hello/bytown (aka: how to see only the slightest, slivery slice of ottawa)

The easiest method is also my favourite:

hang out at the gallery for three days.

You will learn, among other things…… that the gallery cafe has

a) an excellent salad bar, and

b) a patio

that AY Jackson was all for women in the arts, which is more than can be said for many other chaps in the business

that the Canadian Photography Institute is so worth spending at least an hour or two in; currently showing some important work in prints, installations and video

Prudence Heward didn’t paint sissies

the film by Rebecca Belmore recommended by the staff member who, when I asked a rather simple question, decided to answer by walking me through the gallery via all manner of hidden corridors and en route told me I MUST SEE THIS FILM BECAUSE IT’S SO POWERFUL, is  actually astonishing.

another staff member who casually mentioned the experimental farm is worth seeing, that she loves the way the arboretum changes with the seasons

and a random someone who overheard my conversation about the arboretum and chimed in that if I’m looking for nifty places that are closer by, then I MUST go to the lanes

which I then did and found that there is a wonderful stationery shop in the lanes, great architecture, peaceful nooks, crannies, patios and outdoor art

you will learn, at the Royal Canadian Mint, that they commission Canadian artists to design their ‘art coins’, often via open competitions

and that the Olympic gold medal is silver on the inside with only a veneer of far-too-expensive-gold; the bronze is also veneer with silver on the inside (but this time to make it worth more than if it were entirely bronze)

if you’re lucky you’ll find the pub whose name I’ve forgotten that makes excellent fish tacos

and it’s not the Irish pub

or the fish place

you will crane your neck in one library and spend an hour in another discovering Lucy Lippard, writer and art critic who once wrote to her editor:  “Herewith the twenty-two reviews. Hope they make whatever the deadline is. Slight delay as I had a baby last week.”

And you will find a hornet’s nest of diaspora loveliness at the International Pavilion... and this, by friend and sculptor, Erika Takacs.

a patio on a hill, where staff do everything to make you comfortable on a chilly day… heaters, blankets, so much kindness. the market of course… this is the super condensed version (sans cheese)

you will, like the goofy Canuck you are, embrace what’s Canadian

And fall in love in (at least) two languages.




12 thoughts on “hello/bytown (aka: how to see only the slightest, slivery slice of ottawa)

    1. I’d never heard of her before this. She’s mesmerizing to watch. Also interesting was noting the coming and going, the staying and not staying of visitors as they entered the video display area and wondering at the reason for each choice to stay or leave. Belmore’s performance was shot on a street corner and so there was yet another audience to watch, the one gathering on that sidewalk and the people you could see in the background, looking back over their shoulders as they passed by. One older woman watched for a moment then left, a little peeved I thought. Would have loved to ask her what about it bothered her. And the men’s reactions… was impressed with the ones who stayed. They surely couldn’t help but be changed in some even small way. And so art goes…

  1. I love Ottawa and often see the very things you’ve just seen when I visit my family there. (Going next month!) Always some surprises and always some things that just move me to tears. The library, for example, with its beautiful wood. The Lanes. (There’s a wonderful gelato place nearby….) La Bottega in the market for everything from soup to nuts but mostly delicious sandwiches to eat at the Major’s Hill park (with marmots and children, not necessarily in that order). A drink at the D’arcy McGee. And if we’re really lucky (once!), a few nights at the Chateau Laurier…

    1. Oh, La Bottega… now there’s a place worthy of its own post. I swear I could pitch a tent in the olive oil aisle and live there happily ever after. Have a wonderful trip, Theresa. And thanks for a few tips (gelato and D’arcy McGee are both going into my file for next time).

  2. Lovely post about Ottawa, I never get tired of it. You went to places I had missed, and others I had not. :) Thank you so much for making time to visit the International Pavilion and even posting my work. It looks so good on your photo!!!

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