Tag Archives: art

J. M. W. Turner: ‘Painting Set Free’ (October 31, 2015 – January 31, 2016) at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This fall the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will host a major exhibition celebrating the experimental and contemplative works of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), a giant of British art. Opening on Oct. 31, 2015, J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free features more than 50 large-scale paintings and watercolours on loan from Tate Britain and makes the case that the radical works created in the final 15 years of Turner’s career, with their arresting use of light, represent a fulfilment of the artist’s upward trajectory.

Fiercely driven and radically experimental, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) was a giant in the history of British art. Praised by critics across the U.K. as ―an exciting, entrancing show‖ (The Guardian) and ―sensational‖ (London Evening Standard), the acclaimed exhibition J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free opens in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Oct. 31, 2016. Featuring more than 50 paintings and watercolours on loan from Tate Britain, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s later works, famous for their rich colour, textures and arresting use of light. Timed-entry tickets for J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free at the AGO go on sale Oct. 16, 2015. The exhibition is celebrated by the launch of the AGO’s permanent new hours of operation, featuring extended Friday nights with special Turner-themed programming throughout November.

Coordinated by Lloyd DeWitt, AGO Curator of European Art, J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free shows how Turner’s final years were a time of exceptional vigour, as he continued pushing the boundaries of his artistic practice while travelling across Europe to capture increasingly dramatic landscapes on canvas. Challenging the myths, assumptions and interpretations that have grown around Turner’s later works, the exhibition is organized thematically and takes a focused look at his travels, his fascination with classical history, religion and mythology, his love of the sea, and his preoccupation with atmosphere and light.

J.M.W. Turner is the best known British artist, but here are few fascinating facts you might not know:

•In the later years of his career his art became more radical and experimental, incorporating unusual materials like tobacco juice and stale beer, and was derided by conservative critics for his unconventional methods

•He did some pretty drastic things for his art, like having sailors tie him to the mast of a boat during a major winter storm to “experience the drama” of the elements during a storm at sea

•He wore wooden dentures and drank up to eight pints of rum a day

•His father lived with him for 30 years, serving as his assistant and mixing paints

Art Gallery Of Ontario

317 Dundas St. W | Toronto, ON | CANADA | M5T 1G4 | http://www.ago.net

Review: Field Trip Music & Arts Festival (June 6th and 7th 2015) at Fort York & Garrison Common

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For the past 2 years Arts & Crafts ‘Field Trip’ has being giving us warmed sonic vibes to launch us into the summer.  If you live in Toronto, you know the winter was extra-long for us this year and there has been an ache to have ‘Field Trip’ 2015 to come to Fort York already!

We love Fort York.  It’s a perfectly accessible Toronto location for a festival; it’s on the TTC line and has enough room to watch bands at each stage.  Now come 5 p.m., its gets a tad congested.  The throngs of people navigating between the Garrison Stage (the larger one) to the TD Fort York Stage (the smaller one) always ends in a bottle neck on the path connecting both stages.  That said this year; the Fort York Stage was built a little further along to allow for a VIP drinking lounge area and a massive food, shopping and activities area.  Even though there were line ups for food, washrooms and drink – everything ran smoothly as the rain steadily fell on the Sunday afternoon crowd.

There were a number of upgrades from last year’s ‘Field Trip’.  The family friendly ‘Day Camp’ area for kids and their peeps was immense.  Sharon & Bram, Girls Rock Camp, Toronto Music Camp and children’s sets from other Field Trip performers all showed up for the party, and were within ear shot of the popular bouncy castle, hula hoops, temporary tattoo stations, kids haircuts, ping pong tables and more.

One of many things ‘Field Trip’ does well is their nod to local cuisine vs. food trucks.  Tucking into the likes of FOOD DUDES: Captain Crunch Fish tacos, Smoky Rueben Sandwich, Dirty Chili Hash, Nutella balls*, Mac & Cheese Balls* and DEAVA’S FEED YOUR SOUL: BBQ Korean Short Ribs, Pork Belly Sandwich, Lemongrass Chicken Salad, Thai Chicken Sandwich (all farm to table) were things of beauty after long days in the sun.

The Mess Hall was brought back with Ivy Knight.  On June 6th we witnessed a Cake Decorating Contest where participants played cake boss with plain cakes and buffet of colourful candies and sweet goodness.   On June 7th, Ivy and her team of brave Field Trippers came together to build the biggest hoagie – relay style!

The roster of bands that were on ‘Field Trip’s’ schedule this year was sure to excite.  With diversity in musicians reflecting the diversity of Toronto included of ‘From Jamaica to Toronto’, ‘De La Soul’, ‘The War on Drugs’ and ‘Purity Ring’ on Day 1.  We felt the afterglow well into ‘Alabama Shakes’ set.  Day 2 was even more of a love in with ‘Father John Misty’, ‘Temples’ and ‘Marina & The Diamonds’.  If your body wasn’t aching after all of this you weren’t partying hard enough.  Then again for some of us, it doesn’t take much.

