Party of the week: Baroque Ball in support of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto - The Globe and Mail - Canada News Media
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Party of the week: Baroque Ball in support of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto – The Globe and Mail



Art Bash! Baroque Ball in support of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

In just three years, Art Bash!, which serves as the Art Gallery of Ontario’s key fundraiser, has taken one of the top spots on Toronto’s fall social calendar. Andy Warhol’s foil-lined New York factory and the wonderfully eccentric style of Venetian arts patron Marchesa Casati (an Augustus John portrait of the flame-haired figure is among the galleries most beloved), inspired the first and second incarnations of the event. For year three, held on Nov. 23, the institution looked to its current exhibition, Early Rubens, and settled on baroque – complete with all things gilded and ornate – as the guiding theme.

Baillie Court on the gallery’s third floor looked rather marvellous, done up for the occasion by party designer Jeff Roick with tables that brimmed with flowers. Overhead hung rather contemporary metal scaffolding that held wonderful digital prints that called to mind Michelangelo’s great ceilings in the Sistine Chapel. Nearby, a substantial still life by Briony Douglas – with beachball-sized oranges and grapes as big as your head – titled Big Baroque was on offer. With speeches kept to a minimum, conversation during dinner flowed. My seatmate was fashion designer Mani Jassal, a bright talent whose spirited spin on traditional Indian dressing has garnered a considerable following and was included in a fashion showcase that popped-up during the evening.

After dinner, dessert was served downstairs in Walker Court under the Frank Gehry-designed staircase. Dotting the perimeter of the space were nude models more commonly seen at the gallery’s popular life-drawing classes (fitting as funds from the eve support AGO programming and education). In the centre of it all was a dancing space, which to my delight, actually saw the soles of Toronto’s big-givers’ shoes. Among them out at this latest, co-chaired by Sonja Berman and Dean Bender: philanthropist Emmanuelle Gattuso; financier Ira Gluskin and Maxine Granovsky Gluskin, who serves as honorary chair of the AGO board of trustees; real-estate developer David Feldman and his wife, Angela, who served on the event committee; AGO board of trustees vice-presidents Andrew Federer, vice-chairman at RBC Capital Markets (RBC served as a presenting sponsor), philanthropist Rosamond Ivey, and Jay Smith (first VP at CIBC Wood Gundy); Christie’s international consultant Brett Sherlock; and of course, AGO director and CEO Stephan Jost and his husband, Will Scott. North of $860,000 was raised during the evening. Early Rubens runs through January 5.

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Brett Sherlock.

Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Devin Connell and Darcy Morris.

Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Event co-chair Sonja Berman with Emmanuelle Gattuso.

Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Lynda Latner and Maxine Granovsky Gluskin.

Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

Marianne Guizzetti and Robin Turack.

Ryan Emberley/The Globe and Mail

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Even with matches, Scouts learn starting campfires is an art – Owen Sound Sun Times



Corbin Smith, 11, and Jeremy Lewis, 12, both of the 1st Owen Sound Scouts, learn how hard it is to make a fire with a plank of wood, a knife and matches at the 57th annual Scout campout in Harrison Park on Saturday, January 25, 2020 in Owen Sound, Ont. Scott Dunn/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

Maybe you think all you need is a match to start a fire.

Tell that to the Scouts who tried and tried again to build self-sustaining fires using only matches, a small wooden plank and a knife Saturday.

Down in Harrison Park at the 57thannual Scout campout, 104 Scouts and leaders took part in fun events including building fires, lashing, sawing logs, and the rescue mission, a culmination of the self-sufficiency training all Scouts get.

It was a grey, damp and cool day. Scattered drops of rain added extra challenge to the fire-building event. The air smelled of wood smoke though, so fire was possible.

Corbin Smith, 11, and Jeremy Lewis, 12, both with the 1stOwen Sound Scouts, were given 10 minutes to get a fire going. They used three matches. When the first one went out, they used a second to light the first like kindling, then came the third.

After seven minutes of trying, their fire sustained for a minute. Just starting a fire earned points. Using fewer matches scored more points. Each minute the fire lasted added more points too.

The trick demonstrated later was to take a piece of the quarter-inch-thick plank supplied. With a very sharp knife, slice thin peels of wood, creating a flayed piece of wood containing a series of shavings. Whittle similar types of tinder, assemble into a tepee and light.

One year a Scout did all of that and created a sustained fire in two minutes.

