A Day At The AGO; A Lifetime At The Weighing Scales

It seems to me that Walmart gets a bad rap these days, and sure, it pretty much destroys the chance for any other nearby store to exist, and SURE, its workers can be decisively VOCAL about their opinions, and sure, it’s not exactly the BEST company to represent American or North American culture but…honestly I don’t think I can even salvage this topic at all. Walmart is terrible, and people are going to keep on shopping at it because they somehow manage to reduce stuff like pudding to costs of 92 cents, instead of $1.50 and STILL earn a significant profit, something which, to this day, still amazes me. Instead, however, I think I’m going to talk a bit more about downtown Toronto and why I ended up going back there today.

As always, I began the trip by riding the incredibly easy to use and EXTREMELY efficient Toronto Transit Commission, though today, I also rode a GO Transit vehicle, and capped off the day by riding a MiWay vehicle as well, just because I wanted to try out three of the best public transit systems in Canada. Suffice it to say, I think that the public transportation in Canada is absolutely fantastic, and if I’m ever back in downtown Toronto, I see no need to rent a car. Though I suppose all of this can be easily understood and derived from the last article about the Distillery District. Today, however, I went to the AGO (and because it’s been a paragraph without me completely breaking away from the topic at hand and “Tirading” onwards, I hope everyone can see that I am, in fact, attempting to add hyperlinks to these articles to insure that anyone who wants more information can find it. I’m also doing this because it adds colour to an otherwise black and white page, and frankly? I think it makes everything rather pretty. That’s right folks, it makes my work look pretty and therefore I declare it to be good; notice that this is the same argument one gives in grade school for using various coloured and “Gel” pens to write essays and reports, though I digress) for its Abstract Expressionism gallery, held in the same wing that they use for almost every other “Featured” exhibitions.

The works of art are all under loan from the MoMA (the Museum of Modern Art [hyperlink!]) of New York City and the exhibition features work by Jackson Pollock, Ad Reinhardt, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner and so on, and is actually extremely well organized and brilliantly put together. Depending on the popularity of the artist and the amount of work they’ve done, in comparison to their peers and fellow artists, more or less room is taken by the gallery to feature their works. Obviously, the MoMA didn’t provide every single piece created by each artist, though fairly popular pieces have been loaned. More importantly, however, each room is arranged in such a way so as to show the artist’s progression with their styles, and (additionally) possible contrast that may arise with each piece of art. Furthermore (as one would naturally assume) the exhibition is arranged in chronological order, beginning with the early pioneers of Abstract Expressionism and ending with the prominent works released during the height of the cold war. It’s actually very impressive to see such a large exhibition organized outside the MoMA and praise must be given to the Art Gallery of Ontario for their brilliant arrangement and overall professionalism in the matter. Credit’s gotta be given to where credit is due; the exhibition is GORGEOUS and there is nearly NO bias to the artists presented; if you were popular, you get a big room, otherwise, your work is shared with such greats as the ones already listed.

Though, I suppose, all of this is mere fact at this point; the concept of Abstract Expressionism, or Abstract ANYTHING is whatever you want to interpret it as, and that unto itself is as fascinating as it can get. If you want to draw a tree, but claim it to be your long lost cellular phone, the power is yours. Perhaps that unto itself is the real beauty of abstract art. Through the use of our imaginations and the mere restrictions posed to us through such means, we are able to literally create or destroy whatever we please. This might seem odd to illustrate seeing as how almost EVERY form of art gives one this freedom, but I certainly won’t be discussing the strengths and weaknesses of one art over the other; which, incidentally, is my point.

Over the past week or so, I’ve spent almost everyday surrounded by SOME form of art and I’ve come to the rather solid conclusion that one can no longer compare art forms and claim superiority over another. When said out loud, such a notion is extremely obvious, though to this moment, there are still people who claim that live theatre is a better form of expression over film and cinema; that the written word trumps the spoken word; and that the drawn world is far superior to that which can be found within a photograph, and to those people I say this: you have your kingdoms, and perhaps it’s time to retreat to them. There’s a very simple reason why multiple people can have such diverse talents, and there’s an even more obvious reason as to why we praise those with MULTIPLE talents; it takes so long just to become GOOD at something, becoming good (at the least) at EVERYTHING is something to be praised and lauded, though I digress. My main point is this: one absolutely CANNOT compare different art forms and expect to reach and the arguments posed in this video (this is no longer about being pretty, it’s about reason and logic), while incredibly optimistic towards the latest Transformers movie, are inaccurate and rather one sided.

The reason that plot isn’t a major part of ballet and opera is simply BECAUSE the visual achievements are far more important than the written achievements. That being said, if your ballet is pretty and SOUNDS fantastic, then the plot can be as incomprehensible as you desire (assuming that it isn’t so mind numbingly written that the audience doesn’t leave mid solo). Likewise, if your Opera SOUNDS fantastic and the pieces are moving in an emotional and auditory sense, then the plot doesn’t need to be that comprehensive. Now for the comparison; your movie can be as visually destitute as you want it to be, so long as the plot is fantastic, the writing is tight and controlled, and the acting is superb, and why? The reason is this: movies and plays are about PLOT, and NOT visuals. Meaning if everything looks relatively normal, but is acted fantastically, then everyone’s happy because they paid for something worthwhile. However, if the visuals are fantastic, and the giant robots are the best actors, well then the audience will be wondering why it didn’t just go to the ballet or the opera (assuming that the target audience even cares enough to think that far ahead), because that’s just one of the MANY double standards that exist in the artistic world; plays, operas, ballets, movies, and concerts are rated on different scales and by different standards.

It’s no longer becoming a matter of combating bad movies, or bad plays, or even bad ballets. It’s a matter of understanding that different art forms are different for a reason and that claiming that writing is better than singing, or dancing is better than drawing, or sculpting is better than sewing, is both extremely illogical, and significantly a great way to waste one’s time. And to think, all of this because of a BEAUTIFUL Jackson Pollock shown at the AGO.

As always, this has been your Admin, comment and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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