We had a great chuckle at the Laugh Barracks which was presented by Mail Chimp as the day wound down. It is a hilarious new addition to Field Trip, with performances from two of Comedy Bar’s most popular shows, Laugh Sabbath and Chuckle Co.  Sometimes you need to take a break away from the music.

Fort York is a wonderful home for ‘Field Trip’ and we hope it continues to be.  The rustic Canadiana vibe, locals meeting out of towers and familiar soothing tunes as it christens us into the summer’s arms is a big hit!  The detail, love and camaraderie that go into putting on ‘Field Trip’ from the Arts & Crafts crew makes us look forward to 2016.


‘From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia’ at The Art Gallery of Ontario (April 11 to August 9, 2015)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A boundless explorer, inquisitive experimenter and thought pioneer, Emily Carr created works of art that reflect the dramatic impact of her encounters with the indigenous cultures and the formidable landscapes of British Columbia in the first half of the 20th century. Breathing new life into Carr’s legendary fascination with the Pacific Northwest through the display of archival materials, paintings and artifacts, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) presents From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia in spring 2015. A joint project and collaboration between London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery and the AGO, the exhibition runs in Toronto from April 11 to August 9, 2015.

Curated by Canadian art critic Sarah Milroy and Ian Dejardin, Sackler Director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia comes to the AGO following its debut at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, where it will be on view from Nov. 1, 2014, to March 8, 2015. Tracing a dramatic journey from darkness to light, and from winter to summer, the exhibition features nearly 100 paintings, watercolours and drawings by Carr, including rarely seen sketches, works drawn from private collections as well as the recently discovered illustrated journal Sister and I in Alaska, in which Carr documented her pivotal 1907 trip up and down the Northwest Coast. Visitors will be invited to explore with Carr as she responds to this landscape and its indigenous communities, searching for a sense of place and self in both her brooding forest scenes and the euphoric skyscapes of her late career.

“Emily Carr, one of Canada’s most beloved and esteemed artists, lived at the intersection of two cultures. This exhibition gives us the opportunity to bring those artistic traditions together and approach her work with a new, contemporary lens,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s director and CEO. “We have culled the best works from institutions across the country and have made no compromises. I’m delighted to collaborate on a project of this calibre with the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Like the artists of the Group of Seven, who made their 2011 London debut at Dulwich in Painting Canada, Carr is poised for discovery by the wider world and for rediscovery here at home.”

In dialogue with Carr’s paintings, the exhibition features more than 40 historic indigenous artifacts from the Pacific Northwest Coast, including masks, baskets and ceremonial objects by Haida, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Salish, Tsimshian and Tinglit makers.

“Through her art-making, Emily Carr communicated her passion to root herself in a new landscape, finding her path to connection through a reckoning with native culture, which she strived to understand and to honour,” said Sarah Milroy. “Born in Canada to English parents and exposed to the indigenous cultures of the Northwest Coast through her travels and research, Carr demonstrated her attachment to both indigenous culture and European artistic and literary tradition. This exhibition explores Carr’s art and with it the paradoxes of the colonial imagination.”

The exhibition features loans from the Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Anthropology at UBC, the National Gallery of Canada and the Royal British Columbia Museum, as well as various Canadian private collections. A catalogue will be available in March 2015, with essays by Dejardin and Milroy as well as contributions from writers and artists Corrine Hunt, Peter Doig, Jessica Stockholder, James Hart, and Marianne Nicolson; leading Carr scholars Charles Hill, Ian Thom, Kathryn Bridge and Gerta Moray; and noted British and Canadian anthropologists Robert Storrie and Karen Duffek.


When we were kids, my sister had a t-shirt with Emily Carr’s ‘Scorned as Timber, Beloved of Sky’ imprinted onto it.  I saw it for many summers as we hung out in the back garden, coming out of the laundry and the like.  There was something about that print that was solemn, spiritual and yet full of staunch determination.

Over a decade ago I was in the Vancouver Art Gallery and bumped into this painting along with its siblings.  Thinking back I had forgotten how much emotion, isolation and depth is depicted in Emily Carr’s work.  I guarantee you will feel a deep knot begin to twist in your belly as you experience themes of spiritual fortitude, serenity and hope in small glimmers layered onto each brush stroke.

I met ‘Scorned as Timber, Beloved of Sky’ again for the second time in my life at the Art Galley of Ontario last week.  I wonder if I look older to her.

After visiting Portland, OR and Seattle, WA last year, I felt like I was again amongst the trees when perusing the ‘From the Forest to the Sea’.  One cannot help but smell the pine and the fresh ocean air coming off Carr’s pieces when wandering the beautifully curated AGO space.

The pop up experience is punctuated when you come upon the historic indigenous artifacts from the Pacific Northwest Coast. They ache of spirits bellowing tradition and deep rooted First Nation pride.

Canadian pride emanates in Carr’s ode to the totem poles and our First Nation people.  Some of her definitive work can be seen in the totem poles as they gloriously mark their territory in the rocky B.C. landscape.  Carr ensured to carve out First Nation symbolism respectfully in her work.

