Tag Archives: Sculpture

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

A couple weeks ago, we went early into Glasgow, found a place to eat breakfast (that played ’70’s rock as background muzak) near the foot of Byres Road, then walked along Dumbarton to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. We didn’t plan to stay long. Just long enough to check in on some old friends. Since admission is free, it’s easy enough to pop in for a few minutes, then continue on to somewhere else. Our old friends include a painting, Dali’s St. John of the Cross, and some sculptures shown below.

I like John Cage’s approach to music and think it’s equally applicable to other media. During a performance, Cage would open a concert hall and allow all the ambient noise—honking horns and jack hammers—to impinge on the scored music. He saw no necessary distinction between the “official” music listed on a program and the other sounds we encounter in our daily lives. In the same spirit, I see no necessary distinction between the curated works of art that appear in a gallery and the visual gifts that appear in my camera’s lens. And so I include in this post images of a garbage can in front of the museum, a discarded piece of plastic by an exterior wall, and a notice to “Mind The Step” outside the entrance.

Entrance to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Entrance to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Return To Sender, 1996, Mixed Media Sculpture by Sean Read

Return To Sender, 1996, Mixed Media Sculpture by Sean Read

Floating Heads, by Sophy Cave

Floating Heads, by Sophy Cave

The Harpy Celaeno, 1902, Marble Sculpture by Mary Pownall

The Harpy Celaeno, 1902, Marble Sculpture by Mary Pownall

Garbage Can in front of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow

Garbage Can in front of Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Plastic Food Container In Puddle

Plastic Food Container In Puddle

Mind The Step, Entrance to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

Mind The Step, Entrance to Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

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Do #BlackLivesMatter Anymore?

#BlackLivesMatter was a thing, just like #OccupyWallStreet was a thing before it. And now those things are done. The problem with turning chronic social injustice into a media concern is that once it loses its traction in the media people get the idea that somehow it’s been dealt with. A cause grabs media attention (with its very own hashtag) and people call it “raising awareness” or, if they’re feeling lofty, “raising consciousness”. Something has been accomplished. Progress has been made. We can go home now.

After the tent city at police headquarters had been disbanded, after the march to Queen’s Park, after Kathleen Wynne’s acknowledgment of systemic racism, after push-back from the Toronto Police Association, I drifted past Toronto Police Headquarters and noticed something odd. There’s a bronze sculpture by Les Drysdale out in front. A woman in police uniform holds a trowel and leans in as if spreading mortar for a new brick. Someone had left a fresh slice of watermelon on the trowel. It looks as if the (Caucasian) police officer is serving up watermelon to the ghosts of the Black protesters.


How are we supposed to interpret this? Maybe it’s a straight-up racist taunt. Or maybe it’s an ironic comment from someone frustrated with the (fairly typical) “What? Me racist?” response from respectable men like Mike McCormack. Or maybe it’s the work of an agent provocateur who wants to throw gasoline on the fire. Or maybe it’s a prank by kids smoking weed in the alley near Fran’s. Or maybe it’s radical art by students from OCAD.

Then, of course, there’s a second-order question of interpretation. Once I record the watermelon on the trowel as a photograph, how should viewers interpret the image I’ve made? I don’t think it’s for me to say. However, I do want to point out that this was not a fortuitous capture in the moment. I spent maybe 20 or 30 minutes photographing the sculpture with watermelon and thinking about what I was looking at. I shot from different angles. With and without a polarizing filter. With a variety of people walking through the scene. Ultimately, I settled on a shot with the streetcar in the background. I like the play of red between the streetcar and the watermelon. I also like the fact that the streetcar places the scene unequivocally in Toronto where, as everybody knows, we don’t have problems with racism.

