art galleries

These are the exhibits on display at Toronto art galleries this fall

From facial recognition technology to Winnie-the-Pooh and more

Artist Anni Albers once said, “Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.”

During these difficult times, the opportunity to head into a gallery, and immerse oneself in works of art is something to be cherished. It is something that can provide some solace in these trying times. With COVID measures firmly in place, galleries across the city are opening their doors for in-person experiences this fall. So, don that face mask, read up on best practices (policies differ; opening hours may have changed) and head on over to one of these great exhibits.



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Museum of Contemporary Art

There’s a lot going on at the Museum of Contemporary Art this fall, featuring both local and international artists such as Fatma Bucak, Yazan Khalili, Mika Rottenberg, Krista Belle Stewart and Michael Lin.

Commissioned by MOCA, painter Michael Lin’s vivid archipelago island mural takes over the entrance floor from October to February as a direct response to today’s social distancing practices. Palestine-based artist Yazan Khalili’s unsettling work “Medusa” (Sept. 3 – Nov. 15) is also a timely response to facial recognition technology that was created before the pandemic, now presenting another layer of meaning in these masked times. The practices of Kurdish-Turkish Fatma Bucak and Krista Belle Stewart, a member of the Upper Nicola Band of the Nsyilxcen Nation in British Columbia, combine in “Arts of Erasure” (Oct. 1 – Jan. 3) to create a dialogue around history, heritage and identity as their distinct interpretations of borderline experience speak to similar themes. And, Argentinian-American Mika Rottenberg’s first showcase in Toronto, “Spaghetti Blockchain” (Nov. 12 – Mar. 21), addresses “hyper-capitalism” through installations of film, architecture and sculpture, within an angle of sustainability. If you can’t make it in person, check out MOCA’s online platform, “Shift Key” (Sept. to Dec.), with video works that touch upon ideas of slowness, collective narratives and memory, as selected by independent curator, Daisy Desrosiers.

Current hours of operation include Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6  p.m. and Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the first hour of each day reserved for seniors and those at a greater health risk.



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Art Toronto going cross-country

Billed as Canada’s biggest art fair, Art Toronto is for the first time in its 21-year history launching as both a physical event and an online experience. From Oct. 28 to Nov. 8, instead of its usual large digs of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, the in-person part of the fair will take place in smaller, satellite galleries spread out across the country, in Vancouver, Calgary and Montreal as well as Toronto. Led by director Mia Nielsen, exhibitors have yet to be announced, but visitors can expect the extensive mix of modern and contemporary work from Canadian and international artists that Art Toronto has consistently presented over the last two decades – now accessible to art lovers nation-wide.



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Happy 100th birthday to Christopher Robin, the boy who dreamed Winnie into our world. #ROMWinnie

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Royal Ontario Museum

Can anyone even see his name without humming along with that chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff? Winnie-the-Pooh is indeed a classic and he’s coming to the Royal Ontario Museum (Sept. 1 to Jan. 17). Yes, with Tigger, too. Organized by London, UK’s Victoria and Albert Museum, this family-friendly exhibit will explore Pooh’s Canadian connection, as well as the origins of A.A. Milne’s beloved stories about the Hundred Acre Wood and its timeless, magical inhabitants. This exhibit was forced to close in March due to the pandemic lockdown but has now been able to re-open after meeting new health and safety measures. Interactivity within the exhibit is offered in various formats to meet visitor comfort levels, from digital to hands-on.

Other opportunities for exploration within the museum include The Cloth that Changed the World: India’s Painted and Printed Cottons (opening Sept. 12) and Egyptian Mummies: Ancient Lives. New Discoveries (opening Sept. 19). Note that the Bat Cave, CIBC Discovery Gallery, Patrick and Barbara Keenan Family Gallery of Hands-on Biodiversity, and coat check all remain closed.

The ROM is currently open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:30 pm, and visitors need to book timed tickets online in advance.



Edward Burtynsky at the Nicholas Metivier Gallery

A direct result of self-isolation, Edward Burtynsky’s latest photo collection, “Natural Order,” was shot in the forests of Grey County, Ontario, and comes to Nicholas Metivier Gallery from Sept. 3-26 (in-person and online). This international debut from the landscape legend marks his return to the region, as Burtynsky first photographed Grey County almost 40 years ago. In his large-scale photographs, nature’s detail and density are amplified through the ordered chaos of winter’s transition into spring.

Ten selections from the exhibit have been made into a special boxed portfolio and book, proceeds of which will be donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario and Ryerson Image Centre in Toronto to help acquire the works of emerging to mid-career Canadian photographic artists.

Current summer hours include Tuesday to Friday, 12-5 p.m, and appointments are advised for private viewings.



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Takao Tanabe at Mira Godard Gallery 

A series of haunting landscape paintings by Order of Canada recipient Takao Tanabe comes to Mira Godard Gallery from Sept. 19 to Oct. 10. Tanabe, a former artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre, has been an active Canadian painter and printmaker for 70 years, and has worked with Mira Godard Gallery for 55 years. Located in Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighbourhood, the gallery offers three floors of exhibition space and is also presenting works by Michael Thompson’s collection of new drawings, “Studies in Sunlight” (Sept. 12 – Oct. 10).

Hours of operation include Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, or by appointment.



Photography at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Two new photography collections coming to the Art Gallery of Ontario in October deal with the question of what a photograph can actually document. “Documents, 1960s – 1970s” highlights times of social change from Bamako to Mumbai, Pretoria to Toronto. “Dawoud Bey, John Edmonds and Wardell Milan” presents the three contemporary African-American artists as they examine Black representation and experience from their respective generations (Bey, b. 1953, Edmonds, b. 1990, and Milan, b. 1977). Part of the 2020 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, these two collections were postponed due to COVID-19, but will now run from Oct. 31 to April 18. Other exhibitions currently on at the AGO include “Illusions: the Art of Magic” and “Diane Arbus: Photographs, 1956-1971” (both close Nov. 8).

Hours of operation include Thursday to Sunday, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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