Alison Garwood Jones

Does your boss make you work weekends?

July 15, 2022

It’s important that our bosses and clients don’t set Monday deadlines that pressure us into working on the weekends. (Working for yourself is another story).

By speaking up en masse, we can steer our culture into recognizing that weekends are sacred time that are meant to be spent how we see fit: napping, doing laundry, taking a fun course, going for a hike.

When we regularly rest and step away, we go back to work on Monday in fighting form.

I made this “Step Away Guide” for a group called “the Laini girls” back in the Spring when they were studying for exams.

The Step Away Guide by Alison Garwood-Jones

Laini is a program created by Jamii Esplanade that is about giving “every young woman the confidence and tools to see themselves as leaders. It’s about equal chances and the ability for all to walk the path of leadership.”

“Laini” is a Swahili word that means ‘to flatten an area with the intent of making it accessible.’

I culled the tips from my own life, hoping I could help support them as they prepare to enter university, then the workforce.

This generation has a strong sense of right and wrong. They wrestle with this in their quiet moments. Justice is their middle name.

I look forward to them stepping up into leadership roles sooner than later.

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Your ancestors are cheering you on

July 11, 2022

After your folks die, you spend years going through what remains.

Sometimes what you discover makes you feel as if your relatives are wooting and cheering from the great beyond.

To wit: I vaguely recall my family saying that my grandmother owned and operated a small restaurant in London in the 1950s. The Pier Restaurant on Pier Road was in the borough of Bexley on the south bank of the Thames River. In this photo, is that grandma in her apron arranging the displays inside the restaurant?

The Pier Restaurant, London, England

Looking at the lineup of cakes and patisseries in the big bay window, the mid-century storefront lettering, and the Helene Hanff figure of a woman passing by, I like to imagine that grandma made sandwiches and sold Lyons cakes to the staff working a few doors down at a secondhand bookshop specializing in out-of-print books. I made up that part. I can only see a hardware store and a bakery on either side of her business.

Man, would I have loved to hear more stories about grandma the business woman …

When I turn the photo over, I learn that my dad, Trevor, took the picture. Probably with that Leica camera he looked down into. He wrote, “Mother’s Restaurant, 1955” and the caption, “Lettering and hanging ‘Restaurant’ sign by Trevor!” Yes, the exclamation point was his. Later, in a different coloured pen, he inserted the update, “Now demolished,” — probably after one of his many trips back to the old neighbourhood in the 1970s.

I didn’t know that restaurant lettering was in my dad’s background until I saw this photo recently. And I certainly didn’t know it when, on a whim, I started doing lettering for several restaurants in downtown Toronto sixty years later.

Alison Garwood-Jones-Jones designing restaurant windows.
Alison designing the windows at the much loved and missed resto, The Merchant.

Restaurant window designed by Alison Garwood-Jones

Sometimes those moments in your life when you say “Yes!” to a brand new adventure, the excitement you feel is actually a chorus of support from the past.

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July 5, 2022

Blue woman by Alison Garwood-Jones

Joan is not the first to ponder the arc of civilizations.

They peak and then they fall.

The Romans, the Egyptians, the Sumerians, the Americans.

She came of age during a peak.

Now she’s observing the fall.

Every day, relentless corruption, catastrophe, and systemic failure.

The centre isn’t holding.

She returns to the very same spot in her garden to ride it out.

The flowers turn to greet her. Bees orbit her body. And the sun catches the edges of her hair.

Dignity and beauty.

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Reaction to the Great Backslide

June 29, 2022

The Great Backslide Illustration by Alison Garwood-Jones

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Even Chickens Need To Think SMART

June 28, 2022

Chicken Little and Roe V Wade

“Okay, girl, get a grip. The sky is falling. Now what’s the plan?”

Even chickens need to think SMART.

#RoeVwade #SaveDemocracy #SmartObjectives

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Saturday Art Class

June 27, 2022

Jamii Painting Class with Alison Garwood-Jones

If planting a garden is an expression of hope, so is making art.

Drawing our fav pets with Nadifa, Isorine and the young women of The Esplanade.

Jamii Painting Class with Alison Garwood-Jones

Jamii Painting Class with Alison Garwood-Jones

Jamii Painting Class with Alison Garwood-Jones

Organized by @JamiiEsplanade.

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Happy Pride!

June 24, 2022

During Pride Month, I’m remembering Keith Haring, one of the gentlest humans to have walked this earth.

Keith Haring by Alison Garwood-Jones

We owe it to ourselves to keep his irrepressibly hopeful art dances going.

Cue up Keith’s friend, Madonna:

Everybody spread the word
We’re gonna have a celebration
All across the world
In every nation

It’s time for the good times
Forget about the bad times, oh yeah
One day to come together to release the pressure
We need a holiday!

Happy Pride!

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Mid-Century Modern Memories

June 21, 2022

House Portrait by Alison Garwood-Jones

My latest commission is personal for two reasons:

1. It’s a digital watercolour drawing of a mid-century modern brick bungalow that my dad, Trevor, designed back in 1966. The home was demolished by a developer in 2017 and replaced with an out-of-the box McMansion. Thomas Allen (whose devotion to Hamilton’s heritage is beyond beyond) described the house in The Inlet as having “a tranquil courtyard, barrel-vaulted roof with celestial windows, mid-century interior, and austere brick exterior, [all] strong symbols of modernism.”

2. My client (the son of the original owner) grew up in this house and was my neighbour. We played dolls for hours in the grassy meadow between our houses. And we are friends to this day.

I am pouring today’s sun-dappled gorgeosity into my work. I like quietly drawing away on a sunny Saturday. I don’t feel the need to be playing outside. Doing this work brings to mind what author Susan Cain says about life: that joy and sorrow are forever paired and will carry us forward.

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Shoe History

June 9, 2022

Ballet Flats

From Rome’s gladiator sandal to Moscow’s Ballet Russes satin slipper to New York’s ribboned espadrille on Slim Keith to Amazon’s ankle strap flats by Dream Pairs, the ancient through line in shoe design is unmistakable.

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A Visit to Manet’s Studio

June 2, 2022

Floral Painting by Alison Garwood-Jones

I went to Edouard Manet’s studio this morning to learn his direct way of painting flowers.

Illness is keeping him away from Parisian society (his definition of torture), so his friends are bringing him bouquets from his favourite florists. No one does cut flowers like the city of Paris.

Manet places the bouquets all over his studio, moving with the raking sunlight to capture each arrangement as it takes its turn in the spotlight. I bring him lilacs from my Roncesvalles neighbourhood in Toronto, and he thinks they stand up well with their French cousins.

Manet shows me how to lay down a wet tobacco-coloured undercoat, then how to outline the arrangement using a dry brush loaded with white. Most of all, he shows me how to paraphrase with lots of dash and drag brush movements.

He’s too proud and polite to admit he’s dying from syphilis. I can say it, though. It’s 2022, not 1880. His despair over his impending death intensifies his expressiveness and engagement with the flowers.

I say goodbye for the last time, hoping I have absorbed some of his sparkle and constructive wit with paint.

This painting was inspired by the book, “The Last Flowers of Manet” by Robert Gordon and Andrew Forge (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1986). I remember picking it up during a visit to the Art Institute of Chicago.

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