Rebecca Baird and Kenny Baird, courtesy of Rebecca Baird and Kenny Baird.
Explore the counterculture of Queen West from ’77 to ’83 with a storytelling tour seen through the eyes of Cree Métis artists Rebecca and Kenny Baird. Delve into the history of this tumultuous and flourishing vanguard arts hub as told by the Baird siblings. You’ll hear their contributions to punk, queer, street and magazine subcultures, ground-shifting local music, thought-provoking art installations, and more. Weave through this radical time, hearing about the many illustrious arts allies and locales they frequented, such as The Cameron House, Toxic Plan 9, Art Metropole, and more.
Developed in collaboration with Caroline Azar and Franco Boni.
WHAT TO EXPECT
This tour is an audio tour; please use your own devices (eg. smartphone, smart tablet) and headphones for the experience. Here are a few listening options:
a) Click on the audio tracks that are embedded below to listen during the tour. This will require data usage.
b) To avoid data usage, you can download the audio tracks to your device before the tour and listen offline during the tour.
Starting Point & End Point:
Myseum of Toronto, 401 Richmond St W, Studio LL01
Length of the Tour: 75-90 minutes
Total Walking Time: 55 minutes
Total Walking Distance: 2.5 km
Longest Walking Distance: 10 minutes
This tour will take place on entirely flat terrain and paved sidewalks, and will feature regular city traffic. This tour involves walking and standing for extended periods of time.
Mural on Queen St. W.’s Cameron Public House. Photo by Bernard Weil, 1988. Toronto Star Archives. Courtesy of Toronto Public Library.
TOUR LEADS & STORYTELLERS
Kenny has an established reputation in a variety of commercial design media: Film production design, Commercial and music video art direction, prop fabrication, wardrobe / costume design, Graphic design and illustration.
MFA, OCADU – b. 1954 Edmonton, Alberta First Nations Affiliation: Status Indian
As a Nehiyaw (Cree)/Métis artist, I have appreciated the occasions that my art has offered to connect with the broader public and further the representation of Indigenous culture. My artistic practice has explored themes of Indigenous history, identity and culture through the lens of sculpture, installation and painting. Challenging western notions of the ‘imaginary Indian’ perpetuated by mass media stereotypes, my work re- articulates and re-visions Indigenous narratives, while striving to engage a contemporary intersection of memory and meaning.
My 30 plus years of exhibition experience includes such landmark presentations as From Sea to Shining Sea, Power Plant, 1987 and Indigena, Former Museum of Civilization, 1992 (a collaboration with artist Kenny Baird). More recent works include Looking Hawk and the Buffalo Nation commissioned by 8Fest in 2016 and Cree Star Blanket, commissioned by Toronto.
Animated Image Society for the exhibition Imaginable Spaces: Op Art Re-imagined, 2014. Tapping at the Taproots of Tenacity, 2015, a mixed-media presentation in collaboration with artist Philip Cote investigated the clash between icons of North American white settlement, colonialism and Indigenous cultural production and was presented at Chatham Art Gallery, Ontario. Notable public art commissions include: The Great Mystery, acrylic on canvas, 1996, Queen West Community Health Centre; Open Sky, acrylic on canvas, 2001, Lester B. Pearson International Airport New Terminal and All My Relations, an installation for Centre for Addictions and Mental Heath’s Crisis and Critical Care entrance.
My current artwork draws upon the traditional Star Blanket design, a symbolic marker of relationships within both individual and collective lives, exploring the evolving dynamism and motion of relationships originally suggested within this enduring Indigenous cultural marker. A new series of beadworks bring forward the poetics and knowledge of Indigenous languages as depicted in a 2018 work, Biskaabiiyang, “Returning to Ourselves” recently included in the MAWA project, Resilience, which presented the work of 50 Indigenous women artists on public billboards across Canada. This work continues my practice of interpreting traditional Indigenous design and compositional techniques in artwork that provides an aesthetic symbolizing a community continually in the making.
With my St Peon Series (2018/2019), I created/presented outdoor performances in the walking/touring formats, where a fictional character’s history and state of mind is reflected by and intermingles with public points of interests: parking lots, playgrounds, construction sites, areas soon to be destroyed, especially junkie depots. This is an existential and angry anthropology, which allowed me to also avoid ‘indoor’ bureaucracies.
I am a co-founder of agit-prop proto punk group Fifth Column (3 LPs, 6 45s, 1 EP, 1 Soundtrack plus numerous compilation entries) with GB Jones along with hers and my decades old zine work HIDE (AGO exhibit on now) & Double Bill (With Johnny Noxzema and Jena Von Brucker).
Amongst many initiatives and projects, I have written music and lyrics for ‘Queer As Folk’, story-edited for TV/Film, having published erotica under a pseudonym. I am proud to share that I was mentored by and worked for the following cultural makers: Iconic Gay Playwright John Herbert (Actor), Playwright Judith Thompson (Dir. Assistant), Cultural Impresario/ Director/Producer Franco Boni (Various) & Performance Professor Paulette Phillips (Actor/Soundtrack).
For 40 years, I’ve contributed to queer, feminist and punk theory, while personally informed by Elaine May, Journalist Studs Terkel, Buckminster Fuller, Bubblegum culture and Psychedelic/Garage music and, of course, all black swans of history and science.
Notable Plays: St. Peon of the People and St. Peon of Parkdale (Fit Bit Theatre / Theatre-A-Go-Go), D.I.N.K – Double Income No Kids, Man-O-Rexic (a punk musical), Satan’s Mistress (With Rosa Von Praunheim)
Awards: Three-time Polaris Music Heritage Nominee (2016, 2017 and 2018)
From 2003 – 2019 Franco served as Artistic Director of The Theatre Centre, leading the company in a $6M Capital Campaign and in the building of its new performance venue in Toronto. Franco is a recognized cultural innovator, facilitator and community builder with a demonstrated track record of restoring financial stability and artistic credibility for local art organizations and festivals for over two decades.
Current projects include:
The development of a Strategic and Succession plan with One Yellow Rabbit in Calgary; and Theatre Consultant leading the design and construction of a new 600-seat Musical Theatre venue in Toronto for Terra Bruce Productions.
Past positions include Artistic and Executive Director of The PuSh Festival in Vancouver, Festival Director of the Rhubarb Festival and Artistic Producer of the SummerWorks Festival.
Franco was a founder of Active 18, a local West Queen West community association, instrumental in advocating for good design and retaining the cultural fabric of the West Queen West neighbourhood in Toronto.
Awards include the George Luscombe Award for mentorship, the inaugural Ken McDougall Award for emerging directors, and the Rita Davies Cultural Leadership Award, recognizing his outstanding leadership in the development of arts and culture in the City of Toronto.
SIDEWALK STORIES 2022
September 17 – October 16
Get to know Toronto’s unforgettable stories with a unique series of walking tours. There’s something for everyone in these five distinct experiences that will transport you back to the formative Toronto of the 17th century, all the way through to the gritty 1980s.
Myseum of Toronto is made possible with the generous support of Diane Blake and Stephen Smith.