The Gardiner Museum’s first major exhibition of 2010 was unveiled to the media this morning in advance of its official launch tomorrow: From the Melting Pot into the Fire, Contemporary Ceramics in Israel is a complex show, much more conceptual art than pretty pots and vessels.
Ceramic artist Yael Novak, left, whose installation Between the Pots is featured, joined the museum’s Chief Curator Charles Mason in leading the tour. “The show is about identity and sense of place in a multicultural, immigrant society,” said Novak, whose work takes advantage of the negative space “between the pots” to depict the multifarious building forms prevalent throughout the nation. “You have the iconic architectural shapes of Israel,” says the artist, “the influence of the kibbutz but also the domed and minaret shapes of the Arabic villages. The installation combines my two loves, architecture and pottery but I created my landscape out of air; architecture is about volume, my architecture is air, it’s an illusion.’
Black History Month begins today and one of Toronto’s most inspiring true stories – that of Mary Ann Shadd Cary, the first woman in North America to publish a newspaper — is being told at Mackenzie House Museum (82 Bond Street), former home of Toronto’s first mayor, William Lyon Mackenzie.
The “rebel mayor” responsible for starting the Upper Canada Rebellion in 1837, was also a newspaper publisher and he used his broadsheets to condemn slavery and to encourage the equal treatment of Upper Canada’s Black population. In 1837, he wrote: “as a public journalist we have never failed to espouse, and delight in advocating the heaven-born principle of abolition of slavery, of every race of which it may be the curse.”
Mac House, as we affectionately call the museum, boasts a recreated 1800s printshop, the perfect place to explore Shadd Cary’s role as publisher of the Provincial Freeman, founded in 1853.
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.”