Amanda Pajak has been a member of the AGO team since July 2008 and works closely with Kristen Ferguson, executive director of Corporate Services and Operations, as her executive assistant. Upon seeing her current position posted on ago.net last summer, Pajak saw the opportunity as a stilettoed foot in the door of the AGO. Although the posting was expired, she applied fashionably late and the rest is history. She had always aspired to work in the arts and loves her role as a go-to-girl at the AGO.
"I am proud to be part of the AGO team," says Pajak. "Enjoying where you work motivates you to strive for the best in yourself."
Born in Toronto, 23-year-old Pajak showed an early interest and commitment to the arts. She studied fine art at the Etobicoke School of the Arts and graduated from Queen’s University in 2007 with her BA (Hons.) in Art History.
Pajak is no stranger to the AGO, visiting the Gallery as a child and volunteering for Teens Behind the Scenes for two years as a high school student. TBTS is designed to enable youth to create art and give them a behind-the-scenes understanding of the art world. Youth in the program actively participate in training and mentorship designed to aid creative development and promote leadership skills. As a volunteer Pajak was able to participate in activities throughout the Gallery and the Grange that promoted interaction between children and adults with art.
Although Pajak looks back fondly on her volunteer days, she loves the responsibility of her current position and flourishes in the fast-paced environment of the Director’s Office. The foundation of her determination was built while in university as a member of the Queen’s rowing team. Participating in early practices and competitive meets while juggling a full course load taught Pajak the value of hard work and responsibility.
Since falling in love with the AGO’s collection while volunteering, Pajak still enjoys spending time in the galleries. "The large spaces allow you to feel alone with the art," says Amanda. "It is an intimate experience and it’s great to be able to visit old friends – Monet, Rodin and Harris."
Pajak wants to evolve with the AGO and intends to pursue her Masters in art history sometime in the near future. She attributes her devotion to the arts to her parents who she describes as free thinkers.
"My parents encouraged me and my siblings to find what we loved and do it for a living," says Pajak. "In my case, my passion was art."
In her spare time Pajak enjoys biking, softball and creating works of art. She wants to get back into rowing and hopes to someday travel the globe visiting the various art institutions that the world has to offer. Beyond these aspirations of worldly travel, and after her participation with the opening of the newly transformed AGO, Pajak would be quite content to spend some quiet time in Paris, "shopping at the various boutiques, or nibbling on a petite brie baguette (for now…)."
A colossal disco ball, the riot police, drinking The Capitalist and Moscow Mule, Toronto’s hottest DJs, and an Executive Chef’s hors d’oeuvres, one night, for the first time with the Gehry-transformed AGO as the backdrop—get ready for this year’s Massive Party.
The annual AGO benefit is quickly approaching and I’ve been hearing whispers of excitement. This year, the works and performances of eight contemporary artists will be featured. One artist, Toronto-based Eric Mathew, has work anyone who has visited downtown Toronto will know. His project Live With Culture consists of banners prominently displayed from streetlight poles. Employing a mixture of screen-printing and painting techniques, his work addresses themes of consumerism, identity and the Canadian mythological fabric. At this year’s Massive Party, Mathews embraces the themes of rebellion and will use a 48-foot Gallery wall as the stage for his work. Read the rest of this entry »
The AGO will be participating in Earth Hour on Saturday, March 28. Earth Hour is a global lights-out event led by World Wildlife Fund to demonstrate that each of us can help fight climate change. The AGO will be making a concerted effort to turn off or turn down lights wherever possible throughout the building between 8:30 and 9:30 pm.
Interior lights will be turned off or dimmed in Galleria Italia, Granovsky Gluskin Hall, Walker Court and Shop AGO. There will be emergency lighting only in the south tower and Chalmers Wing. Security lighting around the perimeter of the building will be left on. Lights will be left on in the Jackman Hall area for the safety of Cinematheque patrons.
The first earth hour was held on March 31, 2007, when 2.2 million people and 2100 Sydney (Australia) businesses turned off their lights for one hour. This massive collective effort reduced Sydney's energy consumption by 10.2% for one hour, which is the equivalent effect of taking 48,000 cars off the road for a year. For a taste of what is happening globally this year, check out www.earthhour.org.
Once again the public is invited to help one of 4 fabulous artists take home the 50,000 CAD Grange Prize. This year we have added a new experience to the mix- an exhibition of the nominees work. This way you can check out the work here online or at the Art Gallery of Ontario and at the Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City before casting your vote.
Once you vote we would love to know what compelled you to go for your pick. Did the subject matter draw you in? Was it the style of photography or something you can’t describe? Share your thoughts here!
Today is Toronto’s 175th birthday (imagine fitting all of those candles on a cake?!), also known as a demisemiseptcentennial (trying saying that 5 times fast). As you may have heard today on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, one of Toronto’s oldest buildings is the Grange, found at the south end of the AGO.
