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Arts

The wasteland of the gods at Muzik Nightclub

Posted by Ed Conroy / May 10, 2014

EB Cox TorontoMythical Toronto sculptor Elford Bradley "E.B" Cox (1914-2003) would likely be appalled to see what has happened to one of his greatest collections of work - The Garden of the Greek Gods - donated to the City of Toronto and displayed at the CNE since 1979.

Nightclub Muzik has absorbed almost all of them as part of their extended patio, and these historic Canadian sculptures are now off-limits to anyone not frequenting the property of this 19+ only bar. Their intended audience - children - can no longer interact with them at all. Aside from losing these beautiful public sculptures to a private establishment, it's troubling to imagine them as impromptu perches for Smirnoff Ice and Bud Light Lime.

It was once claimed that E.B Cox had more sculptures on view in Toronto's public places than any other single artist. His rich city oeuvre includes the famous bear at the "haunted" Guild Inn in Scarborough, the fish fountain in front of the Park Hyatt, abstract figures on the grounds of the University of Toronto, and many more electric and eclectic pieces across Canada.

EB Cox TorontoE.B himself is weaved through the fabric of our Canadiana art tradition - he was close friends with Barker Fairly and the Group of Seven, carving their headstones as they passed away; he was friend to the late Farley Mowat, chronicler of the Great North; he taught French at Upper Canada College to sonic maven, photographer and filmmaker Dan Gibson; he portaged with Omer Stringer, legendary canoe sensei and creator of the Beaver Canoe line.

E.B was a proper old-school artist from a golden age that celebrated the Canadian nature experience, equally influenced by Iroquois and West Coast Haida styles as he was by classical Roman sculpture. The E.B Cox aesthetic was entirely and uniquely Canadian.

EB CoxFrom small animal carvings made in wood (he is often credited with starting the boon in coffee table art) to limestone behemoths in public places, E.B had an almost supernatural ability to capture the essence of a subject in his sculptures. Described by art historian Gary Dault as "The Mark Twain of contemporary art," he famously never took a penny in government grants for his artistry, nor did he suffer elitist, effete art snobs. He was a man of the people, and interaction between the public and his statues was of paramount interest to him.

EB Cox TorontoThe 20 pieces in his masterful Greek Gods series (Hercules, Mermaid, Cyclops, Boy on a Dolphin, Pan, Aphrodite, The Three Graces, The Harpies, Cerberus, The Hydra, The Typhon, Medusa, Orpheus, The Minotaur, Centaur, The Phoenix, Sea Horse, The Sphinx, The Triton and Narcissus) were originally sculpted in the 1960s for a resort in the hills at Georgian Peaks, however E.B was reputedly disgusted at their hilltop placement, as it meant people only saw them during the skiing season. He bought them back in 1974, committed to finding them a home where they could be marvelled at all year round.

In 1978, an E.B Cox fan, Toronto restaurateur and all around celebrity magnet Arthur Carmen bought all 20 statues from E.B and donated them to the city and people of Toronto where they were to be proudly displayed on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition south of the Horticulture building, near the Dufferin gates. E.B would often appear at the CNE, carving wildlife statues out of butter at the Food building (such fare passed as an attraction before exploitative food stunting like the Cronut burger and its ilk became the de facto marketing tool).

EB Cox SculptureOver the last 30 years, the statues in the Garden of the Greeks Gods have entertained anyone who travelled through this part of the CNE grounds. "What I am happiest about is that my statues will be available to the public, and to kids especially," E.B told the Toronto Star at the ground breaking ceremony for the Garden in 1979. "They're not dainty things - all limestone - and kids can climb on them all they want".

EB Cox TorontoWhat does it say about our culture that these magnificent pieces are allowed to languish, some completely out of sight, seen only by the likes of Muzik owner Zlatko Starkovski as a bothersome obstacle in the expansion of his nightclub? It is absolutely shameful that, at the very least, the statues were not moved before the City granted Muzik its cozy licence, and then went on to entertain nonsensical demands such as a ban on all-age parties on the grounds of the CNE.

