Toronto City Hall

The importance of place and identity must be on my mind a whole lot, because I kept getting drawn to news about cities, design, and memorial.

Paul Hiebert pretends to ask what the point of city logos is in general, but actually asks whether the City of Toronto logo (“a signal of dignified, centralized leadership”) ought to be updated considering the dubious leadership and bad behaviour of mayor Rob Ford. Yes, the City of Toronto logo is bad, but that’s because it highlights mediocre architecture and bureaucracy rather than the vibrant people and neighbourhoods that actually contribute to the city’s identity. Rob Ford has little to do with why the logo sucks.

At least Toronto is not alone in having a dreadful logo. Here are eleven more Canadian municipalities that could use an update.

In related news, the City of Mississauga has unveiled a new visual identity, meant to highlight its youth (40 years young!), diversity and growth. I’m a little bored by the corporate blue (which is just one possible colour way), but the architectural and geometric properties of the icon are a refreshing change from its existing logo — yet another example of a municipal logo celebrating its city hall. If you’re interested in reading more about this rebranding strategy, the complete brand report is available to peruse online(PDF).

Finally, a bit of architecture/art fun: Famous artworks transformed into buildings by Federico Babina. I wouldn’t mind living inside a Malevich-inspired building.

P.S.: For those of you who may not have heard the news yet, I’m moving back to Toronto in a couple of weeks. While I will surely miss the great city of Montreal, I can’t wait to be home.


Toronto City Hall, 1984 by josullivan.59Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.

Noemie Weinstein, Sans-titre, oil on canvas, 2013

Lots of interesting institutional news this week.

Okwui Enwezor has been appointed curator of the 2015 Venice Biennale. Excellent choice. Of the biennale, Enwezor says, “No event or exhibition of contemporary art has continuously existed at the confluence of so many historical changes across the fields of art, politics, technology, and economics, like la Biennale di Venezia. La Biennale is the ideal place to explore all these dialectical fields of reference, and the institution of la Biennale itself will be a source of inspiration in planning the Exhibition.”

Nicolas Bourriaud has been named curator of the 2014 Taipei Biennale. Titled The Great Accelleration, the exhibition will open at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum on September 14, 2014. (Nice to see that the TFAM is already using the new .museum top level domain).

The Art Gallery of Mississauga has announced a new strategic plan (PDF) that will, “allow the AGM to meet the needs of a growing city and serve the community better.” Director and Curator Stuart Keeler is definitely taking the gallery in a great direction. The new strategic plan will see a physical transformation in the gallery, a new membership drive, and updated marketing materials as well. Can’t wait to see how this plays out. (I grew up in Mississauga and even published an arts and culture magazine there about a decade ago; the AGM has a special place in my heart).

Three items that have been most appropriate for myself and my own ongoing projects:

Jad Abumrad on “Gut Churn” (via)

As someone studying cultural policy and the recent shift from subsidizing the arts to investing in culture, this quote has been seared into my brain.


(From a great Rauschenberg missive from Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings, edited by Kristine Stiles and Peter Howard Selz.)

Finally, I am obsessed with painting lately. One of my recent favourites, which may soon be a part of my personal collection, is Noémie Weinstein‘s Sans-titre, which you can see above.


Noémie Weinstein, Sans titre, oil on canvas, 112.5 cm x 170 cm.

Panama Bio Museo

Summing up my life lately, an article over at The Atlantic explores why writers procrastinate so much. “‘Work finally begins,’ says Alain de Botton, ‘when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly.'”

The 2014 Federal budget was released on Tuesday, and funding for arts and heritage remains stable. More on the Canada Council, the Canadian Museum of History, and certified cultural property over at Canadian Art.

The Ellen Gallery in Montreal is introducing a new funding initiative, offering up to $22,000 to an artist over a two-year period to produce a work that will then be exhibited as part of the gallery’s programming. Awesome: “The program is open to a range of mediums and practices, including ephemeral, immaterial and site-specific works.”

Do weirdos make better art? I can’t say this is good science, but a recent study found that the perceived eccentricities of an artist caused people to evaluate their works more favourably. Sounds like science is just reinforcing the stereotypes we all know to exist. (via)

Mario Carpo on big data and digital art: “The best way to predict a future event in a given set of circumstances would then be, simply, to sift through this database of past evidence and look for an exact precedent. Whatever happened before (if known) would simply happen again, whenever the same conditions recurred; retrievable data would then replace rules, and search could replace predictive science.”

One of the greatest cultural critics of our time, Stuart Hall has died at the age of 82. Check out The Stuart Hall Project, a documentary by John Akomfrah. Not sure it works outside of the UK or without a VPN, but you can rent it online for £3.50.

Such an important initiative. Getty Images has teamed up with to present the Lean In Collection, a library of over 2500 stock photographs “devoted to the powerful depiction of women, girls and the people who support them.” Buzzfeed posts their 44 favourites.

Monday is Family Day in Ontario. The Art Gallery of Ontario is being transformed into the Kids Gallery of Ontario for the day. Walker Court will be the site of floor games and an all-day dance party (!) as well as the starting point for a gallery-wide game of Clue. FUN. Their family day pass, which admits two adults and up to five youths (aged 6-17), is available for the discounted price of $39 for Monday, February 17th.

Did you know you can follow Andrew Hunter, the Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, on Twitter?

Casey N. Cep at the The New Yorker makes a case for free admission. Leah Sandals has been covering this topic for years. Here’s her 2011 synopsis of Elaine Gurian‘s writing about reduced admission fees. (The link to Gurian’s paper, Free at Last: A Case for Eliminating Admission Charges at Museums is broken and I can’t seem to find it online anywhere else, but Sandals’s post includes a few key excerpts.)

The Panama Biomuseo, designed by Frank Gehry, is set to open after nearly ten years of construction.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


Frank Gehry’s Biomuseo under construction in Panama by Darién Montañez. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.