Beautiful Art, a Secret Bar and Some Rock and Roll Music


Here’s a post about a fun lady-date I had with my friend Meghan, a week ago Friday.

As you might already know, she has a membership for the art gallery, which means that she is offered a sneak peek at all the special exhibits they put on. This is a chance to see the art before everyone else does, without the crowds that such special shows draw. Lucky for me, she lets me tag along as her guest.

The show we went to see recently is called Picturing the Americas, described as a breakthrough exhibit that takes viewers on an artistic journey through the Americas, from Canada’s North to the southern tip of Argentina and Chile. The paintings were created during the mid 1800s through to the early 1900s. The show will hang at the AGO in Toronto until September 20th, after which it will travel to other cities.

This is the first time that this collection of paintings has ever been shown together, and the reason the show began in Toronto is because we are hosting the Pan Am Games here, beginning on Tuesday.

I’ll admit that when Meghan flipped me the invitation some time ago, neither of us really had a firm understanding of what the show was about. That didn’t matter — we wanted to go because we love our visits to the gallery together.

What we ended up seeing was a spectacular collection of paintings, mostly landscapes, by artists we weren’t familiar with. We liked the beautiful works so much that as soon as we finished our first walk through, we went right back to the beginning and looked at them all again.

I was happy to hear that photography was allowed for this show, so I got some shots to show you.


↑ This painting is called “The Montmorency Falls”, by Italian artist Guido Carmignani (1838-1909). It was painted in 1869 and is of some waterfalls in Quebec, Canada. The effort it would have taken for an Italian artist to travel all the way to this spot in Canada, which was still very much a wild landscape at the time, and create this artwork back almost 150 years ago, blows my mind.

These falls are located just outside of Quebec City and are a tourist attraction today > Montmorency Falls Park.

I might be wrong, but those ruins seen in the distance up at the top of the painting are probably the fortification walls surrounding Quebec City, parts of which still stand today. They were built by the British in 1759, after they took the city in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. So the timing is right and it makes sense that the walls are what Carmignani painted in 1869.


↑ This one is by an artist from Mexico, named José María Velasco (1840 – 1912). It’s called “Citlatepetl” and was painted in 1897. Apparently, he taught Diego Rivera.

Not only was he an artist, he was also interested in science, identifying and publishing his findings on a new species of salamander, in 1879. No doubt he came upon such a specimen while out painting.


↑ “Cartão Postal” (Post Card) is by a female Brazilian artist, Tarsila do Amaral (1886 – 1973). Having been born to a wealthy family, she was not expected to pursue higher education, yet she did with her family’s support. She became a member of the “Grupo dos Cinco” (Group of Five), which was a group of five Brazilian artists who are considered the biggest influence in the modern art movement in Brazil.


↑ “Troje”, also painted by a female, María Izquierdo from Mexico. Born into hardship that resulted in an arranged marriage to an older man at the age of 14, she had three children by the time she was 17. Eventually she, left her husband and followed her passion for art. She had her first formal training at the age of 26. Unfortunately, she had a stroke and died at the young age of 54.

Each painting had a little map beside it with a dot showing where in the Americas it depicts.

me-at-ago-picturing-the-americas-exhibit sun on the lake by arthur dove on right

↑ Meghan is with one of the examples by the Canadian artist Lawren Harris (1885-1970). The piece is called “Grounded Icebergs” and was created in 1931.

Just now, as I was editing the photos and doing a bit of research into the art, I was struck by how difficult it would have been for these artists to capture what they did. I was also struck by a feeling of extreme gratitude at being able to see these paintings, hanging together like that for the first time in history, in a place that was walking distance from home.


After we had seen the exhibit twice, we roamed around a bit, looking at some of the permanent pieces. The halls were pretty well empty on this members-only evening, giving us the somewhat eerie sensation of having the place to ourselves.

These next two photos are of paintings I like but they aren’t part of the “Picturing the Americas” exhibit …


I never get sick of walking along this corridor, Galleria Italia. It’s a relatively new addition to the gallery and is basically a wooden and glass structure (designed by Frank Gehry) that was hung on to the front of the original building …


The evening was still young as we left the gallery. We decided to walk through Kensington Market, which is located just a few blocks away.

I know I’ve shown you the market recently, however, as these next photos will attest, there are still secrets amoungst the streets and alleyways that make it up, that I haven’t told you about. In this case, that’s because I didn’t know about the place myself.

As we walked, checking out shops here and there, Meghan turned into an alley that I’d never really noticed before. “Follow me”, she said, so I did. I had no idea where she was leading me. After a minute or so, she pushed open a heavy metal door, and suddenly we were in a hidden courtyard where there was a bar with a great outdoor seating area.

We found a spot and had a beer.


Not wanting to give away the mystery, I’ll let you google the place if you’re intrigued. Searching ‘Hidden bar in Kensington Market’ will do the trick.

Following that, I introduced Meghan to a place that she had seen before but had never been. That was the patio at Amadeu’s and their fantastic fish sandwiches. I forgot to take pictures but II previously wrote about this place here.

The annual Toronto music festival North by Northeast was going on, and being the live music fiends that we are, we headed over to the showcase happening upstairs at Sneaky Dee’s. She and I first bonded by going to live indie shows together and have seen so many acts in the five-plus years we’ve been friends, that it would be hard to count them all, so it makes sense that we’d catch some of this music fest together.


After that we walked, saying goodbye on a corner and then each continuing on home.

It was one of those summer nights that seem to last forever — one of those times we’ll always remember.

Thank you very much for checking out my post. Hope you’ve had a good week and are in for a great weekend!
xo loulou