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Urban Planner: August 28, 2014

In today's Urban Planner: the geektacular orgies of Fan Expo, bands take over Kensington Market, and exploring the universe.

Indulge in some space nerdery at U of T’s planetarium. Image by ESO/L. Calçada.

  • Festivals: Since you’re probably going to notice an increase in the number of interestingly dressed people downtown this week, we’ll let you in on the secret: Fan Expo is back, bringing celebrities, exhibitors, and genre enthusiasts together at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre for four days of panels, celebrity appearances, demonstrations, shopping, and, of course, costumes. You don’t have to be a stereotypical comic book geek to enjoy this con, there will be plenty to pique the interests of those into sci-fi, gaming, and horror too. Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West), 4 p.m., $25–$50 per day, $115 for a 4-day pass. Details
  • Music: Yes, Toronto has a huge number of music festivals, but we’re not complaining! Soundtrack of the City gives you something to do every night this long weekend as bands take over Kensington Market. Cover is cheap, the showcases are within stumbling distance of each other, and many of the venues will be serving alcohol until 4 a.m. What more could you want? Multiple venues, 7 p.m., $5-$10. Details
  • Offbeat: It’s time to stop lying awake at night, questioning the existence of beings from beyond. The University of Toronto has some answers, and it wants to share them with you. Attend its Public Planetarium Show: Galaxies, Planets and Life in the Universe and learn about where in space we might find living organisms, what the heck a cosmic microwave background is, and much more. University of Toronto, Astronomy Building (50 St. George Street), 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., $5. Details

Ongoing…

  • Art: If The Forbidden City: Inside the Court of China’s Emperors has a mascot, it’s Emperor Yongzheng. The image of the 18th-century Chinese ruler dominates the promotional material of the exhibition, which is one of the centrepieces of the Royal Ontario Museum’s centennial year. His portrait certainly has visual appeal, but Yongzheng is also a figure associated with surprising elements of life within the former imperial palace. Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park), all day, $27 adults. Details
  • Art: Before and After the Horizon: Anishinaabe Artists of the Great Lakes is a collaborative effort of the AGO and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in New York City, where the exhibition recently wrapped up after a one-year run. The displays are organized by themes relating to Anishinaabe concepts of place and spirituality, and how they interact with the outside world. One of the most intriguing themes is “cottager colonialism,” which suggests that the colonization of indigenous land continues by way of vacationing tourists. Political statements are scattered throughout the exhibition, from Nadia Myre’s bead-covered pages of the Indian Act to the use of historical indigenous status documents in Robert Houle’s “Premises” series. Floral beaded bags and leggings, meanwhile, provide inspiration for the contemporary paintings of Christi Belcourt, an Ontario Arts Council Aboriginal Arts Award recipient. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West), all day, $19.50 (included with general adult admission). Details
  • Theatre: Only about two hours away from Toronto, madness is infiltrating the town of Stratford, Ontario—but fortunately, it’s the kind that produces delightful results. Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino has designed this year’s season around the theme “Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge,” and explores it through everything from jukebox musicals to Shakespearean tragedies. And with the festival’s increasingly popular twice-daily bus service to and from downtown (in its second year), it’s easy to get a taste of what the mania is all about. Here’s Torontoist‘s take on a sampling of this year’s festival offerings—Ira Glass and his opinions notwithstanding, a whole lot of people would welcome a chance to spend some time with the Bard and some of Canada’s most esteemed artists. Multiple venues, all day, $25–$133. Details
  • Art: Alex Colville’s paintings include some of the most recognizable works of Canadian art. Prints of his iconic Horse and Train and To Prince Edward Island hang in homes and classrooms and art shops around the world. And yet the Toronto-born artist, whose career spanned seven decades, is not often celebrated for the incredible influence he had on artists of many media.

    With its new exhibition, “Alex Colville, opening August 23, the Art Gallery of Ontario has mounted a show that not only documents the career of one of Canada’s most prolific artists, but also examines the nature of inspiration in art, literature, film, and beyond. Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West). Details

  • Film: There’s a moment in the 2002 Academy Award telecast where the camera pans across the crowd during a standing ovation for the freshly minted Best Director winner Ron Howard and finds, standing in the aisle together with conspiratorial grins on their faces, none other than David Lynch and Robert Altman, a pair of high-profile losers who the comparatively green Howard had just bested. Altman never won that competitive Oscar before his death in 2006 (though he did get an honorary award in 2001), but even more so than Lynch he’s become a bellwether of quality American filmmaking—a roguish sort who brought an idiosyncratic authorial signature to studio films in the 1970s. Tied to the upcoming release of Toronto filmmaker Ron Mann’s profile of the late filmmaker, TIFF Cinematheque’s retrospective “Company Man: The Best of Robert Altman” is a fine introduction, screening 18 of the iconoclastic filmmaker’s most important works. TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West), 6:30 p.m., Prices vary. Details
  • Sports: Align your body, ease your mind, and get your retail therapy all in one stop this summer at the Shops at Don Mills. Bring your mat for free Yoga in the Town Square every Tuesday and Thursday, courtesy of Titika. Shops at Don Mills (1090 Don Mills Road), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Dance: If the warm weather makes you feel like dancing, well, Harbourfront is where you need to be. Get your groove on every Thursday until the end of summer at Dancing on the Pier. Live music from the likes of the Toronto All-Star Big Band, Sean Bellaviti, and Luis Orbegoso will provide the soundtrack to each themed evening. Got two left feet? No problem! Instructors will be on hand to get your steps in order. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queens Quay West), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Music: There’s bound to be a lot of barbecuing, beaching, and boozing around the city this summer, so we’d like to suggest something a little more refined to keep things balanced. The Music in the Garden series features weekly performances by a variety of unique musical groups, amid the luscious greenery of the Toronto Music Garden. The Akwesasne Women Singers start things off on July 3 with a showcase of English and Mohawk songs, followed by Music from the Garden of India (July 24), an all-female fiddling supergroup (July 31), the Nagata Shachu taiko drumming ensemble (August 21), the Veretski Pass Trio (September 4), and many more. Toronto Music Garden (479 Queens Quay West), 7 p.m., FREE. Details
  • Theatre: If the thought of battling crowds at the Aquarium has you feeling a little crabby, may we suggest an underwater voyage of a different kind? Bring the kids (or your adult friends, whatever) to the Lower Ossington Theatre’s production of Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr. The classic story of a whimsical mermaid, a land-living prince, and her desire to be part of his world has been specially adapted for younger audiences, and will only be onstage this August. Al Green Theatre (750 Spadina Avenue), 7 p.m., $29.99- $59.99. Details

Happening soon:

Urban Planner is Torontoist‘s guide to what’s on in Toronto, published every weekday morning, and in a weekend edition Friday afternoons. If you have an event you’d like considered, email us with all the details (including images, if you’ve got any), ideally at least a week in advance.

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