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  • A new TD report suggests the introduction of a $15 minimum wage could cost up to 90 thousand jobs by 2020, especially if the shift is too quick. Global News reports.

  • Torontoist notes the ongoing debate over what to do with the land suggested for Rail Deck Park. (I prefer the park.)

  • blogTO notes the Canadian Canoe Museum in Peterborough is set to expand and move to a new location.

  • Opposition--ill-grounded opposition, I would say--to a new wind energy project in Prince Edward County is growing. Global News reports.

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Green Gables House circa 1966 #pei #princeedwardisland #cavendish #greengableshouse #greengables #toronto #ryersonimagecentre #nytimes #thefarawaynearby

Yesterday, I linked to a National Observer report about an exciting new exhibit at the Ryerson Image Centre, of a cache of old New York Times photos acquired by that museum of photography and put on exhibit. The Faraway Nearby is indeed a good exhibit--I stopped by last night. My attention was caught particularly by a photograph taken of Green Gables House in 1966, long before the house had acquired its accretion of ersatz farm buildings and vast parking lots. The contrast with some of the photos I have been sharing--in particular, with yesterday's photo post--is enlightening.
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  • Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is skeptical that the Trump-era EPA will deal well with global warming.

  • Discover's The Crux considers the challenge of developing safer explosives for fireworkers.

  • The Dragon's Gaze links to a paper considering the (real) possibility of Earth-like worlds orbiting neutron stars.

  • Language Log notes an odd use of katakana in Australia.

  • The LRB Blog considers the possibly overrated import of George Osborne's move into the newspaper business.

  • Marginal Revolution notes one observer's suggestion that China could sustain high-speed growth much longer than Japan.

  • The NYR Daily shares Eleanor Davis' cartoon journal of her bike trip across America.

  • Peter Rukavina does not like the odd way Prince Edward Island made its library card into a museum pass.

  • Starts with a Bang's Ethan Siegel notes the odd galaxy MACS2129-1, young yet apparently no longer star-forming.

  • Strange Company explores the strange death of 17th century New England woman Rebecca Cornell.

  • Unicorn Booty looks at how early Playgirl tried to handle, quietly, its substantially gay readership.

  • Window on Eurasia looks at one Russian proclaiming Russia needs to stop an imminent takeover by Muslims.

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  • blogTO suggests the Port Lands might become an artists' hu8b.

  • The Broadside Blog's Caitlin Kelly talks about the complexities involved with managing feelings.

  • Centauri Dreams talks about different methods of near-term interstellar travel.

  • Joe. My. God. notes that Nordic prime ministers have just trolled Trump's bizarre orb-based photo op.

  • Language Hat shares some interesting claims about standard Finnish as a neutral dialect.
  • The Planetary Society Blog talks about the latest stages of the Dawn mission to Ceres.

  • Peter Rukavina looks at the end of Charlottetown's Founders' Hall.

  • Torontoist examines Ontario's impending $15 an hour minimum wage.

  • Window on Eurasia reports on the latest disputes between Russia and Ukraine on their shared history.

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It's not inaccurate to say that a big part of the reason I did Doors Open yesterday was because of the TTC-themed Lego exhibit at the Toronto Railway Museum, in Roundhouse Park. The amount of work that went into the details of these models, some of them working miniatures, is impressive.




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I did not get to see the renowned Pointe-à-Callière Museum on this visit. I did get to spend time there in the twilight, wandering around there and the adjacent Place Royale down by the Saint Lawrence.

Around Pointe-à-Callière, looking west (portrait)

Around Pointe-à-Callière, looking west (landscape)

Place Royale (portrait)

Place Royale (landscape)

Around Pointe-à-Callière, looking east
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The CBC Museum is a free space inside the CBC headquarters in downtown Toronto on Front Street. The small space is full of artifacts from CBC's technological past and from more recent children's television programs like Mr. Dressup and The Friendly Giant. My attention, naturally, was focused on the latter.

