One fantastic way to promote your city!

Normally, when you want to promote your town or city you spend thousands or millions of dollars looking for an expensive agency to design a marketing strategy. They will spend months analyzing data, preparing proposals, hiring experts, and after months of hard work they will come to you will a couple of final proposals that you will not entirely like. If you accept any of the proposals, you will have to spend a lot of money on the media buying and people to manage and monitor the campaign.

Why would you do this anymore?

Today there’s something extremely powerful called “virality”, which is a result of the mass sharing content extremely fast and effectively online though the social media networks. If you find someone creative enough, and you are willing to use this thing called innovation, you can succeed and make the world know that your destination exists, and not only that, make the world know that your destination is a place where you don’t fear to do new things and have fun.

sabadell promo javi yebenes

Here is a perfect example of what I’m talking about, the small town of Sabadell invested some dollars in putting together the local orchestra and choruses and recording the flash-mob they organized in a downtown plaza. In this case, they used a local bank to finance the “promo” including a couple of takes of the banks facade in the video, but this action reduced the cost to nothing for the city’s tourism office.

Obviously, people are already tired of Flash-mobs, but when you play something like “Joy’s Anthem” or “Anthem of Europe” and you get children involved, our most human side has no other chance but to enjoy it, feel it and share it.

Lath Mar Holi – Festival of Colours

Holi is an Hindu celebration of the Spring and the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month “Phalguna”, which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

One of the greatest things about this celebration is the loosening strictness of social structures, in India normally age, sex, status, and caste. Holi brings Hindus together and closes the wide gaps between social classes of this country. It is very special to see the people enjoying this festivity together, not worrying about stereotypes. the rich and poor, women and men, enjoy each other’s presence during Holi and the atmosphere is filled with excitement and joy.

The one thing that makes Holi unique is the colorful atmosphere created by thousands of joyous participants throwing colored water and powder to each other. In the northern region of Uttar Pradesh, “Lathmar Holi” is celebrated before Holi itself, and while it is a rite of spring there as well, the festival also celebrates another fun tradition  rooted in ancient Hindu mythology. Krishna visited the village of Barsana to disturb his consort Radha. As a response, the women of the town  chased him away. Today women from Barsana “beat” playfully the men from Krishna’s village of Nandgaon with sticks, called lathis,  for singing provocative songs in a bid to invite their attention. With the same purpose, men also throw colored powder on women.

The festival officially begins with a ceremony at Radha’s temple in Barsana and normally lasts for 2 days. On the first day of the festival, “gopis”, wich is the Hindu name for shepherds, from Nandgaon come to Barsana to play Holi with the gopis of Barsana.  On the second day happes exactly the opposite and the celebration takes place in the town of the Lord Krishna.

During Holi, participants drink “thandai”. This libation based on nuts and flowers is sometime intoxicating because it is laced with a paste called “bhang,” made of cannabis. Bhang and Holi have always gone together. After drinking bhang, people react in different ways, some people dance, some jump into the mud, others cry or laugh, but this kinky experience is a good way for the locals to relax and bond.

If you ever visit Uttar Pradesh during Holi, you will breathe the thick air with flower scent and your conception of India and the Hindu culture will radically change.

Holi in North-America:

Photography by Adnan Abidi – Reuters

Jane’s Journey – A night with Dr. Jane Goodall

“Every day of your life you make an impact and it is your choice to decide which kind of impact you want to make”.

Last night I had the privilege to attend the inaugural Toronto screening of the acclaimed documentary “Jane’s Journey”, and it was one of these moments that change your life. During the time I’ve been working for BOLD Magazine I was lucky enough to meet some of the most important artist, writers and scientists in the world, all of them charismatic, but none of them had an aura like the one Dr. Jane Goodall has.

Photography by Jane Goodall’s Institute of Canada

I always thought that a night at the Ontario Science Centre is a special night, and I always think to myself that lot of Torontonians don’t know what a treasure they have hidden in their own land. I invite all of you to discover what an inspiring and educational place the centre is.

