Her: “No photos of the artwork, but feel free to take pictures of the architecture. Just make sure no one’s in the photo otherwise you need to get their permission.”
Me: “So, basically, no photos.”
Her: “Sure! Just have to be patient and make sure there are no people in your shot.”
Me: “Okey dokey.”
I don’t know why I bother. I mean, I try to be polite and respectful, but why I don’t I just clamp my butthole shut while I’m at it?
First, they made me check in my bag because it was oversize. K, I can dig it. But I was told I could take it in if I wore it around my waist, as another lady with “exactly the same bag” as mine had done.
The bag is a Lowepro SlingShot, one of those single over-the-shoulder deals that’s more or less a thick, rigid backpack. I couldn’t work out the logistics of wearing it around the waist, especially since it would stick out just as far any which way I maneuvered it. “I’ll carry it”, I offered, lowering the bag into a shy, reclusive position between my legs.
The answer was still no.
“Can I at least take my camera?”, I asked. “Of course!”, replied the smiling guard. He had been almost absurdly friendly the entire time and I don’t think I would’ve thought twice about leaving my bag behind, but then his partner showed up. I don’t think a smile had creased her thin lips in years. Crab-ola!
It was a few minutes later as I was entering into the main gallery of the AGO that I had a second conversation with another (and considerably friendlier), female attendant. That’s the first part of this post. I thought that maybe swapping the denials chronologically would make them seem less harsh.
You can understand why I was starting to get a bit miffed, especially since just beyond the attendant, in the main lobby, a woman was chasing a guy in a Sasquatch suit snapping pictures randomly and yelling, “Stop, Sasquatch! Stop!” Strangely, he did, while the girl pushed her way through the crowd that had suddenly formed behind him. As soon as she was through, he lumbered off again past cowering, horrified children. Snappity snap McSnap all the way.
Not to mention the sign I found just around the corner. Visitors were advised that they may have their photos taken at any moment for use in promotional material. Only by actively approaching any guy or girl with a big lens and notifying them of your wishes would you be assured that this wouldn’t happen.
So I broke the rules. But after I had wandered a bit, I realized that, probably, that’s what was necessary in a place like this. Some unfettered appreciation. Do you think the artists would mind?
Like a digital reproduction could ever do it justice! I mean, you can actually commit a heinous crime and totally wreck some major artwork, that’s how close you’re allowed to get to it. And, to keep you interested, each new room is fronted by an outstanding piece from the collection:
Once inside, the pieces are respectfully spaced but I have to say, the signage s-u-c-k-s! They’ll have two paintings side by side, four labels next to each one, and one in between just for good measure. Halfway through the Impressionists, some young girl went to great lengths to embarrass herself to her friend as she described the flowing, smooth style of Gauguin in the painting in front of them. Wrong label. Wrong painting too.
But I shouldn’t be overly critical. There were a number of pieces on display that I didn’t particularly get but that had genuinely excited buzz around them:
Yup, there’s a lot of stuff to see; the Art Gallery is actually quite large. The piece that runs along Dundas is just for show; the building behind it is the actual gallery and it runs upward about five storeys via that crazy spiral staircase in the lobby. And it’s art all the way up; old, new, and stuff that I sat on.
I should probably take a bit of that back. I didn’t mean to imply that the part along Dundas is totally wasted:
The inside is genuinely impressive, but I still think the architect is a hack. I saw a documentary where he demonstrates his creative process: He’ll take a stiff card of cardboard, then crumple it (not too tightly), then flatten (not too much). Then point to it and say, “okay, now you guys build me that.” The team go sprinting out the door while Gehry leans back in his chair and takes a sip of his coffee. Hack-ola!
Ha! Listen to me go on like I paid for the experience or something! No, dear reader, Wednesday evenings are free. I think they probably have special exhibits that are off-limits to all us freeloaders, but since this was my first visit since the reno, it’ll be a while before I get bored.
In the meantime I’m going to work on getting my bag to wear like a fanny pack. I’ll show them!