Built in 1817 by D’Arcy Boulton, the Grange is the oldest remaining brick house in Toronto. It was the first home of the Art Museum of Toronto, which would become today’s Art Gallery of Ontario. The Grange was given to the museum in 1911, and designated a national historic site in 1970.
Next time you visit the AGO, don’t forget to stop by the Grange. There are daily tours, centered on a fantastic discovery of strange objects unearthed during our recent transformation. Also, if you’re a member, you can relax in the members’ lounge with a beverage and snack. We can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our city’s birthday than with a visit to the Grange (Ended perhaps with an espresso and one of our pastry chef’s madeleines? It is a birthday after all).
The Art Gallery of Ontario together with our colleagues from The Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum met to share ideas and ponder issues common to cultural attractions working in New Media. Thanks to Jesse Holmes, Web Designer/Developer at The Ontario Science Centre, for posting the following report on the day:
Toronto Cultural Attractions Web Summit 2009 v0.3, hosted by the AGO web team.
Every four months or so, the web teams from the Royal Ontario Museum, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ontario Science Centre, get together to talk web. This post is a summary of the third such meeting, which took place in the AGO’s beautiful new building. Seriously, if you haven’t visited yet, do yourself a favour and go. It’s a highly pleasurable experience.
The meeting marked the introduction of new format for the summit: the un-conference. So far, each organization has had their own unique take on hosting. But with the un-conference I think we’ve found a format that offers the highest value for the time spent.
The central idea to these gatherings is to give the web teams an opportunity to share ideas and get some outside perspective. We all spend a great deal of time working within the our respective organizational structures. Most of the folks that we do business with specialize in disciplines that don’t necessarily mandate web literacy. So it’s pretty great to get with a bunch of tweeps who all speak the same language. Having short, planned sessions gives just the right amount of structure to the interactions.
We saw four presentations. I’ve had a go at summarizing bellow:
Marty Spellerberg – Talking web pages
Marty took us through an interesting application for embedding video content on webpages – the talking webpage. Kind of like a talking exhibit or a virtual tour guide, the talking page includes a short 30-60 second clip of a staff member providing additional content and context for events such as tours or on-site activities.
On top of making the page content more accessible and interesting, I’m also really impressed by the thinking that has gone into the formatting of these spots. They’re essentially short, sweet vlog posts, comprised of a single shot, that introduce a character that you may encounter when you visit. Talk about leveraging some of your best assets.
If that wasn’t enough, we were also treated to a pretty hilarious idea that has all kinds of viral potential. Sorry I couldn’t find the link.
Jess Holmes – jQuery: write less, do more
Cheryl led an interesting discussion on Museums and gaming. Sorry Cheryl, I can’t remember the name of the individual or conference that you referenced. The major point is that gamers are a HUGE segment. What are we doing as museums and science centres to engage gamers on their turf? Currently, not that much. We’ve had a go in the past, but at the moment we seem to be focused elsewhere.
That isn’t to say that museums can’t produce excellent work. Here’s Launchball, the game that won Best of the Web at #MW2008.
Noman Siddiqui – The how and why of marketing cultural organizations in international web campaigns
Noman, a new addition to the ROM’s team, bravely took the initiative and led a conversation on the need to engage communities outside of our core audiences. He posses an interesting question: What, if anything, are we doing to invite/attract visitors who may still be outside of Canadian borders? By creating international online marketing touch-points we become clear destination choices early on in the trip planning experience. Is it simply time that cements the association of the Louvre with Paris or is there something more to it? We are still a little thin on ideas for how exactly this process might work, but there did seem to be consensus that something would be better than nothing.
CARS GO MOO
I’d be interested to hear how much everyone else liked this format. I, for one, would like to see the sessions extended a bit. Maybe I just need to do a better job of editing, but I definitely feel like I could have covered more ground with a little more time. Or maybe a gong show format where we dress up the managers in funny costumes and they cut us off when the session gets boring.
It would also be great to start to invite/include other organizations. We three are the biggest, but there must be other web teams out there that would see similar value in this type of experience.
Thanks again to all that participated and a special thanks to Ian, Kevin, Brian. It’s pretty great to have managers that are progressive and supportive enough to organize events like this.
As you explore the AGO, you may notice strange sounds emanating from one of the contemporary elevators just west of the Tanenbaum Atrium and of the Grange entrance (hang a right at the bird man). Don’t be afraid, it’s actually a video work by Vera Frenkel, one of Canada’s most renowned multidisciplinary artists. In this work, titled “This is your Messiah Speaking Frenkel” proposes consumerism as a religion and the mass media as its preacher. In the video, she speaks about the media as a powerful and zealous leader worshipped by faithful consumers while a woman translates her message into American Sign Language. This work certainly hits home these days as the worldwide financial crisis and society’s dependence on debt dominates the news.
Frenkel’s engagement with social issues is also evident in her work as a passionate advocate for artists. Since the 1960s she has eloquently argued for increased funding, support and respect for her fellow artists.
And yes, I shamelessly stole the title of this posting from that new Lily Allen song, The Fear.