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Art Gallery of Ontario

Hot Art: The AGO Welcomes Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait as a Tehuana (Diego on My Mind) (image © Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/Artists Rights Society)

OCTOBER 20 TO JANUARY 20  Experience the vibrant yet highly intimate artistry of two of Mexico’s most celebrated 20th-century painters as the Art Gallery of Ontario presents a major showcase of works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Kahlo’s highly autobiographical works exemplify her dedication to indigenous tradition, her controversial political leanings, and her volatile relationship with her husband Rivera, himself a prominent activist and founding figure of the Mexican school of painting. Among the 75 key pieces on display are Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Monkeys and Rivera’s Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita—Eva Voinigescu

You Are Here: Dundas & Spadina

By Ana Taveira

Courage My Love

The downtown section of Dundas Street West traverses Chinatown, Kensington Market and more.

AFFORDABLE FLAIR   Kensington Market institution Courage My Love is positively packed with kitschy finds from far off lands. Established in 1975, the venerable vintage boutique offers up all manner of one-of-a-kind items, including jewellery, sunglasses, gloves and inexpensive yet still highly fashionable apparel. Exotic beads, buttons and other items are popular amongst do-it-yourselfers, while a selection of retro home accessories rounds out the stock.

HOT DISCOVERY   A good thing is not always easy to find. At least, that seems to be the idea behind Cold Tea. Tucked down a hallway in a small, nondescript shopping concourse in the Kensington Market ‘hood, this hip watering hole might not be one of the city’s most accessible, but once you’ve found your way there, a good time is practically guaranteed—thanks to exciting Asian-inspired cocktails, dim sum nibbles and an inviting back patio with communal tables.

Ten Ren Tea

STEEP SHOP   This city’s location of Chinese tea chain Ten Ren Tea is a popular destination for picking up sachets and loose-leaf tins of high-quality oolong, jasmine, pu-erh and herbal teas, among many other varieties. If you’re on the run but still in need of a beverage, the shop is happy to oblige with take-away bubble tea and other tea-based specialty drinks.

FEAST YOUR EYES   In a sprawling yet still intimate building by top architect Frank Gehry, the Art Gallery of Ontario is downtown Toronto’s creative heart and one of the leading cultural institutions in North America. Here you’ll find thousands of works surveying the evolution of art over the past two millennia, from ancient Indigenous carvings to Renaissance masterworks to modern Canadian pieces. In-house restaurant Frank is a great meeting place before or after you explore the gallery.


CHEAP EATS   It may not be particularly pretty, but Swatow keeps Chinatown diners satisfied by doling out big portions of noodles, fried rice, sizzling meats and more for a very reasonable price. Open late and boasting speedy service, the bustling restaurant is renowned as a go-to spot for area chefs—Susur Lee is a longtime patron—who want to refuel after a night on the line.

ABSTRACT FOR ALL   The subtle beauty of minimalist art is highlighted at Lausberg Contemporary. Ensconced within a block of converted Victorian homes directly across from the AGO, gallerist Bernd Lausberg’s Toronto outpost (he also has locations in Düsseldorf and Miami) features a colourful array of works by such artists as Dieter Balzar, Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer and Douglas Allsop.

Weekend Roundup: September 21 to 23

Friday: Tom Cochrane is one of many performers rocking the Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival.

Friday, September 21st
Celebrate this country’s cultural icons as part of the annual Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, which showcases popular Canadian performers at venues throughout the city, including a number of free concerts at Nathan Phillips Square. Dance the night away to Suzie McNeil, Tom Cochrane and Jann Arden, just some of the homegrown talent that will be gracing the stage.

Canadian sculptor Evan Penny’s new exhibition of meticulously rendered yet distorted human sculptures opened this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Titled Re Figured, the display will alter your perspective of the human form with 30 pieces, including sculptures, photographs and a film about Penny’s work over the past decade.

Toronto’s famed jazz venue, The Rex, holds its annual tribute to John Coltrane this weekend. Juno-winning saxophone players Pat LaBarbera and Kirk MacDonald—alongside the rest of their highly capable quintet—take the stage tonight to honour the celebrated musician. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: July 20 to 22

Friday: Speed-the-Plow satirizes the movie industry (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Friday, July 20
Expect cracking dialogue and fierce satire this evening as Soulpepper Theatre Company performs David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow. The play examines the lives of two American film producers while dissecting the relationship between art and commerce.

The Toronto Summer Music Festival returned earlier in the week and brought with it a full slate of concerts, master classes and lectures for classical music lovers. Tonight, the acclaimed Borodin Quartet presents Music of Russia, a program of string quartets by Russian composers, including Borodin, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

Once again the Harbourfront Centre becomes of a cultural smorgasbord of music, dance, international fare and more as the Hot & Spicy Food Festival occupies the downtown waterfront. The festival kicks it up a notch with exciting competitions like tonight’s Taco Takedown—where you decide which taco reigns supreme—and the annual Iron Chef competition, held over the weekend and concluding Sunday afternoon. (more…)

Hot Art: Visuals, Easily Viewed

Henry Moore's Two Forms sits prominently outside the Art Gallery of Ontario

Toronto’s vibrant visual art scene means that galleries are sprinkled throughout the city. But you need not buy a ticket to view some very high-quality works. Public sculptures and installations decorate many of our parks and street corners, and are equally worth your interest. Often designed by acclaimed  artists—such as Henry Moore, whose sculptures can be found in front of City Hall (100 Queen St. W.) and the Art Gallery of Ontario—these works add flair to the streetscape and can even remind us of our history, as the circa-1870 Canadian Volunteers War Memorial in Queen’s Park does. Whether you guide yourself on a full-fledged Toronto art tour or just happen to come across an installation, take a minute to strike a pose, snap a photo and take a memory of Toronto’s urban landscape home with you. For further details, click here.

