My wonderful husband…

December 31, 2008

…took the initiative and gave me a Christmas date, somewhere I’ve been meaning to go for years. Yes, the Art Gallery of Ontario.AGO entrance

Getting to it reminded K of why he doesn’t like driving into Toronto, and me of what I like about the cities I visit…how big cities are all a mish-mash of interesting places. The AGO, for instance, is smack in the middle of Toronto’s Chinatown, which is also mixed up with the Fashion District (I think my favourite similar experience was walking downtown Vancouver, and going from the Public Library to the Terry Fox Memorial to the Cannabis Cafe in the space of a block or two).

Anyway, the Gehry addition is beautiful, and created some really wonderful spaces:

AGO interior

AGO interior

AGO interior

And then there was the art.

We had three hours. And got through the main Canadian section, on the second floor. It was all the time we had, and all my eyes, mind, and heart could take in.

5 rooms of Ken Thomson’s Kreighoff collection – a bit much considering how many of them are alike. I was pleased to see the sister piece to a piece at the local art gallery where I’ve worked: a fall scene of a habitant cabin. The one at RiverBrink, I think, is a bit better balanced, as in the Thomson canvas the mountains in the background are on a side of the painting that’s already quite full, and the right side of the sky is rather empty. The AGO also owns another piece almost identical to one at RiverBrink called “Indian Council”, and while there were lots, we didn’t see that one in particular.

4 or 5 rooms dedicated to the work of David Milne, which I like in some instances and not in others. I am always drawn to the energy and to the printmaking process, though.

One very large gallery of Lawren Harris, where K found his favourites. Pieces of all different sizes, from his Algonquin sketches to his very large canvases. And of all eras, from the earliest and most natural to the most abstract. K and I were both drawn most to the Lake Superior period, as, I think, many people are.

Lots of other Canadian gems, of course. Gallery after gallery of Thomson (Tom) and the Group, with my new favourite being a Lismer snow scene I had never seen before. It showed a bright snowy day, pink and yellow and blue and green, with beautiful waves in the snow.

It was too much; we had to go too fast; I would have liked to study 5 sketches in an afternoon and we walked past 20 on each wall. And other artists, of course: Morrice and Cullen and Gagnon, all some of my Canadian favourites. And a Paul Peel (without a naked bathing child) that was quite lovely, of a young girl collecting flowers on a sunny path. More abstract things, as well, of course: Bourduas and Riopelle. I could spend months.

Right before we finished, we encountered Thomson’s The West Wind, the Canadian icon. The colouring is fantastic – I’m a lover of turquoise and there were some touches that just sang. And it was next to Carr’s Indian Church, with its deep green and serene yet energetic mood. Beautiful.

We were about done, but K went downstairs in the last few minutes to examine another Ken Thomson collection, of ship models.

Then, steaks in a beautiful old house, and then home. Merry, merry Christmas to me!

Mansion Keg

Mansion interior