Art Gallery of Ontario
317 Dundas St. W. (at McCaul St.), 416-979-6634
For a truly magnificent celebration, Frank Gehry’s transformed AGO offers an awe-inspiring event space. On the third floor of the south tower, the 7,200-square-foot Baillie Court affords panoramic city views on one end and overlooks the gallery’s iconic spiral staircase on the other. Designed in modern glass and Douglas fir, the room can be divided as needed and seats up to 300. Executive chef Anne Yarymowich works with couples on customized menus, and a small army of professional event staff ensures the experience is as effortless as it is unique. Baillie Court rental includes a one-year membership to the AGO for the newlyweds. The Walker Court is available to rent outside of gallery hours in conjunction with a reception in Baillie Court.
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Art Gallery of Ontario
In this edition of The Weekender, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller at the AGO, Oprah (yes, that Oprah) and three more things to do in Toronto.
Lost in the Memory Palace
Art world superstars Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller bring their acclaimed immersive multimedia pieces for a run at the AGO. The Storm Room recreates the feeling of being isolated in an abandoned shack while a storm rages outside. Thunder claps, lightning flashes and water actually drips from the ceiling. In The Forty Part Motet, 40 individual speakers blare 40 individual voices, as if a full 40-piece choir is singing full blast only a few feet away. $12. April 6-August 18. Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street W, www.ago.net/lost-in-the-memory-palace
Over the past year or so, a particular breed of talented Torontonians made it big. Sheila Heti’s quirky semi-autobiographical novel How Should a Person Be?, about a bunch of Toronto artists struggling to live life authentically, became an influential bestseller, endorsed by Girls creator Lena Dunham. The music world gushed over the moody R&B artist The Weeknd, otherwise known as Abel Tesfaye, a 22-year-old of Ethiopian descent from Scarborough, who was discovered in 2011 by his pal Drake and is now filling stadiums all over
The music journalist John Norris called Tesfaye the best musical talent since Michael Jackson. And the filmmaker Sarah Polley recently released two movies: Take This Waltz, a much-admired romantic comedy set in Toronto, and Stories We Tell, a riveting, critically acclaimed documentary about her complicated Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Roberta Bondar, Jamie Kennedy and seven others discuss The Art of the City at the latest Walrus Talk
Last week at the AGO, the Walrus Foundation convened nine prominent Torontonians—Midnight’s Children director Deepha Mehta, CBC’s Matt Galloway, chef Jamie Kennedy and astronaut Roberta Bondar among them—and gave them each seven minutes to talk about one aspect of “the art of the city.” The result: nine little TED talks, more or less, about different aspects of Toronto in 2012. Some were funny, some were profound, and yes, some were a little pedantic. Here’s how it all went down: Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
The AGO has just launched a new, free app named AGO Express Yourself, which allows users to take photos and manipulate them using filters that mimic artistic styles (cubist, impressionist, sculpture and more). With the popularity of Instagram, a number of competitors have been trying to bring something different to the photo-altering game: Camera+ offers touch exposure and focus, as well as a stabilizer; Tadaa offers rapid-fire shooting, an abundance of filters and a tilt-shift mode; and Hipster (yes, it’s an awful name) allows the user to create postcard-inspired images (you can add text on top to say where you are or how you’re feeling). With so many photo options out there in the app world, does AGO’s arty app stand a chance? The load times are slow and the filters are reminiscent of Photo Booth, but at the end of the multi-step process, the app hangs your work of art on a virtual gallery wall. Sure, it’s a gimmick, but that on its own is still pretty neat.
Toronto’s new luxury hotels have elicited a lot of praise—they’ve given the city new restaurants, bars and ballrooms, and at least two celebrity chefs. But even the most magnanimous Torontonian would have a hard time applauding their aesthetic merits—ultimately the towers blend in with the skyline: more glass, more steel, remarkable yet forgettable. It was refreshing, then, when the Shangri-La Hotel unveiled its new $5-million sculpture, Rising, by the Chinese artist Zhang Huan—a polymath sculptor, painter, performance artist and opera director. Uniformed doormen, it turns out, needn’t be the only spiffy-looking things outside the lobby. Anchored in a pool of water at the base of the shiny glass tower at University Avenue and Richmond Street, Rising is a steel tree branch adorned with a flock of pigeons, sprawling toward the sky. The 22-metre-long piece is impressive for its scale alone, but it’s also a fluttering mass of civic pride and a symbol of Toronto’s increasingly bold presence in the global art world. The sculpture kicked off an inspiring display of inter-institutional cooperation to capitalize on one of contemporary art’s most inventive figures. An exhibition of Huan’s paintings—created using incense ash from Buddhist temples—opened at the AGO, and a few days later, the Canadian Opera Company staged his production of Handel’s Semele at the Four Seasons Centre. But the piece that left the most indelible impression is, happily, the one that’s here to stay.
The AGO announced today that it appointed Kitty Scott as its new curator of modern and contemporary art. Scott is currently the director of visual arts at the Banff Centre, and has over 20 years of experience working in museums. In a release, AGO director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum said, “Her expertise will help us put Canadian artists on the global stage, bring the best of contemporary art to our city and present our prized collection in dynamic new ways.” Scott will be offering her own answer to the age-old question: “What is art?”
