The Toronto Sun,

Erella Vent is Toronto’s queen of Queen St.

Like Larry King the fictional King of
Kensington, Vent reigns benevolently over her territory,-- the creative community of T.O.’s Queen Street West.
  Her crazy castle is a tiny, two-story duplex. Its exterior could have been designed by PeeWee Herman. Colourful toys dangle from the ceilings. A sheet of leopard-spotted plastic covers the kitchen table. She uses cellophane instead of curtains.
  Her living room is a mini-gallery of Toronto’s alternative artists, punctuated with a few masterpieces donated by some neighbourhood children – a cardboard Easter bunny and a cut-out collage of Vent’s life sized playhouse.
 Vent’s public are the avant guard artists, musicians and business people who give the Queen street neighbourhood its distinctive flavour.
It’s clear that Erella Vent is nothing like her name suggests. Born Erella Ganon, 10 years ago she changed her last name to Vent. Erella Vent is her real name now – though she hastens to add she is not ‘irrelevant’.
 It’s all part and parcel of Vent’s name game. "If I eat a lot I look like an Erella-phant. If I could fly, they’d call me an Erella-copter. If she married Darth Vader, she’d be Erella-Vader," she jokes.
Magnet for information
 While she accepts the camaraderie of her Queen St. friends, Vent, 29 doesn’t see herself as a queen. She laughs describing one of the characters whe’s seen the area change over several generations: "Now Uncle Max is 64 years old and a regular on Queen street. He wears a T-shirt that reads ‘Queen for a Day.’ He’s the real queen of Queen Street."
Instead, Vent prefers the title ’information broker.’
 People are always telling me stuff. While some people fight to get information, I’m a magnet for it."
Her phone rings constantly. She answers with and excited, "How do?" and a friendly, "what’s shakin’?" It’s probably an artist wanting to know a good cheap press. Or a musician who needs an animator for his low-budget rock video.
 But nowhere is Vent loved more than on her narrow, congested street- an ethnic working class Coronation St. "At first they were a little hostile, " admits Vent pointing out her madly painted fence, each panel a contribution from an artist friend. These days, however, while her house still sticks out, Vent knows she fits in. "They’ve all come around," she says.
Every summer Vent holds three Sunday afternoon parties in her backyard. "For the neighbours it’s like the Santa Claus parade," she says. Vent’s neighbours hang out windows and sit on their porches – a perfect vantage to take in the throng of Vent’s sometimes unconventional-looking friends.

 On Oct 21 1986, Vent mounted her most successful party.
She and her friends produced the


 Ooga-Booga Benefit for AIDS Research which raised $31,000.00 in one night. Vent brought together dozens of Toronto singers, musicians and artists for a one-night extravaganza.

The proceeds benefited one of their own-- artist Tim Jocelyn, and Toronto’s first hospice for AIDS patients – Casey House.
 Vent has been running with Toronto’s art and music crowd since she was 13, working part time at Yorkville’s Riverboat coffeehouse while she was still in high school.
 She learned early to appreciate the Bohemian side of life. In 1983, she left the Ontario College of Art and Design a graduate of the PhotoElectric Art Department. She’s written music columns for Toronto’s NOW magazine and New York fringe music magazine EAR.
 Her list of local contacts mushroomed during her three years as entertainment editor for CKLN radio in Toronto, where she positioned herself as an enthusiastic supporter of new local artists and struggling bands.
 Between the writing and the broadcasts, Vent still fount time to become a respected visual artist. Her coffee cup shaped coffee table is currently on a tour of the world; part of an international collection of acclaimed art furniture-Virtu II.

 Vent is also a welcome sight at Queen street nightspots --the Horseshoe, the Rivoli, the Cameron and the Bamboo. She’s a must at art gallery openings and is constantly courted by Toronto’s alternative performance artists – a group of young, new entertainers whose acts you’d be unlikely to catch at the Imperial Room.
 But her latest role has placed her even closer to the heart of Queen Street’s creative community. Her company distributes miniature versions of local artworks through galleries and art stores. In the form of postcards or diminutive books, Vent is promoting Toronto’s most inspiring creators including Barbara Klunder, Andy Fabo, Stephen Andrews and Adly Gawad.
Idea gets Brightened
"Creative people must come together in a community," explains Vent. "We need each other for support and stimulation." As a result of this community spirit, Vent believes much of the art that comes out of the community is a joint effort. "One artist will express an idea to a fellow artist. The idea gets brightened and often changed into something totally different."
 According to Vent, it’s this sense of community effort that separates the Queen Street enclave from similar communities in other cities. "The artists are not as supportive in New York or Chicago or Los Angeles," she says.
Vent goes the distance to bring the Queen St. community together in a way that makes it easy for outsiders to understand.
So is Erella Vent irrelevant? Hardly.