Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Marimekko Design exhibition at the Toronto Textile Museum. The closest I found prior to this was an entire bed sheet set featuring this pattern, when I only wanted covering for one pillow. Here was a pillow already stuffed and covered with the exact pattern that I desired. I was very excited! We came across the Le Moulin de Provence Bakery, which had its 15 minutes of fame in 2009 when then President Barack Obama stopped by and bought a Canada maple leaf shaped cookie and declared "I love this country!". I was intrigued by another set of female-shaped gingerbread-like cookies with the words "Power Equity Freedom" written in icing on the dresses. Finally, we had dinner at Brothers Bistro where we shared an eclectic charcuterie plank full of cheeses, sliced meats, pate, sliced apples, dried fruits and nuts, followed by some hearty stews and pastas to keep us warm for the walk back to our hotel.
less Euro-centric and less male-dominated by incorporating Indigenous art and art by women in each gallery, time period, and style. Accordingly, in the first gallery that we visited, traditional images of Indigenous people by painters like Paul Kane and William Berczy are displayed side by side with works by Indigenous artists like the recently deceased Tim Pitsiulak's Armoured Whale (2014), drawn with coloured pencil and black ink on wove paper, and Marven Tallio's Transformation Mask, made of cedar, fibre and shells. While it seemed complementary to show works by Indigenous artists along side Euro-centric depictions of them, it was a bit more jarring to see their works paired with Abstract Expressionist paintings.
Female artists were also prominently featured. Prudence Heward mainly painted portraits of other women, but without any signs of flirtation, overt sexuality or even smiles that might be present in depictions of women painted by male artists. Her subjects usually gaze out at the viewer and are realistic as opposed to idealistic renderings of female figures. Yvonne McKague Housser's elongated, skewed depiction in muted primary colours of the buildings in the mining town of Colbalt, Ontario have a slightly abstract feel. Russian born Paraskeva Clark boldly painted a confident, vibrant and elegant self portrait of herself while she was 3 months pregnant in 1933. Several years later, Clark's politically condemning painting titled "Petroushka" protested against the Chicago police killing of 10 striking steel workers. A symbolic worker is depicted as a "petroushka", which represents human suffering in Russian folklore. It was interesting to see the marble sculpture by Elizabeth Wyn Wood called "Gesture", displayed next to a portrait of the artist painted by her friend Gordon Davies, with her sculpture portrayed behind her.
This trend of featuring Indigenous and female artists continued in the modern galleries of Canadian art from 1968 to the present. The Indigenous carvings and sculptures start to reflect more recent social references and issues. Made of whale bone, soapstone, antler, ivory, musk-ox horn and shells, Manasie Akpaliapik's sculpture of the face of a distressed, glassy-eyed male with a beer bottle sticking out of his head, comments on the problems of alcoholism and suicide in the Indigenous communities. While maintaining the basic iconic shape of a teapot, Michael Massie's sculpture takes inspiration from the Inuit culture. The base resembles an "ulu", a knife used by Inuit women, while the large vertical spiral projection is made to look like a narwal's tusk. One sculpture of a Shaman looked more like the Orcs from Lord of the Rings than old traditional renditions of shamans. Female Indigenous artists were represented, including a coloured pencil sketch of the freezer section of a Cape Dorset Co-op store by Annie Pootoogook, and a quilt decorated with felt and embroidered images of the personification of the Sun, along with humans, fish and animals by Marion Tuu'luq, that references various tales and legends.
Diefenbunker after the Prime Minister at the time) was built in 1959-61 at the height of the Cold War as one of multiple emergency underground shelters, meant to protect key members of the government in the event of a nuclear attack. Situated 75 feet below ground, the 4-storey bunker spans over 100,000 square feet, and is made of 32,000 cubic yards concrete and 5,000 tons of steel. It was built to withstand a 5 megaton nuclear blast from 1.8 kilometers away. The bunker was stocked with enough food, water and power to sustain up to 535 people for up to 30 days. During its years of operation between 1962 to 1994, the Diefenbunker was staffed with about 100-150 people on rotating 24-hour shifts. The bunker was decommissioned in 1994 and turned into a museum and National historic site. In the summer, daily tours are offered between 11am to 2pm. Our tour started outside where we were shown the locations of the water and power supplies, communication towers and emergency escape hatches, in case the main entrance was destroyed. When we entered the outer entrance of the complex, we walked through a 378-foot long blast tunnel, meant to absorb the shock waves of a nuclear blast, dissipating it before it can reach the front entrance of the bunker, whose door weighs over 4000 pounds and is 14 inches thick.
Hummingbird Chocolates, which had won the 2016 prize for "World's Best Chocolate" in London England's Academy of Chocolate awards. We bought the gold medal winner "Hispaniola", made of 70% cocao beans from Dominican Republic, as well as the "Oh Mama!" whose beans were from Nicaragua. They were both delicious but it turns out that we actually preferred the one which had not won the award. What we loved best though were the freshly-made chocolate-covered "butter tart cups" that we bought on a whim in addition to our planned chocolate bar purchases. Gobbling them down in the car as we continued our drive, we almost turned the car around to get more!