Windsor Life Revisits Some
Very Interesting Stories From Years Past
Story by Matthew St. Amand
Windsor Life checks-in with the people at the centre of some of our most interesting past stories.
Windsor artist, David Derkatz (known professionally as DERKZ), appeared in Summer 2020 issue of Windsor Life. People who might not know the name will certainly have seen his work around the city, namely the tribute to our healthcare workers, which he painted on a wall of Penalty Box at the corner of Walker and Tecumseh Road. DERKZ writes in with an update:
It was only a couple of months ago that Windsor Life reached out and did a story on me. Since then, I made a trip to California to paint a mural at the Future Elite Academy facility. I painted a sports-themed mural on a wall in their 12,000 square foot facility. It was an unforgettable experience—particularly, when I got home and had to quarantine for 14 days.
After quarantine, I wanted to do something for the community, to say thank you to our front line healthcare workers. My mother has been a nurse for the past 40 years and my sister’s husband is a nurse in Michigan. I wanted to give something back.
I went to Penalty Box and pitched my idea to its owner, Van. He was very receptive and wanted to do something to honour our healthcare workers, too.
I made the pitch in April and finally, in mid-September, I began working on the mural on the Penalty Box wall. I recruited registered nurse Jamie Osborn, who used to work at Penalty Box and Dr. Eli Malus to be models. It took a little over two weeks to complete, but it resulted in one of my most impactful works. The public response to the mural has been great.
Before the pandemic, I had projects lined up with clients in Colorado, Oklahoma City and Michigan. These have all been postponed due to COVID-19. So, I have signed up for a number of local projects. I’ll be working at locations in Windsor, LaSalle and Belle River, just to name a few. I’m very grateful for the support I’ve received from the community. It’s taken years of painstaking work to get to a point where so many people are seeing my work.
For anyone who would like to see more of my work, you can check out my Instagram: www.instagram.com/derkz/
For the Autumn 2017 issue of Windsor Life, 13-year-old Windsor ballet dancer, Emma Stewart, shared her battle with scoliosis while training to be in top condition for her last chance at a spot in Canada’s National Ballet School.
I’m now in Grade 11 at Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). It’s hard to believe this is my 4th year at one of the world’s top ballet schools.
The year before I started at NBS (when I was 12) I was diagnosed with scoliosis. It was a scary time, not only for my health but because it could threaten my future as a dancer. It also
affected my ballet training because it compromised my alignment. Since then I’ve been wearing a nighttime brace and doing exercises to prevent the curve from getting worse. While it’s been an up and down battle, my most recent tests showed the curve has improved a great deal—and my doctor told me I could stop wearing the brace! That was great news!
We have a rigorous schedule at NBS. I start at 8:30 in the morning, and don’t get back to Residence until 7 o’clock in the evening. This leaves time for homework and a bit of relaxing before preparing for the next day’s routine. Every day, I have four and a half hours of academic classes and four hours of ballet classes. On Saturdays, I take two more hours of ballet, and have a few hours of additional training throughout the week.
Like everywhere else, COVID-19 has affected life here too. We follow strict health and safety guidelines and wear masks everywhere we go. Our socializing and activities outside of school are restricted, too.
When I finish Grade 12, there are several paths I can take. I’ll probably audition with a professional ballet company either in Canada or in another country. Or I might return to NBS in their Post-Secondary Program to continue working on my skills. However, due to the uncertainty with COVID-19, I’m keeping open the option of going directly to university to study medicine or health sciences.
So that’s what’s been going on in my life. I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. And stay safe!
Mike Stasko, Boys vs Girls
Mike Stasko is a Windsor filmmaker who appeared in the Holiday Issue 2019 of Windsor Life, talking about his new movie, Boys vs. Girls, which was crewed and filmed in Windsor during the summer of 2018. Mike writes-in with an update:
Greetings from the editing suite!