Not too long ago, the intersection of Bloor and Lansdowne was best known for a decent Value Village, two competing strip clubs and a thriving drug trade. In the last few years, lured by cheap studio space, artists have arrived and the neighbourhood has predictably, if tentatively, gentrified. A handful of small and experimental galleries accelerated the transition: the pioneering Toronto Free Gallery, Mercer Union and the Gendai Workstation. Then, late last year, Daniel Faria, the former business partner of the gallery owner Monte Clark, left the Distillery District to open an eponymous gallery in the neighbourhood. Read the rest of this entry »
Read the rest of this entry »
Last Thursday, 1800 people packed into the Art Gallery of Ontario for one of the biggest galas of the year: the AGO’s Massive Party. Judging from the gigantic fascinators and whimsical get-ups, this is an event targeted at—and attended by—a segment of the city’s up-and-coming creative, young professionals. Of course, we also spotted some of the old guard, who, we have to admit, exhibited a more refined sense of dress and decorum than the younger patrons (we’re fairly certain we saw the flesh of one young woman’s derriere popping out of her sultry red dress). Members of the Weston family huddled in a corner on the third floor chatting idly with Sentry Investments vice-president Wolfgang G. Kruning and his wife (though the Loblaw magnates were loathe to have their picture taken), and the party’s artistic director Bruno Billio made the rounds alongside party co-chairs Laura Adams and Hughene Acheson.
The first of many of Pablo Picasso’s works has arrived at the AGO in preparation for its upcoming exhibit, launching May 1, and the curator of Musée Picasso in Paris is in Toronto to inspect any damage that may have occurred during shipping. Here’s CTV’s exclusive look at the process, where they get a glimpse of the unveiling of Picasso’s famed portrait of Marie-Thérèse Walter.
The Weekender: TIFF Kids International Film Festival, The Tales of Hoffmann and six other items on our to-do list
1. TIFF KIDS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
This film fest is for the city’s smallest movie lovers. Aimed at kids three and up, TIFF Kids (formerly Sprockets) features tot-appropriate features and shorts from around the world, both live action and animated. This weekend, our picks include Chimpanzee, Disney’s latest nature documentary; Alfie, the Little Werewolf, a Dutch feature about accepting who you really are, featuring a little boy who turns seven and suddenly starts sprouting hair, claws and sharp, sharp teeth; and McB, a doc about a group of elementary school children in New York who stage a production of Macbeth. Post-screening, kids take part in a Shakespeare-themed workshop. To April 22. $8.50–$12. TIFF Bell Lightbox, 350 King St. W., 416-599-8433, tiff.net.
2. THE TALES OF HOFFMANN Read the rest of this entry »
The COC kicks off its spring season with this Jacques Offenbach opera. The titular character, played by American tenor Russell Thomas, is a poet and storyteller in love with Stella, an opera singer. At a local tavern with his friend Nicklausse (actually his Muse in disguise) and his rival Lindorf, Hoffmann is convinced to sing a song to the eagerly listening revelers (he’s quite drunk at this point). The ensuing performance relates his pursuit of three prior great loves—and how they were thwarted by a cast of demonic villains, all played by bass-baritone John Relyea. We’re most excited about the famed Barcarolle duet from act two. To May 14. $12–$318. Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, 145 Queen St. W., 416-363-8231, www.coc.ca.
Read the rest of this entry »
Goya and Gillray: Humour that Bites Francisco de Goya and James Gillray were contemporaries with an eye for the foibles of the ruling class. Enlightenment England welcomed Gillray’s satirical work, but in Spain, Goya had to be very careful to avoid the Inquisition. This show comprises the best of their artistic rabble-rousing and elite-baiting. Find out more »
Google announced today that its Google Art Project has begun phase two of its rollout, which means 100 new galleries have been added, including the Art Gallery of Ontario. Online visitors can take 360-degree tours of the participating museums, curate online collections and zoom in on super-high-resolution images to a point where they can see the brushstrokes. (As exciting as this news is, unless you use Google Chrome as your primary browser, it may be difficult to actually find the Art Gallery of Ontario, because the service won’t completely load in Safari, requires a plug-in if you’re using Internet Explorer and, for some reason, redirects you to every other museum in Firefox—your mileage may vary.) Basically, you could be like these guys, but from home.
On Tuesday, the provincial government handed down its proposed budget, and the arts received some pretty heavy blows. The Luminato festival, which was expecting to receive $4 million next year and $4.5 million in 2014, will see that funding cut by $3.5 million over the next two years. Also targeted were the AGO, the ROM, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, all of which are expected to lose one per cent of funding in 2012 and two per cent in 2013. Remember when art mattered? It apparently doesn’t anymore (or at least it matters one or two per cent less than it did last year).
Of all the developments during Toronto’s oughties-era flurry of new architecture, Frank Gehry–redesigned Art Gallery of Ontario was the most lust-worthy. The blond wood, tendril staircase and sylvan tranquility of the Galleria Italia were so stunning that the people who run the place would have been forgiven for treating it like the Mona Lisa: best seen but not touched. Instead, they flung open the doors and threw a block party. Paul Butler, the AGO’s inaugural artist-in-residence, invited the public to attend a series of informal programs. The movie nights, art etiquette workshops and money management classes came and went, but the morning yoga sessions endured. They started in the Henry Moore art gallery, a calm, capacious room where the sculptures themselves—Draped Seated Woman, Reclining Figure et al—appear poised to join in, but demand for the program quickly outgrew the space. The upcoming sessions, which begin this month, will be held under the 40-foot ceilings of Walker Court, where there’s enough room for 40 people to execute their triangle poses without knocking over the two Rodins nearby. The symbiosis is rather brilliant: the AGO increases foot traffic and generates a bit of cash during off-hours, while the public gets a community centre and exercise space that just happens to have Monets and Manets on its walls.