I enjoyed Carr’s experimental work as she mixed gasoline with paint and the lux yet lazy appearance of her final creations.  The trees in those sequences looked almost drunk in their intent.  Carr had such a wonderful way of personalizing her trees but also spiritually honouring their presence amongst humans.  Her homage to them went beyond being a tree hugger but a champion for their legacy.

The ‘From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia’ exhibition will leave you awe struck and rejuvenated.  I encourage you to visit on your lunch break and take visiting friends and family from out town to see it instead of the usual touristy Toronto spots.  It is an exhibition that will remind you of our cultural fabric whilst also giving us permission to explore those challenging terrains within our own backyards.


ONCE at The Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto (February 10 – May 31, 2015)

Set in modern day Dublin, ONCE tells the story of Guy, an Irish musician who has given up on his music—and his love—and Girl, a Czech immigrant who inspires him to dream again. Over the course of one fateful week, their unexpected friendship and collaboration evolves into a powerful but complicated romance, heightened by the raw emotion of the songs they create together.

ONCE is based on the 2007 Academy Award-winning film of the same name, written and directed by John Carney, and starring Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who also wrote the original music and lyrics.

The stage adaptation is brought to life by an award-winning team of visionary artists: book by award-winning Irish playwright & screenwriter, Enda Walsh (Penelope, Hunger, The New Electric Ballroom); direction by the acclaimed Scottish director of Black Watch, John Tiffany; movement by Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, American Idiot); and music supervision and orchestrations by Martin Lowe (Mamma Mia!). The set and costume design are by five-time Tony Award winner Bob Crowley (The Coast of Utopia, Mary Poppins), lighting design is by Tony winner Natasha Katz (Aida, The Coast of Utopia), and sound design is by Clive Goodwin.

ONCE was originally developed at the American Repertory Theater (Cambridge, Massachusetts) in April 2011.  A developmental run of ONCE played in November 2011 to January 2012 at New York Theatre Workshop.

ONCE opened on Broadway on March 18. 2012, produced by Barbara Broccoli, John N. Hart Jr., Patrick Milling Smith, Frederick Zollo, Brian Carmody, Michael G. Wilson, Orin Wolf, The Shubert Organization and Executive Producer Robert Cole, in association with New York Theatre Workshop.

The production won eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical. It also won Best Musical from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critic Circle and Lucille Lortel Awards. The original cast recording won the 2013 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album.

ONCE is currently running in London’s West End at the Phoenix Theatre (now in its second year).  The national tour is playing across North America and the show’s Australian premiere begins in October 2014 in Melbourne. Future international productions are also planned.


We are long overdue in taking in a non-traditional love story.  Honestly, I’m over ‘The Notebook’s’ romantic aesthetic.  Perhaps, it’s not about subscribing to the romantic fairy tale anymore.  A lot of us aren’t living the norm when it comes to love and relationships these days.  Perhaps we may have had some close misses in our personal histories.  Participating in a different love narrative that speaks to our truth is important.

That story can be experienced in Mirvish’s production of ONCE.

The theatrical debut of ONCE at The Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto which will run until May 31, 2015 and will guarantee to give you the texture the film wishes it could convey through screen.

The Mirvish production of ONCE is full of aches, pains, love sickness, dread, euphoria and utter joy.  How can one not get let lost in its romantic ambiance within the aisles of The Ed Mirvish Theatre which once gave us the Phantom of the Opera years ago.  The ghosts of that production are deeply embedded within the woodwork of The Ed Mirvish Theatre.

The Ed Mirvish Theatre began its life in 1920 as a combination vaudeville and motion picture theatre in the Pantages theatre circuit. With its original 3373 seats, it was the largest cinema in Canada and, with its lavish interior – designed by the great theatre architect Thomas Lamb – the most elegant.

Think swooping balconies, lush draperies, an ornate ceiling fit for a Queen and seats so lush I wish I could have taken mine home – set the stage for our evening.

Upon taking our seat and having a pre-drink on the stage – we were slowly lulled into an upbeat pre-jam session with the cast’s musicians.  As our fellow audience members gently began to leave the stage the band continued with a rousing Celtic session to get our knees popping and feet stomping in our seats.  We instantly felt like we were in Ireland, smelling green grass in the spring and the warm familiarity of an authentic Irish experience.

The stage was outfitted in the scene of an Irish pub.  A large mirror that broke down the fourth wall, a gorgeous wooden antique bar and a floor that had seen better days but held stories of spilled pints, scuff marks from energetic dance sessions and chips from emotionally ridden interchanges.

As the performance unfolded we were introduced to Ian Lake who plays ‘Guy’.  A dreamy ‘Guy’ with all the makings of Hansard but with a more boyish charm.  Lake’s seasoned experience from Stratford and the National Theatre School of Canada under his belt – gives a performance that is heartwarming but riddled with confusion and a rolling sadness.  The audience bears witness as he struggles to come to terms with something he was looking for all along and is now in front of him.  But as the universe (that has the best of sense of humour during the worst of times) reminds us that he may have to walk away from a love for another now an ocean away.

