Artful Blogger

Artful Blogger: Novels, nudes, and new art ideas at the National Gallery of Canada

Summer is the perfect time to get your kids interested in reading for fun. Tell them to ditch all electronic devices, go outside, sit under a tree or laze on a cottage dock and start reading. Let them try Endangered: Mystery on the Daily News Beat, the new Young Adult novel from prolific Ottawa author Kate Jaimet.

Endangered is a fast-paced story about 17-year-old Hayley Makk. She is working for her father’s newspaper in Halifax. She is absolutely fearless — perhaps too fearless — and is determined to land a frontpage scoop. She is also sweet on a handsome young Mountie and learns not to drink and date. (Betcha Nancy Drew never got drunk).

Before Hayley can complete her investigation of a mysterious blood-splattered shack, her father pulls her off the story. Hayley is missing a credit in order to graduate high school. A teacher, Ms. Cameron, has cooked up a deal with Hayley’s father: Hayley will get a credit for biology if she helps the teacher locate and study a rare sea turtle supposedly living off the Nova Scotia coast.

Reluctantly, Hayley agrees to join the turtle search. Much to her chagrin, she has to work alongside Ernest, another teenager but one who is a nerdy tree-hugger and wouldn’t think of hurting a turtle, or any other animal, in the tiniest of ways. His radical pro-animal sensibilities scuttle the initial attempt to attach a tracking device to the rare turtle.

Ernest is the kind of geeky boy teenage girls love to hate. Daredevil Hayley is the role model here. I suspect this means girls will love Endangered more than boys do. But, hey, you can’t please everybody.

Hayley soon learns there is a connection between the rare sea turtle and the blood-splattered shack. Good guys turn into bad guys. Shots are fired. The Mounties arrive. They get their man and Hayley, most chastely, gets hers, not to mention a great frontpage scoop.

Jaimet is the author of such Y.A. books at Dunces Rock, Dunces Anonymous, Break Point, Edge of Flight, and Slam Dunk. She is a former newspaper reporter herself, having worked at The Ottawa Citizen and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal.

I would love to read more stories involving Hayley Makk, a more mature version of Flavia de Luce, the girl detective (and chemist) who is the phenomenally popular heroine of Alan Bradley’s books set in a small English town. Hayley has hormones; Flavia is too young for lust.

But will today’s juvenile readers identify with a teenaged newspaper reporter like Hayley? Is a newspaper setting as dated for today’s youth as horses and buggies? Maybe Hayley’s dad should have been a webmaster.

Endangered is to be released Aug. 4 from publisher Poisoned Pen Press.

MPN 806
Male Nude Polaroid 1
MPN 726
Male Nude Polaroid 6


Is the male gaze upon the female body different than the female gaze upon the male body?

This question so intrigued two established Toronto painters, Brent McIntosh and Shelley Adler, a few years ago that they embarked upon The Nude Polaroid Project. Each of the artists would take photographs of a nude model of the opposite sex. Then the works would be exhibited side by side.

Examples of the experiment were to be displayed at Galerie St-Laurent + Hill from July 30 to Aug. 22. The original Polarioid prints have been scanned and mounted on aluminum-like Dibond.

Based on some of the online images seen of the artists’ works in advance of the exhibition, I reached this conclusion: The images of the female nudes were far more imaginative than those of the male nudes. Now is that really a difference in the way men and women view each other or simply a difference in two artists, regardless of their gender? Go judge for yourself.
For info:

Marc Mayer, director of the National Gallery of Canada, was asked a few years ago how he planned to offer quality exhibitions despite shrinking revenues from both government and box office. Among his plans was to rely more on exhibitions from the gallery’s own art collection. And that is certainly what he has done this year.

Organizing a showcase for the likes of Picasso, Rembrandt or Renoir are very expensive. Insurance and transportation costs alone can make such shows too costly for penny-pinching art museums. Assembling exhibitions from the National Gallery’s own vaults is far cheaper. And so, this year, we are getting some detailed looks at gallery treasures that otherwise might have had less public exposure.

First up was M.C. Escher: The Mathemagician, which opened last December and continued until May. Maurits Cornelis Escher was an early 20th century artist best known for his prints of interlocking repetitive shapes and impossible architectures. Every long-haired hippie of the 1960s had an Escher print on the wall. The posters were most entertaining when the viewer was stoned on acid. But they remain fascinating for today’s audiences, even when no drugs are used.

Frederick H. Evans<br /> Durham Cathedral from the Wear, c. 1896-1910<br /> platinum print, 18.9 × 23.9 cm.<br /> National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa<br /> Photo © NGC
Durham Cathedral from the Wear, Frederick H. Evans

This summer the gallery is offering two other exhibitions harvested from its collection. One is an exhibition of photographs by Victorian-era British photographer Frederick H. Evans, perhaps best known for his moody shots of architecture.

The other summer-long show is a collection of prints by Marc Chagall telling the ancient Greek tale of the lovers Daphnis and Chloe. Both exhibitions close Sept. 13.

Then, come Oct. 9, there is the exhibition Beauty’s Awakening: Drawings by the Pre-Raphelites and their Contemporaries from the Lanigan Collection. This is an exhibition of 100 Victorian-era prints collected by Saskatoon dentist Dennis Lanigan. Twenty of the prints have already been gifted to the National Gallery. The other 80 are promised gifts. This is one of the best private collections of its type in Canada. The exhibition closes Jan. 3, 2016.

Interestingly, three of the aforementioned exhibitions (Escher, Chagall and Lanigan) were curated by the same person, Sonia Del Re, associate curator of European, American and Asian prints and drawings. Surely, Del Re was the hardest working curator at the National Gallery this year. It makes you wonder what all the other curators were doing.