron!"

I hope this helps! :o)

northshorewoman said...

thank you, Punalippu girl! this is very helpful information, and there is lots for me to look through. A few years ago Enrique Tessieri came to town and did a great presentation on Colonia Finlandesa in Argentina. Also, Pirkko Karvonen came and screened her film THe people of Sointula (google Karvonen Films). Enrique lives in Finland, but Pirkko lives in Canada. I will scan the song sheets of Puna Lippu next week and send them to you. Thank you so much for all this info!

Erin said...

Hi Taina,

I got your comment on the Roots to Harvest site just yesterday - sorry for not getting back to you sooner - I'm still learning how to use it!

Would love to do a chair/participate somehow. Our youth folk don't start til July so it would be just me, Bryan and Heidi, but we could figure something out. It's great that you are doing a garden so nearby! neighbours!

northshorewoman said...

I have been telling folks in the B&A neighbourhood about the Roots to Harvest garden, too, and they are excited about this urban greening going on! Anna-Kaisa Kontinaho interviewed me and wrote an article about our Midsummer Garden in the local Finnish language paper and the Roots to Harvest garden was mentioned.

Looking forward to seeing the chair you create. I think we are going to have a lot of funky and fun chairs!