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What to See Toronto

The Gardiner Museum Examines Ron Thom’s Micro-to-Macro Vision

Architect Ron Thom's Forrest House (photo: Selwyn Pullan)

Architect Ron Thom’s Forrest House (photo: Selwyn Pullan)

FEBRUARY 13 TO APRIL 27  Visit one of the city’s best-designed buildings to discover the man behind even more admirable Canadian architecture. This spring, the Gardiner Museum examines the legacy of midcentury architect Ron Thom, known for his work on Massey College in Toronto and Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario. Originally a visual artist, Thom believed that every detail was important to his structures, right down to the textiles and ceramics with which they were decorated. As such the exhibition features paintings, photographs, architectural drawings, furniture prototypes, ceramics and more, to offer a unique perspective on how, in design, small details can inform a much wider vision.  —Brock Sutherland

• Gardiner Museum, 111 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8080; gardinermuseum.on.ca
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The AGO Introduces Francis Bacon to Henry Moore

Francis Bacon's Study for Portrait II (After the Life Mask of William Blake) and a detail view of Henry Moore's Falling Warrior (photos: Estate of Francis Bacon/Art Gallery of Ontario; Henry Moore Foundation/Art Gallery of Ontario)

Francis Bacon’s Study for Portrait II (After the Life Mask of William Blake) and a detail view of Henry Moore’s Falling Warrior (photos: Estate of Francis Bacon/AGO; Henry Moore Foundation/AGO)

APRIL 5 TO JULY 20  In Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty, the Art Gallery of Ontario brings together two giants of 20th-century British modernism, conflating the former’s raw, expressionistic paintings with the latter’s abstract sculptures. The impact of World War II—especially the bombardment of London—on the artists’ work is a particular focus, with careful juxtaposition encouraging viewers to consider how two minds reflected on a singular torment in two distinct art forms. The AGO is already known for its considerable collection of Moore sculptures; additional loans from other institutions, bulwarked by a plethora of post-war photographs and drawings, ensure you’ll leave the exhibition both intellectually aroused and emotionally eviscerated.  —Brock Sutherland

• Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648; ago.net
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Design Exchange Associate Curator Sara Nickleson on Her Favourite “Toys”

The Design Exchange's This is Not a Toy exhibition (photo: Craig Moy)

The Design Exchange’s This is Not a Toy exhibition (photo: Craig Moy)

The Design Exchange continues to play host to This is Not a Toy, a major exhibition on conceptual urban-vinyl figures, including the many Kidrobot dunnies featured on the cover of Where Toronto‘s April issue. In the gallery below, the museum’s Associate Curator, Sara Nickleson, discusses her favourite pieces from the multifaceted show.

Things to Do in Toronto: Festivals, Concerts and Events This April

There are always so many things to do in Toronto. Get out and enjoy some of the many great events and concerts taking place throughout the city this month!


Jose Reyes and the Toronto Blue Jays try to bounce back from a woeful 2013 (photo: Toronto Blue Jays baseball club)

Jose Reyes and the Toronto Blue Jays are back on the field this month (photo: Toronto Blue Jays)

STARTS APRIL 4  Twenty years after their last playoff appearance, the Toronto Blue Jays went into the 2013 Major League Baseball season with a clutch of stars and a surfeit of confidence. Injuries and general poor play, however, intervened to turn the campaign into an entirely forgettable one. This year’s hype is duly tempered, but the team is once again whole and healthy, and stocked with major stars like Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, R.A. Dickey and Melky Cabrera who now have a lot to prove. The bird-boys in blue and white host the New York Yankees for an opening-weekend homestand. Later in the month they’ll seek to shut down division rivals the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox. Rogers Centre, $14.25 to $216.25; call 416-341-1234 or visit bluejays.com for a full schedule and tickets.


