Toronto Life - The Informer

Insider intel on the politics and personalities shaping the city. Sign up for Preview newsletter for weekly updates

The Informer

Events

Comments

Let Zun Lee’s photographs challenge your notions of black fatherhood

Carlos and Selah Richardson enjoying an afternoon at the Georgia Aquarium. Atlanta, GA. (Image: Zun Lee)

Carlos and Selah Richardson enjoying an afternoon at the Georgia Aquarium. Atlanta, GA. (Image: Zun Lee)

Zun Lees images of black fatherhood are refreshingly candid. The Toronto photographer’s black-and-white shots—a father and son running across the road with a football, a infant’s hand wrapped around his dad’s finger, a weeping man with his kid in the background—don’t focus on poverty or despair. They capture life in all its ambiguity, revealing the reality behind the familiar caricatures of deadbeat absentee dads and exacting patriarchs. Lee, whose own biological father left his mother after she became pregnant, took the photos over several years as he developed relationships and occasionally lived with black fathers and families across the United States. The resulting shots, displayed in an exhibition called Father Figure at the BAND Gallery, document joy, pain and vulnerability through the smallest of gestures—a protective embrace, a caring glance, a gentle smile.

To Apr. 2. BAND Gallery, 1 Lansdowne Ave., 2nd Floor, 647-701-4323, band-rand.com.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Hear Dan Mangan’s ambitious art rock at Massey Hall

(Image: Norman Wong)

(Image: Norman Wong)

The Vancouver artist Dan Mangan built his name on easy, likeable songs: palatable indie-folk melodies with quiet acoustic guitars and humble harmonies. By all accounts, they worked, because the songwriter has earned a pair of Junos and a Polaris nod. Instead of sticking to a winning formula, though, Mangan has taken a bold turn on his latest album, Club Meds, which he released with his new backing band, Blacksmith, in January. The new music is ambitious, in the experimental vein of Radiohead, toying with reverb-drenched layers of foreign sounds and effects. It incorporates elements of jazz, art-rock aesthetics and Mangan’s croaky, emotive baritone. The result, heard best in tracks like anthemic single “Vessel,” is an inspired, mature offering. See for yourself when Mangan shares the stage with the equally talented local songwriter Hayden at Massey Hall this weekend. The show is sold out, but a few tickets may still be available online.

Sat. Feb. 28. $18.94. Massey Hall, 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Discover the earth’s raw beauty through the lens of Sebastião Salgado

(Image: Dave Gillespie)

Sebastião Salgado. (Image: Dave Gillespie)

The Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado made his name with stunning images that document humanity’s devastating footprint on the natural world. Now he’s gone in a more optimistic direction with his latest project, Genesis. Travelling by boat, bush plane and hot-air balloon, Salgado visited 32 countries over eight years to capture the raw beauty of untouched—and, in many cases, un-photographed—mountains, oceans and deserts. At A Fragile Beauty, his ongoing exhibition at Nicholas Metivier Gallery, he showcases gelatin silver prints that feel more like chrome-infused paintings than true-to-life photographs: a colony of penguins playfully parading down an icy slide, a timid leopard stooping by the side of a lake and the claw of an iguana stretched out on a rock like a baby’s foot. The works may not be as damning as Salgado’s earlier images, but their message—one of hope—is just as affecting. Click through the image gallery for a look.

To Feb. 28. Nicholas Metivier Gallery, 451 King St. W., 416-205-9000, metiviergallery.com.

The Informer

Events

2 Comments

Worship at the altar of Father John Misty at the Danforth Music Hall

(Image: Emma Tillman)

(Image: Emma Tillman)

When the American folk musician Father John Misty (otherwise known as Josh Tillman) released his debut album, Fear Fun, in 2012, he quickly transformed from an obscure ex–Fleet Foxes drummer into a solo heavy-hitter. His arsenal of psychedelic folk evokes the roots-rock forefathers of the 1960s and ’70s: drawled-out melodies, twangy guitar licks, ubiquitous tambourine. Where Fear Fun found success in tradition, Tillman’s sophomore record, I Love You, Honeybear, finds its groove breaking the rules. The new batch of love songs, which Tillman wrote for his wife, are still steeped in the tradition of solo-era John Lennon and Harry Nilsson, but feature a slew of compelling accompanists—a ragtime jazz combo, electronic percussionist, and mariachi band—that lend spontaneity to the disc. Hear it for yourself when Tillman brings his vintage persona to Toronto this Wednesday. The event is sold out, but, as always, there are ways.

