Curnoe rides again: Paul Butler, in residence at the AGO
I spent some time yesterday with Paul Butler, who officially becomes the AGO's first-ever artist-in-residence with the opening of his Toronto Now show Saturday. Butler's up to all sorts of things over his two-month stay, but the first and most readily-viewable is the Toronto Now show, which reflects the relationally-inclined artists' personal communion with the spirit of Canadian art icon Greg Curnoe.
Curnoe was, nearly equally famously, a cyclist, and Butler chose that fascination of his as an entry point of engagement; a particularly moving moment came for me when I happened upon the show, still in various stages of installation, and found an exact replica of Curnoe's famous Mariposa bike leaning casually against the wall.
It was one of Curnoe's significant expressions of self, as the bold-red letraset slogan emblazoned on the crossbar attests ("CLOSE THE 49th PARALLEL ETC" it reads, a reflection of the artist's political activism.) It was also the bike Curnoe was riding when he was killed on a beautifully clear, sun-filled morning in 1992 when he was plowed into by a truck driver cruising the country side roads near London, On., without his full attention on what was in front of him.
A loaded symbol, to say the least, and an emotional one that Butler took as guide to his own explorations. We'll talk about that in the paper soon, but in the meantime, the opening is Saturday night. Check it out.