Prolific, Polychromatic Picasso at the AGO

Among Picasso's sombre blue-period worksis the haunting La Célestine (La Femme à la taie), painted in 1904 (© Picasso Estate/SODRAC, 2011)

MAY 1 TO AUGUST 26 Quick! Name the world’s greatest collector of artwork by Pablo Picasso. Was it Gertrude Stein, the American expat who became one of Picasso’s early champions in Paris? How about Heinz Berggruen, the German-born gallerist who befriended the artist in 1949 and would go on to purchase more than 130 of his paintings? Or perhaps the title has now passed to some art-minded billionaire?

It turns out that none of these collectors can hold a candle to Picasso himself. Ridiculously productive, he sold hundreds of works yet kept thousands more—everything from informal sketches to some of his greatest masterpieces. Now, nearly 150 of these paintings, drawings and sculptures are on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario, underlining the protean breadth of Picasso’s creative genius.

Drawn from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the unique exhibition of “Picasso’s Picassos” comprises exemplary visuals from every stage of the Spanish-born artist’s seven-decade career, including his blue, rose and African-influenced periods, his groundbreaking foray into cubism, and those points at which he expanded the possibilities of expressionism, neoclassicism and surrealism. Among the highlights: The Death of Casagemas, one of the first works painted by Picasso after his emigration to Paris (and an important example of his famed blue period); the cubist landmark Man with a Guitar; The Matador, a late self-portrait; and varied sculptural pieces that add an extra dimension to Picasso’s celebrated oeuvre.

Thematically, there’s very little that hasn’t been said about Picasso’s inspirations, techniques, even his private life and political views. An exhibition of this nature need not get too analytical. Instead, the AGO treats its visitors to a straightforward yet still colourful showcase: a survey of many of the early 20th century’s major artistic developments, as depicted (and, in some cases, created) by one hugely talented man.

—Craig Moy

Staff Picks: 5 Spots to Spot Public Art

Canoe Landing Park (photo by Ian Muttoo)

It’s true that Toronto can’t compete with, say, Paris when it comes to decorating our parks and public spaces with art, but more intriguing sculptures, murals and installations are popping up all the time. In particular, these five locations offer visuals that are equally worth photographing and contemplating. (more…)

Hot Art: Iain Baxter& Invites Attention at the AGO

Iain Baxter&'s Still Life with Winter Vista

MARCH 3 TO AUGUST 12 Art is a process. It doesn’t end with the completion of a physical object; the dialogue an artwork fosters between creator and viewer is also part of its purpose. Few exemplify this conversation better than Iain Baxter&, whose very name suggests his belief in art’s collaborative nature. The artist, whose conceptual works span more than 50 years and range from photography to paintings to mixed-media installations, gets the retrospective treatment at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Some 100 of Baxter&’s most intriguing pieces are offered in a manner reflecting the artist’s ethos: QR codes throughout the display allow smartphone-wielding visitors to access additional interactive content.

Staff Picks: 10 Popular Public Art Galleries

The Art Gallery of Ontario features works by Michael Snow and many, many other artists

Become a part of Toronto’s hot art and culture scene by exploring these public art galleries, which are home to timeless masterpieces, contemporary creations, travelling exhibitions and everything in between. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: March 2 to 4

Friday: Entity offers provocative dance (photo by Ravi Deepres)

Friday, March 2
A stunning yet spare staging of contemporary dance awaits Harbourfront Centre audiences, as England’s Random Dance Company and acclaimed choreographer Wayne McGregor perform Entity, featuring music by the likes of Coldplay, Massive Attack and Jon Hopkins.

The National Ballet of Canada’s winter season opened this week with the lighthearted, romantic and slightly comical La Fille mal gardee. This classic pastoral ballet tells the story of Lise, who wishes to marry a young farmer. Her mother, however, has other plans, and promises Lise to a wealthy but buffoonish landowner.

The Artist Project Toronto entices creators, collectors and enthusiasts to Exhibition Place’s Queen Elizabeth Building this weekend. Admire contemporary works of photography, painting, textile art, digital media and more by independent artists Canada and around the world. While there, take a trip down Installation Alley to view large-scale sculptures and conceptual art projects, too. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: January 13 to 16

Friday: Gaze in awe at The Blue Dragon (photo by Erick Labbe)

Friday, January 13
Follow the story of a Canadian expat in modern-day China and the two women in his life. Now at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, Mirvish Productions presents The Blue Dragon, a stunningly staged display of drama and dance created by visionary theatre artists Robert Lepage and Marie Michaud.

Three of Disney’s darling princesses visit the Roger’s Centre at Disney Live! presents Three Classic Fairy Tales. Treat the kids to an evening of magic to see Cinderella, Belle and Snow White – and the princes – and watch their favorite fairy tales unfold on stage.

Be sure to visit the AGO’s Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde exhibition before it closes on Sunday. The colourful works of Marc Chagall and his contemporaries trace a revolution in modern art movement that swept through Russia during the early 1900s.


30 Things We Love About Toronto This November and December

2. Spirits by Karoo Ashevak (photo courtesy of the Museum of Inuit Art)

1. Crunching into stone-baked pizzas and grilled panini at Café Uno in the the Distillery Historic District.

2. Marveling at finely crafted stone and bone carvings at the Museum of Inuit Art.

3. Horses and llamas and cows (oh my!), plus a giant vegetable competition and more at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair.

4. Admiring Grace Kelly’s glamourous gowns, Oscar and more at the TIFF Bell Lightbox.

5. Savouring straight-from-the-tandoor-oven naan—alongside chicken tikka and palak paneer—at Little India. (more…)