We took Boys vs. Girls on the film festival circuit during the winter of 2019/spring 2020. The movie won a number of awards, including the Best Feature Film & Audience Choice at the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, Best Canadian Feature at the Canadian International Comedy Film Festival, and Best Ensemble Cast at the Florida Comedy Film Festival.
These were helpful in landing distribution deals with Mongrel Media, in the Canadian market, and Gravitas Ventures for the U.S. and global markets. Boys vs. Girls will be available on most video-on-demand (VOD) platforms, including Google Play and Apple Movies, starting December 22, 2020.
The cast and crew are as happy as I am about this deal. More than that, it demonstrates: Yes, it can be done in Windsor. Boys vs. Girls was shot entirely in the city. We had a crew of 55 people, 95 percent of whom were Windsor-based. When people see the film, yes, my name is up there, but there are 50 other Windsor artists who made it happen. Not only was it possible to pull this off in Windsor, it’s repeatable.
Readers can stay up to date on where the film will be available by visiting www.boysvgirlsmovie.ca.
Before the pandemic happened, I was geared-up to shoot my next project in August, but like everybody else’s plans since March, it was postponed. I can say I have three different scripts that I want to do.
Making my first feature film, Thing to Do, was the hardest one. I had no track record at the time, but managed to get distribution for the movie. Now that I have my fifth movie under my belt, I know the path, I know the process now and how to avoid many of the pitfalls.
There definitely will be a next project, it’s just hard to say when. So, stay tuned!
The September 2017 issue was the last time Windsor Life sat down with one of the hardest working musicians in Windsor, Mark Chichkan. The veteran guitarist and vocalist—for whom one or three bands is just not enough—had some very interesting updates to share:
Hello from the home studio,
Like everybody else, I’ve trying to make the most of the enforced downtime brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, so I’ve been spending time in my home studio, working on some original songs. Funny—I love the creative process, but when I’m playing 15-16 shows a month, and trying to have a life with my family, songwriting’s just one of those things that gets put off for another day.
Something else I had put off for a good, long time was having the pain and numbness in my fret hand looked at. Maybe I’m superstitious but I thought if I just ignored the problem long enough, it would sort itself out. That didn’t happen. Finally, I went to see a doctor and learned that I had carpal tunnel syndrome. It was like a painter hearing that he might lose his vision, or an athlete that he might lose the use of his legs.
As a lifelong working musician, I feared it was the end of my career.
Worse, the pandemic made it impossible to have corrective surgery any time soon.
Finally, in mid-August, the good doctors at London’s Upper Hand and Limb Clinic performed the surgery—half an hour, in and out and then on my way home. There wasn’t much pain, which I found encouraging.
I worked on my exercises for a few weeks. The first time I picked up a guitar, I was like, “Oh my God”, when I tried bending a note. Very painful. So, I continued with my exercises, strengthening my hand.
On November 7, I played my first show following surgery. I’m happy to say that I played effortlessly, for the most part. Only a couple of times did I try something and feel my hand not respond correctly. Otherwise, I felt everything coming back once I was warmed up. Although I need to continue working on my strength and dexterity, I’m playing better than I have in years. Having this time off has been a blessing of sorts.
Which has freed me up to work on original material in my home studio. It’s interesting, I get inspiration from the different instruments I play. When I’m working on a keyboard, or on bass, I find myself thinking differently. It forces me to become creative. I’ll start a riff, find something simple, and “Bang!”, here comes a new song. Then, I get back to familiar ground with my guitar to try and give it some shape.
I’ve got a few songs that are already done. The last thing I will work on are the vocals. Right now, I have the luxury to sit back, listen to what I’ve created and start coming up with lyrics.
And finally, the band Helix just released a new album. I was with them for close to five years, playing lead guitar and touring. They play a song that I wrote on their album called “Wrecking Ball”. There’s also a track called “Shock City Psycho Rock”, that I played on.
Anyhow, I have kept the muses waiting long enough! Stay update with my music by checking out markchichkan.com.
Merry Christmas, Windsor, and thank you for all the love all these years!