The Tickle Trunk

Aluminum recording disk

CBC colour symbol

Cine-Kodak Special II film camera, circa 1955

Blocking for Jenny Maple Keys, Mr. Dressup

The Friendly Giant's Wall

Puppets of Mr. Dressup

Puppets of Sesame Park

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In another article, the Toronto Star's Laura Beeston suggests that a Toronto museum of local neon signs is a viable idea. My attention is piqued, at least.

Mark Garner has a neon dream.

The executive director of the Downtown/Yonge BIA believes the time is now for Toronto to immortalize iconic businesses of days gone by. So he’s collecting, restoring and replicating signs from classic city storefronts for a potential open-air museum.

But he needs help to turn the dream into a reality.

“Where are all the signs?” Garner asks aloud. “Why isn’t the cultural contribution that this signage made on anybody’s radar?”

He has spent the last five years tracking them down and slowly generating interest in his project. Yonge St., Garner explains, was once “a rite of passage” and hot spot for neon lights.

Today, he thinks there’s a return of interest with the forthcoming Sam The Record Man reinstall at Ryerson University and the Honest Ed’s marquee finding a new home on Victoria St.

“Signage is en vogue right now.”
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Montréal's Musée des beaux-arts has much to see apart from the temporary exhibitions like Focus : Perfection. To avoid become overly swamped, we concentrated on the Canadian gallery, its four levels filled with works--paintings, sculptures--from different eras in Québec and Canadian history.

"Untitled (Two Caribou)", from Nunavut, is indicative of the high caliber of the works in the Inuit display.

Untitled (Two Caribou)

There were plenty of markers of Québec history, like the 1811 statue of the Virgin Mary attributed to Joseph Pepin.

The Virgin Mary, 1811, attributed to Joseph Pepin

François Malépart de Beaucourt's 1786 Portrait d'une femme haïtienne is eye-catching, for its subject matter and the tissue of human relations--between people, across oceans--that it hints at.

Portrait d'une femme haïtienne, François Malépart de Beaucourt

The landscapes of Marc-Aurèle Fortin, whether of rural Gaspésie or of Montréal, are luminous. I need to know more about this painter.

Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Paysage de Gaspésie: Anse-aux-Gascons

Marc-Aurèle Fortin, Commencement d'orage sur Hochelaga

Ozias Leduc's L'heure mauve is also striking.

Ozias Leduc, L'heure mauve

There were also works of the Group of Seven, like the assemblage of six smaller paintings by different artists I saw or Lawren Harris' larger Log Cabin.

Six paintings of the Group of Seven

Lawren S. Harris, Log Cabin

Two early 20th century Montréal-based artists, Marian Scott with her Stairway and Henry Rowland Eveleigh with his The Fortune Teller, also caught my interest.

Marian Scott, Stairway

Henry Rowland Eveleigh, The Fortune Teller

Finally, at the end, I was interested to see another painting by Rita Letendre, Kochak. I had seen a couple of her canvas in the Art Gallery of Ontario

Rita Letendre, Kochak
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Robert Everett-Green's long article in The Globe and Mail, published this September past at the beginning of the run of Focus : Perfection at the Musée des beaux-arts, places the exhibition and Mapplethorpe in their proper contexts. Recommended.

The outward focus of today’s culture war is what Muslim women should be permitted to wear on their heads or at the beach. In the late 1980s, it was whether a publicly funded museum could show art that some elected officials considered obscene.

Robert Mapplethorpe was a key figure in that fracas, which peaked when Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art backed out of a touring exhibition of the American photographer’s works, and police raided Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Cente (CAC) for going ahead with it. The radioactivity of those events, which included an obscenity charge against CAC director Dennis Barrie, clouded discussion about Mapplethorpe for years afterward.

Now that we have burkinis to quarrel about, the art tempests of a quarter-century ago seem almost quaint. But Mapplethorpe’s photos still have the power to startle and even to shock, which is why the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts put part of its retrospective Focus: Perfection – Robert Mapplethorpe behind barriers of smoked glass.

