New at the museums
Some recent museum and gallery openings take a closer look at Canadian art, while others present world cultures.
The Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art has "Maya Universe," the small institution's most ambitious offering to date, through Jan. 2. It's a sizable show of more than 150 Mayan ceramic, jade and stone objects amassed from seven institutions. The exhibition presents a culture unfamiliar to many, and the skillfully executed traditional art forms won't fail to impress studious museumgoers with this remote but hardly primitive society. The ceremonies of Mayan life come to life through the images on the ancient pottery. Call (416) 586-8080.
Across the street from the Gardiner, the Royal Ontario Museum has opened North America's largest permanent gallery of Korean art and culture. The small new offering, located across from the extensive Chinese collection, can't help but suffer by comparison. The printed material in the Korean exhibit fails to distinguish Korean art from the rest of Asian art for the average viewer, leaving the beautiful, intricate clothing, adornments, pottery, murals and statues to speak for themselves. Call (416) 586-8000.
The Art Gallery of Ontario features more than 60 paintings by early 20th century Canadian artist Helen McNicoll through Dec. 12. McNicoll's canvases evidence her fascination with light and her eagerness to chronicle women's lives during the suffrage period. This special exhibit is an $8 ticket, while admission to the rest of AGO's galleries is "pay-what-you-can," with $5 as the suggested donation. Also separately ticketed at $10 is this summer's "Riches From Rome's Capitolin Museum," which has been extended to next Sunday. Call (416) 979-6648.
Continuing the Canadian focus are two smaller galleries offering free admission. The Market Gallery on the second floor of St. Lawrence Market displays paintings, watercolors, prints and sculptures from the permanent collection of the City of Toronto's art collection. It's an eclectic mixture of pleasant pieces worth a look from those who are in the area. The Market Gallery was Toronto's original City Council chamber from 1845 to 1899. Call (416) 392-7604.
The Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, a two-room space at the Hart House of the University of Toronto, presents "The Hallowed Land," an exhibit of Canadian landscape paintings from the Hart House permanent collections. Call (416) 978-8387.