This post is subtitled ‘Staying Cool on a Hot Hot Day’. When the temperatures are into the 90’s (old style) and the humidity makes the air thick, walking streets and alleys is not very comfortable. Instead I took refuge in air conditioned arty places. With the help of the (mostly) air conditioned TTC I only needed to take a few steps outside.
below: At one point I walked through an air conditioned building rather than going outside. This is what I found there. ‘August 6, 1945’ by Matthew Day Jackson. Moments after I pulled my camera out of my backpack, a security guard appeared. I was sure that once again I was going to get the “this is private property” talk but instead we ended up discussing the work and how it is displayed.
It is constructed of four panels and it’s very heavy. The base is made of lead; you can see the lead where Lake Ontario is. It is attached to the wall with 18 very long bolts and each bolt is wired to an alarm.
below: Looking a bit more closely at it you can see that it is a map of Toronto. As you might have surmised, the title is a reference to the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima by the USA during WW2. This isn’t just any map of Toronto, it’s an aerial view of a burnt out city after a nuclear explosion. It is one in a series of cities given similar treatment, all with the same title.
From the effects of man made death to the life enhancing effects of nature….
below: A few steps outside took me past the Gardiner Museum where I noticed that the front garden was redone about a year ago. ‘Vertical Crevice Garden’ was designed and donated by landscape artist Neil Turnbull. From the Gardiner museum website, a quote by the artist: “When the massive forces of continental drift push against layers of sedimentary rock, they cause it to crack, break, and rise. Over centuries, through exposure to wind, sun, and the freeze-thaw cycle, the layers split open. These fissures and crevices collect rain, dust, and an array of windblown bits like seeds and spores; plants take root, and life takes hold.”
below: When walking past the Gardiner Museum, one can’t help but notice the striped head. It’s actually called ‘Untitled’ (why do artists do that?) and it’s by Jun Kaneko, 2002. It’s made of glazed ceramic and galvanized steel. Before heading underground at Museum subway station I took a few minutes to try to take a ‘pretty’ picture of the head. The plants in the garden next door haven’t quite grown up enough to hide that ghastly table that the head sits on. I have always wondered why the museum chose such a mundane bland platform for the sculpture but now that I look at it again I wonder if it’s possible that the table is actually part of the artwork. Could it be?
below: A photograph in the doorway of a gallery caught my eye. The picture below is not the one in the doorway, but one that was hanging on a wall inside that I liked even more. ‘Paris Rooftops 4’ by Michael Wolf. It is 48″ x 68″ and is a chromogenic print (full-colour silver-based photograph), edition of 9. To buy it will set you back $22,000 but looking is free – check out more of Michael Wolf’s work on the Bau-Xi gallery website.
below: A man with a camera stares at a painting on a gallery wall. ‘Watching’ 2010, (26 inches high) by Tom Campbell on the left and ‘Brown Trail #7’ 2016 by Shi Le, a Toronto based landscape artist. These are at the other Bau-Xi gallery (the non-photography one)
below: Three paintings by NUBARR Gallery, a collection of the works of Armenian-Canadian painter Noubar Sabag (Noubar Sabbaghian) 1920-2006. These, and others by the same artist, are on show at the Art Square Cafe & Gallery but unfortunately I just learned that today is the last day.
below: How many people try to paint pictures like this? How many people sell such paintings, not to mention have them hang in the Art Galley of Ontario? But they aren’t Robert Motherwell. So I ponder on the age old question of what makes a piece of art valuable or collectable? Is the AGO (and other galleries) collecting paintings or names? Motherwell painted this in numerous variations – a few changes in colour, a slight change in the lines. Cheating? Or brilliant marketing? One for every gallery of note? This is Motherwell’s ‘Untitled (In Orange with Charcoal Lines)’ c1970. There’s that “untitled” again, the most popular name for an artwork.
My last stop of the afternoon was at the photography exhibit by Thomas Ruff at the AGO. Part of the exhibit was a few large photographs of stars, ‘Sterne’. Large pictures of stars in the night sky were made from negatives that Ruff bought from the European Southern Observatory in Chile in 1989.
below: They are difficult to look at, or rather it is difficult to what is the picture because the blackness of the photograph creates a mirror when placed behind glass. This is me taking a picture of the picture – me plus the picture on the opposite wall plus the lights and light fixtures in the ceiling plus a table plus another person in the room plus a few white spots that are stars.
below: ‘Walking Away, Walking Through the Universe’ a manipulation of a manipulation.
below: One last photo. Let’s end this on a positive note and give Thomas Ruff credit for some interesting work. These two pictures are part of his press++ series where he has taken old photos used in print medium and merged the front (picture) and back (words and markings) of the print into one.
Thomas Ruff, Object Relations, at the AGO until 1 August 2016