[Melissa in her studio. Photo by Donna Griffith]
It's been over a month since we learned of the passing of Melissa Levin. It's taken this long to compose this modest appraisal of her contributions to our world — not just the Covet Garden family but to the art and design world, to the cities of San Francisco, Chicago and Toronto and the creative community in general.
[Melissa in front of the installation she did at a Kitchener library. Photo via the Kitchener Public Library]
I first learned of Melissa from the art world. As the poet R.M. Vaughn wrote in tribute: "When I first moved to Toronto in 1991, I met a handful, a small but bright handful, of artists who were already established in the city.These artists welcomed me, made room for me, and brought me into their spheres. Dear Melissa was one of those artists."
[Vintage fabric from The Melissa finds its way onto a custom cabinet in Nina and Melissa's kitchen. Photo by Covet Garden]
I first met Melissa when she was running a shop called The Melissa in a West Queen West storefront that she was renting from gallerist Katherine Mulherin. It was Christmastime and the shop was well stocked with kitschy holiday stuff. I never bought anything, but it was fun to pop in and talk about the pieces in the shop — and Melissa seemed to have a great story for every item.
When we toured the home of Melissa and her partner Nina Levitt in our July 2014 issue, we learned about their own great story. How they met as grad students in Chicago. How they supported each other's work. How Melissa had been sick before and how she had recovered and prospered with wit and a renewed energy.
[The amazing custom backsplash made by Melissa. Photos by Donna Griffith]
Right now I'm looking at two pictures of Melissa and Nina's place that I took when I interviewed them for their feature. One is of a backsplash collaged together from Melissa's collection of paint-by-numbers. The other is of a wall in her office. It is a gallery of post cards, fabric swatches and other bits of ephemera from friends, family and places that Melissa had visited. The way she brought things together in her art is not unlike the way she brought people together. Not in social media way, but in a physical, actually plugged into the universe way. I like to think that having made such an impact on so many people, those connections will stay strong.
[Nina and Melissa in their kitchen. Photo by Donna Griffith]
At the same time our heart aches for her family and especially for Nina (who is also a damned awesome spirit). She and Melissa fit together like puzzle pieces. We really don't know what to say or what to do. So I'll just steal another thought from R.M. Vaughn: "The best thing one can do with a remembered kindness: pass it on."
[photo by Donna Griffith]
2015 has been a year full of transformation and change. We personally have made changes to our professional lives and personal living spaces and, in my case, have made a massive effort to downsize and live with less clutter by moving to a smaller space. So we're pleased to be able to celebrate all our accomplishments from the past 12 months and kickstart a new year with a tour of the peaceful and transitional home of Anna, Nick, Molly and Thomas.
Transplanted from New Zealand, the family has adjusted their rental space to embrace both the feeling of natural beauty of their former seaside home and their new, urban community. Their earthy take on these temporary digs also inspired our DIY tree stump side table project as well as the global influenced fashions of this month's style pages.
1. Karolin Schnoor 2016 Wall Calendar; 2. Scandimania chocolate brown Utensilo; 3. LaurasLastDitch vintage Syroco Giant Paper Clip 4. Room 606 Braun Wall Clock; 5. FranzsFavorites EMSA Trash Can; 6. VintageModernAndMore plastic desk organizer; 7. AtelierColors leather portfolio.
Considering we spend more time with our co-workers than our own families sometimes, we thought it would be nice to make a gift guide of cool Etsy finds for your best colleague.
Our board, Cool Gifts For Your Favourite Coworker consists of neat handmade and vintage items that will bring joy to any cubicle. From fantastic organizers and calendars that also double as works of art to fun stationery and unique coffee mugs that no one will dare swipe from the communal kitchen. You'll be certain to find a terrific token of appreciation for that teammate who helps make your work day a little bit brighter.
And don't forget to visit our Covet Garden Etsy Pages for gisfting inspiration for everybody on your nice list!
We here at Covet Garden love holiday craft market time. Not because we’re into acquiring stuff or we’re in the fever grip of the festive season. Rather, it’s because there are so many opportunities to discover and meet local artists and artisans as well as the chance to socialize with neighbours, friends and fellow fans of the unique and hand-crafted.
Unfortunately we don’t have room to list smaller church bazaars and local craft shows (sorry), so keep your eyes peeled for posters on lamp posts for these hidden gems—they are great venues for finding preserves, baked goods and neat knit and crocheted items.
So without further adieu, here’s our list of upcoming holiday markets in Toronto:
For a fun family outing, visit the Harbourfront Centre for a Swede celebration of food, traditional crafts and décor items. You can also binge-watch Pippi Longstocking movies while drinking a warm glass of glögg.
November 21–22, Harbourfront Centre (harbourfrontcentre.com/swedishchristmasfestival/)
This one-day event is now in its second year. Over 65 artists, artisans and designers will be selling their wares; there will also be a cash bar, live DJs and door prizes so things will definitely be hopping while you are shopping.
Nov. 22, the Great Hall (torontoartcrawl.com/christmas-market/)
The largest craft show in North America is now also the longest—the event runs for 11 days. A good thing considering that you’ll probably need more than one day to visit all the vendors and draw up your wish list (and re-entry passes are free!).
Nov 26 to Dec. 6, Enercare Centre (oneofakindshow.com)
Need to get your flea market jones on this month? Our friends at the Leslieville Flea are bringing their tables of unique vintage and handmade goodies inside for a big ol’ treasure hunt. Check out their website for a list of vendors closer to the date.
Nov. 29, SH Armstrong Community Centre (leslievilleflea.com)
[Shannon Gerard's pillows were at last year's City of Craft. Photo by Shannon Gerard]
Our favourite indie marketplace. City of Craft not only showcases some of our favourite makers, this year they are welcoming a record number of first time vendors. We can’t wait to discover these fresh faces! We’ll also be contributing copies of Covet Garden Home to the COC swag bags.
Dec. 11 – 13, The Theatre Centre (cityofcraft.com)
[Terrarium photo by Crown Flora]
Adam and Davis of Crown Flora really know how to pack a lot of great craftspeople into their small, Queen East shop for their Holiday Pop Up. Based on last year’s event, you can expect lineups around the block—but the wait is well worth it. Watch their website for more details closer to the event.
Dec. 19, 1233 Queen St. W., rear entrance (crownflorastudio.com)