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Billy Bishop Airport Tunnel Opens

Toronto kicked off the civic holiday weekend by opening the tunnel to Billy Bishop Airport. Passengers no longer have to wait for the ferry when they want to catch a flight from Toronto Island. Heather Mallick’s op-ed in the Toronto Star nicely captures the feel of the place: “The pedestrian lake tunnel at Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop Airport has finally opened at the cost of annihilating the soul, plus $82.5 million.” She uses adjectives like tedious, stale, drab and dreary and suggests that the materials came from Home Depot. Step into the tunnel and it’s obvious that functionality was top priority. Review the comments below Mallick’s piece and it’s obvious that most Torontonians are happy with functionality. More numinous qualities like spirit, whimsy, or even aesthetics, don’t seem to interest people, so why should we care what the tunnel looks like?

Billy Bishop Airport's Tunnel

There is an upside to the Tunnel: with the construction completed, people can once again access Ireland Park at the foot of the Canada Malting Silos.

Canada Malting Silos

In the park is a limestone wall engraved with the names of those who died in Toronto in 1847 as a consequence of the Great Famine. 1186 people died, mostly of typhus, mostly in anonymity. So far, researchers have learned the names of 675 of the dead.

Monument in Toronto's Ireland Park

The park also features bronze sculptures, Migrants, by Irish artist, Rowan Gillespie. The derelict Canada Malting Silos provide a lovely backdrop for the sculptures because, as the new tunnel illustrates, aesthetics matter to people in Toronto.


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Bloor Yorkville’s 10th Annual IceFest

Since I’m not on a personal 24-hour news cycle, these photos come a little after the fact. A couple weekends ago, Toronto’s Bloor-Yorkville district held its annual IceFest. Just about every DSLR owner in Toronto was there, so I expect there are a gazillion images of the event floating around the Internets. Here’s my contribution to the glut. First up is a photo of a man named Neil standing outside the Bloor-Yonge subway station.


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A Day At The ROM

Photographs from the Royal Ontario Museum:


Samuel Hall crown Currelly Gallery

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Kirk Newman’s Community

Standing on the southeast corner of Manulife’s Corporate headquarters in Toronto is a bronze sculpture called “Community”. It’s creator is Kirk Newman. The sculpture has 21 life-sized figures doing a variety of things, as you’d expect from people living in a community of diverse interests. I appreciate the fact that Newman recognizes photography as one of those interests. The photographer is using a long lens which he points up towards a tree that stands behind the sculpture.

Kirk Newman's Community

Kirk Newman's Community (detail)

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Museums in Scotland

In Scotland, just about every church and castle counts as a museum. For this post, I highlight museums that aren’t churches or castles. Here are photos from four secular museums in Glasgow and all of them are free. For more info on Scotland’s museums, click here. The first isn’t really a museum; it’s the Botanic Gardens in Glasgow. I’ve included it here because interspersed amongst the plants are Victorian sculptures.

Victorian Sculpture

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Untitled (Head) by Jun Kaneko

A year ago, early on a Sunday morning, I walked past the Gardiner Museum as they were hoisting Jun Kaneko’s giant ceramic head onto its metal pedestal in front of the building. A year later, I revisited the head for a bit of night photography. You can see the results below.

Untitled (Head) by Jun Kaneko

Naturally, I wondered what the head means. Last year, women were wearing horizontal stripes everywhere, and I wondered if maybe the head was a fashion thing. Then I discovered that Kaneko had made the head in 2002, so it seems unlikely he was working in cahoots with the fashion industry. Then I noticed the horizontal stripes at the University/Bloor intersection where pedestrians cross and I wondered if maybe the head was part of a themed city planning exercise. But “planning” and “city” aren’t exactly two words you hear a lot in the same sentence, at least not in Toronto.

Jun Kaneko's head at night

One possibility that seems more plausible is that the stripes speak to the hybrid identity that most people in Toronto experience by virtue of having come from somewhere else. Born in Japan, Kaneko now makes his home in Omaha, Nebraska, so he may be familiar with that experience. I asked the head if it had any thoughts on the matter, but it had no comment.

Jun Kaneko's Head

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