twiErella Ganon has been illustrating her life experiences since she first
travelled around Europe on her own as an early teenager. Keeping a visual diary
was easy because everything seemed remarkable to her at the time.
She had lunch with the painter, Picasso and had loads of adventures, always chronicling her travels in sketch books.
For most of her adult life, she has worked as a writer/journalist/radio announcer and simultaneously organized many important cultural events and maintaining the journals, zines and art exhibits.
Erella graduated from OCADU (then called OCA) in 1983 after completing two years in NYC at their Off Site Campus. She was the producer of
Canada’s very first AIDS benefit in 1986, was one of the organizers of Kumbaya for AIDS, she helped start/establish Canada’s first AIDS hospice, Casey House, was one of the organizers of Word On the Street. She worked at the Riverboat Coffeehouse on Yorkville (where many folk legends from Joni Mitchell, Murray Maclachlan, Phil Ochs and others started out). She worked at the nation’s first punk club, The Crash and Burn, was involved with starting the first comedy club, YukYuk’s and The Cameron House when it was sort of a club house for Queen Street artists. Many times in print she’s been called the Queen of Queen Street because of her uncanny ability to connect people together and form several communities at once. As a reviewer/journalist, she plied her trade for NOW Magazine, CKLN-FM, CFNY-FM and CBC radio as well as CBC TV.
In 1986, she started an independent book publishing company Droplit Books to distribute the work of local artists and to pool resources. In two collections that were assembled in hand silkscreened packages, she issued 30 artist cards by Andy Fabo, Fiona Smyth, Tim Jocelyn, Michael Merrill, Barbara Klunder, Stephen Andrews and others.
When Erella was diagnosed with a rare disease caused by a brain tumour in 1998. It slowed things down but her drawings were still frequent. The creativity was not hindered by the physical pain and time consuming tests and procedures she was enduring. She posted the images online.
Ganon’s online visual diary was immediately viral, bringing response from appreciative patients, as well as
invitations to lecture and requests to reproduce images for private and educational use. Ganon soon learned that not
only were these images and texts helpful to others dealing with similar
situations, but also their loved ones and support teams. She learned that not
only patients but also doctors often felt powerless. She learned that sharing her experiences provided strength to others who otherwise were voiceless and misunderstood.
Currently she has become very involved with disability arts issues and lectures/gives slide shows of her work explaining the patient’s perspective and how medical issues can affect a person’s life. Her attendance at medical conferences is very welcome because she bridges gaps in our systems, using her keen creative mind and communication skills in a place where most patients are neither as creative, well-researched nor able to navigate the daunting, unpredictable challenges that a serious medical diagnosis can present.