In the early years of Canada, to the late 1800s, pigeon pie was one of the most common dishes on our tables. Made from the passenger pigeon, at the time the most common bird in North America that numbered in the billions, this popular dish provided readily available and hearty sustenance. Indeed, the Quebecois tourtière would have originally been made with passenger pigeon meat. However, because of over-hunting and habitat destruction the passenger pigeon was wiped out, and has now been extinct since 1914. The last bird, “Martha,” died in the Cincinnati Zoo. Read the rest of this entry »
Vince Timpano (left), with 2013 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize winner Erin Shirreff and AGO director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum.
In November 2013, before an excited crowd at AGO First Thursdays, Canadian artist Erin Shirreff was named as winner of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize. Shirreff receives the $50,000 cash prize and will head to the Maritimes in spring 2014 for her residency. Meanwhile, visitors to the AGO can see her work and that of the other shortlisted photographers — Edgardo Aragón, LaToya Ruby Frazier and Chino Otsuka — until Jan. 5, 2014, inside the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize exhibition.
In the new year, another exciting part of the Prize program begins. The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Program will award three $7,000 scholarships each year to students entering their final year of study toward Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees with a focus or major in photography. The scholarships are awarded to students at select Canadian academic institutions who have shown extraordinary potential throughout their undergraduate studies. This year’s partner schools are OCAD University, Ryerson University, Concordia University, Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD), Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD), Université du Québec and the University of Manitoba. The program also awards $1000 CAD honorariums to the schools of the winning students.
Starting in March 2014, each academic partner institution will form a jury of three faculty members to review their students’ submissions and select one finalist, and the finalists will be evaluated by the Scholarship Program jury, consisting of two representatives from the Art Gallery of Ontario and a previous winner of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize.
In November 2014, the three winners of the scholarship and a faculty member of their respective institution will be invited to Toronto to celebrate their success, where they will meet the artists short-listed for the Prize and attend the winner announcement celebration.
Next year, the Prize cycle will begin again, with nominators and jurors named in early spring, long-list and short-list announcements over the summer, before a new round of voting next fall. We hope you’ll follow along with us and discover some of the world’s best photo-based art in 2014.
Stay connected with the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize on Facebook and Twitter.
In a previous Conservation Notes post we introduced you to work that Lisa Ellis, conservator of sculpture and decorative art, and Sasha Suda, associate curator of European Art, were doing to learn more about prayer beads from the Thomson Collection of European Art here at the AGO. Working with colleagues from the University of Western Ontario, Ellis and Suda used micro tomography (microCT) to better understand prayer beads and how they were constructed.
This time, to create the image above, the Sustainable Archaeology (SA) facility in the Department of Anthropology at Western University, in London, Ont., provided scans using a Nikon Metrology XT 225 microCT scanner.
The video slices through the exterior shell of a 16th-century Northern European wooden microcarving to reveal an intricate interior showing the Last Judgement. The microCT data set has been manipulated with ORS Visual, a program produced by a Montreal-based company. This software transforms the microCT data, which is based on X-ray images, into the comprehensible, animated scenes shown here.
Curious about Conservation?
If you have a burning question about Conservation, leave a comment below. We’ll do our best to give you an answer in an upcoming Conservation Notes post.
Signature Partner of the AGO’s Conservation Program
Lawren S. Harris, Lake and Mountains, 1928, oil on canvas, 130.8 x 160.7 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the Fund of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for Canadian Works of Art,1948, 48/8
Steve Martin is on a mission. Working with curators Cindy Burlingham of the Hammer Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Andrew Hunter, he’s developing an exhibition of major works by Lawren S. Harris from the 1920 and ’30s, with the aim of introducing Harris to an American audience. The exhibition will open at the Hammer—which is part of UCLA—in fall 2015, and after a tour of the U.S. it will land at the AGO. A publication complementing the exhibition will include essays by Martin, Hunter, and Burlingham, who is the Hammer’s deputy director of Curatorial Affairs. A highly knowledgeable collector of 20th-century art, Martin sees Harris as an overlooked artist of great accomplishment and significance. The Hammer is well known for championing the work of emerging and under-recognized artists, and this exciting collaboration will expose Harris to a broader international audience and will more deeply consider his place in 20th century art history. Hunter previously curated the only solo exhibition of Harris’ work shown in the U.S. to date, at New York’s Americas Society Art Gallery in 2000.