Ontario Science Centre’s CEO, Lesley Lewis, gave a welcoming speech to the audience and introduced them to Andrew Westoll, primatologist and writer. Westoll shared the story of how he met Dr Goodall and expressed his admiration for the scientist. After that, Dr. Jane Goodall walked into the stage and the audience gave her an standing ovation.  The zoologist gave an inspiring speech about the importance of the  conservation of the environment and encouraged every single individual “to respect and protect the nature and the living beings”.

“If you work hard, you don’t give up and you take advantage of the opportunities, you will make your dreams come true”.

Without further ado and thanking the filmmakers and technicians, Dr Goodall gave way to the documentary, “Jane’s Journey”.

Fifty years ago, the young and intrepid Jane Goodall made her childhood dream come true, going to Africa, and she first set foot on the shores of Lake Tanganyika, in what is now Tanzania’s Gombe National Park. Today, Dr. Goodall is a world-renowned zoologist and one of the best-known scientists of any kind. But that’s not all, she is also UN Messenger of Peace, conservationist, environmental and animal rights activist and she has more than 40 honorary doctorate degrees from universities all over the world.

Over the course of her life she spent 30 years studying the behavior of chimpanzees at Gombe, and she never stopped until an eye opening experience in Chicago, in 1986, pushed her to travel the world to raise environmental awareness and inspire action. Among her groundbreaking discoveries was the fact that humans are not the only animals with the capacity to make and use tools.

After the screening of the moving documentary,  Jane Lawton, Director of the JG Institute of Canada, gave members of the audience of all ages the opportunity to a Q&A with the scientist, and she replied to every single one of them naturally and sharing her knowledge gained through life experience. To end a wonderful evening, the primatologist stayed for more than 1 hour signing books and DVD’s to the guests.

Dr. Goodall is 77 years old and that doesn’t stop her from doing what she thinks is the best for our planet, making people from all over the world conscious about the delicate situation of our fauna and flora and most importantly, giving people hope.

Jane’s Journey Trailer:

Dr. Goodall’s discoveries and work are an inspiration, not just to every animal lover and every women, but also to every scientist and every dreamer.

- Written by Javi Yebenes -

Special thanks to:

Hearing the Eco

Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Conspiracies rule history. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies both real and imagined, lay one lone man? What if that evil genius created its most infamous document?

Detail of an illustration from The Prague Cemetery. From Umberto Eco’s collection.

Last night, the Toronto Reference Library’s Appel Salon was brighter than ever with the presence of International literary star, Umberto Eco, talking about his last novel,The Prague Cemetery. Even arriving early, we find an unending line of people waiting for rush seats for the event, hosted by CBC Radio’s Michael Enright and presented by Tina Srebotnjak, Manager of the Program Department of the Reference Library.

Eco’s sixth novel, The Prague Cemetery, published last year and already a bestseller in Europe, is rife with fabrications, conspiracy theories, fakery, espionage and political drama. It’s a complex exploration of xenophobia and religious fanaticism, revealing how certain events and widespread beliefs led to horrifying acts of persecution and war. Set in late-19th-century Europe, its protagonist is Captain Simone Simonini, an adventurer, forger, and secret agent. The fictional character’s anti-Semitic and misogynistic leanings have already incited controversy. The only fictional character in the novel, Simonini hobnobs with the likes of Sigmund Freud and Alexander Dumas, among others.

Eco explains, “Sometimes you have to use fiction because real stories are more difficult for the reader to believe.”

Despite how people may feel about his protagonist, it wasn’t long before Eco himself won his audience over. His dense, intricate and staid novels are in direct contrast with his likeable, friendly personality. The Italian essayist, novelist, semiotician, critic and philosopher surprised everybody when he talked about his work and himself with humor and modesty.


Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène of Monaco attended the grand opening event of the exhibit Grace Kelly: from Movie Star to Princess on November 2 at the TIFF.

Their Serene Highnesses Prince Albert II and Princess Charlène of Monaco by Javi Yebenes

Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess is a tribute to the life and style of one of the world’s most beloved stars and features rarely-displayed items and artifacts ranging from Grace Kellys days as a leading lady in Hollywood to a princess of one of Europe’s oldest royal families.

