A Journey Into the Forbidden City

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  • Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queens Park)
  • Saturday, March 8–Monday, September 1

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.

Details: A Journey Into the Forbidden City

The AGO Expands Its Horizons With New First Nations Exhibit

Patrick DesJarlait, Maple Sugar Time, 1946. Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Patrick DesJarlait, Maple Sugar Time, 1946. Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa. Image courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

  • Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West)
  • Saturday, July 26–Tuesday, November 25

Toronto has increasingly strived to honour the region’s First Nations—whether by acknowledging the historical presence of the Mississaugas of the New Credit on current City land or commemorating pre-European communities and trade routes. Now the Art Gallery of Ontario is following suit, staging an exhibition that highlights Anishinaabe artists from the Great Lakes region and making a greater effort to include indigenous art in its Canadian galleries.

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.

Details: The AGO Expands Its Horizons With New First Nations Exhibit

Stratford Festival Roundup: We’re Crazy in Love With These Shows

Jonathan Goad as Titania (sharing the role with Evan Buliung) and Stephen Ouimette as Bottom with members of the company in Chris Abrahama's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Michael Cooper.

Jonathan Goad as Titania (sharing the role with Evan Buliung) and Stephen Ouimette as Bottom with members of the company in Chris Abrahama's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Photo by Michael Cooper.

  • Multiple venues
  • Wednesday, August 6–Sunday, October 19

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.

Details: Stratford Festival Roundup: We’re Crazy in Love With These Shows

Celebrating the Enduring Vision of Alex Colville

Alex Colville. Family and Rainstorm, 1955. On loan from the National Gallery of Canada. © A.C.Fine Art Inc. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Alex Colville. Family and Rainstorm, 1955. On loan from the National Gallery of Canada. © A.C.Fine Art Inc. Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

  • Art Gallery of Ontario (317 Dundas Street West)
  • Saturday, August 23–Sunday, January 4

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.

Andrew Hunter, AGO curator of Canadian art, was first moved to consider the idea of a Colville showcase when the artist passed away last July. But, says Hunter, he did not want to present a memorial. Instead, the AGO worked closely with Colville’s daughter, Ann Kitz, to create an exhibition that showcases the ongoing relevance of Colville’s work.

Details: Celebrating the Enduring Vision of Alex Colville

Six Things to Do at Fan Expo 2014

A disco stormtrooper from Fan Expo 2013.

A disco stormtrooper from Fan Expo 2013.

  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre (255 Front Street West)
  • August 28–31

Every year, just before the fall kicks in, it’s time for Fan Expo, the city’s annual convention for every hobby that might potentially involve dressing up in an elaborate costume: comics, horror, anime, gaming, sci-fi—you name it. As always, the con is promoting dozens of huge events. (There are two high-profile—and expensive—reunion events, for example: Patrick Stewart shares a panel with William Shatner, and Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill reunite to thrill Doctor Who nerds everywhere). And the speed-dating is back for another year, meaning the organizers are still hopeful they’ll find straight male nerds willing to try out speed-dating (it happens every year: the women’s slots fill up and, despite there being plenty of single dudes about, the men are always outnumbered). But there are lots of other things to do at Fan Expo. Here are seven of them.

Details: Six Things to Do at Fan Expo 2014

Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios Creates Steampunk Wonderland

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  • Grand Chapiteau (51 Commissioners Street)
    • Friday, August 29–Tuesday, December 23

Cirque du Soleil is magical. Across from T&T Supermarket on Cherry Street, the pop-up striped tent transforms Polson Pier into a scene of fantastical fun—it’s a better location than any Las Vegas hotel or Orlando strip mall. And when you walk into the Grand Chapiteau venue, you’re welcomed into a bizarro steampunk contortionist dream.

Kicking off its North American tour in Toronto, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities is Cirque du Soleil’s latest show. The official plot explanation is abstract and boring: there’s a Seeker in his own imaginary world called Curiosistan finding inventions with robots that smell like leather. It’s confusing to even layer a narrative over the spinning, jumping, flying and balancing. No one had no idea what was going on–but everyone loved the show. Details.

Details: Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios Creates Steampunk Wonderland

TIFF Celebrates Maverick Filmmaker Robert Altman With New Retrospective

Still from 3 Women.

Still from 3 Women.

  • TIFF Bell Lightbox (350 King Street West)
    • August 7–31

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.

Details: TIFF Celebrates Maverick Filmmaker Robert Altman With New Retrospective