Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Midsummer in the city


Our Midsummer Arts Festival at the Finlandia Club, as Eepu, Otto, and Urho can attest, both inside and

outside was a great success! This photo is by my sister, Katja. It reminds me of a long dusky summer night. This is the tower of the Finnish Labour Temple, which was re-named Finlandia Club in 1962. It goes by a number of names, including the Finn Hall. Some call it the Hoito, but the Hoito is only the restaurant on the bottom level.

Many people came through the door, young and old, Finns and non-Finns. We had great press, too, as our local newspaper covered it the next day. 5 photos and 3/4 of page 3 of the front section! Great local media support!

Arlene Korhonen-King put together this welcoming display in the lobby. The wood carving on the chair, given to her by her aunt, was carved in 1958 by a 10 yr-old boy in Finland. Written on the back is "Lukemassa" [at reading]. In front of the chair on the floor is an old vati. Tuesday when I dashed out to do some hairdos, one of my Finnish lady friends was horrified that another elderly Finnish lady was using a vati to wash her paremmat paikat [best places!] when she very well has a bathtub! Her bathtub, however, is used for storage.

Speaking of storage, I set up a Romu poyta ['junk' table] at the Festival, of old stuff that I found in storage, in one old cupboard. There is an old Polaroid camera case, an old statue of a flapper girl, an old British flag, an old sign that states seating is for 540, a 45 of the 1967 Centennial song, Ca-na-da, an old ceramic terrier bank that rattles with old coins, an old brass bell to call the cows home or the folks for puuro [porridge], an old wooden ladle, and an old iron object that I brought around the hall to find out what it is. One man thought it might be for making counterfeit $50 bills. Someone else thought it was some sort of iron for pressing. Someone else thought it was a crusher for grains. Shirley Kauranen, however, solved our mystery. It is a Victorian ink blotter for text or music notes. She was given an old set of ink pen and blotter by an elderly couple she knows. [The handle of the blotter I found is sticking out of the basket].

I also placed 2 old pictures of immigrant ships on the stairs behind the table. One says "Media & Parthia" on the left and "Cunard White Star" on the right, and the other

ship has "Nieuw Amsterdam" on its prow. This is "junk" found only in one very dusty cupboard!

We had a lot of artists with us this year. Chris Rantala, one of our exhibitors, makes all sorts of art, including painting on old saws and on stones. He placed his work on an oval rag rug his mother made. He is also busy these days designing and painting large murals.

Veijo Maki, who has a great respect for nature, had some of his paintings on display with his wife, Kaija, who helped organize our event with Katja and me.

Ken Kuurila joined us for the first time with his wife, Mary. She is Anishnawbe; he is of Finnish descent. She creates unusual jewelry; he does cedar boxes and carves moose antlers

into pendants such as this bear.... which I purchased for $25. A steal. It is smooth, warm and ....a very striking piece. I know I will get many comments when I wear it!

Eelis Hakanen, our oldest exhibitor at 87 yrs old, carves and paints. [Find him quoted in the newspaper article] This loon is one of my favorites. I saw a pair of loons swimming in the harbour yesterday morning and Eelis really is able to capture some of their black beauty.

Katja had lots of new art for sale, but I didn't get a photo of her booth because I was too busy!!!! Here's an image from her Orange Prayer cards. She created a beautiful gold finch chair for our painted chairs, which I will post next.

Debbie Shannon was selling the work of Anishnawbe painter Isadore Wadow. He is dead now; he was a friend of her father's; Debbie has inherited these paintings. They are originals. They are amazing. There is one of a turtle that caught my eye! You can read a bit about Isadore Wadow here If you are interested in purchasing a Wadow paintings, please contact Debbie directly: djshanno2000@yahoo.com

Of course, Midsummer is best spent on the lake, such as this one painted by Eelis , who came to Canada by himself when he was 10 years old. But when you are an urban dweller and don't have a mokki [camp or cottage], you have to

re-invent old traditions. Keep the old, like Urho's haitari [accordion], but mix it up with what is around you.....Our Midsummer is a place-based, site specific celebration! Urho played his accordion outside by the steps of the Finn Hall, as folks milled about the painted chairs...

1 comment:

Gary said...

Taina, my name is Gary Freedman, which certainly doesn't sound Finnish. However, my mother's maiden-name was Rauha Kallio, and she and her parents were from Finland. My grandfather's first cousin was President of Finland during 1937-1940. My wife has a great amount of Finnish ancestry, too. Her grandfather, Armas Maki, also came from Finland. So our 2 sons definitely have a "ton" of Soumalainen blood. We live in Atlanta, Georgia, but are both orininally from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (the Land of the Frozen Chosen). I enjoyed your web site, and have 2 original Isadore Wadow paintings, which were left by my twin brother who died in March in the Sault. We are up in the Soo right now taking care of his estate. Just wanted to say "terve" to a fellow-Finn. Best to you. Hyvasti. Gary