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The Green Blackboard April 27, 2010

Posted by Maxyne Baker in : Check it out , add a comment

beyond the cavemanObsessed admittedly, I returned to the AGO to take a photo of the piece that has stayed in my mind since our visit. Of course, I didn’t think I was responding to this assignment,  hence I had no camera, and made no notes friday before last.
I refer to the green chalkboard on the 4th floor. It  was a preservation  of  the lecture notes from a visiting artist at NASCAD. NASCAD had the vision to cover it and call it art. Without notes I hesitate to say it was made in the 80’s.  I found it interesting that it reflected the format and purpose of our Chaortic Collaboratorium. Beyond this, the content  brought to mind cave drawings, or battle strategy  plans  in particular.
I have recently been reading a wonderful book about Asian Art titled ” The Unknown Craftsman” written by Soetsu Yanagi. In this book of essays Yanagi expands on the simple happiness in “doing” without seeking perfection and expands on how some of the finest Asian Art was made in this manner. One story in particular stands out as he describes how Korean children , illiterate, would be employed in the making of tea cups. Although they couldn’t even read the characters on the cups they where painting these cups are esteemed as some of the best examples of Asian art simply because of the children’s purity within the simple act of “doing”.

The green chalkboard was covered with a combination of words, gestures and shapes used to communicate, hurried and efficient, implying movement, hierarchy, concepts. Perhaps not unlike an ancient cave or cliff drawing, our simple drawings made with sticks in the sand, similar in that they are all  a diagram/storyboard,  and like the tea cups mentioned above, the maker was passionately distracted by the auditory accompaniment of their own voice, therefore using simple imperfect marks and gestures. The strategies of a hunt, or the plan of a village have been eternally defined and explored in the same way since time began. Still used essentially  in the way we design today. And that is really, exciting. Technology and time have brought us many more tools to use as well , and they are greatly appreciated, yet this simple mark making  seems to be part of our fundamental, eternal needs as humans.

Consciously, un-consciously I could look at cryptic ambiguous images such as these forever. The Chalkboards mysterious nature me has completely sucked in .  What was said in that lecture.? Again admittedly obsessed, reflectively processing.
Observing this piece and it’s initially unconscious act of mark making by the lecturer, followed by a very self conscious elaboration by the good folks at NASCAD does make it conceptual art. Yet I can’t think of another piece in the gallery that began with the unconcious act of mark making as the chalkboard did . Mark making used to expand the art of communication.

I think I prefer in some ways not knowing the name of the person who initially made the marks on that chalkboard at NASCAD. It seems fitting that the “Unknown Craftsman” helped me see the beauty in a contemporary Western piece of art, a simple green chalkboard that I will personally always refer to as  “The Unknown Designer”.

AGO’s Best & Worst April 20, 2010

Posted by Magdalena Malik in : Check it out, Exer5 (makeup): Experiencing AGO, Exercises , add a comment

The Toronto AGO gallery attracts many people around the globe every day. The subject matter distributed within its walls carries history and foretells wisdom by the work of unique artists. More than 79,000 creations of artwork are kept and viewed by various collections. These collections range from pieces of European Art to Contemporary, Canadian, British, American, and French work. This list is endless and grows quite rapidly. There is a grand diversity in which people are naturally drawn to. No wonder AGO is so popular!

I have had the pleasure to visit the AGO gallery many times throughout my first year at OCAD. I have studied its paintings, photos, sculptures, styles and various mediums used throughout the artist’s collections. In doing so, I have learned plenty of information and come to establish my opinions as to what I like and dislike about the AGO gallery.

In my point of view, the best aspects of AGO must include the following: magnificent architecture, spacious rooms, classy décor, and of course the artwork itself. The architecture is very intriguing and creative such as one of the staircases located in the center of the gallery. The staircase spins towards the top as a cyclone. Very cool! Majority of the rooms that hold artwork are very grand in scale and create a very airy atmosphere. The gallery itself is very taken care of and clean. Visitors appreciate cleanliness. I admire the fact that multiculturalism is respected. The art stored in this gallery is made from many aspiring and talented artists all around the world! I adore looking at it. The social and cultural diversity amongst visitors is also perceived.

In the contrary, an issue I do have is that many artworks do not exemplify an explanation as to what a certain object, painting or picture are presenting. The deep meaning or message is probably the viewer’s obligation to figure out or think about using personal knowledge. But honestly speaking, some artworks are really tough to figure out. An example would be a metal spoon and chair I viewed at the AGO a couple days ago at the structure department. I really had no clue as to what the display meant. A handy solution would be to place a small description as to what the artist was trying to convey in their art piece. With such statement the viewer can think about what they themselves thought, the artist’s message and the public’s opinion.

Also, I agree with Christina Dery, the gift shop is way too expensive!

The AGO gallery holds many memories and future experiences that are very important to me. It’s a place of history, education, tradition, confession, story-telling, survival and most important, adventure!

Written by Mag M.