At the 57th annual Scout campout in Harrison Park, Scout leaders Jeff Bowen, left, of the 1st Mildmay Scouts, and Nick Noseworthy, of the 4th Orangeville Scouts, hold in their hands wood carefully carved such that it will catch fire more easily and sustain a fire on Saturday, January 25, 2020 in Owen Sound, Ont. Scott Dunn/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

Afterwards, Jeremy said it was fun. “I don’t get to start fires that often at home because, like any other parent, (they) would just tell you no,” he said. “You definitely get to learn a lot, by people who know what they’re doing.”

“And you get to meet new friends. That’s definitely one thing.”

Corbin, in his second year of Scouting, said it’s taught him a lot too, including how to use a knife safely. They’re practical things he’ll need someday, Corbin said.

Each safety skill certification must be earned. Once achieved, a permission card is awarded, to use a knife, hatchet or to build a fire. Getting caught using unsafe practices incurs a penalty though. After four penalties, the permission card must be surrendered until requalification is achieved for a new one.

The boys said they enjoy camping – this was about their fourth campout this year – and the chance to meet new people, including from the United States.

None came from the U.S. this year because they come every other year. But the Scouts decided to fly the U.S. flag and sing the American national anthem as a gesture of kinship, camp director Len Cox said.

Still, Scouts from Collingwood, Barrie, Lucknow, Hanover, Owen Sound, Chesley, Mildmay, Flesherton, Orangeville and Oshawa slept in tents at the back of the park and enjoyed being young boys and girls from different places, all on the same weekend campout.

Scouting isn’t as big as it once was though.

Troops in Walkerton and Kincardine have folded and troop numbers have been declining, 1stMildmay Scout leader Jeff Bowen said. He brought five Scouts from Mildmay, population about 1,000. He brought three more from Chesley.

Yet Scouting is growing in Orangeville, said 4thOrangeville Scout troop leader Nick Noseworthy, where population and demographics provide fertile ground for the youth self-improvement organization founded in 1907 by British Lt.-Gen. Robert Baden-Powell.

Sometimes it’s more because of a lack of volunteer leaders, including behind-the-scenes volunteers doing office work, Bowen and Noseworthy said. “I like sharing what I know. I like teaching kids. I like camping,” Noseworthy offered.

Kids’ skills aren’t as developed coming into Scouting as when Bowen and Noseworthy entered, they said. And conversations around the campfire tend more towards online gaming now.

“They also have a passion to come out here and be outdoors and learn new skills,” Noseworthy said.

“Because it’s not just learning about knots and fires, it’s responsibility. It’s taking ownership of their stuff, of other people, of taking care of other people, friendship. It’s life skills . . . It’s stuff they can take with them for the rest of their lives.”

Ryan Johnson, of Berkeley, helped members of the 1st Flesherton Scouts build a double igloo — one for the girls and one for the boys — at the 57th annual Scout campout in Harrison Park on Saturday, January 25, 2020 in Owen Sound, Ont. A tarp protected the top from rain but the Scouts reported sleeping in the igloo was too hot, and quiet. Scott Dunn/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network

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How a New York art class is helping the RCMP put faces and stories to mysterious skulls – The Globe and Mail



Forensic imaging specialist Joe Mullins adds clay muscles to the replica of a skull at the New York Academy of Art. Mr. Mullins’s assignment was to reconstruct the face of a man found dead on a Nova Scotia beach, while his students did the same for other human remains from an RCMP database.

Photography by Jeenah Moon/The Globe and Mail

The body washed ashore in a hurricane: Middle-aged male, pristine Terra work boots, tattered Urban Heritage jeans, face lost to decomposition and surf.

The location provided few leads.

Sandy Cove Beach, N.S., is situated along the Bay of Fundy’s southern shore. Powerful tides there are known to suck in flotsam from as far away as Boston before belching it back out into the Atlantic. With Hurricane Dorian’s churning winds added to the mix, it was impossible to say where the man had come from.

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When nobody from the tight-knit Digby area came forward last fall, investigators began looking more widely.

But as winter descended, the identity remained an enigma, and Digby Man was added, alongside 714 other entries, to the RCMP’s national database of unidentified remains.

The database is a storehouse for some of the country’s most vexing cases. Many show signs of violent ends — bullet holes, broken limbs, cracked skulls. But the entries consist largely of assorted bones and clothing fragments, not enough to create the facial reconstructions necessary for issuing public appeals.

To get anywhere on Digby Man, investigators needed a face. But how?

Earlier this month, the RCMP turned to art students and a world-renowned forensic imaging specialist — a conjurer of lost souls — for an answer. The force sent an industrious Mountie and 15 skulls to the Manhattan-based New York Art Academy in a last-ditch effort to solve some of the country’s toughest cases.

