The Art Gallery of Ontario is betting on a blockbuster Andy Warhol retrospective to entice audiences back following a nine-month pandemic induced closure.
The aptly titled “Andy Warhol” exhibition, which opened to AGO members Wednesday, aims to bring biographic and cultural context to one of the most recognizable and divisive iconoclasts of the 20th century. Through 250 art works and ephemera, including a trio of Warhol’s infamous wigs and the manifest from his mother’s arrival at Ellis Island, “Andy Warhol” makes the argument that its subject is, as Kenneth Brummel, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Modern Art puts it, “due for a reassessment.”
Pointedly, “Andy Warhol” casts its subject as a product of circumstance. The first half of the exhibition is devoted to establishing Warhol’s working-class bona-fides: his humble upbringing as a child of Eastern European immigrants in Pittsburgh, moving to New York to work on commercial and advertising art before establishing himself as a figurehead of the counterculture. In contrast, the latter half moves beyond the biographical into Warhol’s obsession with mortality and religion, a perspective made all the more visceral when he was shot in 1968 by the feminist author Valerie Solanas (Solanas also shot art critic Mario Amaya, who happened to be at Warhol’s studio at the time and would, the following year, become the chief curator at the AGO).
Presented across a massive section of the Gallery (twice the typical floor space to allow for physical distancing), the exhibition reframes the Pop Art Svengali by spotlighting some of Warhol’s lesser-known works while postulating that, as the homosexual son of poor Catholic immigrants, he was uniquely positioned to become the eminent art world translator of American culture.
To achieve this vantage point, the exhibition fleshes out the artist’s work as pointedly flawed and acerbic rather than the sleek, machine-like superficial mirror that has become the artist’s modern caricature. As such, seminal pieces including 1962’s “Marilyn Diptych” and 1964’s “Jackie Triptych” are presented couched in Warhol’s macabre obsessions and Catholic guilt, while the lesser seen “Ladies and Gentlemen” series, in which Warhol was commissioned to create portraits of New York’s Latin and African-American drag queens and trans women, is given pride of place, bluntly asking the viewer to confront the necropolitics of the work, both of its time and of modern day.
“We want to take Warhol as we understand him and make him strange again,” Brummel, who curated the AGO presentation following its debut last year at the Tate Modern in London, explains. “Our goal is to enrich understanding of Warhol as this bifurcated figure; more than a myth with a past.”
In parallel, the AGO presentation subtly points out Warhol’s ties to both the gallery and the city. This connection is brought to bear via a selection of works exclusive to the Toronto stop, including multiple commissioned portraits of the ballet superstar Karen Kain and, fetchingly, a neon Wayne Gretzky, whose placement in juxtaposition to “Oxidation Painting” (which Warhol created by coating a canvas with wet copper paint and getting his friends to urinate on it) serves as a commentary on the artist’s own fraught relationship with celebrity, commerce and the art world.
Moreover, by purposely positioning the retrospective in divergence with the polished colourful imagery and pithy quotables that have come to define Warhol as a pop culture figure, Brummel says he hopes it will help salvage the artist’s reputation as a precursor for the disposable nature and lavish absurdisms of modern art.
“The reality is every good painter has to reckon with the cult of admiration,” he says, pointing to the late-era series, “Stitched Photographs,” in which the artist toyed with his own authenticity by stitching a series of reprinted photographs together to form a repeated pattern. “And Warhol was a formidable precursor.”
In the works since 2017, “Andy Warhol” had been intended to debut at the AGO in March of 2021 and joined exhibitions across the sector and around the world which had been delayed or cancelled due to the pandemic.
According to CEO Stephan Jost, while it undoubtedly caused a number of logistical and financial headaches, the pandemic also allowed for something all too rare in the field: a moment to reflect.
Speaking during a brief interview under a posthumous self-portrait of Warhol, Jost explains that over the past year he “learned to stop talking and listen.”
“[The pandemic] allowed us to ask ourselves what are we actually doing and why are we actually doing this? That’s framed as an existential question, but it actually reminded people why they do what they do,” he says. “What I discovered was, on a basic level, we’re doing fine and that’s because everybody, from the night guards to our board, pulled their weight. That gives you a lot of confidence”
In addition, Jost says the break gave the heads of many of the city’s cultural organizations a chance to retrench and consider how best to reinvigorate what has been one of the hardest hit sectors.
“We used to meet maybe quarterly and now it’s every two weeks,” he says of the group, which includes representatives from the National Ballet, Harbourfront Centre, Canadian Opera Company and Soulpepper Theatre. “We’re all trying to figure it out and it’s actually been great to find a common learning.”
As for the near future, Jost says he’s excited for the gallery to come “roaring back,” beginning with the Warhol exhibition, which runs until Oct. 24, to be joined by, beginning Oct. 9, a blockbuster exhibition focusing on Picasso’s Blue Period.
“It’s the best exhibition schedule the AGO has ever had,” Jost exclaims. “We want to be all in on culture.”
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Art Beat: Prize-winning author pays Coast a virtual visit – Coast Reporter
The Sunshine Coast Arts Council’s Reading Series presents author Gil Adamson on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. Adamson will read from her recent novel, Ridgerunner, a finalist for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and winner of the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Set in the Canadian and U.S. West in 1917, the book is a sequel to Adamson’s well-received first novel, Outlander. Publisher House of Anansi described Ridgerunner as “a vivid historical novel that draws from the epic tradition… a literary Western brimming with a cast of unforgettable characters touched with humour and loss, and steeped in the wild of the natural world.” The reading is a Zoom event and it’s free. Register in advance through eventbrite.ca.
