Ideas & Art from Rob Elliott and Christine Cosby

Tag: history

The Comfort Maple project, now on your phone


If you’re taking a road trip this weekend, bring along a full-screen smart phone. The Niagara HERE projects are now installed in locations throughout the Niagara region. These projects include video, audio, animation and augmented reality art works, all activated by scanning sign-mounted QR codes. It’s all a bit newfangled, so find out all the details, a map and descriptions of all the projects at the website:

My project, The Comfort Maple Wishes To Be Alone, is a short animated film exploring the history of the region through the viewpoint of a cranky tree. The actual Comfort Maple is over 500 years old, so I figured it would have witnessed a lot of change. As the voice-over demonstrates, the deluded tree believes that it is the agency of these changes.

The Comfort Maple is located on Metler Road, between Cream and Balfour Streets, in Pelham, Ontario.

The Comfort Maple is located on Metler Road, between Cream & Balfour Streets, in Pelham.

Animation drawings of the growing Comfort Maple

Animation drawings of the growing Comfort Maple

When a smart phone or tablet is pointed at the actual Comfort Maple, the screen turns into a drawing of the view, with the tree as a seedling. The film passes through four significant historical events: the destruction of the Neutral people by the Iroquois, the logging of the White Pine forests, the extermination of the Passenger Pigeon, and the recent closure of the soft fruit cannery and subsequent poisoning of the fruit trees.

"These creatures and their smoky campfires are really starting to bother me."

“These creatures and their smoky campfires are really starting to bother me.”

"These pine trees are crowding me!"

“These pine trees are crowding me!”

"Scram! Scram Already!"

“Scram! Scram already!”

"Don't stand so close to me."

“The Comfort Maple wishes to be alone.”

Swizzle takes Fun-A-Day for a test drive

Swizzle Studio is creating a piece of art every day for the month of February. Christine and I were inspired by the Fun-A-Day project our friend Al Hoff was involved with in Pittsburgh.

How does Fun-A-Day work? A bunch of people agree to do a creative project every day for a set number of days. They can post the images every day online if they choose. There is an exhibition afterwards where everyone gets to see the results. The people who founded it, Art Clash, have a good information sheet on their website.

Take a look at the Pittsburgh project to see the variety of stuff being created:

Swizzle February Fun-A-Day projects

We plan to organize a Toronto Fun-A-Day later this year, but decided to take the concept for a test drive this month. Actually, Christine started cutting fabric as soon as she finished looking at the Pittsburgh website, so we had to start. You can follow our projects’ daily progress in these Flickr sets:

28 Clowns Later: Christine is sewing panels depicting clowns

Power Portraits, 1965-1989: Rob is drawing 28 movers, shakers, and masters of World War 3


Swizzle Gallery, Ten Years Gone

Swizzle Gallery, dressed for Savage City exhibition, Fall 2000. Tiki mugs by Matthew Zari(L) and Mark Bello and Neil Lesneski(R).

It’s been ten years since Christine and I shuttered Swizzle Gallery. I celebrated my 36th birthday by closing the rollicking pop art space we had curated for two years. It was bittersweet, so much so I even made a mix CD (remember those? They were considered an astringent replacement for mixtapes, before we embraced the true sterility of playlists) and hosted a sort of wake/birthday party.

Swizzle had been a fun space to run. Having made a big-bum move to Toronto from Vancouver in the fall of 1999, we took inspiration from Mark Atomos Pilon‘s Moon Base and rented a storefront with an apartment in the back. It was a better way to introduce my work to Toronto than lugging a portfolio around to galleries, and we met a ton of great folks at receptions who make up the bulk of our social circle today.

Being an impresario is in my blood, but so is sharing the thrill of art. I miss introducing artists I love to an enthusiastic audience. Take a look at the range of work we ran through Swizzle over two years, there’s a lot of great work there!

Moving to Kincardine for the next seven years turned out to be a good decision – I had the time and space to really work and my art practice took off in all sorts of wild new directions. Swizzle Gallery became Swizzle Studio and I continued to show my work in other venues.

I had considerably more space to work in Kincardine.

What became of the gallery space? 1162 College Street spent several years as an never-open tea shop and then a suspiciously-homely architect firm, most likely fronts for some unsavoury money-laundering. The space has now been turned into the office of musician-turned-Member of Parliament Andrew Cash, which is kind of cool.

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