Stay tuned for more details about the exhibition in the new year.
About Lawren Harris
From the early 1920s to 1933, Canadian artist Lawren S. Harris (1885 – 1970) produced a remarkable body of work that significantly informed an image of Canada and has remains deeply rooted in the country’s identity. For many Canadians, his scenes of cold and empty northlands, isolated peaks and expanses of dark water washing up on barren shorelines are essential images of their country. As a founding member of the Group of Seven, Harris’s style progressed from a bold, nationalistic portrayal of the northern landscape to a more universal conception of the land, depicting it as a vision of spiritual inspiration. This progression would lead him to a calculated approach to abstraction, inspired by spiritual philosophy and transcendentalism, that he would pursue in the United States (from 1934-39 in New Hampshire and New Mexico) and for the remainder of his life in Vancouver (1940-70). Although Harris was committed to an experimental approach to abstraction, his classic depictions of northern landscapes are still considered to be his most significant and resonant works.
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David Bowie is at the AGO kicked off world tour and got visitors dancing
David Bowie is opening night. Photo by Dean Tomlinson/Art Gallery of Ontario.
This fall David Bowie is, a widely acclaimed exhibition of objects from the pop icon’s personal archive, came to the AGO for an extended run from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. We’re happy to announce that it was a hit with our visitors. Running from Sept. 25, 2013, to Nov. 29, 2013, the exhibition drew 146,471 visitors to the Gallery during its nine-week run, garnering praise from the likes of the Globe and Mail, which called it a “spectacular, bewildering multi-sensory collision” and NOW Magazine, which lauded it as a “multimedia extravaganza”.
To kick things off on the exhibition’s opening day, the AGO encouraged fans to don Bowie-inspired garb and be among the first 200 to experience David Bowie is at the AGO. Glammed-up visitors listened to Bowie tunes spun by a DJ on the street as they lined up at the Gallery’s entrance to receive free admission to the sold-out show.
The AGO also threw an official opening party in Walker Court on Sept. 27, 2013. Guests released their inner Bowie and danced the night away. They also enjoyed after-hours admission to the exhibition, sets from DJs Luis Jacob and Odessa Paloma Parker, GIF tributes to Bowie by Toronto new media artist Lorna Mills and a special one-night-only exhibition of memorabilia, presented by Toronto artist Andrew Zealley and others.
David Bowie is opening night. Photo by Dean Tomlinson/Art Gallery of Ontario.
The partying didn’t stop after the exhibition’s opening. On Nov. 23, 2013, the AGO lit up again with decked-out guests after hours for the AGO’s Bowie Bash closing gala. More than 425 attendees participated in this festive and fashionable fundraiser that included a gourmet dinner designed by AGO executive chef Jeff Dueck, live musical entertainment and more, all in support of AGO programming.
Just as during its successful run at the V&A, David Bowie is was in high demand in Toronto, and so the Gallery responded. Not only did we expand the visiting hours to accommodate gallery-goers navigating their busy fall calendars, but we also extended the closing date by two days to Nov. 29 to help as many visitors as possible catch a glimpse of the exhibition that everyone had been talking about.
Bringing exhibitions of this calibre to the AGO requires a lot of support, and we would like to recognize our corporate partners Holt Renfrew and RBC; Sennheiser for the incredible sound experience; leadership gifts from La Foundation Emmanuelle Gattuso, the Ira Gluskin & Maxine Granovsky Gluskin Charitable Foundation and Rob & Cheryl McEwen; our government partner, the Government of Ontario; our hotel partner, Eaton Chelsea; and our media partners, Q107 and NOW Magazine. Thanks to each and all for making David Bowie is and its accompanying programming at the AGO possible and a big success.
Organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and curated by Victoria Broakes and Geoffrey Marsh (the V&A’s curators of theatre and performance), the exhibition’s stop at the AGO was the first on its world tour. It will be on display at the São Paulo Museum of Image and Sound in the new year and at the MCA Chicago next fall.
