When I arrived at Spadina Museum: Historic House & Garden several months ago to interview for a position at the site, I was blown away by the beauty of the gracious old mansion just a stone’s throw from Casa Loma. Such elegance! Such artistry! Every room was filled with antiques and artefacts. So this is how the other half lived. I was thrilled at the prospect of possibly coming to work each day in a building with such a storied past and luxurious sensibility. The good news is I got the job. The bad news? Just as I entered the building to begin my tenure, the art and furnishings made their exit. Spadina, as the house was originally named, is being restored to reflect how it would have looked during the inter-war period with a primary focus on the 1920s.
The Gardiner Museum‘s impressive Viola Frey exhibit wraps up a four-month run this Sunday with free admission to children under 12 years of age (January 10, 11 am – 5 pm): a range of kid-friendly activities includes hands-on crafts and scavenger hunts. Frey’s monumental and colourful ceramic sculptures will dazzle the little ones.
For the rest of 2010, the second Sunday each month (excluding Easter) will be Family Day at the Gardiner (111 Queen’s Park, 416.586.8080).
Months of planning and countless hours of creative energy came to fruition today with the unveiling of design concepts for the new Fort York National Historic Site Visitor Centre. City Hall Committee Room 1 was packed for a lunch hour presentation that included remarks by Mayor David Miller and Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone. Special guest, Burlington MP Mike Wallace (far left), announced $4 million in federal funding for the project. The public is invited to view the designs and to comment on their favorites December 4 – 6 from 12 – 6 pm. Public reaction will be weighed along with the opinions of a panel of experts who will announce the winning design in mid-January. The short deliberation period is necessitated by the tremendously tight timeline: the $18 million Visitor Centre will help mark the bicentenary of the War of 1812, which means it must be realized in a little over two years.
Five design teams were shortlisted from a field of 31 candidates: Baird Sampson Neuert Architects, Diamond and Schmitt Architects Inc., du Toit Allsopp Hillier / du Toit Architects Limited, Patkau Architects with Kearns Mancini Architects Inc., Raw Design with Gareth Hoskins Architects. Of those five, one team bowed out of the competition, which means four designs are presently on display.
Said Mayor Miller, “The new Visitor Centre will help us further understand the place where urban Toronto began, while connecting Fort York National Historic Site to the new communities that continue to emerge around it.”
Montrealer John Heward is not a Torontonian living with culture but the musicians performing with him at MOCCA tomorrow night are. Heward’s impressive retrospective, A Trajectory / A Collection, opened at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art November 14 and augmenting his paintings and photographs is a small bank of CD players and headphones sporting a selection of recordings spanning the artist’s career.
Heward, who graciously showed me around the exhibit prior to the opening, stressed that he’s a musician rather than a sound artist. “I think musicians concentrate more on harmony, melody, rhythm, whereas, many sound artists, while they may be very trained musically, tend to be looking for a spatial context that you might not be looking for in music. My music is based largely on ’60s free jazz. Mingus is a big influence. I love bebop, I love all jazz really. I’m a drummer.”
There was nothing staid or static about Korean-Canadian artist Insoon Ha‘s exhibition launch at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art on Saturday (November 14). Ha’s show called Drain has gone up in MOCCA’s project room in tandem with a retrospective show by Montreal visual artist John Heward. About 40 people were on hand Saturday afternoon as Ha staged a performance piece in which she smeared a blank wall with chocolate before licking a series of words into the impromptu canvas. The words quickly bled back into the chocolate ground but the audience stood quitely mesmerized as the artist spelled out the words TASTE, PANT, OBEY with her tongue (see below). Chocolate dripped onto a three-dimensional tongue afixed at the bottom of the wall; Ha ended her performance by licking the tongue clean.