‘Girl’ played by Trish Lindström brings us a performance that is full of raw emotion, a different kind of love narrative and complicated baggage.  Her cultural thread at first may seem to be the clash of the titans for Dublin but ends up being quite like minded.  I appreciated the Czech language translation on an overheard screen which added to the authenticity between fellow actors playing revolving Czech roles as they interacted with ‘Girl’ in English.

The echoes of ‘Falling Slowly’ lingered in the air throughout the performance.  Lyrics that will leave your lip quivering and tears rolling:

Falling slowly, eyes that know me

And I can’t go back

Moods that take me and erase me

And I’m painted black

You have suffered enough

And warred with yourself

It’s time that you won

Throughout ONCE’s performance we were given some intimate interludes between ‘Guy’ and ‘Girl’.  Moments riddled with knowing glances, a joyous repose and intimacy that could have been rendered within the confines of a bedroom.  These moments make ONCE special and not like any musical theatre in the city in this moment.

There were moments of modern dance by participating band members whose presence on the stage was effervescent.  From a slow hum, to notes of Irish drink, rousing dance parties and low rumblings felt through voice and instruments made for truly organic performances.

Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly The Canon)

February 10 – May 31, 2015

Performance Schedule: Tuesday-Saturday 8PM

Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday 2PM


Jean-Michel Basquiat: ‘Now’s the Time’ at the Art Gallery of Ontario

The radical vision of New York artist, musician and fashion-world icon Jean-Michel Basquiat arrives at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Feb. 7, 2015, and to celebrate the AGO is offering an unprecedented variety of related programming and events ranging from talks to film screenings and dance parties. Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time makes its only North American stop at the AGO and will run through May 10, 2015.

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960–1988) was one of the most innovative artists of the past century. Drawing, painting and collaging layers of images and text, he translated the world around him into a distinctive visual language that broke new ground in contemporary art. Rich with symbols and cultural references, Basquiat’s works explore potent themes: from personal identity and power to entrenched racism and inequality. Today, Basquiat’s art still reverberates. In all its beauty, complexity and urgency, this work continues to challenge perceptions, provoke vital dialogues and empower us to think critically about our world.

Basquiat was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His mother was of Puerto Rican descent, and his father was from Haiti. Growing up in New York played a vital role in Basquiat’s artistic development. His mother took him to museums regularly, and through this early engagement it was evident Basquiat was artistically and intellectually gifted.

While Basquiat’s art historical knowledge provided a foundation for his practice, New York and its social politics informed his content. When Basquiat was a teenager, he and his friend Al Diaz began spray painting on the walls of Lower Manhattan under the pseudonym SAMO©. The socially provocative phrases they wrote near galleries and clubs challenged social norms and caught the attention of the downtown art crowd.

Basquiat soon began painting on paper and canvas, as well as objects he found on the streets of New York. His early success attested to both his artistic ingenuity and his inherent understanding of New York’s cultural climate. His work reached stylistic maturity almost immediately, and in his early twenties, after showing at a number of exhibitions, Basquiat found himself an established and internationally famous artist. He went on to work prolifically, producing thousands of powerful paintings, drawings and prints before his untimely death in 1988 at the age of 27.

On Saturday, Feb. 7, from 6 p.m. to midnight, the AGO will reverberate with the youthful sounds of B-boys and B-girls at the Basquiat Bash, a free opening-night event to celebrate the arrival of Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. Two thousand free tickets were booked by 125 community and youth groups across Toronto, with the remaining 1000 free public tickets won via an online draw. Ticket holders on opening night will hear DJs playing Basquiat-inspired playlists and hear remarks by AGO director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum and special guests Jeanine Basquiat and Lisane Basquiat, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s sisters. Beginning at 9 p.m., visitors are invited to witness Breaking the Cycle Break Battle, a break-dancing competition presented in partnership with UNITY Charity, showcasing the best break-dancers in the city. Featuring over 30 top Toronto dancers, the two favourites will face off in a showdown in front of visitors and judges to compete for the chance to represent Toronto at the the Notorious IBE championships in the Netherlands this summer.

So you can’t get there tonight?  Check out these other cool events during Basquiat’s time with us in Toronto.


Every weekend, beginning Feb. 14 through May 3, 2015, the AGO will offer in-gallery performances by artist educators and youth members from UNITY Charity, an AGO partner organization that uses hip-hop culture and programming to empower youth. The performances will take place every half hour from 1:30 – 4 p.m. Beat boxing will take place on Saturdays and spoken word performances will take over on Sundays.


Every Wednesday evening beginning Feb. 11, join the AGO’s youth gallery guides for a free pop-up talk in the exhibition at 6:45 p.m. and 7:45 p.m. These discussion-style talks are aimed at youth and will highlight artworks.