A Beautiful Mess
FibreWorks Studio & Gallery in Madeira Park is holding an opening reception on Saturday, Sept. 18 for its new exhibition, A Beautiful Mess: the joyful & random discovery of the artistic process. Creating something real out of the imagination can be a dishevelled and uncertain undertaking, usually carried out in private. Here, FibreWorks is turning that inside-out. “This show aims to create a sense of intimacy between the artist and the public.” The reception runs from 2 to 4 p.m. The show will run until Oct.31.
The Roberts Creek Legion has helped keep live music going on the Sunshine Coast through the warmer days over the past 18 months, thanks to its outdoor stage. Those setups have kept patrons in the fresh air and safely separated. Now the club is moving its visiting bands back to its indoor stage – and visitors onto its new dance floor – with a “Grande Re-Opening” on Friday, Sept. 17, featuring the Ween tribute band, Captain Fantasy. Doors at 7 p.m. The legion follows on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 7 to 11 p.m. with a string of acts, including The Locals, Eddy Edrick, Michelle Morand, and an open-stage jam. Proof of vaccination will be required for admission to all shows.
The Locals also play the outdoor venue at Tapworks in Gibsons on Saturday, from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. That might depend on the weather, as (at press time) heavy rain was forecast for Saturday.
The Clubhouse Restaurant in Pender Harbour presents Karl Kirkaldy on Friday, Sept. 17, from 5 to 8 p.m. On Sunday, Sept. 19, Half Cut and The Slackers rock the Clubhouse from 2 to 5 p.m.
Joe Stanton is scheduled to entertain on Saturday, Sept. 18 on the patio at the Backeddy Resort and Marina in Egmont. Again, that’s weather-dependent.
Let us know about your event by email at email@example.com.
Reconciliation through Indigenous art is the theme at a Calgary mall – CTV News Calgary
The exhibit features work from 17 Indigenous artists and is located in Southcentre Mall’s Art Corner on the second floor.
Tapisa Kilabuk is one of the event organizers with the Calgary Alliance for the Common Good that’s collaborating with Colouring it Forward Reconciliation Society for the six week long exhibit.
“Just having this kind of representation in Calgary is just so wonderful and so beautiful and so inclusive,” said Kilabuk. “When I was here the other day helping with the orange shirts and I was overwhelmed with emotion because I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The federal government recently declared September 30th as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. It’s a day for Canadians to spread awareness and reflect on the tragedies experienced by Indigenous people as a result of the country’s former residential school system.
Alexandra Velosa is the marketing manager at Southcentre Mall which is a big supporter of the arts community. The artwork for the exhibit is hung from the ceiling and on the back of each piece are recommendations about how everyone can take steps to help foster reconciliation.
“We all want to make a difference,” said Velosa. “We just sometimes don’t know how and this is what the art exhibit is giving us, it’s giving us the information we need to take little actions to be part of the reconciliation.”
The space has been open to the public since the start of September. Close to 11,000 people visit it daily.
“A big part of our role with Colour it Forward Reconciliation Society is reconciliation through the arts,” said Kilabuk. “That gives people the space to come together, to learn more, to appreciate one another, to admire one another and really create those fundamental relationships in our community that will create a better community in the future.”
WHITE BUFFALO MOON
Keevin Rider is one of the artists taking part in the exhibit. His piece is titled White Buffalo Moon. A buffalo on the left side of the painting represents the people, seven empty lodges represent death, loneliness, sorrow, mourning, grief, hurt, depression. A white buffalo on the right represents healing and looks towards the buffalo on the left letting him know that he is there to help heal the people.
Rider says he’s a product of his parents attending residential schools.
“My dad was Stoney Nakoda, my mom was Blackfoot, Blood,” said Rider. “They can speak their language fluently but they thought it would be better for us not to because of what residential (schools) taught them: it taught them not to speak their language, don’t use your culture.”
Now Rider is starting to learn his native languages at 57 years old. He says painting puts him in a good space and helps him heal. He’s proud to be included in the exhibit and is hopeful that visitors will learn from the stories of the art and appreciate the work of the Indigenous artists featured.
The mall is still finalizing details of how it will host the first observance of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th to follow provincial health measures. The exhibit will be open until mid-October.
Art show in Minto – Wellington Advertiser
HARRISTON – The Minto Arts Council is hosting its first show of the year at the Minto Art Gallery. Showcasing the Saugeen Artist Guild, the show is entitled Reflections from the Saugeen Artists Guild.
This show features multiple works from over 20 artists and includes a variety of styles and mediums, including oil paintings, watercolours, stained glass, mixed media, encaustic, jewelry, photography and works with polymer clay.
“This is truly a very diverse show and we are so proud to be able to bring this to our community,” gallery officials state.
The show officially opened Sept. 9 and runs until Oct. 2.
The gallery, located at 88 Mill Street on the third floor of the Harriston branch of the Wellington County Library, is open:
– Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 to 8pm;
– Wednesdays and Fridays from 2 to 4pm; and
– Saturdays, 11am to 1pm.
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