Toronto and Ai Weiwei

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A local photographer said last year that it is in our best interest to fight the pull of parochialism in how we regard/support/evaluate the arts of Waterloo Region.  Use a global yardstick, and collectively aim higher.  At the time, we were discussing Foto:RE, but it was a broader comment that I’ve thought a lot about: you know, one of those things that sticks with you.  My business trip to Toronto last week, and experiencing Ai Weiwei’s Forever Bicycles, 2013 there, had me doubling down on exploring that train of thought.

I don’t have any fully-formed thoughts on this: no conclusions.  I know the local arts ecosystem can be a fragile thing that needs nurturing, and I also value external injections of talent through CAFKA shows.  I’ll keep stretching in my own work, and be glad for the load.  Here’s what I saw.

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Obligatory Tower shot.  All captures in this post shot with my BlackBerry Z10.  It was a challenge I gave myself to leave the heavy gear at home… and stretch.  Hats off to the teams working on camera for the solid IQ.

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Front St W and Simcoe.

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Forever Bicycles, 2013 by Ai Weiwei (as are all pics showing chromed bikes)

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My buddy Mike and I swung by late afternoon and came back in the evening the following day.

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Great repetition in this work…

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and patterns.

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“The rose is without why, 2013” by Boris Achour.  Loved the scale of this and how I could cut it up visually to make my own statements.

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Need some people in frame…

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for scale.

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*not* instagrammy filters; rain on my lens.

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Nod to Rudyard Kipling.

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It was as if all the fluorescent lights from a thousand gas station bathrooms had been marshalled here to deliver a message.

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It had just finished raining and was dark overhead with clouds but the sun broke out in the west, reflecting off the mirrored tower at Queen St W and James and delightfully illuminating the old clock tower.  I’ve rarely seen such a spontaneous and massive outbreak of photographers.  We were all looking at our phones and photos and each other, like “can you believe this?”

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Front St ripped up in front of the Royal York.  Perpetually, it seems.  Night construction scenes with the high-power lights invariably make me think of the final scene of Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  No Truffaut here, though.

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Gotta make time to camp out here on the bridge for the right light.  I’ve seen the rails light up like hot wires in a toaster and it is delightful.

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Aftermath of somebody else’s show in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  This solitary woman with a broom, and presumably a mandate to sweep acres of floor, stopped me dead in my tracks.  Oh man, the human condition…

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Back to Nathan Phillips Square.

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Couldn’t stop thinking about this piece.  In macro, and…

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micro view.

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I don’t know: are *you* thinking “great, yeah, more pictures of wheels and spokes”, or is your hair totally blown back like mine?

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There is still time to see this.


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