GTA youth aged 14 to 30 are invited to submit original artwork on the theme of empowering the black community for the Scratch & Mix Project competition. Basquiat’s desire to address issues of social justice—including racism, materialism and exploitation—is the inspiration behind this unique youth arts competition, a multifaceted youth arts and community engagement project, organized in partnership with the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Environics Institute’s Black Experience Project and NIA Centre for the Arts. A jury will select up to 10 finalists, who will be awarded $1,000 and see their work featured at the AGO in an exhibition opening on April 18, 2015. That same day, the AGO will host a dynamic one-day youth solidarity forum identifying strategies to empower black youth to play a greater role in the community. This project is part of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation’s national 4th Wall: Make the Invisible Visible program, which collaborates with art galleries and museums across Canada to give voice to the invisible experiences of marginalized youth. For more details or to submit a proposal, please visit bit.ly/ScratchMix.


Combining music, video and art-making, visitors are invited to spend time in the interactive Basquiat Culture Jam Lounge, located just outside the exhibition. Visitors to the lounge can sit and listen to a curated playlist of Basquiat-inspired music and share their responses to the exhibition by recording their own personal message in the Basquiat video talk-back booth. Videos will be posted to BasquiatNow.com. In addition, visitors are encouraged to try their hand at street art by leaving a message on the chalkboard wall and to take photos of themselves with the oversized portrait of Basquiat and share with the hashtag #BasquiatAGO. The lounge is open during regular Gallery hours.


Toronto’s hottest art night out and annual AGO fundraiser Massive Party returns on April 23, 2015. In celebration of the Basquiat exhibition, this year’s theme is Hotbed and artistic director TALWST is out to prove that now is the time to be in Toronto, bringing together for one night only the city’s foremost underground artists and musicians, for a whirlwind of unforgettable performances and installations. A Toronto artist and musician, TAWLST is a member of the Basquiat Community Advisory Committee and will recreate his acclaimed performance.

Art Gallery of Ontario | 317 Dundas St. W | Toronto, ON | CANADA | M5T 1G4 | http://www.ago.net

Stocking Stuffer: Alex Colville at the AGO

I checked out Alex Colville at the AGO when it opened.  It was transformational, eclectic, traditional and full of echoes of why I am proud to be Canadian.  Look here for my full review:  https://thirtyfourflavours.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/alex-colville-at-the-art-gallery-of-ontario-august-23-january-4-2014/

After my second visit to see the Alex Colville exhibit at the AGO last week I was reminded of how much I love his art.  Upon entering the Colville exhibit I passed a man carrying the ‘Colville’ Art Book by Andrew Hunter that I have been meaning to pick up.

Now, one of the years most significant and anticipated Art Books, co-published by the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and Goose Lane Editions, the book, entitled simply Colville, explores the man, the place and the imagery.

More than 100 of Colville’s paintings and studies, including works which have rarely been publicly shown or reproduced, have been assembled for the book, some with thematic pairings of work from notable figures in popular contemporary culture including Sarah Polley, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, the Coen Brothers, and Alice Munro. This definitive look at Colville’s work and influence is complemented by candid portraits of Alex Colville with his wife and life-long model, Rhoda, providing a rare glimpse into his personal life.

Written and edited by Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Frederik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, Colville accompanies the largest exhibition ever of the visionary artist’s work. The exhibition will feature more than 150 paintings from museums and private collections around the world.

Alex Colville, himself, said, “As a good realist, I have to reinvent the world.” Colville sheds light not only on the world as Colville portrayed it, but also on the way his vision has reinvented the cultural landscape.

Pick up some passes to the Alex Colville at the AGO as a stocking stuffer for mates or family before it closes in January 2015 plus pick up the ‘Colville’ Art Book from Andrew Hunter for yourself.


Frye Art Museum

I had a long day and had limited energy.  But I was determined to trek up a monster hill (ok not really a monster hill) to get to the Frye Art Museum.

Entering the space I was immediately greeted with the Frye Art Museum’s #SocialMedium exhibit which recently opened on October 4, 2014 and will run until January 4, 2015.  I was being tasked to be a ‘curator’ of the space and I wanted to learn more.

“It’s that thing where you ♥ an image and that painting goes in an exhibition,” is the tag line under which the Frye Art Museum in Seattle crowd-sourced the curation of its exhibition, #SocialMedium, over a two-week period in August, 2014.

People all over the world were invited to vote online for their favorites among 232 paintings via social media networks Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr. The voting process was extensively tweeted about and received wide national news coverage.

The challenge, “You are the curator,” went out and was met: 17,601 votes were cast through “Likes” by a diverse community of 4,468 curators. The global network spans Seattle, the US, and beyond, to Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, and Vietnam.

Every painting in the collection received at least one vote, but the clear favorite was Peacock (1907) by Julius Scheuerer (German, 1859-1913), which received 3,525 Likes when it went viral on Tumblr.

International news media picked up the #SocialMedium story and commented on the transformation of the role of curator the project embodies. The Istanbul newspaper Zaman noted that the Frye exhibition is “a critical look at the curator’s function and draws attention to the role of social media in the arts world.”

