Summertime art and culture, coast to Canadian coast

Summertime art and culture, coast to Canadian coast

Summertime art and culture, coast to Canadian coast

We’re really in the dog days of summer, aren’t we? Here in Toronto, we’ve been hitting steady temperatures of 30+ degrees Celsius over the last few days, and I find myself ducking into gorgeously air-conditioned malls, cinemas, and public transit simply for a break from the heat.

Maybe you’re running out of activities to do in the sweltering heat. Here’s an idea: it’s the perfect time of year to explore your local art and culture hubs! Canada boasts a fantastic selection of galleries and museums from coast to coast, and we’re ready to supplement your visit with a few relevant NFB films.

Read on for more details!

West coast: Stan Douglas and the city before the city

Stan Douglas
Artist Stan Douglas, the creative mind behind Circa 1948.

At the Vancouver Art Gallery, an exhibition titled  Residue: The Persistence of the Real asks: what is realism? A concept that got into some trouble after the tumult of Second World War, realism has been alternately revered, distrusted, rejected, and revived in various measures. This thought-provoking exhibit will display work that sees “the real as something that cannot be entirely reduced to representation.”

Artists profiled in the exhibit include Robert Burley, Babak Golkar, Geoffrey James, Brian Jungen & Duane Linklater, Catherine Opie, Amie Siegel, and Stan Douglas. Douglas is the creative mind behind the NFB’s Circa 1948, an innovative and otherworldly interactive exploration of WWII-era Vancouver.

Check out a short video about the project’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival as an installation, and then head over to iTunes to download this FREE app now!

Over at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, you can see an exhibition called c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city, which  profiles the history of the land now known as Vancouver going back some 5000+ years.

The  exhibition focuses on Musqueam identity, language, and oral history, and includes graphic and 3D modelling of maps and artifacts, original videography, interactive activities, and soundscapes that blend traditional and modern sounds. But if you want to learn more about the Musqueam people and their history, check out Writing the Land, a short documentary about a Musqueam elder who rediscovers his Native language and traditions within the glass and steel landscape of modern-day Vancouver.

Writing the Land, Kevin Lee Burton, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Alberta’s quirky exhibits on electricity and political cartoons

If you find yourself in or around Calgary this summer, head over to the unconventional Bakken museum, which specializes in exhibits about the mysteries of the electrical world. If you’ve got kids that love science, this is the place to take them! But if you’re not in the vicinity, you might get just as much of thrill out of our Science Please series of short animations.

These little gems make even the nerdiest of scientific concepts a blast! From explosives to gravity to lighting, magnets, batteries, and electricity, parts I and II of Science Please bring laughs and learning to audiences of all ages.

For older audiences in Calgary who are interested in the intricacies of political satire, the Glenbow museum is presenting an exhibition called Political Satire in Alberta, which profiles the art and artists who have used pen and ink to make fun of political issues, both local and global. And did you know that the Glenbow has the largest art collection in Western Canada? That’s definitely something to see.

But if you’re not in the vicinity, check out the NFB’s thought-provoking feature doc on Montreal political cartoonists Aislin and Serge Chapleau, who have used their talent and their wit to skewer politicians for over 30 years.

Watch Nothing Sacred  now:

Nothing Sacred, Garry Beitel, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Toronto: explore Mexico without leaving the city!

If you’re in or around south-western Ontario, you might want to drop by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), which is presenting an exhibit called ¡Viva México! Clothing and Culture throughout the summer months (in fact, the exhibition runs all the way through to mid-2016).

Did you know that the ROM has one of the largest and most important collections of Mexican textiles in the world? The exhibit explores centuries of design and manufacturing evolution in Mexico, and examines the confluence of Aztec and Mayan traditions with the European aesthetic that colonialism brought to the continent.

If you’re planning on seeing this exhibit, check out my blog post about all things Mexico through Canadian eyes. I was so enthralled with Mexico after my trip there in 2013 that I decided I simply had to blog about it! And if you want to know more about Mexico’s famously colourful and intricate textiles, watch Donald Winkler’s 1974 short documentary In Praise of Hands. This film takes us on a journey through the development of hand-crafted textiles and pottery in a number of countries, such as Mexico, Japan, and India, among others.

Fast-forward to the 6:40 and 19:07 marks to see Mexican tapestry and embroidery accompanied by lively music from the locals.

In Praise of Hands, Donald Winkler, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Wherever you are… head to your local museum!

Yes, we only managed to profile a few Canadian locations in this blog post, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t rich and rewarding art and culture hubs all over this great country of ours. According to the Canadian Museums Association, there are currently over 2300 museums and related institutions in Canada!

Why not hit up the Canadian Museum of Nature or the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa? Or maybe you’re near the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, or the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City? No matter where you are, there’s always a great museum or gallery to visit… and a little bit of sweet, sweet air-conditioning inside it too. Enjoy!

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  1. Thanks Jovana for this refreshing piece.

    And for all animation film lovers, there is one month left to check out the thrilling NFB Image x Image exhibition at the Museum of Civilization in Qubec city.

    — Julie,
  2. The Bakken Museum you are referring to in this post is actually in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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