Within two weeks, the identity of Digby Man would be solved by means that show both the possibilities and limitations of the RCMP’s efforts.

“A face is just so vitally important to these cases,” said Corporal Charity Sampson, the RCMP identification specialist who accompanied the skulls to New York. “Without good facial reconstruction, they may be lost forever.”

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Joe Mullins explains the structure of the human skull to his students in New York.

The idea emerged from a class Ms. Sampson took last summer on facial imaging. Joe Mullins, the instructor, had earned headlines in previous years for conducting a one-week workshop at the New York Academy of Art where students performed facial reconstructions on unidentified skulls held by the city’s chief medical examiner. In just four years, the students, who are classically trained in anatomy, had been so successful reconstructing faces that they’d nearly cleared the city medical examiner’s backlog of unidentified skulls. That left Mr. Mullins with a quandary. He told Ms. Sampson that he needed skulls.

“I thought to myself, I bet I can get Joe some skulls,” she said.

The RCMP normally employs three forensic artists, but this would be a rare opportunity to complete 15 faces in five days. Over the next four months, Ms. Sampson overcame a series of bureaucratic hurdles. She got buy-in from the RCMP, convinced the B.C. Coroners Service and the Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service to put forward 15 well-preserved skulls and made nylon replicas of each one using a high-end 3-D printer at the National Research Council (handling and transporting real skulls has legal and ethical restrictions).

In the first weekend of January, Ms. Sampson hopped aboard an RCMP plane to New York City, more curious than ever about the backgrounds of the 15 skulls in her luggage.

“I have really thought of nothing else for five months,” she said shortly after landing. “I’m so excited to see faces on them. I have been looking at them a long time. A long time.”

Her thoughts kept wandering back to one skull in particular, Digby Man. “That’s the one that intrigues me most,” says Cpl. Sampson. “I’m from Nova Scotia. It’s the most recently recovered one. Memories are still fresh. It’s a good time to put a face on him and get him out to the public.”

MFA student Kelly Robert works on her project.

The art students got their skulls on a Monday.

Kelly Robert, an MFA student with more than 20 years of experience in jewelry production, rubbed a tattooed forearm in nervous anticipation. When Mr. Mullins, the instructor, finally handed her a skull, she expelled a long “wooooooow” as she stared into the hollow eye sockets. “Oh wow.”

Ms. Robert had done the class before. Her art tends toward more abstract sculpture, but she returned for the sense of altruism in the workshop. Her skull this time around, that of a white or Indigenous man discovered in Vancouver in 1989, had no teeth. “It’s like the mouth is pulling in the rest of the face,” she said.

Other students pored over the scant details that came with their subjects’ back stories.

One skull had been recovered near a chairlift on Whistler Mountain in 1987 with a clear bullet exit wound in the cranium. Another four came out of B.C.’s Fraser River between 1972 and 2008. One skull was discovered in 40 feet of water accompanied by underwear labelled Edmonton Psychiatric Center.

“These are lost, lost souls,” Mr. Mullins told his students. “There are family members out there frozen in uncertainty. Hopefully you can help answer some questions.”

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Mr. Mullins, surrounded by his students, gets to work on his project.

Mr. Mullins took on Digby Man.

Though computerized methods of facial reconstruction exist, Mr. Mullins prefers lower-tech tools: molding clay (200 pounds by week’s end), superglue, marbles, plastic straws, cheese cutters and assorted other sculpting tools.

“Even with a computer, it’s not like CSI,” he said. “There’s no instant add-face-to-skull button. It takes time.”

Despite the setting, this is not an art class, as Mr. Mullins continually reminds his students. “Leave your artistic license at the door, “ he warns. “You do not have it. There is no room for interpretation. You have to put the right face on.”

Most of the skulls come with detached jaw bones. The first order of business is attaching them using cotton balls, generous amounts of superglue and a dab of forensic humour. “Make sure you don’t get any cotton in your external auditory meatus,” Mr. Mullins says. “Better known as your ear hole.”

He teaches according to the Manchester Method of forensic facial reconstruction, which puts an emphasis on facial muscles and soft tissue thickness to accurately gauge facial proportions. It’s a science, but an imperfect one. In studies where subjects have to match a reconstructed face with an original, they generally pick the right one 70 per cent of the time. A 2006 study that compared two skull reconstructions to their original faces using CT imaging found that 67 per cent of the reconstructions were accurate to within 2mm. The tip of the nose showed the highest degree of error.

