The view of downtown Toronto from Humber Bay Park West (photo: Craig Moy)
At street level, it’s easy to get a sense of Toronto’s busyness—its many packed restaurants, its workers hustling to and from their offices, its ever-present car traffic. What’s not always evident, though, is the megacity’s sheer scope. These prime vantage points and rooftop roosts show just how far the Big Smoke stretches.
MIDTOWN TORONTO’S INTERACTIVE, EDUCATIONAL ATTRACTION FEATURES SOME OF THE LARGEST MAMMALS TO EVER ROAM THE EARTH
JANUARY 22 TO APRIL 25 The Ontario Science Centre transports visitors back nearly two million years, to a time when colossal mammals like dire wolves, woolly mammoths, and saber-toothed cats roamed the earth. Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, an interactive exhibit from Chicago’s Field Museum, explores the Pleistocene epoch with skeletons, casts, teeth and tusks of short-faced bears and camels, as well as the well-preserved baby Lyuba, a female woolly mammoth calf. See displays of Paleolithic cave art, ivory figurines, and compare your weight against the daily consumption of a Columbian mammoth. Learn about the evolution and extinction of these animals, and how their living cousins, elephants, help scientists to understand their existence. —Linda Luong Luck
• Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Rd., 416-696-1000; ontariosciencecentre.com
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ALISON S.M. KOBAYASHI’S WIDE-RANGING EXHIBITION AT GALLERY TPW HAS THE ARTIST ASSUMING MULTIPLE ROLES
Juliette, age 7. Courtesy of Famous Players, 130 W. 56th St. N.Y.C. (detail), part of Alison S.M. Kobayashi’s multidisciplinary exhibition at Gallery TPW
FEBRUARY 13 TO MARCH 26 The artifacts of unknown lives have long informed the artistic practice of Alison S.M. Kobayashi. Her videos, drawings and performance works are inspired by everything from love letters to answering machine tapes—other people’s ephemera that Kobayashi has purchased, that’s been given to her, or that she’s simply come across in the course of collecting. The Toronto artist’s latest effort, now showing at Gallery TPW, takes as its point of departure two obsolete audio spools with recordings of a New York family from the early 1950s. By combining period research and creative reenactment, Kobayashi pieces together a compelling new narrative, imagining fictional—but still plausible—personal histories for a set of complete strangers, while playfully prodding at notions of documentation, memory and identity. —Craig Moy
• Gallery TPW, 170 St. Helens Ave., 416-645-1066; gallerytpw.ca
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WITNESS WORKS BY VANGUARD TORONTO-BASED VIDEO ARTISTS SPRING HURLBUT AND IZABELLA PRUSKA-OLDENHOF AT THE RYERSON IMAGE CENTRE
A still from Spring Hurlbut’s 2008 video installation, Airborne (photo © Spring Hurlbut, courtest of Georgia Scherman Projects)
JANUARY 20 TO APRIL 10 A pair of particularly mesmerizing video works encourage quiet contemplation at the Ryerson Image Centre. Commissioned by the gallery, The Relics of Lumen, by experimental filmmaker and Ryerson faculty member Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, juxtaposes astronomical photos and images of transit and locomotion to comment on the displacement of people. Spring Hurlbut’s Airborne looks, in a way, at another kind of displacement: in slow motion, the Toronto artist ritualistically opens six urns, the cremated contents of which ascend, swirl and delicately disperse, poignantly visualizing life’s evanescence. —Craig Moy
• Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164; ryerson.ca/ric
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THE POWER PLANT SHOWCASES A PAIR OF MULTIPLATFORM INSTALLATIONS BY MONTREAL-BASED ARTIST PATRICK BERNATCHEZ
Stills from Chrysalide (detail) and Lost in Time (detail) by Patrick Bernatchez
JANUARY 30 TO MAY 15 The passage of time may be a fairly common theme in the creative arts, but Montreal’s Patrick Bernatchez gives the motif a distinctive twist. Time is an inextricable component of his multidisciplinary artistic practice; each series in his overall body of work is designed to show how his process and ideas—and in certain cases, subjects—evolve over the course of months and years. This is clear in the two work cycles comprising Bernatchez’s “Les Temps inachevés,” selections from which are now on display at The Power Plant. (A more comprehensive version of the exhibition just wrapped up at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal).