Paintings loved by the Seattle public since the founding of the Museum in 1952 were in a tight race for the top five favorites:

Die Sünde (Sin) (ca. 1908), Franz von Stuck – 210 votes

View of Königssee (1878), Dániel Somogyi – 208 votes

Moulting Ducks (1900), Alexander Max Koester – 206 votes

Gardeuse de moutons (The Shepherdess) (1881), William-Adolphe Bouguereau – 176 votes

Curators around the world not only voted for their favorite paintings, but also provided commentary and interpretations of many works. #SocialMedium showcases select comments and includes a unique short URL for each of the 41 paintings in the exhibition, enabling visitors to access a Facebook page with all comments on a painting.

Visitors can add new comments to any of the Facebook pages while in the galleries. Posts on Twitter and Instagram using #SocialMedium will appear in a real-time feed on a screen in the galleries.

The names of all 4,468 curators appear on the title wall of #SocialMedium, a collaboration with a team comprising the Frye’s Collections, Curatorial, and Communications departments and external partners Civilization, a Seattle firm devoted to design as a means of social change, and Dylan Neuwirth, an artist and social media consultant.

#SocialMedium is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by 4,468 guest curators. The exhibition is funded by the Frye Foundation with the generous support of Frye Art Museum members and donors. It is sponsored by Civilization. Seasonal support is provided by 4Culture, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, and ArtsFund. Media sponsorship provided by The Stranger.


The Frye Art Museum is indeed doing some game changing work by stitching in the popularity of social media together with classic and modern art and by asking for audience participation in curating the space.  A truly dynamic interactive way for people to research, study and immerse themselves in art at its core.  Hey, if Beyonce and Jay Z can take a selfie with the Mona Lisa and blow up Twitter,  it’s time we bring our game by ‘hearting’ otherwise not as well know art to the forefront with friends, family and the internet.

The space at the Frye Art Museum is ‘oh so casual’ but cohesive.  Even museum security staff was outfitted in comfy and relaxed jeans and tees.  I instantly felt like I was in a new kind of museum space.  The matching of the relaxed vibe and stunning pieces of art allowed me to shake off the stiff upper life I had been sporting earlier in the day at another well know museum down the hill.

The art will indeed move you at the Frye Art Museum.  Perhaps because I let my defences down I was just able to let go and really look at the art for what it was.  I felt very present.  I had a love affair with Julius Scheuerer ‘Peacock, 1907’.  The splendour of seeing such majesty even without his full plume exposed.  The contemplation in his stance got me thinking of how I stand, what am I putting it out there?  What do people see?  How do people approach and interact with me?

I had never heard of Otto Hierl-Deronco before coming to the Frye Art Museum.  But was entranced by his ‘Spanische Tänzerin’ (Spanish Dancer) piece. I had tweeted that this picture was reminiscent of J. Lo.  I loved the Spanish Dancer’s dress and the cockiness in her portrayal.  She reminded me of a can can dancer but there was a certain posh classiness to her.

My favourite piece had to be from Gustav Majer (also known as Schwabenmajer).  The piece was entitled ‘Stella’, 1989 and was Austrian, 1847–1900. Oil on canvas.    I was drawn to her for the beautifully ornate frame.  But as I stared closer she oozed Venus qualities in all her beauty and porcelain skin.  Stunning and romantic.  I’d love to have her in my home.  I don’t think I’d ever leave the house.

Another added neat element at the Frye Art Museum was the presence of artisans who approved by the museum were painting the works hung on the wall.  It was so neat to see ‘the process’ honoured at the Frye Art Museum.

Indeed the social medium presence is timely to get the word out, but I appreciated as a visitor to the space that the Frye Art Museum is involving our upcoming generations in appreciating art.  The homage to the artist and their talented painstaking work that brings us such joy and inspiration to our lives and work was a beautiful touch.

The Frye Art Museum – indeed was worth the hike up the hill.  A thrilling and interesting space with works that will leave you breathless and looking forward to your next visit.  Don’t forget to take a selfie for posterity and post it to your social media accounts.

Free admission and free parking

704 Terry Avenue

Seattle, Washington 98104

206 622 9250


Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum was a treat.  When you travel and have the time and access to see great art – there is a pressure to get it all in.  Instead of walking around aimlessly at the Portland Art Museum I thought I’d focus in on what interested me the most.

My favourites were the Forbidden Fruit from Chris Antemann at Meissen and the Native American Art installations.