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Once the skulls are mounted on adjustable stands, the students layer 11 muscles on either side of the face. First is the temporalis, or temple. Last is the zygomaticus major, or the smile muscle. At this point, the skulls look somehow undignified, less human and more Terminator.

Next, students cut lengths of plastic straw coinciding with average soft tissue thickness at specific points on the skull. The pieces are depth markers guiding students on how thick or thin they should layer their clay skin. So adorned, the skulls acquire a distinctly spiky Hellraiser appearance.

As the week rolls by, Mr. Mullins gives demonstrations on eyes, ears, noses, lips and hair. The faces slowly come to life. The process has a profound effect on many of the students.

“It’s a little emotional,” says Anita Clipston, a Vancouver resident in the class working on a middle-aged Indigenous skull with dentures. She speaks in a respectful whisper, as if at a funeral. “When I went home last night I had two thoughts running through my head: Does this person have a family? And, if not, where do you have to be in life that you go missing and nobody is looking for you? In sculpting we’re used to working on generic skulls based on real ones, but this is a real life, a real person — we don’t know who. I thought I’d feel more scientific about this, but I do feel this responsibility now.”

She opted into the workshop both because of a long-time fascination with shows like CSI and for the opportunity to restore a name to the nameless. She specifically sought out an Indigenous subject.

“This means a great deal to me,” she says. “I’m keenly aware from my First Nations friends of how many Indigenous people do go missing in Vancouver.”

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Anita Clipston works on the skull of a middle-aged Indigenous man.

Mr. Mullins supplies eyes in the form of clear white marbles. Students draw a circular iris on each one, 11.5 mm in diameter, with a dot in the middle for a pupil. They use a brown (the most common eye colour) Sharpie to make a wagon-wheel pattern around the iris. Suddenly, it’s like 15 new souls have just entered the room.

“At the beginning, all the skulls look similar,” said Ms. Sampson. “By the time the eyes and lips go on, there was true personality in the room. It was incredible.”

There’s a formula to placing most parts of the face. The tops of the ears, for instance, align with the eyebrow ridge and the lobes typically line up with the tip of the nose. The shape of the lobes is related to the shape of the mastoid process, that pointy part of the skull directly behind the ears.

The nose is more complicated. Mr. Mullins shows his students how to project its shape by following the paths of the nasal bone (which forms the bridge) and the nasal spine (the bony projection between the nostrils). The nasal spine is one of the most telling points on any skull. It acts like an arrow to identify a nose that points up, down or straight ahead, often one of the key defining features of any face.

This little information-rich nub also happens to be one of the most fragile parts of the skull. “You can flick it with your finger and snap it off,” says Mr. Mullins. “Of the hundreds and hundreds of skulls I’ve done, it’s very rare that I get a good nasal spine. It’s one of the most elusive pieces of the skull.”

The Digby skull has no nasal spine, so Mr. Mullins has no choice but to give it a straight-ahead, generic nose.

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Mr. Mullins, lacking the cues in the bone needed for a more precise reconstruction of the nose, gave Digby Man a generic-looking nose.

By Thursday morning, Digby Man is nearing completion. The remains discovered on a Nova Scotia beach last year now has a face. Digby Man is handsome, with a tall forehead and sad eyes. Still, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Mr. Mullins has worked on hundreds of reconstructions that have led to dozens of identifications, though he doesn’t know exactly how many. He can never guess which ones will get solved.

“Remember, this is a last-ditch effort,” he said. “Nothing is happening with these cases otherwise.”

The Academy workshops have led to at least four positive identifications. In a previous class, Kathleen Gallo reconstructed the skull of an apparent migrant border crosser whose body was found in the desert of Pima County, Ariz. The man was identified shortly after Ms. Gallo’s finished sculpture went public and his remains have since been returned to his family. “After that, I was hooked,” says Ms. Gallo, who took the workshop again this year and is pursuing forensic reconstructions as a career. “Not only is it an artistic workout, but it’s a mental and ethical workout as well.”

Kathleen Gallo took the class before, reconstructing a skull from Arizona that helped identify an apparent border crosser.

The RCMP uploaded all the faces to on Jan. 13. Solid tips began to trickle in. For a positive ID to be made, someone would have to come forward linking the face to a name. Dental and DNA work would then be conducted to confirm the match. “You just need the right person to see that face,” says Cpl. Sampson, after returning to Ottawa. “It may not be today or even this year. At some point, the right person will see someone they love in this database and the link will be made. The important thing is they now have a face.”