Chrysalides, for example, examines growth, transformation and decay in a trilogy of video works plus a sound-and-photography installation that focus on the Fashion Plaza, an industrial building that once housed the artist’s studio, but which has recently undergone gentrification. Even more thematically explicit is Lost in Time, which attempts to encompass time in all its dimensions—through a feature-length film, photographs, musical creations and a unique watch, whose single hand takes a millennium to complete a full rotation. Its title translated in English as “Unending Times,” the exhibition encompasses past, present and future—both conceptually and literally. –Craig Moy
• The Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4949; thepowerplant.org
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DON’T MISS THESE UNIQUE NEW AND ONGOING EXHIBITIONS AT SOME OF TORONTO’S TOP MUSEUMS!
Abbas Kiarostami’s exhibition, Doors Without Keys, continues at the Aga Khan Museum through to March 20 (photo: Craig Moy)
The permanent collections at Toronto’s major cultural institutions are always worth exploring, but this season their limited-run shows are also very compelling. From two distinct displays of doors to an anthropological examination of tattoo art, there’s something for everyone at these unique new museum shows.
JANUARY OFFERS DESIGN LOVERS AMPLE OPPORTUNITY TO DISCOVER THE LATEST TRENDS IN DECOR, FURNISHINGS, CONCEPTUAL PRODUCTS AND MUCH MORE
Toronto’s Studio Woolf and curator Sara Nickelson created Untitled (Idolization Space) for this year’s Come Up to My Room
Light-fixture lovers, ergonomic-chair enthusiasts and conceptual-space aficionados have much to celebrate this month in Toronto, thanks the return of three major design events.
JANUARY 23 & 24 The biggest, of course, is the Interior Design Show, an en masse expo featuring the brands and products that will set the trends in home and business styling for the year to come. Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W., 416-585-8000; interiordesignshow.com
JANUARY 18 TO 24 The Toronto Design Offsite Festival offers a more experimental counterpoint: across the city, galleries and boutiques host installations that aim to create a dialogue around edgier, independent design being practiced locally and abroad. Various venues; todesignoffsite.com
JANUARY 21 TO 24 Arguably even more immersive is Come Up to My Room, an annual artistic takeover of the Gladstone Hotel. This year’s edition includes a re-creation of Ferris Bueller’s bedroom, a bathroom that explores identity through African barbershop signs and murals, and another suite that makes explicit the sanctification of our modern, image-obsessed culture. Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W., 647-792-5961; comeuptomyroom.com
AN ARTS FESTIVAL’S ANNIVERSARY, AN INFLUX OF PRO SPORTS STARS AND THE OPENING OF TWO LUXURY RETAILERS ARE AMONG THE MANY EXCELLENT REASONS TO VISIT TORONTO IN 2016
Jet (or drive, or take the train) into Toronto in 2016. There are a great many reasons we’re excited for the year ahead (photo: Phillip Grondin)
This past year was one of the most exciting Toronto has seen in a long time. The Pan Am and Parapan Am Games brought thousands of international athletes to the city for a summer of widely praised competition. The Aga Khan Museum gave us a beautiful, compelling look at one of the world’s most vibrant cultures. The revitalization of the downtown waterfront finally came to (admittedly, somewhat confusing at first) fruition. And, of course, the Blue Jays’ playoff run helped renew our sense of civic pride and gave the rest of Canada a reason to love Toronto once more.
It’ll be hard to top all that as we head into a new year, but there’s still much afoot to justify our high expectations. From hotly anticipated performances to major retail openings to a few useful urban improvements, these are some of the best reasons to visit Toronto in 2016.
