National Gallery of Canada || The Art

The building itself is so photogenic, one could spend hours trying to capture the gorgeous light-and-shadow play that goes on all day, thanks to its octagonal skylights. But that would only be half the fun; so today, let’s take it a step further and focus on the art.

Today and tomorrow and tomorrow… “Maman” the giant egg-carrying spider; bronze, stainless steel and marble, 1999 (cast 2003) by Louise Bourgeois.


”No Foreigners” (série Nos maîtres les fous / Our Insane Masters), 2016, acrylic on canvas by Cynthia Girard-Renard


”Casualties of Modernity”, 2015, mixed-media installation with HD video, by Kent Monkman

In this installation, Monkman’s drag-queen alter-ego, Miss Chief Eagle Testickle, an agent provocateur and trickster, appears on screen andd in mannequin form clad in a PVC nurse’s outfit, tending to her patient, the wheezing cubism. The work is a satirical look at art through Miss Chief’s ayes, foregrounding the artist’s critique of modern art through the downfall of romanticism, cubism and primitivism.


”Eunoia”, 2013, steel extruded aluminum, acrylic and components by Daniel Young & Christian Giroux


”Dérive 45 & 46”, 2015, acrylic on canvas
”Vendredi 11 août 1989 – Mes idées s’envolaient aussitôt” [Friday 11 August 1989 – My ideas took flight immediately], 2014, vinyl and digital print mural by Latifa Echakhch


 

”Soundsuit”, 2015, mixed media including gramophone horn, ceramic birds, metal flowers, strung beads, fabric, metal and mannequin – by Nick Cave


Healing Rattles: Earth, Wind, Fire, Water, 2010 by Angela Marston


Majestic, 2011, lamp posts, steel, glass, electricity, by Michel de Broin

De Broin’s array of revitalized New Orleans streetlamps, uprooted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, light up the area as night falls {source}


National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

October 29th, 2017

National Gallery of Canada || Ottawa

What can a visitor do on a rainy October Sunday in Gananoque, apart from eat and sleep? Drive to Ottawa, of course. It’s only a two-hour drive, maybe less in good weather.

And what can a visitor do on a rainy October Sunday afternoon upon arrival in Ottawa with only a couple of hours to go before dark? Go straight to the National Gallery of Canada. Of course!

Housed in a stunning glass and granite building full of light that is carried from the skylights on the roof, the gallery is an excellent antidote to depressing weather. It was designed by Moshe Safdie, who is responsible for a number of iconic structures around the world, including, for example, the Marina Bay Sands complex in Singapore, the infinity pool of which tops both the building and my personal wish-list.

Back in Ottawa; see these glass octagonal features on the roof?  That’s how they look like on the inside, with the addition of white sails to diffuse the light.

“Maman” the giant egg-carrying spider outside the gallery, is a sculpture (1999, cast 2003) by Louise Bourgeois.

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

October 29th, 2017

Up the St. Lawrence River from Gananoque to Heart Island

Up the St. Lawrence River, under the Thousand Islands Bridge, crossing the border to the U.S. long enough to go around Boldt Castle, on Heart Island. In season, boats stop and people can visit the castle, but in October it is already closed.

It was a melancholic sight, as it lay there empty, resting, nurturing its sad story: built at the whim of George C. Boldt, a Prussian-born self made millionaire, manager of the original Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan, as a gift to his wife Louise, intended to be their summer home (!) Alas, Louise passed away suddenly, months before its completion. George, inconsolable, abandoned the castle and left the island, never to return. The castle remained unfinished, abandoned for 73 years…

St. Lawrence River

October 28th, 2017

Familiarising || Gananoque

First of all, with the name. Here I was, thinking all along it was pronounced Gan-a-nók (in my best French accent), until our host let us in with a ”welcome to Gan-ə-nok-way” and put an end to my ignorance.

The quietude and laid-backness. The locals taking a break from the summer madness, before winter kicks in.

The lack of tourists. There must have been no more than ten of us at the time.

Canadian politeness. Much more than just a cliché, Canadians make even road signs seem polite!

Gananoque, ON

October 28th, 2017

Sleeping with ghosts || Gananoque

Our trip continues around Lake Ontario to the ”Thousand Islands”, an archipelago of 1149 (official count) islands and islets, 665 of which are on the Canadian side and 484 on the American side. Their size ranges from a few square miles to mere rocks. Some are just large enough to accommodate a single house (and a tree); another, slightly larger rock, holds a fairy tale castle; a third one hosts a lighthouse; all of them are as picture-perfect as you can imagine – and then some.

But first things first: accommodation. We will stay on the Canadian side and lodge at The Sleepy Hollow, an atmospheric B&B in Gananoque we chose partly because of its name, considering we were approaching Halloween.

We knew we made the right choice when we were met by our tiny ghost friendly host who welcomed and showed us to our room, made sure we were comfortable and cosy, shooed all other house ghosts guests away so we could sleep quietly and made sure we woke up in time for breakfast.

Gananoque, ON

October 27th, 2017

Neontasmagoria

At night, the whole area along – and including – the falls, becomes a neon phantasmagoria.

 

The neon light show inside Galleria (shopping mall), mirrors that of the falls.

I wish I could have stayed awake to see whether the lights change all night.

I didn’t.

 

October 26th, 2017

Room with a View

Canada and the U.S. share the benefits of one of the world’s top tourist destinations with boat tours, walking tours, honeymoon packages, helicopter rides, resorts and casinos and all kinds of development to the detriment of the natural beauty of the environment but to the ultimate excitement of the millions of tourists that flock to Niagara Falls every year.

But for the best armchair views from your private booth you have to cross to Canada and book a ”falls view – high floor” room in one of the major chained-brand hotels that are lined along the Canadian side of the falls. The views are simply hypnotic.

Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane

If Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs are a little too ”light” for your taste, may I suggest a walk around the massive Richardson Olmsted Campus. In its original version, the 1880 ”Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane” incorporated the then most enlightened humane principles in psychiatric treatment. Over time, as technology and mental health care advanced, patients were moved to a new facility in the 1970s and the complex was gradually abandoned.

After years of neglect the buildings are now being restored, having lost none of their imposing sturdiness. I think they would make the perfect set for a scary movie. It was a sunny day when we visited – just imagine how frightening they would seem in the dead of winter, wind howling and rain battering against those huge windows.

Here are some opening scenes from the scariest movie you’ve never seen…

… in b&w

… and in colour

Buffalo N.Y.

October 26th, 2017