Thursday 24 December 2009


McMichael Canadian Art Collection Holiday Hours,Exhibitions and Programme Information

December 24, 2009. Kleinburg, Ontario. The McMichael Canadian Art Collection will be open throughout the holiday period except on December 25th. On all other days, including Boxing Day and New Years Day, the gallery will be open from 10am to 4pm.

The gallery is located at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, Ontario. For directions visit

Holiday Programming:
December 27 ArtChat
Maria Chapdelaine: A Québécois Saga
The story of Maria Chapdelaine is well known for its wonderful illustrations by Clarence Gagnon. View and discuss the complete set of original artworks, which tell the story of rural Quebec in the early twentieth century.
December 29 and 30 Bonus Family Days!
Help ring in the New Year with art activities and live entertainment including performances by David Hannan and Jordan O'Connor and their Cuckoo Clock Theatre. Free With Admission. 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

January 3, 2010 Cadence
Four men, four microphones, no instruments. Toronto's celebrated vocal band Cadence, whose members include Dylan Bell, Carl Berger, Kevin Fox, and Ross Lynde, will be performing in the McMichael's Great Hall. Free With Admission. 1:30 p.m.

January 10, 2010 Sing and Play
Enjoy an Inuit performance and drum making by Iqaluit artist, Naudlaq. Touch stone and bone carvings and handle the tools used by Inuit sculptors. Make your own Inuit-inspired prints and take a family tour of the special exhibition, Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth. In the McMichael's Great Hall. Free With Admission. 11:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m.

January 17 Chris McKhool
Enjoy an exciting jazz violin performance by Chris McKhool. In the Great Hall. Free with Admission to the Gallery. 1:30 p.m.

January 17 Canadian Stories
A guided tour of the gallery concentrating on a specific portion of the McMichael permanent collection. Visitors have an opportunity to expand their knowledge about their favourite artists. 1 hour. Free with Admission. 11:30 a.m.

Current Exhibitions (Free With Admission)

* Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth
On until January 17, 2010
Mark the fiftieth anniversary of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative and celebrate the remarkable achievement of the internationally acclaimed artistic community of Cape Dorset (Kinngait)

* Ed Bartram: The Eye Within

pictured above: curator Chris Finn (l) and artist Ed Bartram (r)
On until January 3, 2010
Discover the rugged Georgian Bay landscape through Ed Bartram's abstract and dynamic etchings.

* Woodland School
On until May 9, 2010
Explore the vibrant art of Woodland School painters Norval Morrisseau, Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray, Alex Janvier, Blake Debassige and more!

* Maria Chapdelaine
On until January 3, 2010
Experience the popular 1916 novel, Maria Chapdelaine—a story depicting life in rural Quebec—through Clarence Gagnon's brilliant illustrations.



Stephen Weir
gallery publicist

PR Past Taints Harry Potter Story For Torontoist


I recently attended a press conference at the Ontario Science Centre. The occasion? A glitzy expensive pre-launch for the upcomingHarry Potter Exhibition.
I like attending public sector press conferences - it keeps me in touch with what is going on in the city and I stay up-to-date on current PR practices. Like everything else, the business of press conferences is rapidly evolving. In years gone by (try 2008) an art gallery or museum opening consisted of press kits, speakers, a couple of examples of art/artifacts and a cuppa coffee (evening events usually includes boxed wine and carrot sticks). In late 2009 it is: cue the smoke machines, fly in the international speakers and hand out bags of swag worthy of a minor league film festival. No one likes to spend money on a press conference but, as the story I eventually wrote about the Harry Potter exhibition reports, Toronto pressers have gone Hollywood because PR departments believe it is the only way to guarantee results.
While at the Harry Potter presser I took attendance (and pictures).
Noting that the Toronto Sun was the only newspaper not there, I went back to my office and wrote a story on the launch. I decided to write a news piece about how the bar has been raised for public sector pressers, and offer it to the Sun (since they weren't there).
I was a bit delayed by other (paying) jobs, so it was late that day that I finally got the piece over to their city editor Antonella Artuso -- it was very close to their deadline. Didn't hear back (the Sun's way of saying no). The next day when my Sun arrived, I saw a very small Harry Potter Science Centre story that had been cobbled together from the Science Centre's press kit.
I then sent the story and pictures over to the popular news website, the Torontoist. They had looked at another one of my stories, liked it, but said I had sent it in to late. So, this time, less than 24 hours after the press conference I delivered my piece along with three pictures and cutlines.
The initial response I got was good, they wanted to run it. However, a few hours after they showed strong interest I received a second email from their freelance review editor, Ashley Carter,questioning the story. Here is what she wrote: "The piece is good, but I have to ask (considering your PR background & our need to be obnoxiously careful with these things), do you work with the Science Centre?"
It has been a couple of years since I last did any work for the Science Centre, so, I was a little surprised that I wasn't passing their PR smell test. This wasn't a fawning fluff piece -- in the museum world my story isn't all together positive. CEOs of government owned museums and galleries don't usually like to be quoted trolling for ticket sales. As well there is the whole issue of home-grown Canadian shows versus big box / big dollar American travelling exhibitions raging through the museum/gallery community right now. The article might be seen as being quietly critical of Ontario's Ministry of Culture buying into an exhibition heavy on US/UK movie sets and light on Canadian content.
I have had stories rejected because they didn't "fit" or were too long, or didn't read well, or there wasn't the budget, but, this is the first time in decades of freelance writing that I have not had a story printed because I do PR work to pay the bills.
As they say these days, "No Worries". I have my own soapbox to post things on (but gets a dozen readers daily compared to Torontoist's thousands of daily readers). So, below is Mugging for the Media Muggles, the unedited story that the Sun passed on and the (non-paying) Torontoist rejected.
Cutline: Top: An Ontario Science Centre official fields questions from two different TV crews at the pre-launch press conference for next year's Harry Potter exhibition.Below: Freelance writer (and PR guy) Stephen Weir. Photo taken at the Toronto Market following the Harry Potter press conference (David Tollington).