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Go to a massive beach party, explore forbidden buildings and six other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: Tame Impala; painting by Johnathan Ball, courtesy of Liss Gallery; Burning Star, by Alex Brenner; Diana Krall)

(Images, clockwise from top left: Tame Impala; painting by Johnathan Ball, courtesy of Liss Gallery; Burning Star, by Alex Brenner; Diana Krall)

Get a sneak preview of the album of the summer
It’s been almost three years since Aussie psychedelicists Tame Impala released their sophomore stunner, Lonerism, but it feels like they never really went away. Lead single “Elephant” stomped its way through episodes of Girls and The Vampire Diaries—not to mention an inescapable Blackberry commercial—and we’re willing to bet Indie 88 is playing the album’s swooning centerpiece track, “Feel Like We Only Go Backwards,” yet again as you read this. As such, Tame Impala’s upcoming third album, Currents (out July 17), is one of the most hotly anticipated rock albums of 2015. And while early evidence suggests the band has retired its formative guitar roar for synth-washed electro-R&B, the signature trippiness remains. Fortunately, Massey Hall has the cavernous backdrop to accommodate one hell of a light show. Tuesday, May 19. $39.50-$59.50. 178 Victoria St., 416-872-4255, masseyhall.com

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Play pinball, drink beer for charity and eight other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: still from Delicatessen, courtesy of the TIFF Film Reference Library; David Sedaris, by Anne Fishbein; Untitled, by Frank Johnston, courtesy of the Huronia Museum; Iris Apfel)

(Images, clockwise from top left: still from Delicatessen, courtesy of the TIFF Film Reference Library; David Sedaris, by Anne Fishbein; Untitled, by Frank Johnston, courtesy of the Huronia Museum; Iris Apfel)

Dive into Iris Apfel’s closet
Iris Apfel is a 94-year-old fashion starlet, with a flash of dove-white hair, scarlet lipstick and harlequin outfits cobbled together from haute couture and flea market finds. Her Park Avenue closet was dazzling enough to merit its own costume exhibit at the Met in 2006. And now she’s the subject of Iris, an affectionate, stylish new documentary from Grey Gardens maestro Albert Maysles, who died last year. It’s best watched through Frisbee-size glasses. Friday May 15 to Sunday May 31. $12. 506 Bloor St. W., 416-637-3123, bloorcinema.com.

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Comic Book Special: Toronto graphic novelists sketch themselves


sketch-comics-intro

Hundreds of graphic novelists will squeeze into the Reference Library on May 9 and 10 for the Toronto Comic Arts Festival. We picked the seven local stars to catch—and asked each for a self-portrait.

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Comic Book Special: inside Toronto’s best-connected comics workshop


Click to see a larger version. (Image: Photograph of RAID by Dave Gillespie)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Photograph of RAID by Dave Gillespie)

In 2004, a group of illustrators founded RAID Studio in a tiny workshop above a GoodLife Fitness Club on College Street. Now it’s a veritable hub of the geek world, where artists write, storyboard and illustrate comics for DC and Marvel. Here, a who’s who of the city’s hottest collective.

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Marcus To was the artist on Red Robin, DC Comics’ high-octane series about a renegade Boy Wonder.

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Go to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, see a Simpsons-inspired play and eight other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: courtesy of the Toronto Flower Market; Toro y Moi, by Andrew Paynter; Bluebeard's Castle, by Michael Cooper; Pancakes no. 5, by Chloe Wise)

(Images, clockwise from top left: courtesy of the Toronto Flower Market; Toro y Moi, by Andrew Paynter; Bluebeard’s Castle, by Michael Cooper; Pancakes no. 5, by Chloe Wise)

Go crazy for comics at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival
Toronto has always been a comics town—Joe Shuster even modelled Superman’s Metropolis after our skyline. Our glorious geekery hits its zenith this weekend at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival, a cartoon blowout featuring panels, readings and meet-and-greets from hundreds of doodlers. Highlights include the YA graphic novelist Jillian Tamaki; local satirist and Marvel writer Chip Zdarsky; and Scott McCloud, an American comics superstar whose dazzling new graphic novel, The Sculptor, is easily the most exciting release of the year. Saturday May 9 and Sunday May 10. FREE. Toronto Reference Library, 789 Yonge St., 416-395-5577, torontocomics.com.

