I talk about my love for Toronto a lot. I still can’t believe that I live in the city and that so many things that I love are so easily within reach. It’s easy to grab milkshakes at Denny’s at midnight on a Friday or to go record shopping or visit the waterfront or one of the many parks. It’s easy to get to concert venues or the ROM or a really great coffee shop. I love all of it, but one of my favourite places in the city by far is the AGO. In fact, it took me next to no time to get myself a membership, and even less time to tell myself that I would spend as much spare time there as I could. It’s an amazing place to have unlimited access to.
Art galleries are something that I could never grow tired of. I love how magical they feel and how they’re a communal place for so many like-minded people to gather and to look and think. I love the varying collections and the special exhibits. Whenever we go on a family vacation, I try and rope everyone into visiting one. It usually works out, and I’ve been lucky enough to visit The Louvre, Madrid’s Museo Nacional del Prado, the MoMA, The Brooklyn Museum, and so many more. It’s an addiction, if I’m being honest.
I visited the Art Gallery of Ontario last Saturday to take a break from the stress of midterms. It was grey and rainy, and somehow that just enhanced the experience, making it more intimate and moody, which is something I can always go for. I spent a while in their current photography exhibit about nuclear warfare and visited my favourite rooms before settling down on an empty bench. I spent an hour there, going through my art history notes, reviewing for my midterm, and soaking up all the inspiration I could from the artwork that surrounded me. It was stimulating and the soft noises of people passing through provided perfect background noise. It’s now going to be my go-to study space.
One of the main reasons I like to visit the AGO is to simultaneously fill my brain with notes of inspiration and clear my head of anything weighty. Knowing that I can stop in at any time and stand in front of Andy Warhol’s Silver Liz as Cleopatra for half an hour or try and figure out how photographers take such incredible photos makes me very happy. I like seeing how other people look at the art and the people who stop and linger or pass quickly. I envy the girls who have the guts to sit themselves down in front of a certain piece and draw it or draw something inspired by it – although if I can study in there, then maybe next time I’ll bring a sketchbook. People in art galleries show that a love for art isn’t fleeting or temporary, it starts at a young age and it stays until you’re old, and I think that’s perfect.
Obviously the AGO is the most easily accessible art gallery for me, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful. It’s packed with incredible pieces by incredible artists, from Monet to Warhol to The Group of Seven. There are rooms for every mood, with walls completely covered in paintings and expansive spaces full of Henry Moore sculptures. There’s modern art and contemporary art and hundreds of different styles, so I don’t really see how anyone could be unhappy with it. It’s an incredibly inspiring space.
Aside from their permanent collection, the gallery does a pretty flawless job when it comes to their special exhibits. I went to see the Jean-Michel Basquiat one in April, and I was breathing heavily and tearing up before I even got inside. To see such monumental pieces as well as his work with Andy Warhol was overwhelming in the best way possible. They’ve also hosted works by Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera, Patti Smith, Ai WeiWei, and many more. I’m just waiting for a new, really incredible one to pop up.
I try to incorporate creativity into every day. I write a lot and I keep track of words that I like and I recently started keeping a visual journal that allows me to throw together collages and paintings and doodles and paragraphs of my thoughts. Inspiration doesn’t always come easily, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve to make the creative juices flow. I put on my favourite records or get some fresh air or look through magazines to come up with an inspiration board, but creative spaces are also a huge part of facilitating inspiration, and the AGO can always breathe new life into me. With all of its aspects, it is most definitely a place that inspires me in an instant. I can tell you right now that I’ll be spending a lot of time there over the coming months.