Sunday, May 31, 2015

Photography in Toronto

I do feel like I let a couple of things slip away from me, mostly due to being pretty busy in May.  However, it is just as true that one cannot follow everything, particularly in a city like Toronto.  I do a pretty good job of following the theatre scene and the orchestral classical concerts, as well as whatever is on at the AGO.  It turns out that there is a really active chamber music scene in Toronto, which I only occasionally tap into, and I have not explored private art galleries at all (this is something I did sporadically in Chicago).  In part, I find neither the Star nor Now does a particularly good job of covering art galleries, though the Star is just a bit better.  Nonetheless, they usually put out a small blurb on a show right around the time it is closing.

Well, I wasn't much better, giving people only a day or two notice on the photography show at MOCCA, which closed today.  It was actually two shows -- a series of classic black and white photos from masters such as Paul Strand and Man Ray on loan from the National Gallery and contemporary digital photographs.  I definitely preferred the older photos, though there were a few interesting textures in the newer pieces.  MOCCA also has some site-specific photos by Korean artist Jihyun Jung where he paints a room red in a building that is slated to be torn down.  MOCCA seems intent on leaving these photos in place until the building they are in is torn down.

I had a chance to talk a bit with one of the key curators and they do have a new location for MOCCA, but it isn't going to be revealed for a while.  They do have one more blow-out exhibit by Dean Baldwin that will take place over the summer.  I'll have to make sure I make it out there in time.  I didn't get to MOCCA enough to feel nostalgic about its relocation, but I will say that I thought all the exhibits I saw over this past year made me think at least a little bit, with my favourite being the Douglas Coupland exhibit (or rather half of it).

Anyway, it turns out that Scotiabank is sponsoring all this photography around town.  They had this thick catalog that was free and had quite a number of photos from MOCCA and other major exhibitions.  I saw that the Ryerson Image Centre had three related shows, though the two that I want to see are continuing through June 28, so I'll catch them later in June.  It just wasn't worth trying to make the trip over there for one show that only looked marginally interesting to me.

In general, the main photography exhibits did close today (or even yesterday).  Had I gone through the catalog before getting on the streetcar, I might have gone a couple blocks further west to the Gladstone Hotel.  I didn't do that, but I did go to the Bau-Xi Gallery and obviously Bau-Xi Photo Gallery.  Even though these galleries are just across from the AGO (and open on Sundays!), I hadn't wandered in previously.  I probably will do so on a more frequent basis.  Anyway, the main reason I went was to see Chris Shepherd's Underground exhibit, which are photos of the Toronto and Montreal subways.  Shepherd keeps up a blog, which he updates with moderate frequency.  It turns out that this is actually his third exhibit on the general theme of underground stations at Bau-Xi Gallery (all of them can be accessed here).  While the original prints are a bit out of my price range, it turns out he is going to be heading off to London to do more photos of the Underground there.  If these eventually all end up in a monograph, I might pick it up.  Not sure that I have a favourite, but I did find it a bit amusing that he has immortalized the Pape subway station.

They told me I could go downstairs, and I was really a bit astonished to learn that the gallery also represents Michael Wolf, with whom I am familiar through his Transparent City series based in Chicago (which I actually saw in Chicago in a different gallery) and his work in Hong Kong.  His latest project is photographing the rooftops of Paris, which are neat though a bit repetitive.  Not sure I would pick up a monograph on that or not.  However, I really like this print (though it is even more out of my price range).  Well, maybe if I hit the lottery some day.

Let me close by going over the photography exhibits that seem of interest and that are continuing over into June.  As I already mentioned, Ryerson's shows run through June 28.  I believe the Lorenzo Vitturi exhibit at Contact Gallery runs through June 27.  There is an exhibit on Yto Barrada that is split between Prefix Institute and A Space Gallery (both at 401 Richmond W) that run through mid July.  There is an exhibit on Chih-Chien Wang at the Art Gallery of Mississauga through June 21 (the one I am most likely not to be able to make, though one never knows).  Finally, not open yet, but opening in July at AGO is an exhibit called Camera Atomica, which is all about the nuclear age.  That looks pretty interesting, and I'll be sure to check it out.  So while I did miss a few worthy exhibits, there is still quite a bit to check out in the next few weeks.

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