Thursday, 26 March 2009

Making Myths, Fighting Myths at the Mythical McMichael Canadian Art Collection

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Early version of a piece
written for Sunwings' inflight magazine,
summer 2009 edition


There is a myth about Canadians that just won’t go away. It says that we are a nation of hewers of wood and drawers of water. Truth is, most Canucks live in urban communities within 150kms of the American border, our trees are for shade and the water comes right out of the tap.
A visit to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario (just north of the City of Toronto) shows, however, that the myth has done some good things for the country. The publicly owned gallery is the only major art gallery in the country that solely collects and exhibits Canadian Art, and its most prized works were created by the Group of Seven, painters who painted the myth!
In 1920, seven artists – Lawren Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, Franklin Carmichael and A.Y. Jackson – decided, for the first time, to exhibit as the Group of Seven. The Group’s first exhibition opened at the Art Gallery of Toronto in May 1920. The seven were committed to exploring, through art, the unique character of the Canadian landscape. Collectively they agreed: Canada’s rugged wilderness regions needed to be recorded in a distinctive painting style. This style would break from European tradition and reflect an increasingly nationalistic sentiment.
Today, these men are among Canada’s most famous artists. For many, their works have come to symbolize what is the distinctly Canadian identity. The McMichael is called the spiritual home of the Group and six of the ten members of the group (three more artists joined the group in later years) are buried on the grounds.
The gallery itself is made out of logs and stone and sits on a hill overlooking the verdant Humber River Valley. That other old myth – that you can’t see the forest for the trees isn’t quite true at the McMichael. Looking out the gallery windows you can see the top of the CN tower, but the thousands of trees that cover the 150-acre parkland that the gallery sits amongst, block the rest of the view of the city. (The public walking trails through the woods are almost as popular as the gallery itself!)
The Government of Ontario owns the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The gallery is located on Islington Avenue, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in Kleinburg, (a few minutes from the Wonderland Amusement Park) and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition to its extensive holdings of the Group of Seven and the famed Tom Thomson, the McMichael also collects and exhibits Inuit and First Nation work. This summer there will be a huge exhibition of British Columbia First Nations art. “Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast” explores the art of nearly forty contemporary Northwest Coast artists. It examines the individual artistic interpretation each artist brings to their work based on their cultural traditions. It also looks at how these individuals grapple with the challenges of interpreting traditional Northwest Coast design in the modern age.
The big West Coast exhibition and a tour of the gallery’s permanent collection are two things that visitors won’t want to myth this summer! www.mcmichael.com
Cutline: One of the signature pieces in this summer's West Coast exhibition at the McMichael. Bill Henderson (Kwakwaka’wakw, b.1950)
Sun Mask,2007-2008
yellow cedar, cedar bark rope, acrylic
147.3 x 147.3 x 9.1 cm
Private Collection, Courtesy of Inuit Gallery of Vancouver Ltd

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Stars on the water compete for Bacardi Cup

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Canadian Star teams sail against the world's best off Miami Beach in March


