Exhibitions of portraits of the famous and rich, celebrated and accomplished have always been a popular draw but never more so than now when more and more people seemingly enjoy greater and greater celebrity for ever-shorter periods of time.
Ontario Lieutenant-Governor David Onley is offering fresh fodder for such ruminations with the opening on Wednesday of About Face: Celebrated Ontarians Then and Now. An exhibition of 75 portraits assembled with the participation of Library and Archives Canada, it’s running until at least early March at the Lieutenant-Governor’s Suite in the Ontario Legislature in Toronto.
Milieu aside, this is no fuddy-duddy showcase of bewigged, tight-lipped white men and stalwart Laura Secords but largely a photo-based portfolio of diverse, mainly contemporary faces, Ontarians all, born, bred or adopted. So, yes, Billy Bishop is here, Robertson Davies, Alexander Graham Bell and Mary Pickford, too, but so are 2013 Venice Biennale laureate Shary Boyle, swimmer Annaleise Carr, tycoons Michael Lee-Chin and Peter Munk, rappers K’naan and Drake, playwright Tomson Highway, New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell and (yes!) the inimitable, perhaps inevitable Justin Bieber.
“We want to make sure all Ontarians understand that this institution is for them and about them,” says Anthony Hylton, chief of staff and private secretary for the Lieutenant-Governor. “We want people to come into this suite and see themselves on the wall, whether you’re young or old, or whatever race, sexual orientation, or religion you may be.”
The public can book tours of the legislature and the exhibition by calling 416-325-7500.