One week later came a bombshell in the Digby case. Nova Scotia RCMP announced they’d identified the remains. There was a caveat: The reconstruction played an indirect role, at best.

Digby Man was actually Brent McLellan, a 43-year-old Saint John man who’d leapt from Reversing Falls Bridge the previous summer. A tourist’s photograph had provided confirmation of the death, but the body wasn’t recovered at the time.

He’d been a star athlete and belonged to the Saint John Sports Hall of Fame through his membership on 2001-2002 Saint John Alpines, winners of the 2001 Canadian Senior Baseball Championship. More recently, however, he’d struggled with a bipolar diagnosis and addictions issues, his mother said. The family held a memorial mass in July. Eight hundred people showed up, but it did little to comfort his mother.

“The whole time I’ve been thinking about Brent in that cold water,” Marjorie McLellan told The Globe this week. “That’s not a good thing for a parent to be thinking about every single day.”

The finished Digby Man reconstruction, shown in an RCMP handout picture, and Brent McLellan, shown in an undated family photo.

The day the workshop started, RCMP headquarters promoted the program on its social media feeds. Nova Scotia RCMP added a picture of the Terrra work boots from Digby Man. A friend of Mr. McLellan’s saw the photo and notified police, saying she’d been with Mr. McLellan when he bought the boots for a job at a graveyard. They had a DNA match within days.

“You will never know how good we felt that day when the DNA came back positive,” said Ms. McLellan. “Oh, it was just wonderful.”

She was less thrilled about her son’s reconstruction. It lacks perhaps the defining feature of Mr. McLellan’s face, an upturned nose. “I was disheartened when I first saw it because it didn’t look anything like Brent to me,” she said. “My girls looked at it and disagreed. They said if you look at the ears and the eyes it’s him.”

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The McLellan case offered Mr. Mullins a rare opportunity to compare his handiwork to the source material. He understands Ms. McLellan’s reservations, but says the absence of a nasal spine limited what he could do with the nose. “Without that nasal spine, the only thing you can do is build a straight-out nose,” he said. “That’s the only choice you have.”

Upon review, though, he says the work stands up. “When I did a side-to-side comparison, I felt pretty good,” he said. “The proportions are there. The stature is on point. Everything lines up where it should be. Given the information I had, it was the best face I could do.”

Without the publicity surrounding the workshop, it’s difficult to say whether the match would’ve been made. But the details don’t matter to Ms. McLellan. Any method that provides even a remote shot at recovering lost souls and providing relief to grieving families is worthwhile, she said. “This method maybe didn’t work for Brent, but I know it will work for others,” she said. “It was euphoria knowing that Brent wasn’t in that cold water anymore. Other families deserve that feeling.”

Mounties still have many more people to identify, with help from the New York class’s reconstructions.

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The Art World Has Discovered the Dolly Parton Meme Challenge



A Jeff Koons Dolly Parton meme by @jerrygogosian (courtesy of @jerrygogosian)

When Dolly Parton posted a grid of four photos of herself labeled “LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Tinder” — ingeniously captioned “Get you a woman who can do it all” — she may not have predicted the extent of the Internet’s fascination with grouping things into categories. The meme is officially having a viral moment, with celebrities from Mindy Kaling to Janet Jackson creating their own interpretations of themselves, their pets, or inanimate objects as each of the four social media platforms.

And, since art is but an imitation of life, museums, auction houses, and artists have stepped up to the challenge, too. “Get you a museum that can do it all,” said MFA Boston and London’s Natural History Museum in the captions to their Dolly Parton memes. Two versions by the anonymous Instagram account and art world éminence grise @JerryGogosian flaunt the many guises of Klaus Biesenbach and Larry Gagosian; another tells a brief history of Jeff Koons’s career, from shiny, high-powered $91 million rabbit sculpture (LinkedIn) to shapeless mound of Play-Doh (Facebook, obviously.)

In its ongoing and genuinely admirable effort to try to make Old Master paintings cool, Sotheby’s shows us “the many faces” of their upcoming Masters Weeks sales, and the Museo de Arte de Ponce in Puerto Rico highlights important works from their permanent collection.

Our favorite art-themed #DollyPartonChallenge memes below.

Dolly Parton Meme Challenge
A Larry Gagosian Dolly Parton meme by @jerrygogosian (courtesy of @jerrygogosian)
A Klaus Biesenbach Dolly Parton meme by Jerry Gogosian. (courtesy of @jerrygogosian)

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