The Power Plant Presents Mike Nelson’s Allusive Art

Mike Nelson's Gang of Seven installation (photo: The Power Plant)

Mike Nelson’s Gang of Seven installation (photo: The Power Plant)

FEBRUARY 1 TO MAY 19  Renowned British artist Mike Nelson invites you to step inside an uncanny world at The Power Plant. Though centred on his immersive Quiver of Arrows installation—a quartet of travel trailers filled with ideological signifiers—the solo show also boasts a new large-scale sculptural work, Gang of Seven, which presents a narrative crafted from the debris of contemporary culture while also recalling Nelson’s imaginary gang, the Amnesiacs, from a previous project. A second new piece, Eighty Circles Through Canada (the Last Possessions of an Orcadian Mountain Man) is a mishmash of scenes tracing recent road trips across Canada’s west coast, comprising a quiet reflection on human intrusion into the natural landscape.  —Sara Burnside Menuck

• The Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay W, 416-973-4949; thepowerplant.org
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At the Ryerson Image Centre, Robert Burley Photographs the Demise of Film

Robert Burley's View of Building 7 and 11 from the Roof of Building 9, Kodak Canada (photo: Ryerson Image Centre)

Robert Burley’s View of Building 7 and 11 from the Roof of Building 9, Kodak Canada (photo: Ryerson Image Centre)

JANUARY 22 TO APRIL 13  Spurred by the 2005 closure of a once-sprawling Kodak factory in northwestern Toronto, as well as similar sites across the continent, Robert Burley decided to aim his lens at the photography’s shifting landscape. His exhibition at the Ryerson Image Centre, titled The Disappearance of Darkness, focuses on sites and scenes that expose the demise of film-manufacturing facilities and the industrial darkroom. Part documentary, part homage to old traditions, Burley’s images—shot on film, of course, with a large-scale camera—reel the viewer into the gutted halls of abandoned buildings to depict an industry in the throes of radical change.  —Sara Burnside Menuck

• Ryerson Image Centre, 33 Gould St., 416-979-5164; ryerson.ca/ric
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The Royal Ontario Museum Opens the Gates to China’s Forbidden City

China Forbidden City Royal Ontario Museum Yongzheng Header

MARCH 8 TO SEPTEMBER 1  It’s no longer the hermetically sealed citadel that it was for more than 500 years, but China’s Forbidden City is still hardly a place the average Canadian can just stroll into. So the Royal Ontario Museum has brought to Toronto an estimated 250 treasured artifacts from Beijing’s imperial palace—more than 80 of which have never before left the sprawling complex—as part of an exhibition that looks inside the court of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. A highlight of the ROM’s own 100th-anniversary celebrations, the display’s paintings, textiles, furnishings, jade objects, armour and more provide an intimate portrait of the opulent lives of China’s last emperors.  —Brock Sutherland

• Royal Ontario Museum, 100 Queen’s Park, 416-586-8000; rom.on.ca
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The Textile Museum of Canada Lays Out Woven Worlds

Heather Goodchild's I Will Come to You in a Thick Cloud (photo: Naomi Yasui)

Heather Goodchild’s I Will Come to You in a Thick Cloud (photo: Naomi Yasui)

DECEMBER 11 TO APRIL 13  Step inside an imaginary world—several worlds, in fact—as the Textile Museum of Canada welcomes Fictions and Legends, an installation that weaves a fanciful tapestry out of the creative energies of Toronto-based artists Heather Goodchild and Jérôme Havre. Enter the phantasmagoria of the former’s circus-like central room, from which five other exhibits branch like portals to different realms. Patchwork figures, strange beasts, and textiles depicting all shapes and shades of scenes await within. Combining Havre’s experimentation in texture and form and Goodchild’s subtly mixed imagery, the exhibition guides visitors through a compelling visual narrative spun from collective cultural myths and experiences.  —Sara Burnside Menuck

• Textile Museum of Canada, 55 Centre Ave., 416-599-5321; textilemuseum.ca
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The Artist Project Collects Modern Visuals in Toronto

