As a senior, I realized I actually have the time to explore the world of art outside Toronto’s boundaries. Hamilton and Oshawa are each a short easy drive away. And the art is really, really good.
Ken Danby "At-the-crease", 1972 Ken Danby (Canadian 1940-2007). “At the Crease,” 1972, egg tempera on wood, 71.1 x 101.6 cm. Private Collection. Photo: Mike Lalich

At the Art Gallery of Hamilton – a brilliant retrospective of Ken Danby’s life’s work

Danby was an accomplished realist painter, portraitist, commercial artist and print maker. He was a master of technique, sometimes laying over thirty colours in a silk-screened print, making his own egg tempera paints (yes, egg – the yolk used a binder for the pigments), or spending days on a watercolor the size of a small dining table.

I’d be surprised if you haven’t seen Ken Danby’s At the Crease (above) in a newspaper or as a poster on somebody’s wall. But you haven’t discovered its true depth, the real secret of Danby’s understanding of the goalkeeper, until you’ve been face to face with the original art.

For all the drama of this painting, for all its surface reality, its truth is hidden deep behind the mask, in the goalie’s eyes. I know. I have a middle-aged son who still plays goal. And I’ve been in on the secret since he was seven years old. The goalie sees all. The goalie anticipates all.

Also at the Art Gallery of Hamilton – Yuri Dojc’s Last Folio

Yuriu Dojc, “Book, Bardejov, 2007,” chromogenic print. Courtesy of the artist. From the "Last Folio" exhibition at the Art gallery of Hamilton

Yuriu Dojc, “Book, Bardejov, 2007,” chromogenic print. Courtesy of the artist.

Slovakia-born Canadian photographer Yuri Dojc returned to the village that was his family’s home nearly ten years ago.

He and his documentary film team came upon a school that had been locked since 1943, when the Nazis seized the Jewish villagers who had not escaped.

All the school books were still there, including essay notebooks with corrections, even the sugar was still in the cupboard. The decaying books, which were lying on dusty shelves, the last witnesses of a once thriving culture, are treated by Dojc like the survivors they are, each one captured as a portrait, preserved in their final beauty, silent witnesses to the horrors of history.

The art Gallery of Hamilton

The art Gallery of Hamilton

Beyond the Crease: Ken Danby, runs until January 15, 2017

Last Folio: Yuri Dojc, runs until May 14, 2017

Admission is only $8.00 for seniors. And if you go on a Saturday, Sunday or statutory holiday, you can find free parking at street meters.

Art Gallery of Hamilton hours:

  • Tuesday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Wednesday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Thursday 11:00 am – 8:00 pm
  • Friday* 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm
  • Sunday 12:00 noon – 5:00 pm
  • Monday Closed (open select holidays)

*Friday Free Night:
The Gallery and the Shop at AGH are open from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm on the first Friday of each month. Free admission to GALLERY LEVEL ONE exhibitions will be from 4pm to 8pm. +learn more

On the third Wednesday of each month, seniors receive a 10% discount at the Shop at AGH and the Gallery’s Horse and Train Bistro.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is fully wheelchair-accessible, except for exhibits on the Central Staircase.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa

The Robert Mclaughlin Gallery Oshawa

The Robert Mclaughlin Gallery Oshawa

Holy cow! Were my wife and I pleasantly surprised!

Admission at this public gallery is free, with a suggested donation of $5.

The gallery is so worth the drive, not just for the delightful art within, but for its amazingly innovative approach to accessibility.

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery is fully accessible, possibly more so than any gallery in my experience, because of a remarkable device that enables the blind to experience visual art.

The PenFriend, and audio aid that can be used to learn about displayed artwork

The PenFriend, and audio aid that can be used to learn about displayed artwork

The Penfriend is an audio aid that allows gallery staff to record descriptions of art works, which can then be played back and listened to by visitors to the gallery.

Using the Large Print and the Braille guide provided, visitors walk through the exhibition at their own pace by moving the Penfriend from work to work on the labels provided.

When the Penfriend touches the label, it plays a description of the artwork and then direction on where to move next. Visitors get their own private tour of the gallery space, so they can experience and enjoy the displayed works of art.

Yawnder and Elsewheres – just try not to giggle with delight as you enter Jay Dart’s fictional worlds

The RMG website says, “The main character, referred to by Dart as his alter ego, Jiggs, is on a journey to discover an original idea. Each of his illustrations contributes to the evolving narrative about the mystical nature of inspiration, the search for innovative creation, and the dissemination of ideas.”

jay-dart-yawnder-elsewheresOkay. But I just really enjoyed the childlike simplicity and brilliant, sophisticated execution of Dart’s work.

Activity stations have been set up through the space visitors are able to participate and contribute to the both the story and the creative process.

Greetings from Yawnder; Jay Dart

The Robert McLaughlin Gallery hours

  • Monday to Friday 10am – 5pm
  • Thursday 10am – 9pm
  • Saturday 10am – 4pm
  • Sunday 12pm – 4pm
  • Open 7pm – 10pm on the first Friday of every month for RMG Fridays.
  • Please note the holiday closures: Civic Holiday August 1, Labour Day September 5, Thanksgiving October 10, Christmas Day December 25, Boxing Day December 26

You can drive to the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, at 72 Queen Street, Oshawa, in about an hour. Just head east on 401 and exit at Regional Road 2 toward Simcoe Street. Then:
Turn left at the first cross street onto Simcoe Street South
Turn left onto Athol Street West
Turn left onto Centre Street South
Turn right onto B ago Street
Turn right onto Queen Street

Metered Gallery parking is the left of the building. It’s free after 6 p.m. on weekdays and on weekends.

If you’ll be looking for lunch or a late-afternoon bite, there’s a publication titled Let’s Eat on the rack int the reception area. Its packed with a selection of 27 of downtown Oshawa’s best restaurants, from casual gourmet to quick bites.

For me, this is the real pleasure of visiting an art gallery is that you never know what’s going to surprise you, thrill you, or just make you think. And the remember, exhibitions are always changing, which makes it easy to enjoy a huge range of work. So hop in your car, go for a short drive, and get a fresh perspective on art!

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