A Visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens

Last weekend, I got in the car, and left the city to see the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. The place is huge (Canada’s largest) and well worth checking out.

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ABOVE: Dave Hinds, Pollinizers, sculpture

BELOW: Steven Siegal, Land, sculpture

If you’re in the Toronto area and have a car, or know someone who does, you should jump in it and head down to the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) in Burlington, Ontario. I went for the first time last weekend, and I was impressed.

The first thing to note is that this place is not only huge, but spread out over several locations. Fortunately, there is a shuttle bus that runs frequently, and even better, it’s included with your admission ($16). Each garden is unique, and depending upon the season, offers something new.

If art is your thing (it is mine) you can see some at the International Sculpture Garden in Hendrie Park. It’s a small collection, and the artists within it are relatively unknown, but the work is fairly good, and new sculptures appear to be added regularly.

If you’re looking for a day out away from the city, and you love to walk among nature, then this place is for you.

A Brief History of John Baldessari

I recently went down a YouTube rabbit hole and came across a great little video about conceptual artist John Baldessari (narrated by Tom Waits). What an interesting guy.

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ABOVE: John Baldessari, Stonehenge (With Two Persons) Violet, 2005, mixografin print on handmade paper, edition 60, 29 x 32 inches

While I recognize the importance of conceptual art to the modern art canon, more often than not, it’s total bullshit. One conceptual artist I do admire is John Baldessari – he manages to push the boundaries of art without being annoyingly pretentious about it.

I recently saw a great little video about him on YouTube, and in it, he comes across as a pretty decent guy (not pretentious at all). I had planned to embed it, but after reading a bit about copyright, I’ve decided instead to provide a link. It’s only 6 minutes long and it’s super fun.

Here’s the link.

Summer Art Shows in Toronto

In addition to all the city’s outdoor arts and craft fairs, there are two very big artists coming to town this summer – one a national treasure, the other an international star.

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ABOVE: Lawren Harris, Lake and Mountains, 1928, oil on canvas, 51.5 x 63.25 inches

BELOW: Dale Chihuly, Persian Ceiling, 2012, installation, 25 x 15 feet

For those looking to see art by notable artists:

The Idea of North: The Painting of Lawren Harris

Art Gallery of Ontario July 1 – September 18

Co-organized with the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, and co-curated by Steve Martin, The Idea of North brings to the AGO over 30 paintings by one of Canada’s most beloved artists.

CHIHULY

The Royal Ontario Museum June 25 – January 2, 2017

In a few weeks, acclaimed glass artist Dale Chihuly will be bringing some of his fragile installations to the ROM. Critics be damned, this show promises to be a crowd pleaser.

For those looking to buy art at reasonable prices – from artists who need the support:

Riverdale Art Walk

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

Art Walk North

Queen West Art Crawl

Canadian Art Quotes

I’m feeling lazy this week, so instead of writing another post, here are a few quotes from some of Canada’s greatest artists. I’ll post more when I’m feeling lazy again.

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Emily Carr

I think that one’s art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows.

Be careful that you do not write or paint anything that is not your own, that you don’t know in your own soul.

The men resent a woman getting any honour in what they consider is essentially their field. Men painters mostly despise women painters. So I have decided to stop squirming, to throw any honour in with Canada and women.

Lawren Harris

Beauty is a living abiding presence completely untouchable by all the devices of man, such as moral codes, creeds, intellectual analysis, games and cliches, the acquisitive instinct, or lust for anything whatsoever.

Art must take to the road and risk all for the glory of adventure.

Every work of art which really moves us is in some degree a revelation – it changes us.

Norval Morrisseau

Among the Indians, as among other nations, some people are born artists, but most are not. I am a born artist. I have as much interest in my people as any anthropologist, and I have studied our culture and lore. My aim is to reassemble the pieces of a once proud culture, and to show the dignity and bravery of my people.

My goal is to break the barrier between the white world and mine. I wish only one thing, to be an artist and to be respected as one – and my paintings to be seen by all people.

My heart and soul is reflected into my mind and my mind is reflected into my hands.

Art in the U.S Capitol

Last week, I wrote about my trip to Washington D.C. This week, I’m going to write about all the art galleries I visited. If you’re an art lover like me, this city is for for you.