The Artist Project Toronto

FEBRUARY 20 TO 23  Four days, one venue, over 250 exhibitors of every ilk and inspiration: welcome to The Artist Project. The juried gathering of independent creators unfurls with an opening night of live music and dining. The next three days boast events like an artists’ competition, for which each participant creates a piece based on a specific theme in the medium of their choice. Indeed, a mix of media abounds, from traditional paintings and sculptures to video art, as well as a large-scale Installation Zone that explores how art transforms public space. Expert art chats and docent-led tours are also offered.  —Sara Burnside Menuck

• Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, 195 Princes’ Blvd., 416-960-4516; theartistproject.com


MOCCA’s Spring Exhibition Goes for Baroque

Contemporary Artists and the Baroque at MOCCA

Yinka Shonibare’s Mr. and Mrs. Andrews Without Their Heads (photo: Craig Moy)

FEBRUARY 8 TO APRIL 6  It seems that to call a work of art “Baroque” in the Baroque era was actually to give it a negative label. This was the case, at least, during the fledgling years of the period that spanned much of the 17th and 18th centuries: early works were derided as being overly fanciful and inappropriately indulgent—particularly in the opinion of those critics beholden to the “sacred norms” of classicism.

Viewers today could conceivably have the same reaction, in thrall as many of us are to the modern minimalist aesthetic. But there are artworks that are needlessly ornamented and unsubtle in their intent, and then there are works that use maximalism to their advantage, their visual largesse encompassing an array of influences and themes, and encouraging a multiplicity of interpretations.

The latter are brought to the fore in Misled by Nature: Contemporary Art and the Baroque, a special presentation by the National Gallery of Canada in collaboration with Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Featuring six large-scale pieces by the likes of Yinka Shonibare, Bharti Kher and David Altmejd (whose contribution alone takes up about a third of MOCCA’s 6,000 square feet), the exhibition showcases contemporary interpretations of the Baroque period—commenting on its preoccupation with material excess and complexity in art, while simultaneously referencing its socio-political landscape to highlight historical and present-day concerns. Click on the gallery below for a peak at some of the exhibition’s ambitious works.  —Craig Moy

All photos by Craig Moy.

The Design Exchange (with Pharrell) Declares “This is Not a Toy”


Takashi Murakami and Pharrell's collaborative piece, The Simple Things, is at the Design Exchange's This is Not a Toy exhibition (photo: Design Exchange)

Takashi Murakami and Pharrell’s collaborative piece, The Simple Things, is at the Design Exchange’s This is Not a Toy exhibition (photo: Design Exchange)

FEBRUARY 7 TO MAY 19  Don’t be fooled—the strange and whimsical pieces currently on display at the Design Exchange are toys in name only. In fact, This is Not a Toy, guest curated by hip-hop artist and designer Pharrell Williams, examines perceptions of playthings as the products of pop culture. The exhibition features both small-scale vinyl figures and larger pieces like The Simple Things, a gem-encrusted sculpture co-created by Pharrell, Takashi Murakami and Jacob the Jeweler. Behind the garish colours and cartoony facades, however, the artists involved are hardly playing around. The result is a serious subliminal investigation into the ways fine art, marketing and modern culture intersect.  —Sara Burnside Menuck

• Design Exchange, 234 Bay St., 416-363-6121; dx.org
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Browse and Bid at Consignor Canadian Fine Art

Consignor Canadian Fine Art's Toronto showroom

Consignor Canadian Fine Art’s Toronto showroom

Whether you’re interested in buying, selling or just keeping up with the market, art enthusiasts of all stripes can do all three at Consignor Canadian Fine Art. Brainchild of Ryan Mayberry—also of Yorkville’s Mayberry Fine Art—and auction vets Rob Cowley and Lydia Abbott, the unique venture draws traditional art auctions into the digital age: sales are conducted online, but its many fine works can be previewed at a physical gallery space, conveniently located across the street from the AGO. Regardless of your art-business savvy, the gallery alone is worth a visit. At any given time, its walls could host works by an impressive array of Canadian artists, from Alex Colville to Tom Thomson.  —Sara Burnside Menuck

Consignor Canadian Fine Art, 326 Dundas St. W., 416-479-9703; consignor.ca
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