AGO First Thursdays heats up summer with Ombaasin and Tanya Tagaq

Picturing the Americas inspires provocative July art party dedicated to Indigenous land rights

TORONTO – With temperatures rising, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) First Thursdays announces its summer lineup of art-making, live music, talks and interactive installations. Tickets for June’s First Thursday, featuring musical headliner Harrison, have already sold out but tickets for July’s First Thursday go on sale Friday, June 5, 2015 at Opening after the Gallery closes, First Thursday is a 19+ event and runs from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Regular-priced tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door (pending availability) and admission for AGO members is $10 in advance and $13 at the door (pending availability). Tickets for July are expected to sell out; be sure to follow #AGO1st on Twitter and Instagram for updates.


June 4, 2015 – Metamorphosis - SOLD OUT-
June First Thursdays celebrates the acclaimed artist Stephen Andrews and his exhibition, Stephen Andrews POV, with an exciting series of performances and talks on the subject of metamorphosis. Heralded for his “remarkable” and “monumental” paintings by the Globe and Mail,  Andrews' will present a rare screening of his 2001 film The First Part of the Second Half (2001). Reimagined for this occasion, the film is a love story and allegoric tale of resurrection, and will be accompanied by a special live musical performance. Pop-up talks by Toronto artist Paul P. and Toronto critic and author David Balzer will address Andrews work, and in the Fudger Gallery, the AGO’s incoming artist–in-residence Meera Margaret Singh will discuss her installation about female bodybuilders.

Colombian performance artist Carlos Maria Romero will perform his work Names of All Spectators Separated by Commas, a dance that incorporates text and the visitor throughout the evening in the Henry Moore Sculpture Atrium. Nineteen-year-old R&B producer, beatmaker and Soundcloud sensation Harrison is the musical headliner in June, taking the stage in Walker Court at 10 p.m. Exclaim called his debut EP, Colors, “incredibly exciting” and Complex called it “bombastic, dizzying, affecting dance music.” He’s joined by DJ Produzentin, Das Hussy and DJ Regina spinning all night long.

Inspired by Andrews’s own use of the CYMK colour pallet, visitors will have the opportunity to try their hand at nude life drawing using only four colours, and in Galleria Italia, visitors will have the opportunity to work with Toronto ceramic artist Karin Pavey, Andrews’ own ceramics teacher, and make their own vessels using clay tools and hand techniques.

July 2, 2015 – Land Rights Now
Opening on June 20, 2015, the AGO presents Picturing the Americas an innovative and expansive exhibition of over 100 paintings depicting iconic landscapes from the Arctic all the way to Argentina. Featuring a series of performances, critiques and art-making activities designed to engage with the histories of contentious colonization and conflict embodied in these works, July’s First Thursday is guest -curated by Ombaasin, the Indigenous artist collective of Wanda Nanibush, Elwood Jimmy and Brian Norton. The night features artists of colour and Indigenous artists calling attention to the complex meanings and histories depicted in Picturing the Americas.

Headlining the event, Polaris Music Prize–winning Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq will perform her searing live soundtrack for the 1922 film Nanook of the North in Walker Court at 10 p.m.

Throughout the evening, visitors are invited to dress up and pose for photos as part of a satirical installation by Lori Blondeau and Adrian Stimson. The artists’ alter egos, Belle Sauvage and Buffalo Boy, invite visitors to join their queer rodeo, where buckskin meets fishnets and buffalo G-strings and where rodeo's biggest name is a Cree/Saulteux woman. Toronto artist Josh Vettivelu presents his choral soundscape Pulse, a song cycle constructed entirely out of amplified bodily rhythms, and painter Travis Shilling will undertake a live painting experiment in conversation with works in the AGO’s Canadian galleries.

Additional programming includes a spoken-word performance by Jamaias DaCosta, a pop-up talk by Krysta Williams and a panel discussion with Toronto lawyer Aaron Detlor and Teach for Canada Director Donna Ashamok, moderated by Wanda Nanibush. In Galleria Italia, artist and educator Connor Pion will lead visitors in Anishinaabemowin language classes and invite guests to make their own protest signs.

Party-goers can purchase $22 advance combo-ticket packages for access to Picturing the Americas. The exhibition will be open until 10 p.m., with the last entry at 9:30 p.m. AGO members enter the exhibition for free but are encouraged to book tickets in advance.

August - HIATUS
First Thursdays takes a holiday in August but returns on Sept. 3, 2015, with an incredible musical lineup. For upcoming details on First Thursdays programming, visit and follow #AGO1st on Twitter and Instagram.

Supporting Sponsor: Joe Fresh

Official Beer Partner: Grolsch Premium Lager

Signature Partner, AGO Artist Projects: RBC Emerging Artists Project

Media Partner: NOW Magazine

The AGO acknowledges the generous support of its Signature Partners: American Express, Signature Partner of the Conservation Program; Aimia, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program; and the RBC Emerging Artists Project, Signature Partner of AGO Artist Projects.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

April 11 – Aug. 9, 2015: From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia

June 20 – Sept. 20, 2015: Picturing the Americas: Landscape Painting from Tierra del Fuego to the Arctic

Oct. 31, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016: J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.


For all media inquiries about AGO First Thursdays, including high-resolution images and interview requests, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson, News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403, [email protected]




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