Bermuda's Peter Bromby and veteran Star Class crew Magnus Liljedahl of Miami won the 2009 Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta Friday March 13th on Biscayne Bay in Miami, Florida. Bromby and Liljedahl sailed to victory on the final race in the six race regatta to finish with a commanding six-point lead over Floridian Mark Mendelblatt, the 2005 Bacardi Cup champion, and crew Bruno Prada (BRA) who finished second overall.
The Bacardi Cup Regatta, hosted by the Coral Reef Yacht Club on Miami's Key Biscayne, attracted sailors from around the world. There were 128 sailors in 64 teams representing 15 countries competed in the race. Eight of the competitors were from Canada including four-time Olympian Hans Fogh and the Queen City Yacht Club (Toronto Island) team of Terry Hofkitchner and Jeff Imai.
According to Queen City Yacht Club Vice-Commodore and Diver Magazine photographer Pat Whetung, the reason that Great Lake Canadian sailors take part in the annual race is because they are using Star Class boats. "Star boats have been around many many decades and have been an Olympic class for years. QCYC has the largest fleet of stars on Lake Ontario," explained Whetung. "There were 6 current members from our club on the water down here - with a few others who have been members in the past"
"As for us racer chasers - we couldn't ask for more entertainment," she continued. The racing, dining, weather and venue have been fabulous - no wonder the regatta is well attended by 'rock star' competitors as well as novices."
As for the winner of the Regatta, Bromby took an early lead on the left side of the fleet following a very strong start and held the lead at each of the first three marks. He rounded the fourth mark in second place behind seven-time Bacardi Cup Champion Mark Reynolds of San Diego, sailing this week with crew Hal Haenel, but regained the lead on the final leg to capture both the Day Six victory and his third Bacardi Cup championship.
"Every time we needed some extra horsepower, we seemed to find it today," said Bromby. "We were keeping an eye on Mendelblatt. If he would have taken control of us, things would have been very different. Our strategy was to cover him throughout the race."
Added Liljedahl, "We attacked [Mendelblatt] at the start, tripped him a few more times, and sucker-punched him a couple times at the end. We just needed to stay ahead of him today."
Rounding out the overall top five were New Yorker Rick Merriman and crew Phil Trinter; Switzerland's Olympic Star sailor Flavio Marazzi and crew Petter Pedersen (NOR); and veteran Star sailor Paul Cayard, who has finished second in the Bacardi Cup four times, with crew Austin Sperry, the 2008 Olympian representing the United States in the Star Class.
"Our start was a disaster," said 2003 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year Augie Diaz. Half way up the first weather leg, we had an opportunity to come across, but we got greedy. Had we gone toward the fleet, we might have been in the top 20. For us, it was combination of sailing badly and a bad start. Bromby, however, was on fire this week; he is very deserving of this victory."
"I came in not knowing what to expect," added Clay Bischoff, a Star Class up-and-comer and winner of the 2009 ISAF Team Racing World Championship with Team USA in Australia. "I came to learn as much as I could, regardless of the scores and standings. Growing up in Miami, seeing this bay, and being around a group of great guys willing to pass down their knowledge created just a perfect atmosphere for me as a young sailor. I can't wait to come back to the Bacardi Cup."
This was the 82nd running of the Bacardi Cup Star Class Regatta, one of the most competitive Star Class events in the world. . What started out as a three-day event with less than 10 boats in Havana, Cuba in 1927, remains one of the few sporting events in which weekend enthusiasts have the opportunity to compete head on with Olympians and Star World Champions. Mr and Mrs Tito Bacardi - fourth generation family members - presided over the race.
Canada's best finish at the regatta was a 14th made by Terry Hofkitchner and Jeff Imai of QCYC.


Cutline: Peter Bromby, helm in boat number 54 checking the wind and current before the race. Photograph by Pat Whetung. Bermuda's Peter Bromby, the winner of the regatta checks the scoreboard with Toronto's Jeff Imai and Terry Hofkitchner (Queen City Yacht Club). Photograph by Pat Whetung

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Diver Magazine at Volunteer Driven Festival - Shipwreck 2009

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Diver Magazine at Volunteer Driven Festival
Welland, Ontario Shipwreck Symposium marks its 15th Year - Niagara Diver’s Association


For the third year in a row, Diver Magazine will be at the day long Shipwrecks Symposium in Welland, Ontario. The Magazine’s travel editor, Stephen Weir will be at the annual conference to meet subscribers and to take pictures of the popular dive conference for Diver.
The Niagara Divers' Association’s 15th Annual Shipwrecks Symposium, "Shipwrecks/2009" will be held Saturday, April 4th at Welland’s Centennial High School. This year the volunteer driven event features nine multimedia presentations given by both world-renowned wreck experts and local divers.
Jonathan Moore is one of the headline speakers. Moore is an underwater archaeologist with Parks Canada’s Underwater Archaeology Service. He will be showing never before seen pictures of the government protected wrecks of Lake Ontario’s Hamilton and Scourge (War of 1812 shipwrecks discovered in 1973).
Other speakers include Ms. Vlada Dekina (Shipwrecks of the Straits of Mackinac), David Trotter
(The Minnedosa), David Mekker (Wreck of the R.H. Rae) and authors Georgann & Mike Wachter (The Sinking of the Carol Sue II).
A ticket for the one-day symposium (lunch included) costs $43.00 ($36.50 US) and can be purchased at the door or ordered on-line at http://www.vaxxine.com/advtech/shipwrecks/sw2009/reg.htm
cutline: Jonathan Moore. WW2 Truk Lagoon airplane wreck taken by photographer/speaker Warren Lo