EB CoxAs tempting as it to wish the statues might come alive, Golem-style, and extract bloody vengeance on those who see fit to disgrace them as glorified ashtrays, it's also reassuring to remember that the Greek God statues will outlive the current occupant of the space they pre-date. E.B used to joke that his stone work will still be there long after Rembrandts' paintings had crumbled.

And it's true.

Retrontario plumbs the seedy depths of Toronto flea markets, flooded basements, thrift shops and garage sales, mining old VHS and Betamax tapes that less than often contain incredible moments of history that were accidentally recorded but somehow survived the ravages of time. You can find more amazing discoveries at www.retrontario.com.

Discussion

29 Comments

OhWow! / May 10, 2014 at 03:04 am
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I think the patio is incredibly beautful. The sculptures look amazing there. No offence, but I doubt any kid would be emotionally moved to tears because they didn't have access. I went to the CNE every year for 35 plus years, and this is the first time I've seen them. If these sculptures are so important to the city, re-locate them. The owner could replace them with sculptures of their own. No wonder so many people attend this club. Wonder what it looks like from the inside.
Steve / May 10, 2014 at 06:19 am
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These statues always delighted me as kid and continue to do so as an adult. For the past few years I have been very disappointed how they have been treated, often they were surround by untrimmed grass, The grass only being cut properly during the CNE. Now they are mostly out of view to the public.
The few I can still access still delight.
Mar / May 10, 2014 at 06:58 am
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Great writing, sad story. Where they given to Muzak or did he buy them? I hope major media picks up this story. Canada's history does not belong in sleazy d bag club's patio. Sign of the time I suppose
crc replying to a comment from OhWow! / May 10, 2014 at 09:16 am
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This sounds suspiciously like someone connected to the club..but meh. As someone not connected to the club, the patio looks like any other patio (albeit one that's apparently misappropriated donated public art) and the inside looks like something Bieber would enjoy. No wonder so many p̶e̶o̶p̶l̶e̶ douchebags attend this club.
Scott M2 / May 10, 2014 at 10:59 am
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It's good to learn the story behind the sculptures. They always had deepened mystique when the fog decended on the CNE grounds.
Xero replying to a comment from OhWow! / May 10, 2014 at 11:08 am
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Nice shill post from Musikland. Gutted about what happened to those statues,what can we do about it now??
Yep! / May 10, 2014 at 11:55 am
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Xero:
Please don't drink and post.
Graeme / May 10, 2014 at 11:57 am
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Should be easy enough to just move them. Not like the club owner owns them, or has any rights to them. They are CNE property.
Malcolm / May 10, 2014 at 01:27 pm
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Yeah, Muzik's PR team has been attempting damage control over the past few weeks on social media but there's only so many of them and their words more often than not sound like an infomercial. Not the most educated and/or subtle bunch. Case in point: OhWow above.
ThatGuy replying to a comment from OhWow! / May 10, 2014 at 02:18 pm
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So you think it is ok to thieve from children because you were unaware? Huh...
Ingram Gallery / May 10, 2014 at 04:36 pm
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Cultural Vandalism. Please contact the gallery to learn more about the remarkable, venerable E.B. Cox. In our thoughts each day, Cox is part of our city's & our country's history -- not just art history. A shame. Together we can change this unfortunate situation.
Adam Sobolak / May 10, 2014 at 04:58 pm
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"I went to the CNE every year for 35 plus years, and this is the first time I've seen them."

