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AGO Lights Up 1st Thursdays with Art, Drinks, Music and Spectacle

1st Thursdays at the AGO: Drinks, Music, Creativity

Series debuts Oct. 4 with tours by Evan Penny, nude life drawing and musical guest Bahamas 

(TORONTO – Sept. 12, 2012) Bringing together an impressive roster of artists, live music and interactive art projects, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) invites you to experience your art gallery in a brand new way at 1st Thursdays. Designed to engage and entertain, these interactive art nights out will feature a variety of performances, pop-up bars, art-making activities, artist and curator tours, talks and live events.

Beginning Oct. 4, 2012, and taking place on the first Thursday of each month, the AGO will open its doors to adults aged 19+ from 6:30 to 11 p.m. No two 1st Thursdays will be the same, with unique projects, activities and performances designed to make each evening memorable.

“Our aim is to be more than just a social destination,” said Kelly McKinley, the AGO’s executive director of education and public programming. “We want to give people the opportunity to see and make and do and hear as much art as they can every month.”

1st Thursdays kicks off on Oct. 4 with a celebration of the exhibition Evan Penny: Re Figured. The internationally renowned Toronto-based artist Evan Penny will be present to speak about his larger-than-life sculptures, each painstakingly crafted from layers of pigmented silicone, human hair, fabric and resin. Blending abstraction and figuration, Penny’s hyper-realistic sculptures straddle the line between object and image, presenting the human form both as we see it and as it can be imagined through the distorting lens of photography and digital media.

Music will be a cornerstone of every 1st Thursdays program, and the AGO is delighted to announce that Bahamas will play an intimate solo set in Walker Court as part of the inaugural 1st Thursday. A Juno and Polaris Prize nominee, Bahamas is the recording name of Toronto based singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen.

The party continues with DJs spinning and free nude life drawing classes offered throughout the Gallery. Cash bars will be set up in Walker Court and visitors are invited to explore and wander the AGO throughout the night.

In addition to the galleries remaining open, shopAGO will present DesignTALKS, a new series of lectures by leading local designers focused on small space design. The first in the series will be held on Oct. 4 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and features Trevor Kruse, an award-winning designer and principal of Hudson Kruse Design. FRANK restaurant at the AGO will provide a wine and champagne bar in shopAGO so visitors can enjoy a beverage while they browse.

Tickets for the inaugural 1st Thursday go on sale today, Sept. 12. Regular-priced tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Admission for AGO Members is $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Tickets can be booked online by visiting

Nov. 1, 2012, is the second in the 1st Thursdays series. In honour of The Grange Prize 2012, the evening will be dedicated to photography. Visitors on Nov.1 are invited to witness the announcement of The Grange Prize 2012 winner, enjoy live musical guests, experience the flash of the paparazzi as they walk a red carpet and attend the opening of U.K. artist Mark Titchner’s new installation in the Young Gallery. As part of the DesignTALKS series, shopAGO presents Tania Bortolotto.

Stay tuned for more details about upcoming special guests and unique programming. For up to date details about 1st Thursdays, visit and follow #AGO1st on Twitter.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

Oct. 20, 2012–Jan. 20, 2013: Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting

Mar. 16–Jun.16, 2013: Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets in Florentine Art


The AGO acknowledges the generous support of its Signature Partners:

Aeroplan, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program

American Express, Signature Partner of the AGO’s Conservation Program

Contemporary programming at the AGO is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

Evan Penny: Re Figured is generously supported by Enbridge, David & Kristin Ferguson, and Yves Trépanier & Kevin Baer.

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.


For more information on 1st Thursdays at the AGO, please contact:

Melissa Prince; Veritas Communications

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403,

Caitlin Coull; Manager, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 364,

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