As I paused in the lobby of the AGO the other day, a group of four approached the reception desk and asked, "How long does it take to see this place?". They were travelers to the city, trying to figure out if the art gallery fit in their schedule.
I didn't hear the response, but thought to myself that it would take a lot of time to see all that the gallery had to offer, particularly this summer when there are several special shows on, each filled with many different artworks. Those are in addition to the Georgia O'Keefe Retrospective, the Free Black North photo exhibition, and, of course, the extensive permanent collection and long-term displays.
Without a doubt, there is a whole lot of art within these walls! This being so, unless you have unlimited time, you'll want to select a few areas to concentrate on, and I'm here to help you plan by giving you a quick look at some of your choices. All exhibitions are included in the regular price of admission except the Georgia O'Keeffe show.
Every. Now. Then : Reframing Nationhood -- Occupying the entire 4th floor, showing until December 10th, 2017.
To quote the AGO's description, this show "explores three urgent questions through the eyes of some of the country’s best emerging and established artists: where has Canada come from, what it is now, and where is it going?"
I had the privilege of attending a preview last week, which included a guided tour by the show's curator Andrew Hunter, and co-curator Anique Jordan, who clearly put a lot of thought and effort into pulling this unique and interesting exhibition together.
A quick scan through my photos leads me to estimate that there are forty different installations/areas to see, each with several individual pieces. There are paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos, many of which are accompanied by a sound element.
Here are some shots representing a fraction of what there is to see at Every. Now. Then : Reframing Nationhood ...
↑ "Paris/Ojibwa" and "Mississauga Portraits" by Robert Houle
↑ "Multi-national Conglomerates Hostile Take Over of the New World Order" by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun ↑
↑ Two Multimedia installations by Esmaa Mahoud - "Heavy Heavy Hoop Dreams" and "One of the Boys". If you go to the First Thursday event for July tomorrow evening, you'll see those two dresses being worn in a performance piece. ↑
↑ Curator Andrew Hunter discussing photograph called "Edge of Moment" by Meryl McMaster. ↑
↑ Co-curator Anique Jordan discussing sculpture called "A Mobile and Visible Carriage" by Charmaine Lurch (to her left) ↑
↑ This includes an actual wagon wheel from the 1800s. ↑
↑ "Illuminated Niagara Falls" by Gu Xiong pays homage to the migrant workers, who leave their families in Mexico and Jamaica 8 to 10 month of the year, to harvest the produce grown in Canada's Niagara region, working 7 days a week, 12 to 14 hours a day. ↑
↑ "Trinity Suite" by Barry Ace - These replications of bags decorated with Great Lakes bead-work include electronic capacitors and resistors instead of beads. They're electric with screens that show family photos and films. ↑
↑ "Dominion" by Seth. ↑
↑ A series of paintings called "From an Early Age" by Rosalie Favell. ↑
ReBlink -- Jackman Gallery Second floor, showing July 6th to December 3rd.
I also had a sneak-peek of ReBlink and can say with confidence that you're going to love it! I don't want to give away the surprise by posting a lot of photos, so I'll stick to these two.
There will be ipads preloaded with the required app available at the gallery, but I have a feeling this is going to be a very popular exhibit, so you might prefer having it already on your own phone. It can be found via the link above.
ReBlink is presented by Digital Artist Alex Mayhew and Digital Media Entrepreneur Ian Kelso.
↑ What's going on with those paintings?! Hmmm, very curious. ↑
↑ Artist Alex Mayhew making sure everything is working properly. ↑
As If Sand Were Stone: Contemporary Latin American Art -- Occupying the entire 5th floor, showing until August 7th.
To quote the AGO's description : "For the first time ever, the AGO presents its extensive collection of Latin American contemporary art as the focus of its own exhibition. The artists, originating from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Cuba, Mexico and Venezuela, are each influenced by the specific geographic, political and social contexts and artistic legacies of their respective countries."
Here are a few of the pieces ...
↑ by Antonia Maia ↑
↑ wearable sculpture by Tania Bruguera. This piece is accompanied by a film of the artist wearing the sculpture, in protest in Cuba. ↑
↑ This piece, called Roses After Fantin Latour, by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz is wonderful. As you can see, those are pixelated roses, that are a recreation of a late 1800s painting by Fantin Latour, but a closer look reveals ... ↑
↑ ... the image is made up from thousands of tiny "hole-punched" pieces from magazine pages. ↑
↑ Then the collage was blown up and printed on a sheet of aluminum. ↑
I saw that with my friend Meghan, on a recent Friday evening. We arrived at the gallery in time to have nicely priced refreshments before the art, at the in-house restaurant Frank, for their "Cinq-à-Sept" menu. (While Frank is part of the AGO, you can get to it from the street and non-gallery patrons are welcome.)
↑ It makes sense that they serve Collective Arts beer. They fuse the craft of brewing with the inspired talents of emerging artists & musicians, and are dedicated to promoting artists and raising creative consciousness through the sociability of craft beer. ↑
Another thing you can do is visit the pop-up gift shop for the ticketed exhibition, which you can access without having a ticket to the show. These charming in-gallery stores are creatively customized to whatever special show is currently on -- in this case The Georgia O'Keeffe Retrospective.
↑ Oh, hello! ↑
So, whether you have plenty of time, or just want a quick hit of art, there is a lot going on at the AGO.
The galley is closed on Mondays but open the rest of the week, with extended evening hours on Wednesdays and Fridays. Visitors on a budget may enjoy a very affordable experience (aka free!) on Wednesday's from 6 to 9pm, when the regular admission price is waived. They recommend that you arrive after 6, in order to avoid a lineup, and don't bring a backpack.
Also, if you live in Toronto and have a library card, the AGO is one of the places included in the "Museum and Arts Pass" program. This option for free entry to the gallery takes some advance planning though, as you have to go to the library to pick up the pass beforehand. They're available on a first come first served basis and each library receives a limited number. (I mentioned this program in this post, when my friend Stella and I used a pass to visit The Mackenzie House.)
Thanks for reading,
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