Toronto-based artist Sara Angelucci is the AGO artist-in-residence from November 20, 2013, to January 20, 2014, and we’re so happy to share her work with you. Working primarily with photography, video and audio, Angelucci incorporates archival materials such as home movies, snapshots, and vintage portraits into her work and recently has turned her focus to research on endangered and extinct North American bird species.
During her time at the AGO, Angelucci will explore works from our Canadian collection, particularly those with Canadian nature, aviary and forestry subjects. She’s planned a number of initiatives that will activate this research and provide points of engagement for AGO visitors and for staff, including:
a performance in February entitled A Mourning Chorus and featuring a cappella singing that will explore the sounds of disappearing North American song-birds through the historic framework of women’s public mourning rituals;
the installation of two works from Angelucci’s Aviary from November to February 2014 in our Canadian galleries;
a Meet the Artist talk in January, when she will talk to artists Spring Hurlbut and Marla Hlady about their work; and
a panel discussion, also in January, entitled “Art & Ideas: A bird’s eye view on art & extinction,” to be followed by a three-course meal served in FRANK restaurant, specially prepared by executive chef Jeff Dueck in consultation with Angelucci.
As Angelucci settles into the artist-in-residence studio in the Weston Family Learning Centre, we wanted to know what inspired these plans. Here, she offers insight into her practice and its relation to the environment, her fascination with birds and her approach to residencies.
AGO: Do you consider yourself an environmental activist/conservationist as well as an artist?
Sara Angelucci: It is unfair to the true activists out there to call myself that. But, like many people, I’m deeply concerned about what is happening to the environment and in recent years the problems seem to be accelerating as we see weather conditions around the world becoming more extreme.
Where did your interest in songbirds come from? Do you have a personal connection or did you grow interested in them through your practice/research?
I’ve always loved birds and thought they were beautiful. I think a number of things have brought me to thinking about them in a more focused way. I have been spending more isolated time in the countryside and watching them there. Also, in my recent photographic series Aviary I combined images of endangered and extinct North American birds (which I photographed in the ornithology collection at the ROM) with images of anonymous cartes-de-visite.
Although the process by which I came to making this connection is a long one to explain, I think there are interesting overlaps between the craze for collecting cartes-de-visite in the 19th century and the craze for collecting natural specimens. Aviaries become hugely popular at this time, as did taxidermy. The Victorian parlour was a place where both the photographic album and these specimens came together. With this project I’ve been doing a lot of reading on birds and the challenges they face today, which include habitat destruction and pesticides amongs other things.
How do the actions of your residency — the installation of your Aviary portraits, the talks and special meal in FRANK, the chorus — relate to and inform one another?
All of these projects are an attempt to contemplate our relationship to the birds, and by way of extension, the natural world, in a directly embodied way. When we are implicated in a direct way, by combining images of the bird/human, through what we eat, or through the human voice, we cannot separate ourselves from nature. I feel very strongly that one of the reasons we are in such dire straits environmentally is that as humans we see ourselves as apart [from] or above nature. This disconnection is very dangerous for the earth, its species and, ultimately, for us and we are seeing its catastrophic implications.
Do you plan to continue to produce work related to these themes after your residency?
It’s hard to say. At the moment I am very focused on the projects at hand. It’s highly possible that I will, but I try not to get too far ahead of myself on projects.
You’ve done a number of residencies, at NSCAD (Halifax), the Banff Centre, and at Biz-Art in Shanghai – how does the AGO’s program differ from the others you’ve experienced? Did you do localized research during those residencies that influenced your practice afterward?
They have all been extremely different. In each case I have tried to think about what I can do which is special to that place, the people I encounter there and my interests. It sometimes takes a little while to figure that out.
The residency in Shanghai was in some ways the most challenging and so far the most fulfilling. China was a complete culture shock, and I was extremely jetlagged for a good week. So it took me some time to find my footing, and I couldn’t speak to many people. It was very interesting to be silent. You have to find different ways of communicating and making yourself understood. And you have to use keen observation to figure things out.
At the AGO I feel like I’m in luxury. There is so much going on at the gallery that I am invited to be a part of, and so much support for what I want to do. Everyone has been incredibly welcoming, and the resources at hand for an artist are amazing — from technical support to research and curatorial support. Also, it’s my hometown, so it is exciting to be sharing this experience with my family, students and friends as it is unfolding.