Forbidden Fruit

Chris Antemann at Meissen

SEP 27, 2014 – FEB 8, 2015

In 2012, Oregon-based sculptor Chris Antemann was invited to participate in the Art Studio program of the renowned Meissen Porcelain Manufactory to collaborate with the Meissen master artisans on unique pieces and a series of limited editions of her sculptures, resulting in a grand installation that reinvents and invigorates the great porcelain figurative tradition. Using the Garden of Eden as her metaphor, the artist created a contemporary celebration of the 18th-century banqueting craze. Inspired by Meissen’s great historical model of Johann Joachim Kändler’s monumental Love Temple (1750), Antemann created her own 5-foot version. Stripping the original design back to its basic forms, she added her own figures, ornamentation, and flowers, as well as a special finial with three musicians to herald the guests to the banquet below. Employing her signature wit and formal references to classic Baroque Meissen figurines, Antemann has invented a new narrative on contemporary morality through her one-of-a-kind porcelain figures in a setting that evokes the decadence of Boucher and Watteau.

Antemann’s Love Temple is the centerpiece and heart of the installation. It was designed to house a host of semi-clothed revelers around a banquet of “forbidden fruit.” After sculpting the Love Temple and banquet table, Antemann expanded the vision of the installation to include a pleasure garden made up of eight separate pieces that surrounds the temple, creating an elaborate tableau in the great tradition of royal 18th-century sur la table.

Accompanying the lavish and overflowing banquet table is a massive 12-light porcelain chandelier and a collection of smaller sculptures to accompany the table along the gallery walls, evoking the tradition of palatial porcelain rooms. The small, intimate vignettes entertain with playful scenes of dalliance and seduction.


A very cheeky exhibit and perhaps art that we may cast off as cheap and cheesy.  But the beauty in these porcelain pieces is the attention to detail, sauciness, the manipulated control in creating such fine and cohesive work.  I was mesmerized and found myself lost in the Love Temple piece.  As I moved around the tableau I saw even more decadence and conversations between the characters unfolding.  The ‘forbidden fruit’ reminded me of sugar plums and added a further enticement to keep looking as a voyeur into the characters debauchery.

Native American Art

The Museum’s collection of Native American art is housed in the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Center for Native American Art. The collection, remarkable for both its depth and diversity, consists of more than 5,000 prehistoric and historic objects created by some 200 cultural groups from throughout North America. Included are outstanding works by Native American masters such as Allan Houser, Charles Edenshaw, and Maria Martinez, in addition to regional contemporary artists such as Lillian Pitt, Joe Feddersen, Pat Courtney Gold, Rick Bartow, and James Lavadour.

The Center is located on the second and third floors of the Hoffman Wing in the Museum’s Belluschi Building; each gallery is devoted to art from a specific cultural region. The second-floor galleries focus on the Museum’s world-renowned collection of Northwest Coast art as well as galleries dedicated to the Arctic, Plains, Woodlands, Southwest, and California regions. Also located on the second floor is the Phil and Sue Bogue Gallery, dedicated to the display of the Museum’s excellent collection of Pre-Columbian art from Meso and South America. Two additional galleries featuring work from our own region, western Oregon and the Columbia Plateau, are located on the third floor.


Being Canadian, I am always drawn to First Nation art.  I particular love looking at costuming, accessories and especially bead work.  The Portland Art Museum will satiate your fix.  From the ornate dress, beaded handbags and tapestries you will be moved by the emotion and history woven into each piece.  Awe-inspiring and also worthy of reflection into the history of Native American Art in the Northwest Coast.

If you have time check out the Modern Contemporary Art space.  I took swooning breaks between the works of Damien Hirst ‘5 Skulls’ and Andy Warhol’s ‘Family Album 312’.

The Portland Art Museum needs some of your time the next time you are in Portland.

Portland Art Museum

1219 SW Park Avenue

Portland, OR 97205


Alex Colville at the Art Gallery of Ontario (August 23 – January 4, 2015)

Nearly 100 works by Canadian icon Alex Colville (1920-2013) will be showcased at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) commencing this weekend, marking the largest exhibition of the late artist’s work to date. Curated by Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s curator of Canadian art, the exhibition will honour Colville’s legacy and explore the continuing relevance of his work through thematic pairings with the work of several prominent popular culture figures from film, literature and music. Opening August 23, 2014, the exhibition will run to January 4, 2015.

Known for painting decidedly personal subject matter, Colville’s painstakingly precise images depict an elusive tension, capturing moments perpetually on the edge of change and the unknown, often imbued with a deep sense of danger.

“Alex Colville’s exacting methods and often uneasy scenes created an entirely new genre of Canadian art. His death has left a void in our cultural landscape, but his work continues to have a profound impact on artists here and abroad,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “We look forward to exploring this vibrant legacy with the help of several creative thinkers, some of whom have been directly inspired by his vision.”

Featuring works assembled from museums and private collections nationwide, many of which have never been shown publicly, the exhibition spans Colville’s entire career, including iconic paintings such as:

 Horse and Train, 1953;

 To Prince Edward Island, 1965;

 Woman in Bathtub, 1973; and

 Target Pistol and Man, 1980.

Born in Toronto in 1920, Colville was a painter, printmaker and veteran who drew his inspiration from the world around him, transforming the seemingly mundane figures and events of everyday life into archetypes of the modern condition. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1982 and won a Governor General’s Visual and Media Arts Award in 2003. The AGO has 89 works by Colville in its collection, including seven paintings currently on display. The Gallery last presented a retrospective of his works in 1983.