...yeah, "35 plus years" may lend fake seniority/authority to one's POV; but 35 years ago was only 1979, i.e. closer in time to the Alice Cooper riot than to Spring Thaw revues. When it comes to CNE heritage/nostalgia and those doing the reminiscing, the three and a half decade timeframe ain't what it used to be...
linden / May 10, 2014 at 06:43 pm
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the Exhibition Place grounds are beautiful but somehow isolated and probably a lot of people had never venture at this direction The front section, where Direct Energy center is, it is a giant parking lot and the rest of the grounds are well hidden. I have seen most of the sculptures,they were placed not far away from Muzik club and and it is said that they become offlimit. The main purpose of EP is to maintain this place and the city had all kinds of ideas such as building casino, hotel complex and so on instead of creating a true public space. I hope with the plans for Ontario Place, EP is also considered.
OhWow! / May 10, 2014 at 09:16 pm
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No need to respond, the lack of intelligence (from Rave goers) speaks for itself.
Joe / May 10, 2014 at 11:03 pm
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One call to Exhibition Place and you could have saved yourself the trouble of writing this article.
Mother / May 11, 2014 at 09:05 am
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THANK YOU blogto for writing this article. MUZIK is going to be exposed eventually. This is just the beginning of the end of this RUSE that has been taking place on and in our historical Exhibition property. THANK YOU!
Chris Anthony / May 11, 2014 at 11:32 am
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This clubs owner is scum. DO NOT believe anyone who is writing a positive review of this place, it is just the clubs PR team creating fake accounts trying to do damage control. When a government grants a private individual a monopoly in any sort of business no matter how big the area (even if its just on the exhibition grounds) this is called: FASCISM. I believe in free competitive markets and not in people using there political connections to benefit themselves for private gain. As a owner of a business you must adapt or die if you provide a shitty overpriced service then your competition will kill you. I look forward to the day this club closes it doors.

............. Zlatko Starkovski does not care about children, this is a ploy it is about him gaining a controlling a monopoly over events on the CNE grounds, this is about him putting more money into his pocket at the expense of tax payers. The city makes a million dollars in revenue from hosting events at the Direct Energy center and only gets 10, 000 a month rent from him. He pays under market value for renting his building. A globe and mail report found that the actual market value for renting this building should be 85 000 dollars a month. The same globe and mail article uncovered that Zlakto hired the lobby group Sussex Strategy Group to get this motion passed threw city council. Here`s is a quote from the email he sent Councillor Mark Grimes ...........

``In recent months the Exhibition Place has seen several competing events in both the Better Living Centre and the Direct Energy Centre. While we recognize the competitive nature of our business, this has caused Muzik problems in booking the talent for own shows on other nights. Muzik and the Exhibition Place are a destination venue. Our patrons come here one night a week specifically for our club, many from outside Toronto. If there is similar content and acts being hired on another or the same night, at the same location, we have will not be able to continue our successful programing.`` .........

Decide for yourself if this is about the children or about Zlatko putting more money in his pockets at the expense of tax payers

Chris Anthony / May 11, 2014 at 11:39 am
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here is a link to the email if you do not believe me ...

http://www.explace.on.ca/database/rte/files/Item%2023-Dances.pdf
Chris Anthony / May 11, 2014 at 11:40 am
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scroll to the bottom of the pdf
OhWow! / May 11, 2014 at 01:22 pm
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Chris Anthony > You must be one of the people who want to host all-age raves at the CNE. Sounds like you're getting desperate. The reason people are against raves (oh right, you call them mu-sic festivals) is because of the lack of security, the high incidence of meth and date rape drug use, sexual assault, property damage (including, but not limited to urinating on peoples lawns, or driving cars through the front of your house), and lack of good policing (they won't have your teens backs, because your teens will appear as though they've had too much to drink) for events such as these. The contents of this letter is but part of the problem. Paint the whole picture, not just part of it.

Seeing how you brought it up, I wanted to let the public know
these are not kid/teen friendly events. The events were approved by 36 Toronto City councillors, spearheaded by Mike Layton (Olivia Chows stepson). Make no mistake. This ugly toad of a man and his cronies just sold out the safety of your teens simply because they wanted to reverse a decision Rob Ford and others made in banning the event (which was the right thing to do whether you like Ford or not). There are other parties using the Direct Energy Centre. Why do you suppose Muzik and the CNE board has no issues with them? Your festival does NOT bring in a million dollars a year, and whatever you do make DOESN'T benefit city residents at all.

