At the AGO
Art Gallery Of Ontario (317 Dundas West), $12, stu/srs $9, Wed after 6 pm free, Degas $16, stu/srs $13. 416-979-6648.
Degas Sculptures to January 4, 2004. Rating: NNN
It must be said that edgar degas was a master at rendering the human form. And it's great that the AGO is exhibiting one of the world's four complete bronze sculpture collections. But there's a bit of a feeling of "seen one dancer, seen 'em all" here. Never intended as metal statues, the wax and clay studies made to learn how to capture motion were cast in bronze after the artist's death in 1917. Degas studied horses, dancers and in his later, dirty-old-man years, female bathers.
In many ways, the show reads like a record of the artist's obsession, but mostly it just lacks breadth.
Maria Sheriff: Present tense to January 11, 2004. Rating: NNNN
this exhibit crackles in every sense of the word. In a dark room sits what looks like a tree but is really a series of steel and aluminum forms that were once burned in a fire. They twist into a frightening shape that might feel at home in a haunted forest. Each limb supports a glowing pink neon tube. The gas sizzles and cracks, recreating the burning of these metallic parts. A video projection of the sculpture is beamed onto a screen behind the piece as if the twisted wreck were looking at itself in a mirror.
Uniform to December 7. Rating: NNNN
Who are the people who follow you from room to room at the AGO? Why, they're protection services officers, of course. But who are they really? This fantastic show asks that question in the form of a series of portraits and videos created by the guards and orchestrated by artist Robin Pacific .
Richard Guimond , for instance, finds it difficult when he's alone for long periods of time. Three guards choose Beaver Swamp, by Lawren Harris, as their favourite work in the gallery, and one even owns 20 T-shirts with that image emblazoned on their front. Paul McKeracher also works as a corrections officer, so don't mess with him. A hidden treasure.
At the rom
Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen's Park); weekends $18, stu/srs $15; weekdays $15, stu/srs $12; Fri 4:30-9 pm free. 416-586-5549, 416-586-8000.
Art Deco 1910-39 to January 4, 2004. Rating: NNN
for a period that was all about highs and lows, the ROM has put on a very middling exhibition. A fascinating and impressive collection of art and design from an era that favoured gaudy decoration gets a stodgy presentation. The chronological journey meanders past paintings by Tamara de Lempicka , performances by Josephine Baker and fireplace decorations by Jacques Lipchitz . This is the kind of show that feels like it's been put on by an old-school museum rather than a looking-to-a-future-in-a-crystal-hall museum.
Peter Rabbit's Garden to January 4, 2004. Rating: NNN
this is a fun little journey for anyone who loves Beatrix Potter 's adventures of Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny and the gang. There are overturned clay pots to climb under, trees to crouch under, a 360° viewfinder of the English countryside and a lot of drawings. My only criticism is that the show should have provided more play-oriented kids' activites rather than making a screening room for Peter Rabbit movies such a strong draw. Kids can sit on their butts at home.
Artists' Echoes: Contemporary responses to the rom's collections to March 7, 2004. Rating: NNNN
it's a shame that the rom's institute for Contemporary Culture only gets its act together every few years, because this show indicates what wonders can occur when you let artists loose on a historic collection. While there's solid work in Arms and Armour and a queer interpretation of the ancient Greeks, it's the European galleries that truly shine.
Jeannie Thib 's trio of delicate interpretations fits seamlessly into the flow of the gallery. Lois Andison 's antique dressmaker's form is decorated with an Elizabethan collar made from Queen Anne's lace flowers. The collar is motorized to expand and contract, breaking the fragile spell.
A Felt Feeling: From Home to Handbag to April 12, 2004. Rating: NNNN
the chinese believe felt was in vented when wool was placed between a saddle and a horse's sweaty back. The Europeans believe it was invented when a pilgrim put wool between his sandal and his sweaty foot. Nowadays you can create felt by putting a nice wet wool sweater into a hot dryer. Felt is fascinating, capturing the imagination of shepherds and designers alike. This well-thought-out exhibition features bowler and homburg hats, spats, slippers, booties, boot liners, boot covers and more.