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New AGO artist-in-residence Jim Munroe animates artful videogame design with pop-up arcade

AGO to host Fancy Videogame Party featuring live DJs, drinks and independent video games from around the world this February

TORONTO — Redefining the line between art and digital design, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) welcomes Toronto-based writer, filmmaker and video-game designer Jim Munroe as its newest artist-in-residence. Beginning Jan. 27, 2014, Munroe’s 10-week residency will include a public video-game installation in the AGO’s Weston Family Community Gallery, a four-week game design workshop, art talks and a special event entitled Fancy Videogame Party.

As a Toronto-based multimedia artist, Jim Munroe produces graphic novels, science fiction books, indie video games and lo-fi sci-fi films. The self-proclaimed “indie culture maker” is co-founder and executive director of The Hand Eye Society, a not-for-profit video-game arts organization dedicated to supporting and showcasing artful video games. As the Gallery’s artist-in-residence, Munroe plans to dedicate a portion of his time developing a digital video game that will be set in the AGO.

“I’ll be working with the institution and the public to shed light on Toronto’s budding independent gaming community,” said Munroe. “Through courses, art talks and events, I’m working to eliminate the cultural stigmas surrounding so-called ‘low-brow’ art and encourage the production and celebration of video games as an emerging international art form.”

“The AGO is dedicated to supporting a variety of contemporary art forms through its exhibitions and public programming,” said Paola Poletto, AGO manager of artist-in-residence and adult programs. “Jim’s residency underlines the value of videogame design as an artform in and of itself.”

On Feb. 1, 2014, the AGO’s Community Gallery turns into a classic arcade with a pop-up installation of three retrofitted arcade cabinets called Torontrons. Engineered by The Hand Eye Society and led by Jim Munroe, each Torontron is loaded with six contemporary video games designed by Toronto video-game artists. The pop-up arcade cabinets have appeared all over Toronto and Winnipeg and have inspired similar international projects in New York, Shanghai, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia and beyond. No quarters are required: AGO visitors can play for free until Mar. 21, 2014.

On Feb. 21, 2014, in celebration of its fifth anniversary, The Hand Eye Society will host Fancy Videogame Party in partnership with the AGO and The Wild Rumpus, a U.K.-based event company specializing in parties centred around indie mutliplayer videogames. At 8 p.m. the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre will simultaneously become an arcade, night club and gallery space for one night only, featuring live DJs, drinks and games from around the world. Tickets for this 19+ event are $15 for the public and $12 for AGO members and can be purchased in advance at

The AGO launched its Artist-in-Residence Program in fall 2011. The program is the first of its kind at a major Canadian art museum, hosting as many as six artists each year for periods of up to 10 weeks each.

For more information about the Artist-in-Residence Program, please visit


Workshop: Discover Digital Games
Wednesdays, Feb. 5 - 26, 2014
7 – 10 p.m.
Weston Family Learning Centre, Art Gallery of Ontario
Public $100 | Members $80

This four-week workshop will introduce you to new creative practices in video games. Come in with questions and we’ll introduce existing art games and take you through how to create a simple video game for yourself. No previous gaming experience is necessary, although it is recommended to have an open and curious attitude about what games can be. Participants will need to bring their own Mac computers. Registration is now open. 

Event: Fancy Videogame Party
Friday, Feb 21, 2014
8 p.m. – midnight
Weston Family Learning Centre, Art Gallery of Ontario
Public $15 | Members $12
19+ (ID required)

For its fifth birthday, Toronto video-game arts organization The Hand Eye Society is teaming up with the AGO and London's game-party roughhousers The Wild Rumpus. Together they will bring you the very best multi-player, party and physical video games from around the world for one night only. Part arcade, part club night, part art gallery... part something you've never seen before. Tickets can be purchased at

Meet the Artists: “Thought Balloons” with Jim Munroe, Mark Connery & Jonathan Mak
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
7 – 8:30 p.m.
Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Public $12 | Members $10 | Students $8 

Join artist-in-residence Jim Munroe in conversation with artists Mark Connery, a Toronto-based comic and zine artist, and Jonathan Mak, a Toronto-based game developer, about their work, indie culture and how playfulness factors into their practices. 

Jim Munroe is a “pop culture provocateur” according to the Austin Chronicle and Time Out Chicago calls him an “independent press icon.”  Primarily he is an indie culture maker in various mediums: post-Rapture graphic novels, lo-fi sci-fi feature movies and award-winning text adventure video games. He’s also helped found and run various arts organizations, notably the North American touring circuit The Perpetual Motion Roadshow and The Hand Eye Society, an incorporated video-game culture not-for-profit. He lives in Toronto’s historic Junction neighbourhood.

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 Ken 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

Nov. 30, 2013 – March 2, 2014: The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918

April 5, 2014 – July 20, 2014: Francis Bacon & Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty

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

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. 

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For media inquiries about Jim Munroe and the AGO’s Artist-in-Residence Program, please contact:

Laura Banks; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 504,

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

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