It's common for business owners and BIA's (as well as local neighborhood residents) to give input about new businesses and leases, which will affect their neighborhoods. Coming online and trying to trash the reputations of business owners simply because your event isn't doing well is nasty business.

Not that I want it to happen, but it will, and when sh*t hits the fan, Mike Layton is going to be wearing the respoonsibility for it.
OhWow! / May 11, 2014 at 01:30 pm
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Mother > You're no mother, I'm a mother. No one would be dumb enough to allow their kid to attend an all age rave.

Seriously, if people have an issue with these statues, RELOCATE them. Simple. I'm sure Muzik would be only to happy to oblige.
Chris Anthony / May 11, 2014 at 04:29 pm
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ohwow your argument is inconsistent and makes no logical sense ... let me get this straight Your main concerns are 1) lack of security and police, 2) drug use 3) property damage let me address these for you.

1) When you hold a event as you call it a rave at a building like the direct energy center there must be on site EMS, security and police all in direct proportion to the amount of attendees that is paid for by the event organizers NOT taxpayers, so if you Zlatko, Grmies and Mammmoliti had if your way these events would be held instead at illegal warehouses with none of that ... I myself would personal rather have my kids attend a rave at the direct energy center with onsite EMS and police.

2) Drug Use: you think banning these events from the direct energy center will stop kids from doing drugs ... I think your missing a few bricks ... kids are gonna do drugs no matter what; its part of growing up. They are constantly bombarded with drug use in the media look at; Miley Cyrus and your buddy Rob Ford. Id rather have my kid do drugs somewhere where there is EMS in case something ever goes wrong.

3) Property damage : any property damage that is done on the CNE grounds must be paid for by the event organizers NOT taxpayers

When event organizers throw events at the direct energy center there are strict regulations and policies regarding all three of your concerns but your saying that you rather have the events held instead at some illegal location where there is no EMS, police or security

The events do bring in a million dollars a year as quoted in reports from the Toronto star and Globe and Mail.

Mike Layton is a good man watching out for our children. Are You, Zlatko, Mammoliti and Grimes, gonna accept responsibility if someone overdoses at a party in some abandoned warehouse. I personally would rather see someone overdoes at exhibition place where there are on site paramedics compared to an abandoned warehouse with none of that.

And as to your statement : It's common for business owners and BIA's (as well as local neighborhood residents) to give input about new businesses and leases, which will affect their neighborhoods. Coming online and trying to trash the reputations of business owners simply because your event isn't doing well is nasty business

Its only Zlako thats complaining about the events and Im just employing a tit-for-tat strategy - he started it, when he claimed in that email the all-ages events are riddled with pedophiles and drug dealers, which is a fabrication and is completely nonsense. If anything it is his club that is riddled with pedophiles and drug dealers what do you think your buddy Rob Ford was doing in the bathroom for an hour, he was either taking a big shit or doing crack. There has been shootings at his club and not too mention assaults and if you look at the statistics EMS was called to his club 51 times last year, while on 17 times at the direct energy center. I personally want my kids to attend events at the direct energy center NOT Muzik. Im just exposing Zlatko for who he is: a fascist.
OhWow! / May 11, 2014 at 07:48 pm
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Thank you Chris for ADMITTING kids will be using drugs, causing property damage, that children overdose at your underground parties and at your music festivals (which BTW are ILLEGAL), you would prefer YOUR children to have an overdose in the presence of Toronto Police and EMS (told you their presence was useless).

If I had my way no raves including the illegal ones would be happening in this city at all. But alas, our politicians (like creepy Mike Layton and our provincial Liberal government) don't enforce criminal law here, and if they won't do it, our police won't do it either, which is painfully obvious to Toronto residents. Our cops are too busy making $65hr holding "STOP" signs at construction sites.

Muzik isn't the only one complaining. Do you see my posts? There have been other posts as well by people, in other threads regarding this matter. Lots of people are in opposition to all age raves. The CNE board didn't like your idea either, now did they?

