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An Art Exhibit to See and Be: In Your Face at the Art Gallery of Ontario

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Planning a trip to Toronto by January 2007? The “In Your Face” exhibit alone is worth a trip to this fine city. While the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is undergoing a massive transformation headed by architect Frank Gehry, they are still open for business. Even at half strength, the AGO is currently kicking the Art Institute of Chicago's stodgy old butt.

I had the pleasure of visiting Toronto for the first time this fall and was able to take in the provocative Andy Warhol exhibit, “Supernova.” This exhibit was guest-curated by David Cronenberg whose presentation of Warhol's work proved compelling and informative even for the artistically illiterate. Maybe you ultra-hip readers already know all the reasons for Warhol's significance, but having never studied art formally, I haven't always understood the reasons behind the impact and lasting fame of some artists, and Warhol always mystified me.

Even more compelling than Warhol, however, was the “In Your Face” exhibit. This is being created by the people, for the people, and about the people. Lots and lots of people. When the AGO launched the idea of asking for self-portraits on 4X6 cards from the general public, hoping to get the creative juices stoked among within their community, they didn't know if they would get a single one.

They have received approximately 14,000 to date.

It is a mind-blowing exhibit – funny, provocative, haunting, silly, whimsical, cool, and eerie. The submissions are amazing in their variation on the self-portrait theme. From stick figures drawn in crayon and multimedia collage to needlework and witty verse, the range of self-expression represented is fascinating.  Staff on-hand during our visit were eager to discuss the exhibit with us, enthusiastically guiding us to their favorites.  They expressed their delight with continuing stream of entries which are now coming in from several countries and are eager to see the exhibit expand in terms of the cultural diversity represented.If I lived closer I would spend days there, and not just so I could indulge myself at the Art Square Gallery and Cafe every day, although their grilled chicken and organic Mayan chocolate crepe is phenomenal.

If you are so inclined, you can submit a portrait no matter where you are from. Just mail it in. Make sure to sign the release so they can put it up, and it will be included in the exhibit.

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About Laura Young

  • Jackie

    This information is wrong. The Andy Warhol exhibit was at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago from March 18 – June 18, 2006.

    See the MCA‘s website:

  • Oh no! You are absolutely right, Jackie. I had intended to simply write about the In Your Face exhibit, knowing Warhol had left Toronto but thought I’d do a search to see where it went next and somehow got the dates wrong. Complete brain spasm that I cannot explain. Lesson learned of the measure twice and cut once variety. I’ll see what I can do about getting the article corrected ASAP. Unfortunately it looks like there are not current dates for the Supernova now. In Your Face is absolutely still rockin’ though and I do hope people check it out.
    I don’t know what to say, except let me be a lesson to all. Double check yourselves on everything that you do and then double check that. It’s easy if you do lots of surfing and reading on multiple topics to get brain fatigue I guess and not catch the evidence until it’s too late.
    Your painfully human servant,