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Ten amazing shots from the Contact Photography Festival


The city-wide Contact Photography Festival returns in May with a smorgasbord of images from 1,500 artists. Here, the 10 most mesmerizing shots:

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Rock out with Metz, lose yourself in the Contact Photography Festival and eight other things to do this week

(Image, clockwise from top left: Metz, by David Waldman; Marc Labrèche in Needles and Opium, by Nicola Frank Vachon; Fog, Port Aux Basques, NL, 2009, by Scott Conarroe; Trudeau and Levesque, by Michael Cooper)

(Image, clockwise from top left: Metz, by David Waldman; Marc Labrèche in Needles and Opium, by Nicola Frank Vachon; Fog, Port Aux Basques, NL, 2009, by Scott Conarroe; Trudeau and Levesque, by Michael Cooper)

Gorge on a smorgasbord of photographic eye candy
Pretty much every gallery in Toronto is surrendering to the swell of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, a month-long snapshot spectacular that features work from more than 1,500 artists. Check out the festival’s dazzling public installations: Jihyun Hong’s glowing rendition of a Chinese demolition site in the MOCCA courtyard, romantic colour-stained landscapes by Sarah Anne Johnson at the Westin Harbour Castle and, at Art Metropole, archival Polaroids of 1970s Toronto by Edouard LeBouthillier, which were discovered a decade ago, discarded on a curb. May 1 to 31. Free. Various locations, scotiabankcontactphoto.com.

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Drink lots of beer, see a bunch of documentaries and eight other things to do this week

(Image, clockwise from top left: early Saturday Night Live cast members, by Edie Baskin; Twiggy in Toronto, by Bob Olsen/Toronto Star; George Ezra, by Robert Blackham; Auditorium, by Stephen Andrews, courtesy of the AGO)

(Image, clockwise from top left: early Saturday Night Live cast members, by Edie Baskin; Twiggy in Toronto, by Bob Olsen/Toronto Star; George Ezra, by Robert Blackham; Auditorium, by Stephen Andrews, courtesy of the AGO)

Drink and dance at spring’s hottest beer festival
Toronto’s Festival of Beer combines two summer traditions: outdoor booze bacchanals and music festivals. Each ticket includes five free samples from breweries like Creemore, Junction Craft Brewing, Flying Monkeys and Beau’s (plus cideries like Brickworks and Thornbury). Performances from the synthpop starlet Lowell and the indie band JJ and the Pillars will entice non-drinkers to tag along. April 24 and 25. $30. Sherbourne Common, 61 Dockside Dr., beerfestival.ca.

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See a play in an abandoned high school, bid farewell to Dame Edna and seven other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: "Squirrel, Oh Happy Day," by Marjorie Campbell, courtesy of Love Art Fair; Dame Edna Everage, courtesy of Mirvish Productions; Herbie Hancock, courtesy of Massey Hall; "Indian War Canoes," by Emily Carr, courtesy of the AGO)

(Images, clockwise from top left: “Squirrel, Oh Happy Day,” by Marjorie Campbell, courtesy of Love Art Fair; Dame Edna Everage, courtesy of Mirvish Productions; Herbie Hancock, courtesy of Massey Hall; “Indian War Canoes,” by Emily Carr, courtesy of the AGO)

See a play in an abandoned high school
One of the season’s most ambitious theatre creations is Sheridan College’s Brantwood 1920–2020, an imaginative lark that takes place in the abandoned Brantwood School in Oakville. The cast will play out scenes and songs from the school’s fictional history in different classrooms. Ticket-holders arrive at Sheridan College, where, appropriately, a school bus will transport them to the Brantwood campus. April 11 to May 3. $35. Sheridan College, 1430 Trafalgar Rd., Oakville, 905-815-4049, sheridancollege.ca.

