The Poetry of Being There: The Art Gallery of Ontario

Becoming a contributing member of the AGO is probably one of the best annual investments any Toronto artist can make. Not only do you get to go for free any day of the week with a contributing family membership, you can bring two friends with you each time you go. If you do the math on a few visits, it already adds up to well over the cost of the membership. Check out their membership options here.



I think one of the biggest spectacles they’ve hosted since the reno was the recent David Bowie exhibition. If you missed it,  above are a couple panos to enjoy. Be sure to click and drag your cursor over the images to pan left or right. For an even more exciting experience, check out this post on your iphone or ipad. Click on the image and activate the gyroscope that appears at the bottom of your device’s screen. Tilt up and down and spin around.  So…that’s what you missed.

I was really impressed with the RFID technology used for the audio tracks which accompanied the exhibition. Gone was the arduous task of punching in numbers to hear factoids about specific artifacts. Instead, the headset sensed where you were in the exhibition and played the appropriate music or audio track. I was fascinated and impressed by this integrated sound experience developed by Sennheiser.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 11.29.12 AMI’ve seen the current Alex Colville exhibition three times already and will be back again. It is an impressive survey of his work considering many of the paintings are on extended loan from private collections. Also, the connections drawn between his work and filmmakers Wes Anderson, Stanly Kubrick and the Coen Brothers is impressive – I’ll let you see for yourself. To not leave the work in the past, the gallery has asked several contemporary artists to create responses to his work. I had the pleasure of walking through the exhibition with Simone Jones who’s three channel video rests poetically at the very end of the exhibition. It’s a contemplative piece about place and identity. Two boys fight in a field full of powerlines. I couldn’t help but hear echos of ‘I’m gonna get you after school.’ in my head. Below is a pano of one of many rooms in the exhibition.

If you do get a membership, it has it’s privileges. The members’ lounge has WIFI so if you want to take a break and get out of the studio, you can take up an afternoon residence there, blog away, get some work done and enjoy their yummy menus. The members’ lounge has big couches and tables where you can invited friends to lunch or for a meeting about projects you are working on. It’s lovely.

One of my favourite rooms at the AGO is on the second floor. To get there, take the stairs before Walker Court, walk around and straight through to just before Galleria Italia (Room 218 on the Visitor Map) It’s been the home of paintings by Lawren Harris since the renovation and a place a go to nearly ever visit. It’s partly the paintings in the room, but also the size of the room. There’s plenty of space for the paintings to breathe and the natural light makes for a great view of the works.  I could sit in this room for hours.

Siscily pt1     Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 10.40.53 AM     Sicily pt4

In fact, for some time, I’ve wanted to set up a pop-up painting studio in the corner of this room to create a response to these paintings. It would be nice to revisit them as seen from above, using the same locations and colour palettes as the originals. A month long residency here would be dreamy. So often we don’t get to see artists working in their studios. To spend a month here would be a like a durational performance with finished artworks at the end. Above are three shots of a painting of Sicily I am working on. While the land mass would be quite different in colour, the water might look similar, showing the depth of the icebergs underwater – something not captured in Harris’ original paintings.

If you know anyone who can make this happen, send me an email!

Do you have a suggestion for a place that should be captured in 360? Leave me a note in the comments below. Also, what’s your favourite room in your favourite gallery? Leave your answer in the comments and leave a link if there’s a photo online.