Friday, December 12, 2008

As Promised: Personally Revelatory, Potentially Embarrassing Post



As promised in my previous post, some personal, potentially embarrassing revelations:
  • Today I really enjoyed watching videos of contemporary Canadian ceramicists in a little booth just off at the Gardiner Museum's modern ceramics section. That Harlan House on a potter's wheel, oh my god, mesmerizing! Crazy. And Walter Ostrom obsessed with his tortoise, Retlaw, in idyllic Nova Scotia studioland. (Ostrom calls tortoises something like "pots on legs," and therefore compelling to all ceramics types. He also says "Art is a reflection on life. Craft is life." A useful distinction, I think.) On the third level of the museum, I also became ashamed I hadn't seen the Gardiner's Days of the Dead show sooner. Besides some spectacular Tree of Life clay sculptures there was a very smart angle offered, looking at Mexican migrant workers in Ontario and the clay sculptures they make if offered the chance. Ends Jan 14. 
  • Also today I also took the cute mini-subway RT out to the University of Toronto at Scarborough's Doris McCarthy Gallery, where I saw Bill Burns's Bird Radio. This is a great little show. Not as funny as Burns's show at MKG127 earlier this year, but more poignant. For it, elementary schoolkids present on video on different birds and use nutty specialized instruments to imitate their sounds. Part of what's interesting is how engaged kids become in making the sounds, almost like they are the bird for a moment. The same thing then happens to the spectator when they go in the next room and try out the bird-call instruments for themselves. Also: gently absurd. And it has a great quote too, from the exhibition binder: When Burns is asked "What advice do you have for young artists?" he says something like " Quit your job immediately." To Dec 14.
  • I read an article about how Toronto taxi drivers are quite pressed for fares right now, and then in the course of my transit travels I had to deal with an unfulfilled 30-minute streetcar wait followed by a subway trek to a bus that suddenly died enroute while we passengers were on it. (It was the 72 Pape if you must know.) Then I became suspicious about whether the taxi drivers were trying to sabotage the transit system. I also worried about how service will be once the snow actually begins to fly again, and there's ice and stuff. I also thought of the local notoriety a Scarborough duo recently gained recording a song about the TTC, and thought we need more songs like that.
  • I posted an entry on my blog at 11:38pm on a Friday night, a Power Plant opening night no less. But I will go to the Power Plant show tomorrow, when the opening is over, the beer bottles cleared, and I can actually see the work. How geeky is that?
  • Finally, I just heard that cityblog Torontoist is shutting its html doors at the end of this month. This makes me sad, as I think it's a good, snarky site (not that all sites should be snarky, but it's important to have at least a few). I joined some Facebook groups formed to try and revive it, snatch it from the clutches of its nasty US owners Gothamist. Who do you think Torontoist is, Gothamist, a web equivalent of Time Canada? (Actually, don't answer that.)
Image of a tortoise remarkably similar to the ones that inspire East Coast ceramicists from Riparian Farms

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