Wed. Feb. 18. $29.50–$32.75. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 416-778-8163, collectiveconcerts.com.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Rewrite Canadian history with the Cree artist Kent Monkman

(Image: Kent Monkman, Expelling the Vices, 2014. Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain)

(Image: Kent Monkman, Expelling the Vices, 2014. Courtesy of Pierre-François Ouellette Art Contemporain)

Paintings by the Canadian Cree artist Kent Monkman feel familiar at first—romantic landscapes, coniferous forest, Mount Rushmore—but quickly reveal their surrealism: indigenous warriors reign mightily from rearing stallions, stoic rhinos and sleek red motorcycles, empowered in a way that native North Americans have rarely been in western art. In a new series of works on display at Toronto’s Centre Space until the end of February, Monkman hyperbolizes, subverts and prods the power dynamics that governed the relationship between European colonizers and North America’s first inhabitants. Instead of somber sermonizing, he goes for playful exuberance: the works feature outlandish allusions to Greek mythology and frequent cameos from the artist’s queer alter ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle.

To Feb. 28. Centre Space, 65 George St., centre-space.ca.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Watch Angela Lansbury bring Blithe Spirit to life

(Image: Joan Marcus)

(Image: Joan Marcus)

Separately, Angela Lansbury and Blithe Spirit have been around for ages. One is the 89-year-old British star of Murder, She Wrote; the other is a witty 64-year-old play by Noël Coward that ran for nearly 2,000 performances in its initial stretch. Put the two together, though, and you get an entirely new piece of theatrical magic. In this new production—which sold out in New York and London—Lansbury plays Madame Arcati, an eccentric psychic who mistakenly summons the ghost of her client’s dead wife during a séance with his new wife. The wives proceed to feud over their husband—albeit indirectly, given only he can see the dead wife—in the company of the idiosyncratic Arcati, whose personality is as colourful as her copper hair and billowing caftans. Lansbury won a Tony for the role in 2009. With sharp delivery and star presence, she commands the stage and makes an old work feel brand new.

Feb. 11 to Mar. 15. $35–$175. Princess of Wales Theatre, 300 King St. W., 416-872-1212, mirvish.com.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Listen to the sound of old meeting new, with pianists Emanuel Ax and Jan Lisiecki

(Image: Ax: Lisa Marie Mazzucco; Lisiecki: Mathias Bothor)

(Image: Ax: Lisa Marie Mazzucco; Lisiecki: Mathias Bothor)

Age difference aside, the international piano superstar Emanuel Ax and Calgary-born teen sensation Jan Lisiecki have a lot in common. They’ve both played Carnegie Hall, collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and toured the world to showcase their mastery of the classical and contemporary piano repertoire. The two will also share the same stage this Wednesday, as part of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Piano Extravaganza, an 11-day music festival curated by Ax. Together, they’ll perform Mozart’s playful concerto for two pianos and Saint-Saëns’s regal The Carnival of the Animals, as well as a world premiere of local composer Kevin Lau’s Foothills of Heaven, backed by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. It’s a rare opportunity to see the established past and emerging future of North American piano music tickle the ivories together.

Wed. Feb. 11. $33–$145. Roy Thomson Hall, 60 Simcoe St., 416-872-4255, tso.ca.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Discover the culture-clashing art of Jean-Michel Basquiat

(Image: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Obnoxious Liberals, 1982. Acrylic, oilstick, and spray paint on canvas. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat [2014]. Licensed by Artestar, New York.)

(Image: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Obnoxious Liberals, 1982. Acrylic, oilstick, and spray paint on canvas. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection. © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat [2014]. Licensed by Artestar, New York.)

