The ‘big’ shows

It’s not enough to be a simple exhibition anymore. That time has come to an abrupt end.

Now, there are only ‘events.’ Ticketed events. Advanced ticketed events. On the hour. Right this way.


What I believed to be an exhibition of landscapes by founding Group of Seven member, the Canadian artist LAWREN HARRIS, is being touted by AGO marketing as “A Date with Steve,” comedian Steve Martin that is, a collector of Harris’ work and (one presumes) a guy you’d want to go out with.

The  strength of this exhibition is formative works by Harris depicting a Ward of the city circa 1910’s in the very area where the AGO now stands/expands. This evolves into the larger Northern landscapes Harris is best known for. A few truly breathtaking.

It’s become easy for critics to dismiss glass artist DALE CHIHULY since his ‘factory’ work has grown commercially gracing the Bellagio in Vegas, his glass reeds adorning wealthier patrons ponds. And critics here have been particularly bemused, if not outright harsh, with his current installment at the ROM.

I was first enchanted by Chihuly at the Sandra Ainsley Gallery a number of years back when she held that dramatic space at the Distillery. Every turn heralded a new marvel of light, shape, intensity, and colour.

Sadly, the lower level space at the ROM is simply too open to allow for such individual discovery, and as one is chatteled through, it does come across rather as a ride in an amusement park, sans jingle.

But amuses and delights, it does. If this is your first introduction to Chihuly, enjoy.


The Steve Martin Show • Art Gallery of Ontario • now thru September 18th 2016

The Vegas Act • Royal Ontario Museum • now thru January 2nd 2017

Photos and text: Jeff Kirby

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