Art & Art, High & Low

17 April 2017 – I’m not too sure about that “high & low” distinction, but I stand by “art & art.”

And every molecule of it breathes Toronto.

Henry Moore’s Two Forms, for example, an icon of the Art Gallery of Ontario, long resident at the AGO’s N/E corner (and due to be relocated to Grange Park).

Fine art, “high art,” that inside the Gallery would be guarded & untouchable.

Out here on the street corner, it is beloved by all, stroked by all, sat upon & slid through by many, and never vandalized — except by all that love. “It’s worn through to the rivets,” a conservator once told me ruefully. “One of these days, we’ll have to have it repatinated.”

Inside the AGO, I revisit one of my favourite rooms, a quiet little room tucked away in a corner of the 2nd floor, housing only two works by Inuk artist Jacoposie Oopakak.

I love the simplicity of the caribou skull, title Family, its antlers delicately carved with images of people, a family tree.

I love, too, the painted line of caribou slanting down the wall, refracted by the case to dance with the skull as they walk and keep it company.

I’m back outside again, dog-leg into an alley just N/W of McCaul & Dundas — and look at this!

Street art featuring a high-minded quote by a brand-name thinker.

(Ignore her. She is not contemplating the art. She’s on her cell with her boyfriend, comparing their respective holiday weekends.)

I am impressed. I look up the Voltaire quote later on, back home. Many sources agree, it’s by our man Voltaire all right. One disagrees. Nah: Pierre de Beaumarchais said this in 1775, while working on the 2nd scene, 1st act, of Le Barbier de Séville. (Well, strictly speaking, no. What he said was: “Aujourd’hui ce qui ne vaut pas la peine d’être dit, on le chante.”

Really? I have no idea. Click here & decide for yourself.

Or ignore all that, and instead contemplate this next bit of alley-art philosophy, cheek-by-jowl with M. Voltaire/deBeaumarchais. No authorship dispute here: it’s the work of Blaze Wiradharma.

We are spoiled for choice. We can say something, sing something … or just spray it instead.


Leave a comment


  1. hmmmmm perhaps, Voltaire was correct…but i don’t know…now i’m curious is this a change in platform format Penny?…or is it just me…smiles ~ hedy 😀

    • I inclined to the De Beaumarchais theory, simply because of the musical reference, — as for its validity, ohhhhh, seems more like clever-boots cynicism than anything else

      • I think about a quote often said in the faculty of education…in 1903. Shaw…,”He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.”….I like your term clever boots cynicism….seems rampant….we often said dead white makes 🙃😌😀

      • Welllll, that’s a bit clever-boots as well. Some people (not all!) really can both ‘do’ and ‘teach’ and make a great contribution when they mentor others.

      • Yup for sure Penny! Agree 🤓😀

  2. Love this post. Just a great little jaunt through art. Thanks.

  3. Your commentary is appreciated in this corner as much as your subject matter and photos. I too would be touching that sculpture, and admiring the worn places….and I’d love to see the work by the Inuk artist inside – I’m glad you took the time and trouble to get his name. A google image search brings up a nice page of images.

  4. Your powers of selection and juxtaposition are superb. This is a great mix. And that little bit of insider knowledge about the Rodin rivets is icing on the cake.

  5. It sounds like that Moore Sculpture will soon be the Jungle Gym in the movie “The Campaign”.

    • Don’t know the movie, but glad you got a cross-reference out of the image — always magic when that happens. (Also, thanks for following my blog.)

  6. I’m a lovely tactile Moore fan who followed Meg (M&S) here 🙂

  7. They are moving the Moore? Nooooo!

    • So I believe. but it will still be out there in public, and, we hope, in a terrific context. I don’t know what will happen to that spot at McCaul & Dundas though.

  8. Mary C

     /  11 July 2017

    The Henry Moore is now gone from its corner. Very sad. I am hopeful that the AGO will do something interesting with that corner but i don’t really trust them to do so…..

  9. Mary C

     /  11 July 2017

    I haven’t checked it out in Grange Park yet. Shall get there soon.


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