A product of New York’s punk scene, the Brooklyn artist Jean-Michel Basquiat quickly jumped from the street to the gallery circuit in his late teens, creating shambolic, irreverent works of art until his death from a drug overdose at age 27. His paintings and drawings are deliberately jumbled and messy—colours smudge and swirl, shaky penmanship overlaps childish doodles, ideas are rooted then abandoned halfway. But there’s anger beneath the chaos. Every work confronts poverty, racism and power—the uncomfortable issues that separated the realms the artist straddled. Now’s The Time, the AGO’s new exhibition, is the first Canadian retrospective for Basquiat, featuring 85 of his most iconic—and iconoclastic—pieces.

Feb. 7–May 10. $16.50–$25 (includes general admission). Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648, ago.net.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Hear Rufus Wainwright pay tribute to his folk-legend mom

Kate McGarrigle and Rufus Wainwright. (Image: Rufus Wainwright)

Kate McGarrigle and Rufus Wainwright. (Image: Rufus Wainwright)

Before the Canadian folk legend Kate McGarrigle died of cancer five years ago, she spent her final days championing Patients Canada, a fledgling quality-of-care advocacy organization. This weekend, to honour her and support the charity she helped build, McGarrigle’s son, Rufus Wainwright, is putting on a show. The maximalist baroque-pop crooner has a virtuosic vibrato and a penchant for confessional ballads, over-the-top outfits and melodramatic flourish, often accompanied by the lush arrangements of a gospel choir or an orchestra for hire. This time, as the popera performer cycles between piano, guitar and microphone, he’ll be joined by his father, prolific folk singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, and the unsung hero of the McGarrigle-Wainwright clan, multi-instrumentalist Chaim Tannenbaum, for a reunion that’s bound to reach deep into the family’s back catalogue.

Fri. Feb. 6. $30–$100. Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 190 Princes’ Blvd., 416-263-3293, ticketfly.com.

The Informer

Events

Comments

See solo stars come together at the New Pornographers gig

(Image: courtesy of the New Pornographers)

(Image: courtesy of the New Pornographers)

The New Pornographers are busy people. Dan Bejar is also the prolific front man of the indie-pop band DestroyerNeko Case has her own career as a versatile alt-country crooner. And A.C. Newman makes his own laid-back dad rock. Every so often, though, they put their solo projects aside, come together and create something magical. The band’s latest album, Brill Bruisers, is a welcome return to their vigorous, upbeat power-pop roots, filled with infectious vocal hooks and a dense sonic soup of distorted guitars, simmering synths and insistent percussion. Onstage, the group’s strengths are super-sized: Bejar, Case and Newman share lead duties throughout the show, harmonizing here and there before busting out in cathartic unison. The show is technically sold out, but you can still grab a ticket here.

Thurs. Feb. 5. $24.50–$34.50. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 1-855-985-5000, collectiveconcerts.com.

The Informer

Events

2 Comments

Watch Owen Pallett reinvigorate pop music with a pair of Saturday shows

Owen Pallett

(Image: David Waldman)

Owen Pallett is Canada’s most sought-after musician: he’s created orchestral arrangements for Taylor Swift and R.E.M., played strings for The National and Franz Ferdinand, and collaborated with Arcade Fire on the Oscar-nominated soundtrack for Spike Jonze’Her. Pallett’s baroque pop is intricate and innovative, forgoing traditional verse-chorus formulas for beautifully theatrical songwriting. His otherworldly soundscapes feature a limitless roster of fresh sounds: tweaked-out harpsichords, alien-like textures, and sci-fi-inspired beeps and boops. But it’s onstage that he really shines—he bounces hyperactively between instruments and effects pedals, weaving vocals and violin with an arsenal of looping machines. See him in action this Sunday at Lee’s Palace, where he’ll play back-to-back matinée and evening sets.

Sat. Jan. 31. $15. Lee’s Palace, 529 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1598, leespalace.com.