Mapplethorpe, who died at 42, shortly before the Corcoran cancelled his show in 1989, would probably have been pleased to know that some of his work is still hot to handle. He often said, when talking about his shots of faceless men encased in vinyl or fisting each other, that part of what thrilled him about the gay porn magazines he saw while growing up in Queens, N.Y., was that their explicit contents were slightly hidden: inside a plastic cover, with black bars across the models’ eyes.

The current campaign to reset the discussion about Mapplethorpe began a decade ago with a couple of serious shows in Europe, and continues with the MMFA’s iteration of a joint double exhibition by the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, drawn from a huge cache of works acquired by those institutions in 2011. An HBO documentary about the Getty/LACMA shows aired last spring, and production has started on a Mapplethorpe biopic, directed by Ondi Timoner and starring Matt Smith.
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Focus : Perfection, the touring exhibit of the works of Robert Mapplethorpe, is a brilliant exhibit. It collects the vast oeuvre of a 20th century master, presenting them for curious audiences. I was very glad to have my ticket.


The first room at the Musée was an introduction, containing some of his photographic influences, some of his early works like a rare surviving installation, and self-portraits.

Untitled (Altarpiece)

Self-portrait, 1983

Self-portrait, 1988

An area of his polaroids contained an image of Sam Wagstaff, his lover and patron.

Sam Wagstaff, around 1972

As a photographer of celebrities and soon-to-be-celebrities, Mapplethorpe was unchallenged. (His collaborations with Patti Smith, her as subject and her as writer, did not go unnoticed in the exhibit.)

Yoko Ono, 1988

Richard Gere, 1982

Patti Smith, 1975

Patti Smith, Horses (1975)

Contact sheet, Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry

Deborah Harry, 1978

Andy Warhol, 1986

"Content Warning"

This is a safe for work blog, so there will be no images of his explicit work. I will say that, overall, I do think he succeeded in his goal of making pornography art.

Colophon, Portfolio X, by Paul Schmidt

Colophon, Portfolio Y, by Patti Smith

Colophon, Portfolio X, by Edmund White

Portfolios X, Y and Z

His turn to flowers in later years was motivated by commercial reasons--apparently Mapplethorpe disliked flowers--but he did with them what he did with other photos, his images of people and things and actions, taking images of life and imbuing the viewer with a sense of their transience.

Lily, N.Y.C.

Rose, N.Y.C.

Melody (Shoe)


Swans, The Burning World (1989)

Rose, 1987

Two vases and flower

Coral Sea, 1983

The famous 1983 contrast/compare of Ken Moody and Robert Sherman is eye-catching.

Ken Moody and Robert Sherman, 1983

The end of Mapplethorpe's exhibit, as with the end of his life, was concerned with his fame: the controversies surrounding his work, the space that he helped create for the discussion of people who were different, and, of course, the merchandise. (All the postcards were safe for work, if you're curious.)

Walls of editorial cartoons

Staircase (1)

Staircase (2)


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I spent most of yesterday evening at Toronto's Gardiner Museum, the national museum of ceramics located opposite the Royal Ontario Museum at Queen's Park and Bloor. The Gardiner is a good specialist museum, with a very selection of ceramics covering vast stretches of time and space, from the ancient to the contemporary. The specialist galleries on the first floor are informative, covering more specialized areas like the pre-Columbian potteries of the Americas and contemporary art, while the great collection of 18th century European ceramics on the second floor is eyecatching. The Gardiner does a great job of presenting the European search for the ability to indigenously manufacture porcelain, until that century known only through Chinese trade goods, in a light our economics-inspired culture can get.

All of the 35 photos I took are online inthis Facebook album.

