Where to see extraordinary creativity

Some of our favourite artists and architects

We jubilados (Spanish for retirees) are constantly on the lookout for art: in galleries, on the street and in the wild


Vancouver, alas, subscribes to what I call “Hello Kitty” street art. Birds, bees, butterflies, sanctioned mural festival art that, for the most part, doesn’t challenge your thinking beyond “where’s the nearest place for a decaf, low-fat, no-sugar latte?”

So it may surprise you, as it did us, to find that in Norway of all places, that Stavanger, the city that oil lifted, is one of the world’s leaders in street art. Art that captures the general mood. Art that illuminates political, philosophical and poetical meanings. Art that propels expression and invites dialog. Not quite the double-shot espresso of street art in Buenos Aires but Stavanger’s is a strong brew that gets your heart pumping.

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I was kicking myself.

Three years ago in Seattle there was an exhibition of Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors. Six individual rooms, small and dark. Each one painted with polka dots and pumpkins illuminated by hundreds of LEDs reflecting endless pinpricks of coloured light onto mirrored walls immersing you into a kaleidoscopic wonderland. But I was too late. The exhibition sold out quickly and without tickets, you had to queue for hours with little hope of getting in. I felt even worse when Gail, Ginger and Carol Ann talked about how spectacular it was, despite the fleeting time (only two or three minutes) you had in each mirrored cubicle where only two or three visitors were allowed at a coveted time-slot. So you can imagine how excited I was to discover the Henie Onstad Kunstsenter at Høvikodden outside Oslo has one of Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors on permanent display. Even better, it was a slow day—Magellan and I had Infinity Mirrored Room, Hymn of Life to ourselves for as long as we wanted!

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Sicily and modern art: seems like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Magellan and I were ambivalent about going to Favara. Mostly because we had found so little about an art complex begun in 2010 that we wanted to see, Farm Cultural Park. Paradoxical name isn’t it? Also, getting there required a triangular diversion that would add considerable driving time on head-shaker backroads. In going, we discovered a pastoral road, a town centre transformed into a Sicilian casbah—and a backstory of how cultural agitators create social change.

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Donald Judd in Marfa

Readers, you know we love Marfa, the quirky town in West Texas sixty miles from the Mexican border, Marfa, where artists and ranchers, shopkeepers and railroaders are anything but square.

Today, March 1, a retrospective of the art of Donald Judd—who made Marfa his home, studio and gallery for the last seventeen years of his life—opens at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). It will explore

…the remarkable vision of an artist who revolutionized the history of sculpture…and emphasize the radicality of his approach to art-making and the visual complexity of his work.

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George Johnston “Creator of portraits, keeper of culture”

I know, it’s a new word to us, too.

 A combo of indigenous and ingenuity—indigenuity is the perfect description given to a remarkable Inland Tlingit man named George Johnston.

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To be astonished by art is surely one of the most satisfying delights of travel, of life, yes?

For our first blog of the new decade Magellan and I were wavering: Norway’s Edvard Munch (The Scream) or Altamira (“The Sistine Chapel of Prehistory”)? A cartoon in The New Yorker swayed us to the latter, the first discovery of art from the Upper Palaeolithic—carbon-dated to 35,600 years ago—unique for its high quality and magnificent conservation.

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