AGO: International Women’s Day

The AGO has a major exhibition opening March 27th “Making Her Mark: A History of Women Artists in Europe, 1400 – 1800”. In the meantime I headed down to see a little area called “Her Space”.

The pieces are by women artists and reflect thoughtful moments, reclaiming “her” space.

“Rhythm of a True Space #2”, 2008-2009, Suzy Lake. Archival pigment prints on canvas.

A series of panels showing Suzy sweeping. The piece was conceived in 2008 for the outdoor protection boards outside the AGO, corner of Dundas and McCaul, when the Henry Moore was being moved to Grange park. It is a large mural taking up the whole wall of gallery 201.

“I wanted the sense of the rhythm of sweeping, not the figure, to become strong enough that the audience would feel it”.

The interplay of her shadow on the wall in an integral part of the piece.

“Untitled (Nude)” 1923, Kathleen J. Munn. Oil on canvas

“Two Nude Women Reclining Under Trees” 1930, Kathleen J. Munn.

“The Discussion of Flaubert’s Egyptian Journals” 1982. Joyce Weiland. Oil on canvas.

In his journals of the visit to Egypt, Flaubert wrote descriptive encounters with The Red Sea, the Nile, the bazaars and brothels of Cairo.

Known for her film making Joyce began a series of delicate paintings in the 70s. Here she is having a conversation with Flaubert on his writings.

Down the hall is the “June Clark: “Unrequited Love” exhibit. Although not part of the Her Space, in a sense June has created a space for herself in her reflections on the American flag.

“Moral Disengagement” 2014-17, June Clark. Alternating red and white strips of cloth hang loosely. The stars square is ripped and pierced with holes. “Unravelling politicians disregard for their constituents and the unwillingness of the people they serve to hold them accountable”.

June Clark is a Harlem born Toronto based artist. When “Unrequited Love” was presented in 2020 at Daniel Faria Gallery, Clark dedicated the exhibit to Colin Kaepernick the ex-NFL quarterback who knelt in protest of violence against blacks.

“A Family Secret” 1991. Originally part of Toronto’s The Power Plant’s exhibit.

“From Harlem” 1997.

“Tubman (from the Perserverance Suite)” 2023. In 1968, June and her then husband came to Canada to avoid conscription. This piece is named for Harriet Tubman and the underground railroad. The bucket contains 3 railway spikes.

“Dirge” 2003. oxidized metal on canvas. A symbol of social disintegration. “While I believe that rust (oxidized metal) is inherently beautiful, it is also a sign of mis- or disuse. So you have my combination of beautiful material coupled with my lament.”

Well, I couldn’t leave without finding Emily Carr. Her works are located in the Thompson Canadian Art collection. Had to crawl through the famous but male artists before I found her.

When Raisin, Eve and I stayed in Victoria, BC on our 2019 road trip, our morning walk to us by the Emily Carr statue. She has her pet monkey Woo on her back. Her dog Billie watches. Emily was a rule breaker for sure. She almost gave up because of the lack of success. However a friendship with Lauren Harris rekindled the painting passion.

“Thunderbird” 1931, oil on canvas.

“In a Circle” 1931

“Yellow Moss” around 1932-34

I’m looking forward to the Making Her Mark exhibit. I’m sure I will learn a lot about artists I currently no nothing about. But, hey, that’s the key to life for me.