From the Gardiner Museum (1)

From the Gardiner Museum (2)

From the Gardiner Museum (3)

From the Gardiner Museum (4)

From the Gardiner Museum (5\)

From the Gardiner Museum (6)

From the Gardiner Museum (7)

From the Gardiner Museum (8)

From the Gardiner Museum (9)

From the Gardiner Museum (10)
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Spacing Toronto's John Lorinc takes a look at an interesting new sort of public museum in downtown Toronto, set up around the artifacts excavated in the preparation for the construction of a new courthouse.

As archeologists begin to reveal two centuries of commerce on the North Market site, Toronto’s other major active dig site – the Centre Avenue parking lot that’s set to become a major new courthouse – has been fitted out with a hoarding mural display that evokes the stories of the city’s original arrival city, The Ward.

At a formal unveiling last week, the hoarding project – commissioned by Infrastructure Ontario and developed by the Toronto Ward Museum, The STEPS Initiative and visual artists PA System (Patrick Thomson and Alexa Hatanaka) – offers an innovative and stylized depiction of artifacts found on the site, as well as archival photos, and narratives and images of individuals linked to the neighbourhood’s various eras and demographic groups.

While the murals add a visually striking note to a long-neglected block, the execution is not without flaws: the text on some of the panels contains typos. As well, several of the guests who attended the unveiling, including those involved in the project, commented on the fact that some of the archival images of The Ward scenes installed along the Armory Street panels are printed backwards. At least one described the effect as disrespectful.

That move, however, was intentional. “The mirroring effect was used to create a continuous feeling of walking through a historical streetscape,” according to a statement by PATCH, the project facilitators who worked with The Toronto Ward Museum and designer Kellen Hatanaka on the exhibit. “The mirroring also allows alignment of the images in such a way that its effect is amplified and immersive, while allowing the viewer the experience of entering the exhibit from either side of the installation.”

In an interview following the unveiling, John McKendrick, IO’s executive vice-president for project delivery, and Reza Asadikia, director of major projects, outlined new details about the courthouse venture, which will become a major landmark structure estimated to cost between $500 million and $1 billion. It will be built under IO’s alternative financing and procurement model.
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I approve of the ideas presented in this blogTO report about one future potential use for Old City Hall.

Toronto's Old City Hall is undeniably beautiful. The Romanesque Revival building at Queen and Bay currently houses the Ontario Court of Justice and City of Toronto Court Services. But the city's looking to repurpose it.

A report titled A New Life for Old City Hall, from the City Building Institute (CBI) at Ryerson University, argues that it should be open to public, private and civic uses.

This report examines future possibilities for this historical building by exploring case studies from both Toronto and around the world.

"A New Life for Old City Hall, does not put forth recommendations, but intends to spark creative thinking and inspire a public discussion around future uses for Old City Hall by presenting inspiring case studies, found locally and across the globe," reads the report.

Some have suggested turning Old City Hall into a city museum, so the report looks at spaces like the Museum of the City in New York City as well as how the Design Exchange uses the old Stock Exchange building to house its collection.

The report in question is available here (PDF format).
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Ads for the exhibit IKEA Then & Now, running at the Design Exchange downtown between the 21st and the 30th of this month, kept appearing on my Facebook feed. Why not go? It was free, after all, and the Financial District is always fun to roam around. The exhibit's hashtag #ikeacan40 beckoned, and so, Thursday night, I went.

Here for #ikeacan40 #toronto #designexchange #ikea #financialdistrict

The exhibit heavily plays up the origins of IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad in the southern Swedish province of Småland, described in the exhibit as a poor but frugal region in a country that was rapidly developing. Making good things inexpensively, the exhibit had it, was IKEA's key to global success. That, and a certain amount of cosmopolitanism: Kamprad apparently picked "IKEA" because the phrase sounded French to him.

Ingvar Kamprad #toronto #designexchange #ikea #financialdistrict #ingvarkamprad

From the Småland years )

We exhibit-goers got to see samples of some of IKEA's many different manufactured goods.

