Michael Snow doesn’t much care for the cult of personality. When his current exhibition, Recent Snow, opened at the Power Plant last month, a newspaper profile focused more on his sense of humour than it did on his art — Snow was not amused. Yet, after touring the exhibition with the artist yesterday, I admit my sympathies lie with the journalist. Snow is a witty raconteur and that same humour spills from his work, in one case, rather literally. In Serve, Deserve, the image of a place setting is projected onto a small tabletop; food is dropped from above onto the plates, delivered, in a sense, in the beam of light; when the service is complete, the video loop reverses and the meal ascends back to where it came from. Light giveth and light taketh away; Snow chuckles as he relates the concept.
All of the pieces in Recent Snow are projected works: Snow has been a film and video pioneer since the 1950s. “I was lucky enough to get a job doing some animation work early on and that really sparked my interest in film,” he recalls.
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.
Opera will be more accessible in Toronto beginning in September when the Canadian Opera Company adds 50 standing-room tickets available on the day of each performance for just $12 each. “I believe that’s cheaper than a movie,” joked COC general director Alexander Neef, left, at a press conference held this morning to announce the company’s 2010/11 season.
“Our new season is representative of my pledge to present opera of the highest international standards,” said Neef. “With great new productions of classic favourites, the introduction of works never before seen on our stages, and brilliant, imaginative productions from around the world, you have a perfect opera season.”
Neef noted that in the four years since the COC moved into the new Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, the company has enjoyed 99 per cent capacity. “Demand for opera continues to be high in spite of the difficult economic climate,” he said.
Neef added that in North America, only the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and the Lyric Opera of Chicago produce more work. “We want to continue to contribute to the cultural vitality of the city and of the country,” he stated. READ MORE
Toronto’s design community kicks into overdrive this week with the inaugural Toronto International Design Festival or TIDF. Longstanding January events like the Interior Design Show (since 2001), the Gladstone Hotel’s Come Up To My Room (since 2004) and MADE’s Radiant Dark (since 2008) have been joined under the TIDF umbrella by a much larger roster of events at Harbourfront, OCAD, the AGO, Design Exchange and the Ontario Crafts Council Gallery, among others.
On Friday, I stopped in at the Gardiner Museum to meet two-thirds of Toronto-based design team Motherbrand, specifically designers Todd Falkowsky (above left) and Michael Erdmann (right) who talked me through their exhibit, Copy, which will be joined this week by companion show Cut/Paste across the street at the ROM (January 20 – 31).
Costume and set designers aren’t high on the mainstream media’s hit list, which explains why award-winning designer Judith Bowden, left, is so rarely interviewed about her art. Yet, when the curtain goes up on Mirvish Productions’ Cloud 9 at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre Tuesday night, Bowden’s set and costumes will be the first things to register with the audience.
Bowden, in collaboration with director Alisa Palmer, has created a metaphorical and physical environment for the characters of this daring satire to inhabit. There’s nothing straight-ahead about Cloud 9, a play by Caryl Churchill (Top Girls), that tackles political and sexual oppression in British colonial Africa and modern London; on Cloud 9, time shifts, age and ethnicity mutate, gender bends.
By the time critics and audiences get their opportunity to judge the theatrical success of the production (win free tickets, details below), Bowden will be hard at work on her next gig, designing sets and costumes for the Shaw Festival‘s An Ideal Husband. Such is life for a perpetually freelance artist.