STRUCK CONTEMPORARY, A NEW ART SPACE IN THE KING EAST DESIGN DISTRICT, OFFERS CLASSIC AND MODERN POP ART PIECES
Struck Contemporary owner Andrew Bockner (centre) and Jenice Heo are joined by album cover artist Gary Burden at the premiere of Heo’s Neil Young Series exhibition (photo: Struck Contemporary)
Toronto spent much of the past fall hosting not one, but two large-scale Andy Warhol retrospectives, so it’s fitting that the city’s newest commercial gallery explicitly traffics in the genre Warhol made famous: pop art. Fronted by well-regarded designer Andrew Bockner, Struck Contemporary boasts a candy-coloured collection of pieces by such masters as Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, Roy Lichtenstein and, of course, a certain bob-haired New Yorker. It’s a big space, though, with ample room for modern-day street art, screen prints and more—by everyone from Banksy to Shepard Fairey—plus special exhibitions featuring emerging talents. The current show (to February 1) highlights award-winning art director Jenice Heo’s mixed media “Neil Young Series” paintings: endorsed by Young himself, the collage-like works incorporate found objects to illuminate meaningful aspects of the musician’s life and most famous songs. —Craig Moy
• Struck Contemporary, 571B Adelaide St. E., 416-601-9949; struckcontemporary.com
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THE MCMICHAEL CANADIAN ART COLLECTION WELCOMES THE WORK OF CONTEMPORARY NORTHWEST COAST ARTISTS
Calvin Hunt’s Sun Mask and Dempsey Bob’s Wolves in the Snow Blanket are among the contemporary works of Northwest Coast Aboriginal art on display at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (photos: Craig Boyko)
SEPTEMBER 19 TO FEBRUARY 15 Most of us can picture the iconography of the Haida, Tlingit, Coast Salish and other peoples native to the Pacific Northwest: we’ve seen the historical totem poles, masks and textiles depicting whales, eagles, bears, salmon and wolves. But art, of course, doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is renowned for showing us how modern visual storytellers—particularly those of Aboriginal heritage—balance a respect for tradition with an urge to innovate. The gallery’s “Transforming Spirit” exhibition is a perfect example of this mandate, with nearly 50 works by contemporary Northwest Coast artists, including the highly regarded likes of Bill Reid, Robert Davidson and Dempsey Bob. Decorative masks are among the show’s highlights, illustrating the connection between humans, animals and the spirit world that’s intrinsic to many First Nations cultures, while also signaling the renewal of such beliefs through the use of modern techniques and materials. —Craig Moy
• McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 10365 Islington Ave., 905-893-1121; mcmichael.com
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THERE ARE ALWAYS SO MANY THINGS TO DO IN TORONTO. GET OUT AND ENJOY SOME OF THE MANY GREAT PERFORMANCES AND EVENTS TAKING PLACE THROUGHOUT THE CITY IN DECEMBER!
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella debuts this month at Toronto’s Ed Mirvish Theatre (photo: Carol Rosegg)
*Also check out our guide to Toronto’s Fall Performance Season, which details more of our favourite theatrical, orchestral, operatic and balletic performances taking place in Toronto through to the end of the year.
DECEMBER 1 Two recipients of the esteemed Polaris Music Prize, which annually honours a Canadian album regardless of its genre, sales or record label, come together for the latest installment of the Live at Massey Hall concert and film showcase. Composer and violinist Owen Pallett—who, as Final Fantasy, earned the first Polaris honours in 2006—and the 2014 winner, Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq, share the stage in celebration of the prestigious award’s 10th anniversary.
DECEMBER 1 Grammy Award–winning singer and songwriter Joseph Arthur brings his poetic lyricism to the Drake Hotel stage.
DECEMBER 1 TO JANUARY 10 A fairy godmother, a pumpkin that transforms into a horse-drawn carriage, a lost glass slipper and a prince in search of his princess. These are the quintessential elements of a beloved fairy tale that became a Broadway hit. Now, Mirvish Productions brings Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella to the Toronto stage. The Tony Award–winning show boasts sparkling sets and an ensemble cast that belts out such songs as “In My Little Corner” and “Impossible/It’s Possible” in this updated version of the romantic musical from the creators of The Sound of Music and South Pacific.
EVERYTHING IS ILLUMINATED—COURTESY OF TORONTO’S CAVALCADE OF LIGHTS AND WINTERFEST ON THE WATERFRONT—AS THE HOLIDAY SEASON DRAWS NEAR
The Cavalcade of Lights brightens downtown, while Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront brings seasonal joy to the lakeshore
Celebrate the start of the holiday season on November 28 as the annual Cavalcade of Lights illuminates City Hall and Toronto’s official Christmas tree. More than 300,000 LED bulbs adorn the massive white spruce, which shines nightly through to the end of the year. The free, family-friendly event at Nathan Phillips Square features a DJ skating party, live musical performances by the likes of Sloan and the Nathaniel Dett Chorale, and a spectacular fireworks display.
Toronto’s Waterfront is similarly festive: four sites, including the spiral tree at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel, the fire hall, the Tall Ship at Amsterdam Bridge and the Toronto Music Garden, sparkle along the shores of Lake Ontario. Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront brings more merriment to the area from December 18 to 20, with an ugly Christmas sweater cocktail cruise on Friday night, as well as brunch cruises with Santa on Saturday and Sunday; see waterfrontbia.com for details. —Linda Luong
• Cavalcade of Lights, Nathan Phillips Square, 100 Queen St. W.; toronto.ca
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• Winterfest on Toronto’s Waterfront, along Queens Quay W.; waterfrontbia.com
• Map and reviews