Rainbow of goods, 3 #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea #rainbow

Designs through time #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea

The POÄNG in miniature #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea #poäng #chair

Rainbow of goods )

One element of the exhibit I liked were the different model rooms staged in different decades' styles, from the 1970s to the present.

IKEA of the 1970s #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea

IKEA of the 1980s #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea

IKEA of the 1990s #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea

IKEA of the 2000s #toronto #designexchange #ikeacan40 #financialdistrict #ikea

IKEA of the 2010s #toronto #ikeacan40 #designexchange #ikea #financialdistrict

I did take the chance to get some photographic evidence of my presence.

Me, catalogue model #toronto #ikeacan40 #designexchange #ikea #financialdistrict #me

I also jumped in the ball pit, full of globes in Swedish blue and yellow.

Me in balls #toronto #ikeacan40 #designexchange #ikea #financialdistrict #balls #blue #yellow #me #selfie
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Inscribed scallop shell #toronto #agakhanmuseum #hindustan #india #iran #quran #scallop #shell

Of the various artifacts at the Aga Khan, this--an inscribed scallop shell--is the most awe-inspiring for me. The skill that it took to inscribe so much delicate calligraphy in a fragile seashell is astounding.
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One category of exhibit that I liked in the Aga Khan Museum were the rare items manufactured in the Muslim world for Western consumers: a pair of albarelli (singular albarelli), an Andalusian astrolabe, a Hindustani painting of the crucifixion from the 16th century. Commerce was a univeral.

A pair of Albarelli #toronto #agakhanmuseum #syria #albarelli

Astrolabe #toronto #agakhanmuseum  #astrolabe #spain

The Crucifixion with the Virgin and St. John #toronto #agakhanmuseum #india #allahabad #christianity #virginmary #jesus #stjohn
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The Aga Khan Museum lies just east of the Ismaili Centre, on a non-descript part of Toronto west of the Don Valley Parkway made striking by truly inspired architecture. The simplicity of the lines of the two buildings, and of the park space--including pools--lying between the two, is breathtaking.

Entering #toronto #agakhanmuseum #architecture

Tower behind #toronto #agakhanmuseum #tower #architecture

Pool #toronto #agakhanmuseum #architecture #pool

Looking to the west, 3 #toronto #agakhanmuseum #ismailicentre #evening

Looking back #toronto #agakhanmuseum #trees #architecture

At the Ismaili Centre #toronto #agakhanmuseum #ismailicentre #architecture #evening

Seen from below #toronto #agakhanmuseum #ismailicentre #evening #architecture
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Welcome to Toronto colouring book, $C 20 each #toronto #agakhanmuseum #welcometotoronto #colouringbooks #syria #refugees

When I went into the Aga Khan Museum yesterday evening, I saw the Welcome to Toronto colouring book . The Toronto Star's Louise Brown described the project in February.

What colour is Toronto?

Syrian refugee children will have the chance to decide, with a new colouring book created to let them shade in images of the city they now call home.

With captions in Arabic and English, the collection of drawings — some intricate, some whimsical — feature points of interest from the Royal Ontario Museum to the Toronto Islands, Grenadier Pond to the Toronto Zoo, from Lake Ontario to Canada’s Wonderland, all ready to be brought to living colour by young newcomer hands.

The sketches were donated by some 30 Toronto artists as a way to give Syrian refugee families a visual introduction to the city, said Rafi Ghanaghounian, one of three arts supporters who spearheaded the “Welcome to Toronto” colouring book project.

“The idea is that while kids are colouring, they’re exploring the images and learning about the city and also getting a little English as well,” said Ghanaghounian, who organized the book with fellow art supporters Andrea Pearce and Nicole Baillargeon, following the lead of a Windsor high school teacher who created a similar colouring book for that city’s Syrian refugees. He and his partners call their arts group Keep 6 (named for the five senses, plus a person’s own experience of art.)


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