The Informer

Events

1 Comment

Rethink glamour at a pair of Ryerson photo exhibitions

Rethink glamour at a pair of Ryerson Image Centre photo exhibitions

Mia Wasikowska (Image: Alex Prager, Touch of Evil, 2011, digital video still. Originally produced by The New York Times Magazine. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong)

In a pair of clever new exhibitions, the Ryerson Image Centre documents how photography has shaped Western conceptions of glamour—and how photography can just as effectively tear those notions down. Burn With Desire: Photography and Glamour and Anti-Glamour: Portraits of Women, both opening on Jan. 21 at the RIC, depict polar approaches to the representation of women in photography. Through portraits of Marilyn Monroe, archival Vanity Fair covers and projects by Andy Warhol, Burn With Desire explores how the medium—with its pre-Photoshop attention to immaculate lighting and gauzy romanticism—equated glamour with aesthetic perfection and vulnerable seduction. Anti-Glamour, meanwhile, playfully upends everything its counterpart professes, featuring contemporary pictures that affront viewers with the stark, sometimes ugly reality of gun-wielding femme fatales and brazen bare-breasted figures. The result is a jarring juxtaposition that gives new meaning to iconic images we thought we’d figured out long ago.

Jan. 21–Apr. 5. Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164, ryerson.ca.

The Informer

Events

1 Comment

Say farewell to The Guvernment with a Deadmau5-led dance party

deadmau5

(Image: The Guvernment)

The Guvernment, the iconic 18-year-old dance club, will soon be demolished for a strip of waterfront condos—but before that happens, it’s hosting one last thumping blowout. The massive entertainment complex has tapped a slate of star DJs—including the Dutch trance maestro Armin van Buuren and Australian electro duo Knife Party—to lead its epic three-night funeral march, but the best reason to come is Toronto’s Joel Zimmerman, a.k.a. Deadmau5, who’ll be capping off the party. Zimmerman, who got his start at the Guvernment a decade ago, is known for his dedication to all-manual production in a sea of push-play DJs—his smart, dynamic beats and relentless EDM sets appeal to club kids and indie rock fans alike. He’s going bigger than usual for the Guv’s finale, promising a live 130-minute set, including a 20-minute rendition of “Strobe,” his epic 2009 hit that blends clever digital melodies, slow builds and cathartic payoffs. Naturally, the show is sold out, but there are still tickets floating around for anyone who wants to bid farewell to Canada’s largest and longest-running nightclub in true Guvernment style: thrashing and drenched in sweat.

Sun. Jan. 25. SOLD OUT. The Guvernment, 132 Queens Quay E., 416-869-0045, theguvernment.com

The Informer

Events

Comments

Get lost in the Gladstone’s annual art takeover

Gladstone: Come Up to My Room

(Image: Gladstone Hotel)

Every year, as part of the alt-design event Come Up To My Room, the Gladstone Hotel lets artist loose on its quirky rooms and exhibition spaces. This year, they’re taking it even further, filling the entire building with new, site-specific works from a scattershot collection of artists, architects and interior designers: a wall of mounted papier-mâché masks by Toronto’s Annie Tung, a dark room lit only by neon-and-wire installations from public-space design collective DTAH, and a hallway of irreverent Nike branding curated by local graphic designer Carla Poirier. The event runs to Jan. 25, with live music and panel discussions planned throughout, but we suggest saving your visit for the Love Design Party, where local psychedelic singer-producer and Grimes collaborator Petra Glynt will turn the Gladstone’s ballroom into an immersive cornucopia of sci-fi-inspired visual art, high-saturation video work and noisily entrancing electro-pop.

To Sat. Jan. 25. $10 for one day, $15 for entire festival. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 416-531-4635, comeuptomyroom.com.

The Informer

Events

Comments

Secrets to a Happy Toronto Winter: #13. The sassiest dance parties are on ice

Secrets to a Happy Toronto Winter: #13. The sassiest dance parties are on ice

(Image: Brian Medina)

There are bigger rinks and smoother rinks and more famous rinks, like Nathan Phillips Square, where at some point every Torontonian must pose for a photo under the arches, but the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront is our favourite because it’s a full-on party. Eight Saturday nights in a row, from January 3 onward, the city’s best DJs take over the sound system and the rink becomes an open-air nightclub. To the south is the pitch-black lake, to the north the ­twinkling lights of the downtown’s towers. People dress up in vintage mink stoles and crazy-coloured tights and open puffy coats, bouncing, boogying and shimmying as their skating prowess allows, and taking breaks at one of the flaming fire pits around the rink’s perimeter. Free ($8 for skate rental). 235 Queens Quay W., harbourfrontcentre.com.