"Facist" is a term too often used lately around the world, when people don't get what they want (it's right up there with racist, and mysogynist). But you did get what you wanted, so why are you here? Why are you still talking?

One would have to wonder where your stats on EMS calls come from, especially to Muzik. How would you know how many times EMS showed up there? Did a politician give them to you? At any rate, Muzik is an all ADULT establishment. No kids or teens will be harmed at Muzik. You could've just done the right thing and had an age limit. But oh no. Wondering why you're so desperate for the company of kids. It was a stupid idea! Now if anyone gets hurt they can sue the city, the event organizers, Mike Layton, and any city councillor who voted to reverse the decision. Hope you all got deep pockets.

You and whoever you got pretending to be a "Mother" shouldn't take on real mothers. We're older, smarter and way more protective.

I'll be sticking around Mother. I haven't taken direction fron imbecciles in the past, and I'm not about to start now.

If you have issues with Miley Cyrus and Rob Ford I suggest you take that up with them personally.

"Doing drugs is" NOT "apart of growing up." This generalized attitude is what got this city in a mess in the first place. Parents pay attention. This is the mentality of rave event organizers.

Chris, you should take your enthusiasm and put it into something better. Right now it baffles me how you can sleep at night, with the attitude you have.
Mother / May 11, 2014 at 07:58 pm
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"I think the patio is incredibly beautful. "
"Wonder what it looks like from the inside."
OhWow First you were just Astroturfing. Now your just a TROLL.
OhWow! / May 12, 2014 at 07:31 am
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Mother >I know you are but what am I?
jen replying to a comment from OhWow! / May 12, 2014 at 11:20 am
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Maybe if you were a better mother your kids wouldn't go to clubs to party.
Kat / May 12, 2014 at 04:20 pm
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Another reason to boycott Muzik. Criminals, thieves, enablers.
OhWow! replying to a comment from jen / May 13, 2014 at 10:00 am
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Is that your personal opinion or are you representing Toronto Police?

With so few intelligent people (let alone people in general) commenting on this topic, makes you wonder what kind of reliable information Mike Layton, Gordon Perks, and others, based their decision on, to overturn the ban at CNE, in the first place.

We get it Mike. Casino's bad for adult public safety, and drug, sexual preditor infested raves, oh excuse me, I mean FESTIVALS, are good for kids, teens, and young adults. This is the mentality of whose running your city. Rob Ford is the least of your worries.

The meeting, with Layton, probably went something like this. Jen, Mother and Chris Anthony cry to Mike Layton (speaking over each other): the mean old CNE Board of Directors won't let us have our all age raves because business owners and locals said its bad for business (Chris hands Mike the Muzik letter). We admit we attract drug dealers and sexual preditors, but this sh*t happens everywhere (says Chris), and, and, and (stuttering) doing drugs is part of growing up anyways! (sobbing) It's all Rob Fords fault! (calming, wiping his nose with his bare hand) Can you help us (sniffles)? Sure says Mike. Everyone on council hates Ford (sneering). Should be a piece of cake (snaps his fingers in the air). Jen probably said: but what about all the drugs and sexual preditors (batting eyes at Mike)? Oh don't worry about that (blushing at Jen, his smile widening). We'll put a few police officers and some EMT's on site (straightening his collar), but don't worry. They won't interfere with the festivities (a wave of his hand, turning in his squeaky chair). They're just for show so people will think the city is doing it's part to secure the childrens safety (sitting up straight and authoritively to show how self-important he is). Mark my words, you'll have your rave. We'll call it a festival (matter of factly) so people will think it's a harmless event (starts scribbling notes into a notebook). Mother asks: but what if something bad happens? (Mike laughs heartily) We'll just blame it on Ford! (all laughing explosively).

Seriously, how else could it have gone down?
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from OhWow! / June 4, 2014 at 04:15 pm
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Do you get paid by the word, or by the post?

It's absolutely vulgar that public art has been fenced off by a private business, especially one with a 19+ policy and links to known criminals.

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