By Toby Saltzman
Pardon me for gushing, but what I love best about my city, Toronto, is that it’s a cultural treasure trove of global proportions. Sure, huge hype always surrounds New York, London, Paris and L.A. but, take it from me, Toronto is just as fab in artistic programs and events for everything from the pop indie rock scene and jazz clubs to experimental dance performances, symphony, ballet, film festivals and live theatre productions, never mind the hive of galleries and museums with superlative collections.
Being in Toronto means never having to worry about what to do, whether it’s for a daytime jaunt or a classy night on the town. All you need is time to see and do it all. As the best cultural happenings are scattered around the city, for starters – and especially to help Toronto newbies glean a sense of space where one of our prime, visual art scenes ticks – try starting at the southern corners of Avenue Road and Bloor.
There you’ll find art inspiration from two museums destined to make aficionados drool. The ROM (as Torontonians fondly call the Royal Ontario Museum, literally one of the world’s great museums) can occupy you for a day, but focused on art, scoot to the Eaton Gallery of Rome where ancient sculptures bespeak aeons of refined talent.
Then, cross Avenue Road to the Gardiner Museum, for a stunning look at its rich collection, running from delicate European and Asian porcelain to rustic pottery and works ranging from the likes of Chagall to First Nations artisans as well as grand contemporary pieces. Here I must issue a warning: both museum shops are uber-enticing if you love original jewelry or glass art.From there, cross Bloor Street and walk one block north on Avenue Road to embark on an art gallery escapade that will take you to 30 Yorkville-area galleries. Among my favourites are the Liss, Loch, Mira Goddard and Miriam Schiell galleries on Hazelton Avenue, each of which carries fine paintings, sculptures and provocative pieces that attract investors from around the world.
On Yorkville, I love Amarynth for its sparkling glass art and the Guild Shop for its diverse collection of works by Canadian artists (both carry affordable pieces!). On Cumberland, the Kinsman Robison Gallery often boasts brilliant canvases by Norval Morriseau. All this is just one of Toronto’s artsy pockets, and there are more worth seeing.
Next time, start at the AGO, as our spectacular Art Gallery of Ontario is dubbed by the worldly cognoscenti who always put it on their TO itinerary. Recently transformed by Toronto native Frank Gehry, the AGO building itself is an architectural masterpiece. Lording over the Grange Park district on Dundas Street West between McCaul and Beverly streets, it holds over 5,000 works of art in 110 galleries. For the brief sake of this blog, the collection is – in one word – spectacular. What you will need is – in one word – time. Be prepared to revel in the range of art from Canadian to international masters. And when you’ve had you’re fill, relax for a while at AGO’s Frank restaurant: a perfect place to ponder the beauty of Toronto’s art scene.
Winner of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award, Toby Saltzman believes the best travel experiences come in the pursuit of a passion, say, for love of a sport or search for culture, history or nature. Toby’s work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, Global Traveler, ZOOMER, Destinations, Cruise & Travel Lifestyles, Ensemble Vacations and Air Canada Vacations magazines among other publications. Toby is the publisher and editor of travelterrific.com and canadaluxury.travel. Toby’s many awards include: various Fairmont Business Travel Writing Awards; Starwood Hotel Review Awards; Cayman Island’s Caribbean Travel Writing Award; the London Photography Award, and the VIA Rail Social Media Award. Toby is Chair of the Society of American Travel Writers, Canadian Chapter, and Past President of the Travel Media Association of Canada, Ontario Chapter.