Best and Worst of the AGO April 20, 2010

Posted by Christina Mary Dery in : Check it out, Exer5 (makeup): Experiencing AGO, Exercises , add a comment

AGO logo

Having been to the AGO many times, this trip in particular opened my eyes to the positive areas of the ago as well as those that need to be improved on. My first impression when i entered the AGO (entrance) was that they have a quite attractive design in the lobby with clear signage for each area and where each thing is located. They have the signage in both English and French (which most likely excludes many people in Toronto, since it is so multicultural). The one thing that I really like about the design is that the ramp is designed in a fun, unique way (but may be annoying for people in wheel chairs because it has a winding path). Another thing i like is that they use nice bright colours for the signs above the areas. Although the lobby is always quite busy, this visit was extra busy with all the various school trips.


AGO ramp

Inside the AGO there are various architectural  elements that are really quite fascinating. The winding wooden staircase is my favorite part of the architecture. It not only looks nice but also doubles as an attraction where on the upper levels the staircase goes outside the building and offers an incredible view of Toronto and OCAD of course. This provides a reflective reaction in that the participant in the environment reflects on the view and creates an emotional reaction.


AGO staircase

The main part of the attraction to the AGO of course is the art. Art itself in a gallery form mostly provides the viewer with a reflective reaction as the viewer reflects on the meaning of the art, the reasons it was done, what the artist was thinking, how it relates to them and culture/society, etc. Many pieces also trigger visceral reactions as well because art has to do with the way we perceive things based on look, feel and sound.  Some pieces of art provide us with behavioural reactions but very few do since it has nothing to do with appearance, it has to do with function and use. Some pieces that are interactive may trigger this but it could also be applied to the elevators and listening devices and other technology that the AGO use within the building (universal design: meeting needs, providing feedback, and functional).

I think the worst  part of the AGO was that sometimes i found myself lost like i was in a maze, so it is hard to navigate especially if it is your first  time being there. The areas are kind of all over the place and sometimes you end up in areas that you have already seen. With this problem there is the possibility that you may miss some art.

Another thing i did not find particularly appealing was the gift store because everything is extremely expensive (i know this is where they make a lot of money, but many things are over priced and you can pick them up at the book store for much less.)

Going on this trip through the AGO and being more aware of my environment and experience actually was quite interesting and made me notice things that i never really thought about before. Overall I think the experience is quite good and provides a positive learning experience as well. 🙂


AGO building

BEST AND WORSE: AGO April 20, 2010

Posted by Jacob Alexander Prapavessis in : Check it out , add a comment

Having visited the AGO before, I had clear idea of what to expect. Upon arrival however there were various schools trips going on and the lobby of the building was quite busy and appeared unorganized. The addition of King Tut I feel has attracted many more visitors to the normally quieter AGO. If I was to talk about the Gallery in terms of best and worse aspects to the experience I would have to say that the worse experience for me isn’t the art work itself, its Frank Gehrys Architecture.

I Find the New renovation of the AGO to be extremely confusing and not necessarily even aesthetically good-looking. Sure there are some Beautiful parts; standing in the front wooden glass room for example is quite amazing, however, I feel like the rest of the gallery was almost an after thought. Due to having viewed much of the artwork before, during our visit I found myself looking at the architecture more inquisitively. Upon further investigation one can easily find unfinished corners and weird, awkward angles and connections. The whole building to me seems cheap…maybe due do the type of laminate and the colour used for much of the wood. I also find the actual lay out of the building quite poor. The different spaces aren’t cohesive and one is forced to concentrate while moving the various displays.

Not one of Gehrys finest…..

As for the actual Displays I feel this is the AGOs strongest attribute. The diversity among the type of art displayed is quite evident. For the casual art enthusiast I feel the Ago is perfect as im sure everyone can find something they really enjoy. The contemporary Sections especially are actually quite good and have some big name (and current) artists displayed. For the person who wants to look deeper the AGO also has a great collection of prints and other pieces in the basement and if you ask nicely they will even let you hold them like I did! With the addition of the recent King Tut exhibit (unfortunately I haven’t seen it) I feel the AGO is doing a great job marketing to a wide audience…..Its just too bad about the architecture!

Best and Worst of the AGO April 20, 2010

Posted by Ricardo Iglesias in : Exer5 (makeup): Experiencing AGO, Exercises , add a comment

Experiencing the contemporary exhibit of the ago was an interesting, but had a few let down. Let me explain briefly, Upon entering the AGO it makes you wonder what the AGO has in store for its viewers because the main lobby is basic and plain. This alone does not give a good impression to be honest, it made me just want to leave. When we got our tickets we were stopped by the security and they told us to leave our bags in the Drop-Off room. Why wasn’t I notified previously, this wasted our time, and was making the experience a crappy one. Sad thing is I didnt even enter the gallery yet and I am already having a bad experience… really come on! Finally after entering the gallery, it was very whimsical with its spiral staircase and weird architecture. The gallery gave a good sense of uniqueness. The best part about the AGO was an art piece that was displayed in the elevator. There was a small flat screen that was playing a video, while watching the video it was talking about, how we are made to watch things. I thought it was very creative because the artist used the elevator ( a space where you are suppose to just stand and wait, going to a desired floor) and displays it in an atmosphere where people are just standing around. It was interesting because when one enters an elevator everybody is quiet, for some strange reason, so for people to avoid this awkward situation they watch the video, Hence they are being made to watch the video to avoid an awkward experience and to avoid boredom as well. The experience was a unique one even though of my bad experience of just entering the gallery. But this really make one wonder was this purposely done?

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