Friday, December 28, 2012

AGO a Go-Go

I live in a world class city that is vibrant with music, art, culture and heroin needles. When it was announced that the elementary teachers would stage a walkout exactly one week before Christmas I knew I had get my kid out of the house. My child had become a raging cyclone of hyperactive destruction due to the very idea Santa was coming soon. Where better to take her then a place filled with priceless art?

It's better then her knocking over our IKEA lamp I’ll tell you this much. So, I took the kids and my eldest daughter’s friend to the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Family Heirloom

My youngest daughter is only 14 months old at this point and if she starts sleeping at night I may let her advance beyond that, but for now we stay at 14 months. This means she needs a mode of transportation. My favorite being the baby carrier which I carry on my back since it’s the least spine compressing option. This carrier is also like a roofie to her and she usually passes out while in it.

As we entered the gallery this was the case. A security guard, who obviously is not a parent asked me to put her on my front. I looked at him incredulously and said, “no”. He wasn’t used to this answer and sputtered for a moment. I explained that removing this sleeping baby is akin to pulling the wrong wire on a time bomb. Everyone in a three block radius would feel the shock wave. He allowed us to enter.

Before going in to look at any art I gave the two five-year-olds a lecture on behaviour in the gallery.

What I said: “No running, no touching the art, no wandering off.”
What they heard: “ There is a candy cane in the snack bag, a delicious candy cane. One for each of you!”

Christmas crack

We started in the European section of the gallery where immediately one of the kids decided it was super important that we all be aware the women in the picture was showing her boobies. She did this by using a gallery map to reach up to the painting and touch it. I quickly wondered if the AGO was like going to a movie and if you have to leave within the first twenty minutes you got your money back. Instead a stern looking security guard appeared.

What he said: “Don’t touch the art!”
What they heard: “Candy canes are still in the snack bag!”

The thing about European art is that they loved their bloody Jesus. Everywhere you turn you see a tortured bleeding Jesus. My daughter decided she couldn’t stomach Jesus (as an non practicing atheist this made me proud) and refused to look at any of the crucifixion paintings, going so far as to enter each room with her eyes shielded until her friend told her there were no Jesus pictures.

This lead to the following conversation:
“Jesus was scary when he was nailed to wood.”
“They nailed him to wood as decoration.”
“People as decoration is gross... except at Halloween.”

Boo! Happy Halloween!

Next we went to the The Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre an area where kids can do their own art, sculptures and in a bit of a stretch dress like princesses and row a boat.


It’s a good place to go with a baby if you enjoy moving scissors out of reach for an hour.

The Baby Alligator Pit is also a good draw. "Behind you!"

Then it was lunch time, otherwise known as “If I Get Through This Gross Food I May Just Get That Candy Cane Now” time. The great thing about the AGO is not only do kids five-years and under get in free, but they also eat free in the cafeAGO. So my tip to you, order yourself the cheapest thing on the menu and wait for your kids to declare they suddenly hate Mac and Cheese and eat theirs. Word of warning though: the Mac and Cheese is delivered to the table hotter then molten lava, ensuring that a hungry child either goes crazy waiting for it to cool down or gives themselves third degree burns.

One of the kids waited until everyone else was finished their meals and then announced they didn’t like their Mac and Cheese, a food I’ve watched them eat roughly 10,000 times with no issues. She was hungry and wanted something else. So back to the line we went and ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. I was surprised to find I didn’t have to pay for a second selection for the kids. I felt like loading my arms up with kids selections and asking for a to-go bag.

After lunch I took the kids to the Contemporary area, which is my favorite area. There is currently an exhibit of Evan Penny’s work, who does amazingly lifelike silicon human sculptures.


The girls looked at the above work “Aerial” and started snickering at the penis. I launched into my lecture of how it’s just a body part and not funny. In truth penises are of course hilarious. Just ask anyone who has seen one.

I then saw a sign that read, “Line drawing class in session, no photography allowed.” I saw people sketching one of the sculptures. The girls wanted to go over and ask if they could help. Recently during a trip to Allan Gardens, a greenhouse conservatory, a woman let the girls use her pastels to fill in some sky for her, and they now assume every artist will be welcoming to a five-year-old scribbling on their work. I was about to say sure they could ask when I saw the sculpture’s penis jiggle and realized it was a nude model they were sketching. I quickly turned the girls around and headed back to bleeding Jesus where there were less questions for me to answer.

Whoops, this isn't the cafeteria!

As we hit the elevator someone who works at the gallery looked at us and said, “Just to warn you, there is a line drawing session happening on this floor.”

I answered, “Thank you, but we’ve already ran into it. And as a suggestion you should change the warning sign from reading ‘line drawing’ to ‘real live naked hairy man around corner’ in order to be clear.”

Throughout the day there was plenty of questions to be answered about the various art work. Such as this piece:



“Why is that man pooping out a head?”

Or this Piece:


Five-year-old: “I would put a sink, a bathtub and a toilet on the wall.”
Me: “Your art would then be three times better than that one.”

The AGO has plenty of places for kids to try their hand at art. At this time there was the Frida and Diego exhibit where you could try your hand at Frida’s style.



"You call this inspired by Frida? I call it inspired by bullshit!"

Best Exhibit: The Elevator. A study in vertical movement

In the end it was a good day and yes, they did get their candy canes on the ride home.

Well played AGO, well played.






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