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The must-see season: A guide to summer's hottest cultural events Add to ...

Jana Sterbak won a Governor-General’s Award for lifetime excellence in the visual and media arts earlier this year for, among other achievements, the famous meat dress she first made and exhibited in the late 1980s. With the help of six assistants and 12 kilograms of flank steak, Sterbak, 57, reconstructs the meat dress for this themed group show about notions of identity, race, religion and sexuality and how they’re manifested epidermally. Among the other artists joining the fray are Eric Fischl, Vito Acconci, Shary Boyle, Evergon and Attila Richard Lukacs ( artgalleryofnovascotia.ca).

Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana

Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

June 23-March 17, 2013

Gondwana is the name paleontologists coined for the super-continent that occupied Earth’s southern hemisphere hundreds of millions of years ago. Dinosaurs ruled then, of course, and the ROM is devoting major real estate to celebrating their reign in an ambitious exhibition conceived, curated and executed by the museum itself. The show marks the ROM’s first use of Augmented Reality technology, “layering virtual experiences over real environments.” Among the highlights: 17 full-scale skeletal casts, including one of a sauropod herbivore called the Futalognkosaurus that will stretch to almost 34 metres ( rom.on.ca).

The Last Harvest: The Paintings of Radindranath Tagore

McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ont.

May 19-July 15

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) is best known outside South Asia as the first non-European ever to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. This was in 1913 and it was for his voluminous output of poems and stories, novels, novellas, plays and essays. Turns out the Bengali also had a dab hand with the paint brush, turning to making works on paper when he was 63. The McMichael, best known for its collection of Group of Seven paintings, is the sole Canadian venue for this showcase of Tagore art, organized by India’s ministry of culture and the National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, to mark Tagore’s 150th birthday ( mcmichael.com) .

Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters

Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver

May 26-Sept. 30

Fifty works culled from the thousands in the fabled Cone sisters collection of early modern art at the Baltimore Museum of Art, the collection’s home since 1949. The indisputable highlight of the show – Vancouver is its only Canadian berth – is its presentation of 27 Matisse paintings, drawings and sculpture, including such masterful canvases as Large Reclining Nude (1935) and Interior, Flowers and Parakeets (1924). The Cones – Claribel (1864-1929) and Etta (1870-1949), wealthy spinsters both and pals of Gertrude Stein – also had a fondness for Picasso, Cézanne, van Gogh and Gauguin, examples of which are included here ( vancouverartgallery.bc.ca).

William Kurelek: The Messenger

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Victoria

May 25-Sept. 3

Having previously shown in Winnipeg and Hamilton, this is the final stop for this acclaimed, hefty retrospective, the first of its kind in at least three decades for the legendary Alberta-born, Manitoba-raised artist who died 35 years ago. More than 80 paintings and sketches are featured, including many fine examples of the prairie and childhood scenes that have made Kurelek so beloved to the Canadian auction market. At the same time, Kurelek was a tortured soul, suicidal even, who, following a conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1957, took his art in a decidedly prophetic, didactic, occasionally apocalyptic direction ( aggv.ca).

Charlie Russell and the First Calgary Stampede

The Glenbow Museum, Calgary

June 2-July 29

Hey, buckaroos and buckarettes! It’s the 100th anniversary of the Calgary Stampede this summer and as a first, the Glenbow is reuniting 17 of the famous 20 canvases that legendary Western artist Charlie Russell (1864-1926) exhibited, to much oohing and ahhing, at the inaugural Stampede. After Frederic Remington, Russell today is regarded as the greatest illustrator of the Old West, his paintings of cowboys, Indians and sagebrush as much a linchpin of the ethos of the Stampede as the white, wide-brimmed Stetson. They’re also much sought-after by collectors: Last year a Russell watercolour of two cowboys wrangling a mountain lion sold for $1.5-million (U.S.) at auction ( glenbow.org).

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