On my way out of Baltimore en route to France, I had a very long layover in Toronto. I didn’t want to spend the best part of the afternoon sitting in the airport terminal, so I took the opportunity to explore Toronto, even if it was only for a little bit. I figured that I only had enough time to see one place. I chose the Art Gallery of Ontario.


I always choose art galleries. I think that they are beautiful places to spend time. This one was no exception; I would even go so far to say that it gave me an emotional response. It had all the regular artists one would expect to see in a museum; Van Gogh, Magritte, Picasso, a little bit of Warhol. But I paid special attention to the artists who are a little less well known.

One series of photographs that particularly resonated with me was a collaboration between Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst (bottom left and right). Over the course of their long-term relationship, they each transformed their gender identities; Ernst from female to male, and Drucker from male to female. The photographs were an intimate peek into the every day aspects of their relationship.

museum collage

Clockwise from top left: Prints by Mark Morrisroe, a self portrait by Robert Mappelthorpe, and a photo series by Zackary Drucker & Rhys Ernst.

There was a huge installation, called The Index, that took up over half of the floorspace on the top level of the museum. Assembled by the Canadian artist David Altmejd, The Index is composed mainly of mirrors, synthetic plants, and taxidermic animals. The information card explained that Altmejd’s vision “considers the relationship among all living things, exploring issues such as identity, sexuality, community and the cloning and mutation of species.”

The Index was an interactive space that included a small room you could go inside. Mirrors were everywhere; I felt as if was in the installation. This was the point, obviously, and it reminded me of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essays. Emerson suggests that we, as human beings, feel good when we are surrounded by nature because we are part of nature in sensation and reflection.


By far my favorite part of the museum was a special exhibit featuring the Canadian artist Alex Colville, whose paintings feature scenes from every day life.

Colville’s work has also had great influence on filmmakers; Stanley Kubrik’s The Shining, The Coen Brother’s No Country for Old Men, and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom all included his paintings or scenes derivative of his paintings.

It’s the ordinary things that seem important to me.

– Alex Colville

I didn’t take any pictures inside the Colville exhibit, but I would strongly recommend anybody to check out his work sometime. This painting in particular gave me a very strong emotional reaction. A lot of the subject matter had very dark and mysterious subject matter, like this painting of a woman holding a revolver and this painting titled Pacific 1967.

I wish I had more to time to explore Toronto, but I did the enjoy the five hours I spent wandering the AGO.