Monday, November 7, 2011

UTSC gets a little high and mighty

The most common complaint you hear when you go to UTSC is that there is concrete everywhere. The second most common thing you here is that “we are no match for UTSG”. Well, to each their own, but for all you art and culture lovers out there, you might want to think twice before saying that again.

Let me introduce you to the little known gems of the school: the Doris McCarthy Art Gallery (DMG) and the Leigha Lee Browne Theatre (LLB). Both havens of high-brow fun are located right here at school and, should you choose, will give any student concrete reason to visit!

I’ll be honest with you, when I went to the DMG, I was pretty stumped. Were it not for a class project which forced me to analyze the visual stimuli I was being presented with, my Jersey-Shorified brain really couldn’t care less (I just used a made-up word …point in case). And boy, was there a lot of visual stimuli! I’m posting pictures below so you can help a sister out!

Super It by Blue Republic
The exhibition ran from Sept. 6 - Nov. 2 and featured many pieces. Clearly, as seen above!
Now look, I’m not some fancy-pants monocle wearing, hoity toity art critic  – so the thought of going to these things kills me a little inside. But after going to the Gallery, I realized that for someone else reading a novel might pose the same sort of challenge as going to the art gallery does for me. I learned that it’s important to give all art an opportunity to reach you. Regardless whether in paint, performance, ink, or clay.

And though, after that monologue, I’d like to say I reached some brilliant conclusion… I didn’t.

But what I did learn was that art is less about understanding the artist’s message view and more about the relationship between artist, art, and viewer. Obviously I had some trouble understanding the message, but doesn’t that come down the way the message was brought to me and not whether I could decode it?

See how deep my thinking is getting already?

It might be because this isn’t my first experience with the covert art scene here at UTSC. Doris McArthy also runs Gallery 1265, the student art gallery that offers UTSC and community artists free space to showcase their work. I visited Gallery 1265 last year and took in an interesting installation about education and technology. Again, I only really understood the art pieces to be something other than wall decorations because I took the initiative to open my eyes (…and also because I was writing an article about it, but it was mostly the former).

A couple of days after the DMG visit, I attended a talk held at the LLB theatre titled ‘South Asians in the Arts: Diasporas, Alliances and Collaborations across Communities’. Suffice to say, it was simply fabulous! But what made it better was the intimate space of the black box-theatre, the lighting and the proximity of the audience to the speakers. It literally gave me chills!

Funny enough, later on, when I was telling a friend of mine about my experiences both at the gallery and the theatre, she had trouble believing I was telling the truth. “We have that here?” she said.

Needless to say, I was shocked! How did someone not know about these things!? The DMG is located a few steps from the Bookstore, on your way to the ARC. And the LLB falls on the way to the research labs and SY110 over in the new Science wing. Well, you know what they say, it’s different from the inside looking out than it is from the outside looking in.

Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly), UTSC’s best kept secrets aren’t really very secret. One only needs to look around once in a while. Here’s a hint: anything other than concrete at this school automatically points to cooler things than “ground-breaking architecture in the brutalist form.”

A way students can find out about these cool places and these cool events is to check out the Division of Humanities website. The HumDiv website also houses the Arts and Events Programming (AEP) information space which let’s you know about events coming onto campus.

An event being organized by the AEP, one I will do a shameless promo for, is the campus display put on by the ENGC51. Held tomorrow in the Meeting Place, this campus display (from 1:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) will educate passerby about Arab women writers from all countries and all eras. It will be interesting stuff folks! 
And no, I’m not obligated to say that because I’m participating in it…  

But really, who knew things got so pretty high-brow right here at UTSC?

Well the students who curate the DMG did, as did the members of UTSC’s Theatre program and members of the Drama Society… or anyone with keen eyes and interest really. But for those of you who are new to the concept of arts and life at UTSC aside from boat cruises and charity club nights, there’s a lot more coming up!

In the next few weeks, check out DMG’s new exhibit, Moment by Beatriz Olano and Magdalena Fern├índez (November 16, 2011 - January 28, 2012).  Also look out for more student exhibitions at Gallery 1265 and more talks as well as the production of Closer early next year on the LLB stage. 

Join the AEP group on Facebook to stay in the loop about art events happening on and around campus. You’ll never miss a thing again (trust me, they send about five emails a day, can’t miss it)

So while I won’t be throwing any wine-and-cheese parties just yet, I had an enlightening experience thanks to the secret awesomeness that is the arts and culture here on campus. Have you seen any surprising/cool/awesome on or off campus? Share your experience and let know in the comments below, or as always tweet me :)

Until next week, later days!

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