March is a perennially strange month.
It’s funny. The sinewy trees begin to regain their foliage, putting on weight and mass as though reversing an unhealthy diet. The sun sticks around longer, hanging in the sky later and kindly extending the day’s hours. The snow melts. Humidity shifts to a morning dew. The sound of birds doubles as an alarm clock. It’s a sweet time, the onset of spring.
It’s also a good time for art. At least, in Toronto, that is. March bears not only the promise of warmer days and better moods, but also the inevitability of a new season’s events. People are willing to leave their houses, if even to regain a sense of what the world was like before the winter came. We trade our hibernation to experience art.
So in honour of the changing season, and the unavoidable itch to get out and do something (the weather isn’t quite generous enough to sit around in the sun), here are eight exhibits to see over the next couple of weeks.
Until March 23 — Mercer Union
Curated by cheyanne turions, “Medicine for a Nightmare” is Nep Sidhu’s first solo exhibition in Toronto, and takes Operation Blue Star — the 1984 military event during which Sikh people in India were massacred — as a foundational jump off point for new tapestry and sculpture.
March 9 - August 18 — Aga Khan Museum
Since the beginning of everything, the moon has been an object of enduring fascination (and the peripheral subject of several love songs, like Moon River or Fly Me to the Moon, for instance). This exhibition at the Aga Khan Museum celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first human steps on the moon, examining the role the moon has played in faith, science, and the arts.
Until April 14 — MOCA Toronto
Toronto’s brand new Museum of Contemporary Art might not have gotten all the buzz as we’d thought it would, but if there’s anything people are talking about right now, it’s this. “In the Mirror (1971) and NOW” was initially produced for the Venice Biennale in 2015 — the same year the artist, Chantal Akerman, died by suicide. This retrospective of her film work explores issues of trauma, gender, belonging and identity, all central themes the artist examined throughout her career.
March 8 - 30 — Abbozzo Gallery
Elle Belz, a Toronto artist, paints flowers. But she doesn’t just paint flowers, as nobody just paints flowers — she marries abstract and realism, the bold and the traditional, all to capture, according to her, her innermost feelings and emotions. Her paintings will be on view at the Abbozzo Gallery.
March 16 - 27 — The Freedom Factory
There is little to find online about the artist Abiola Idowu, except that the Nigerian-born painter and sculptor is deeply interested in the use of colour and texture. A collection of his work, featuring his “OPO” technique, will be on view at The Freedom Factory for a solo exhibition. There will be an opening reception where you can meet the artist on March 14, at 7 p.m.
March 14 - April 7 — BAND Gallery
To know black history, or queer history, is often to know the history of New York in the 60s and 70s. In many ways, Black and queer Canadians — and, of course, Black queer Canadians — have been chiseled out of the historical record. Legacies in Motion, at the BAND Gallery, aims to unearth the stories from the political organizing and cultural activism of Toronto in the 80s and 90s, using feature images, documents, videos and visual art to make visible the contributions of Black Canadian LGBTQ people.
Until March 24 — Art Gallery of Ontario
The legendary artist Mickalene Thomas, whose large-scale, vibrant work interrupts popular art histories to make visible the bodies of Black women, gets her first Canadian solo exhibition. With paintings, videos, collages, silkscreens and photographs, Thomas upends traditional notions of beauty and power, reimagining the ways in which Black women are depicted in popular culture.
March 13 - 24 — Papermill Gallery
Eleven Toronto artists “make the ordinary extraordinary so the rest of the world can experience what they see.”
Text by Connor Garel