The exhibition features many of her original dresses, a special exhibit around an exact replica of her iconic wedding gown, her signature Kelly bagand tiara, along with photos from her childhood scrapbooks and high school yearbooks, letters signed ”Affectionately, Hitch,” telegrams from Prince Rainier and her Academy Award® statuette for The Country Girl. Kellys personal home moviesshot on Super 8, and featuring her famous friends and familyprovide visitors with an extremely rare glimpse into her personal life. Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess is based on the Grimaldi Forums The Grace Kelly Yearsexhibition in Monaco, and the Victoria and Albert Museums Grace Kelly: Style Iconexhibition in London.

International Art Fair of Toronto

Marilyn Crying by Russell Young, 2008

Old Self by Evan Penny. Photo by Rebecca Leach.

Brad Pitt by Chuck Close

The Art Toronto Fair, now in its 12th year, is a four-day art exhibition and sale, featuring over 1000 artists from 109 leading and emerging galleries, it’s a chance to see some of the art world’s top new and noteworthy artists. Art Toronto is the largest and most celebrated indoor visual art event in Canada. From artworks by renowned masters to young emerging artist, there is something that will stimulate you visually.

The Art Game by Toronto-based Cree artist Kent Monkman, curated by Steven Loft is one of the highlights of the Art Fair. In “the Art Game”, Kent Monkman brings a fresh perspective into the life of an artist-from the maze that artists must travel to display and sell their work, to a ‘sideshow’ populated by the major players in today’s art market; artists, gallerists, curators and collectors.

Another highlight of the Art Fair is the work by Greg Haberny, a highly political artist, who uses unconventional means to bring into perspective the social realities in which we live.

Crude Fries by Greg Haberney

Another notable artist at the Art Fair is the young Canadian visual Artist Amy Shackleton.

Elaine Fleck from The Elaine Fleck Gallery & Amy Shackleton

At only 25, Amy Shackleton has exhibited paintings in New York, London, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary.  Shackleton’s work was recently selected for purchase by the Colart Collection in Montreal. She was a finalist in the 2010 Signature Art Awards at Degree Art Gallery in London and nominated for the 2010 and 2011 Palm Art Awards in Germany.  Amy Shackleton paints post-industrial worlds that form healthy, sustainable visions of the future. Shackleton recognizes the need for collaboration between urban and rural environments and uses various techniques/media to juxtapose urban expansion and scientific progress with the ecological reality of our shrinking resources.

As seen in this video, Amy Shackleton works entirely  without a paintbrush. Watch the artist work at 800x speed, creating a new urban landscape painting, “Terraced City.”

Italy (Rome, Naples, Capri & The Amalfi Coast, served as an inspiration for her latest piece  titled “PIAZZA NATURALE” 90′ X 60′.

PIAZZA NATURALE by Amy Shackleton 2011

The themes at the Art Fair are as rich and varied as the artist themselves. Each piece touches upon every subject imaginable: urban realities, the Canadian landscape, public & private spaces & consumerism as it is in the case of Mexican born artist Andres Basurto currently on display at the Lyons Wier Gallery in NYC.

Mexican artist Andres Basurto standing next to his piece Skull.

Skull created using shards from recycled beer bottles, Andres Basurto – Photo by Rebecca Leach

Basurto uses  shards from glass bottles that at one time held wine and beer, giving life to ”specific shapes that evoke the human skull and skeleton as a container of the soul.”

In the case of Mexican Artist Claudia Alvarez, she focuses on investigating themes of childhood, where she “utilises characteristics of children to embody psychological and sociological structures of human behaviour”. More importantly,  human conduct, ethics, culture and a belief system are part of her artistic statement seen through the innocent eyes of children. 

This year, the Art Fair introduces “Open Space” , a juried selection of large – scale sculpture and installation art from Art Toronto’s participating galleries. A dedicated space on site has been created  to allow galleries the opportunity to exhibit work that may otherwise be too large for a traditional fair booth.  This on site exhibit features  15 engaging works exclusively for Art Toronto, that explores new ways of considering sculpture and mix media and challenge traditional notions of three-dimensional art work.

Our photographer Rebecca Leach

The Art Fair runs until Oct. 31st at the Metro Convention Centre