Review:  Taking in the Alex Colville exhibit was indeed an intellectual and emotional journey. I couldn’t help but feel comfortable and safe in the exhibition space as I took in the beauty and intensity within the layers of paint.  Even though I just met these paintings – we could be family.

After listening to Ann Kitz, Colville’s daughter, give a moving speech dedicated to her father we were forewarned that we were in for a treat before being ushered in to see her  father’s formidable works.

Being greeted with Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ film clip as an ode to Colville’s ‘To Prince Edward Island’  as we entered the exhibition space immediately put a smile on my face.  Indeed Colville in all of his creative complexity and endearment truly captured the heart of Anderson’s.  Anderson’s tight close ups, pondering actors, cinematic moments in pursuit to dwell upon and colour esthetics ached of Colville.

I remember seeing Colville’s quintessential Canadian works as a teen a marvelling at how close the paintings were to an actual photograph.  Today I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia of those times long ago when I initially saw these paintings in art books and magazines.

Themes of family, love, grief, an underlying sinister element, the complexity of relationships, the importance of animals in our lives and how being a war hero is never far from one’s mind if one partook and survived a tour provided for a cohesive and deeply moving exhibit.

Colville was not making a portrait about the Maritimes but instead about family, his neighbours and small town life.  The realism in his paintings makes them relatable and also easy to digest into our own specific living no matter where we live in Canada.  We can’t help but think ‘I know someone like that’ or ‘I’ve seen a similar portrait everyday in my life’.

It’s no wonder the likes of Sarah Polley and the Coen Brothers were also inspired by the deeply personal but not private tones in Colville’s paintings (‘Couple on Beach’ and ‘Target Pistol and Man’).   These paintings are indeed emotionally and gravely punctuated in Polley’s and the Coen’s films ‘Stories We Tell’ and ‘No Country for Old Men’.  Even Stanley Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’ has Colville’s work interspersed within the film as an offering of artistic discomfort.

I truly appreciated that throughout Colville’s work there was also an air of mystery in terms of what we were viewing as a guest.  There was movement in progress towards something or someone that only the participant in the painting was privy to.  It was a nice reminder that sometimes in life it is worth just observing as oppose to feeling the need to participate in every moment.

If you are Canadian – the Alex Colville exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario is a must see.

Experience Alex Colville online at www.welcometocolville.ca


CityPASS New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Look, I did not like the MET but it was overwhelming.  Perhaps because I had already been to Staten Island earlier in the day and then the Brooklyn Museum.  Then I decided to grab the train Uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It was open late and I thought perfect – I can use my time wisely and stroll around at a leisurely pace.

Even as I took my time – there is really only so much art you can see in one day whilst on holiday.  So again no disrespect to the MET.  Now I feel you can only really see one wing of the MET a day to truly appreciate the wealth of art in the space.  It is doable – but how much are you absorbing.  My mistake.  I should have carved out a map of ‘must see’s’ before I got there.  But how much planning is a girl to do?

I did enjoy Jasper Johns, Seurat, Monet, Degas and Hopper works.  It was a wonderful space to get lost in and see what new treasure I could fall into.

My favourites?  I really liked the William Kentridge exhibit called ‘The Refusal of Time’.   William Kentridge’s five-channel video installation The Refusal of Time (2012) is a thirty-minute meditation on time and space, the complex legacies of colonialism and industry, and the artist’s own intellectual life.

At the center of the installation is a moving sculpture—the “breathing machine” or “elephant”—an organ-like automaton with a pumping bellows. Plans from the 1870s for copper pneumatic tubes under the streets of Paris that would pump regular bursts of air to calibrate the city’s clocks reminded Kentridge of a passage from Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times (1854). Dickens describes a factory machine moving “monotonously up and down, like the head of an elephant in a state of melancholy madness”—a metaphor for the often convulsive developments in science and industry during the modern era and a reminder of the vain impulse to control time.

I also enjoyed Florine Stettheimer’s ‘The Cathedrals of Fifth Avenue’.  Stettheimer treats the spectacles of high society and consumerism with affectionate humor. A newly wedded couple emerges from a church, ready to begin a life of excess and acquisition. Floating above them are the names of New York’s most exclusive shops and food establishments; “Tiffany’s” is spelled out in jeweled letters, and “Altman’s” is shaped from fine home furnishings. At right, Stettheimer and her sisters exit a limousine near August Saint-Gaudens’s gilded Sherman Monument. In one of her poems, the artist extols such luxuries:

I like slippers gold

I like oysters cold

and my garden of mixed flowers

and the sky full of towers

and traffic in the streets

and Maillard’s sweets

and Bendel’s clothes

and Nat Lewis hose

and Tappé’s window arrays

and crystal fixtures

and my pictures

and Walt Disney cartoons

and colored balloons.

Would I go to the MET again?  Definitely.  But I probably wouldn’t do anything else that day.