Monday, November 13, 2017

McMichael Sunday

We're back from our trip to the McMichael.  It was fun, though I do wish I had felt better the past two Sundays and had been able to take the art bus, since I could have used the time to read instead of driving.  It would have been vastly less stressful and considerably cheaper, though I suppose there is some utility in not just forgetting how to drive around Toronto.  Anyway, I'll definitely keep an eye out to see if the art bus runs next summer and early fall.

We made fairly good time, leaving at 10:30 and arriving about 11:20.  There was one hairy moment trying to make the move from the 401 to the 400 N where people wouldn't let me get over, but I managed more or less at the last minute to cut across.  (Also, I couldn't believe that the ZipCar didn't have a CD player at all, which made the ride less enjoyable.)

I had hoped that some trees would still have their autumn leafs out, but the cold snap Friday and Saturday pretty much took care of all them.  I guess there is a certain austere beauty to winter (and you can even see a dusting of snow in some photos), but again two weekends ago would have been nicer for sure.

Inside looking out

One thing that was a little disconcerting was how much of the Group of Seven was not on display.  The main entrance normally is a mix of the Group of Seven artists, but this time it was only Tom Thomson and Joyce Weiland.  While she apparently was inspired by him, the pairing doesn't make a lot of sense and her largely conceptual art truly suffers in comparison to Thomson's.  Here for instance is her piece The Arctic Belongs to Itself.

In contrast, here are a couple of Thomson's smaller pieces.

Also, the space given to this exhibit meant that most of the actual Group of Seven paintings were off in storage.  I haven't seen my favourite Varley painting of the night ferry from Vancouver in about 2 years.  (Actually most of their masterworks are no longer on display, which is frustrating.)

The next exhibit, Cutting Ice, had some charm but just didn't feel like there was a lot of craft behind the pieces (mostly by Annie Pootoogook).  They did focus a bit on the routine and were generally domestic scenes.

Annie Pootoogook, Dr. Phil, 2006

Annie Pootoogook, Morning Routine, 2003

They aren't the same (as they are simpler and reflect a less cluttered world), but I had just a bit of a flashback to this Kurelek piece about a bachelor (at the AGO).

The next two rooms had guitars inspired by the Group of Seven.  I have to admit, I was somewhat regretting the trip out, but then we went into the Alex Janvier exhibit.  Apparently this was originally at the National Gallery, but it has transferred to the McMichael (maybe losing just a few of the paintings) and it will run through Jan. 21.

I was really gripped by these pieces, as it is such an interesting combination of abstract form and First Nations imagery.  In the end, it was definitely worth the trip to see this exhibit, and I would encourage people to check it out.

This piece is Janvier's homage to Daphne Odjig.

This one was really interesting in person, as there is a reasonably accomplished abstract expressionist painting but then it is covered with thin lines out of the op art toolbox, and the focus keeps shifting.  I don't ever recall seeing a painting work in precisely this way, and it was kind of an exciting discovery.

These were among our favourites, but there were many excellent paintings on view.  I checked out the catalog, but it was just a bit too pricey ($40).  Given that quite a few seem to have been printed up, I'll keep my eyes open at BMV and Book City.  I should be able to pick one up in the next few months for $25 or less, but in the meantime, I can check one out of the library to study these paintings a bit better.

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