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Attend a pancake party, see Kacey Musgraves and eight other things to do this week

(Image, clockwise from top left: a still from Safety Last!; Orpheus and Eurydice, by Bruce Zinger; Ubu and the Truth Commission, by Luke Younge; Twin Shadow, by Milan Zrnic)

(Images, clockwise from top left: a still from Safety Last!; Orpheus and Eurydice, by Bruce Zinger; Ubu and the Truth Commission, by Luke Younge; Twin Shadow, by Milan Zrnic)

Check out a South African puppet show for grown-ups
The latest feat from Canadian Stage is a three-week extravaganza of South African song, dance and drama. The absolute must-see is Jane Taylor’s Ubu and the Truth Commission. Set during the post-apartheid truth commission, the play follows a government death agent trying to scrub away his guilt. Like Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Act of Killing, Ubu combines grave subject matter and fantastical execution: it’s a theatrical smoothie of animation, documentary footage and wooden marionettes from the Handspring Puppet Company, the troupe behind War Horse. April 8 to 25. $20–$99. Various locations, canadianstage.com.

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Not Your Grandma’s AGO: how a century-old museum became the city’s hippest hangout

Not Your Grandma’s AGO

On a frigid February evening, 2,500 party­goers descended on the Art Gallery of Ontario for First Thursdays, the museum’s monthly late-night party. This edition, celebrating a massive new exhibit devoted to the street-turned-pop artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, had sold out in under an hour. It featured panel discussions, food stalls, cheap cocktails and a performance from the hip hop DJ (and Basquiat contemporary) Grandmaster Flash. While the tipsy throng swirled in a frenzy under Frank Gehry’s spiral staircase, nightclub reps lurked outside the gallery, greeting passersby with flyers for upcoming events. “I tried to get a ticket for weeks, and this is the closest I’m going to get,” one told me. I asked if she’d ever hustled outside a museum before. “I go where the party is,” she said. “And this is the hottest party in town.”

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See a play in a pizza parlour’s basement, party with Belle and Sebastian and seven other things to do this week

(Images, clockwise from top left: sculpture by Hora Zardof, courtesy of the artist; Jessie Ware, by Tim Zaragoza; Belle and Sebastien, by Søren Solkær)

(Images, clockwise from top left: sculpture by Hoda Zarbaf, courtesy of the artist; Jessie Ware, by Tim Zaragoza; Belle and Sebastian, by Søren Solkær)

Check out the next big Britpop star
While you endure the interminable wait for Adele’s next album, check out Jessie Ware this week at the Danforth Music Hall. Last fall, the British singer-songwriter with the raspy alto released her sophomore album, Tough Love. It’s a collection of infectious soul songs tinged with gospel and R&B, all anchored by Ware’s rich vocals. April 4. $40.50–$50.75. Danforth Music Hall, 147 Danforth Ave., 416-778-8163, ticketmaster.com.

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How the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s latest piece of interactive art hypnotizes kids with moving light

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Kayla Rocca)

Click to see a larger version. (Image: Kayla Rocca)

Every March, the TIFF Bell Lightbox hosts digiPlaySpace, an exhibition of kid-friendly interactive art. This year’s marquee installation is Forest, a co-creation of new-media artist Micah Elizabeth Scott and 26 students from Ryerson University’s new-media program. It’s a massive digital canvas made up of over 7,500 LEDs and controlled by software Scott developed herself. Young visitors interact with the piece by turning wooden spinners with their hands. “I designed something that wasn’t a screen,” Scott explains, “something that has a lot of real, tactile sense to it, and isn’t just fingers sliding against glass.” Here’s an annotated look at how it works.

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The sculpture is 16 feet wide and eight feet tall, and it weighs over 600 pounds. It took about six weeks to build and two days to install.
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The body of the installation, including the spinners, is made of medium density fibreboard. “It’s literally from the Home Depot,” says Steve Daniels, a Ryerson professor who helped coordinate the project. He used a CNC router at Ryerson’s Maker Space to cut it into shape.

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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.

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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.