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ABOVE: Pierre-Auguste Renior, Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1880-81, oil on canvas, 51 x 68 inches (as seen at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C.)

BELOW: Beverly Pepper, Ex Cathedra, 1967, sculpture, 101.5 x 90 x 83 inches (as seen at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C.)

Whatever your taste, there is a ton of art and culture on display in Washington D.C. Here are my thoughts on the galleries I visited.

American Art Museum

A stellar museum all round, but where it really shines is in the contemporary art department – arguably the best D.C. has to offer in that regard.

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

Looks like a small gallery from the ground level, but, as looks are often deceiving, contains several floors underground. Houses a wide variety of Asian art and artifacts.

Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

The city’s best designed art museum – all galleries should be this simple to navigate. It’s permanent collection of international contemporary art is excellent, as is it’s sculpture garden.

National Gallery of Art

By far, the best gallery in D.C. Not much in the way of contemporary art, but incredible everywhere else. It’s sculpture garden, which does include contemporary work, is awesome too.

National Museum of African Art

Like the Sackler, most exhibitions are housed underground. And, like the Sackler, it’s definitely worth a visit. Takes about an hour.

National Museum of Women in the Arts

Open since 1897, the NMWA is the only museum in America dedicated exclusively to female artists. It hosts traveling exhibitions in addition to it’s permanent collection, which includes work by Cassatt and Kahlo.

National Portrait Gallery

Sharing a beautiful atrium with the American Art Museum, this gallery is full of famous faces. The official presidential portraits are themselves worth the trip.

The Phillips Collection

America’s first modern art museum packs a lot of star power into a small space. Some of the best art in the city.

Renwick Gallery

A small gallery across from the White House. Not sure about it’s permanent collection, but the temporary exhibition we saw was wonderful.

The Wonders of Washington D.C.

Whatever your interest, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in Washington D.C. If anything, you’ll run out of time long before you’ve managed to see it all.

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From Capitol Hill and the National Mall, to the many museums and galleries in between, Washington D.C. has a ton to offer. Over the course of one week, I ran myself ragged, nearly killed my girlfriend in the process, and lost 5 pounds. But, to my credit, I saw almost everything. Here’s a brief post on that.

Like many, our first stop was the White House. Inside or out, the world’s most famous residence is a must see, but if you’re unable to see it inside (we weren’t), then you’ll definitely want to check out it’s visitor center. It’s a small museum, but it gives you a lot of interesting info on the place.

Next up, was the National Mall. It takes a couple hours to see everything, but it contains some of Washington’s most powerful symbols, among them the Washington, Lincoln and Vietnam War Memorial’s. If possible, visit once during the day, then again at night. The photo opportunities are endless.

Owing to a sketchy weather report, we decided to do all the outdoor stuff early in the week, so we hopped on the subway, and went on a tour of Arlington Cemetery with DC By Foot. It was incredible. I really cannot say enough about how impressed we were with both the cemetery, and our tour guide. From there, we walked to the The United States Marine Corps War Memorial, then hopped back on the subway and visited the The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial. Needless to say, our second day in Washington D.C. was a powerful and memorable one.

Day three was spent touring the National ArchivesCapitol Hill, and the Library of Congress. The archive building, which house the Bill of Rights, Constitution, and Declaration of Independence is a quick but necessary see. Capitol Hill, while under construction, is still worth the free tour, and the Library of Congress is absolutely spectacular. We had no idea it was so beautiful inside.

Having spent the first few days exploring mostly outdoors, we decided to tackle the many museums and galleries D.C. has to offer, and over the next few days, saw 16 of them. To keep things short, I’ll write a review of all the art galleries at a later date, and focus instead on the other institutions we visited. The Smithsonian Museums of American History, Natural History and Air and Space are the top three, but all the others are great too. Of the non-Smithsonians, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was by far the most impactful. Emotionally draining, but impactful.

With our week coming to a close, we squeezed in a tour of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing, where they produce billions of dollars a year, then spent our last afternoon taking a self-guided tour of Georgetown, which, if you can swing it, I highly suggest.

A few final thoughts: Washington D.C. is a safe, clean, and friendly little city with enough history and culture to rival the oldest, and largest cities in the world. It is truly a bucket list destination.