Chagall, Degas, Matisse, Modigliani and Picasso are among the celebrated artists represented in A Tribute to Ayala Zacks (1912-2011), an exhibition currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario that honours both Ayala Zacks and the late Samuel Zacks for their longtime philanthropy towards the AGO.
The 17 pieces in the show focus on the female body and feature key works by women artists among the more than 300 works that Ayala donated to the AGO after Samuel’s death in 1970. The exhibition also explores the bond between Toronto and Jerusalem, the two cities on which Zacks showered her devotion and generosity.
A third track of the show explores Zacks’ heroic exploits during World War II and her role in the founding and building of Israel.
Born in Jerusalem, Ayala lost a husband in the war and met the Canadian-born Samuel in Switzerland. They were married in 1947. Prominent Canadian art collectors whose gifts form the basis of the AGO’s modern European art collection, the couple also made major donations to Queen’s University, the Hazor Archaeological Museum and the Royal Ontario Museum. The AGO exhibition remains on view until February 2013.
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Names in the News: Riga-born cellist Mischa Maisky was gaining a reputation as one of the Soviet Union’s prize musicians in the late 1960s when his sister left for Israel and his career took a turn for the worse. While still a student at the Moscow Conservatory, he was harassed by the state security police. In 1970, he was arrested for buying a tape recorder on the black market and sentenced to 18 months in a labour camp.
After his release he moved to Israel and in 1973 gave a performance at Carnegie Hall in New York. He also performed in Toronto in 1978. Only in the glasnost era of the mid-1990s did he return to Russia. He has made more than 30 recordings with the Vienna Philharmonic and Berlin Philharmonic, London Symphony, Israel Philharmonic and others.
Maisky returns to Toronto to perform with the Moscow Soloists Chamber Orchestra, led by conductor, and viola soloist Yuri Bashmet. Roy Thomson Hall, Thursday, May 3, 8 p.m. $55 to $115. 416-872-4255, www.roythomson.com
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• Ben McNally Books hosts a book launch for Time Snatchers, a “middle-grade” (juvenile) science fiction novel by Toronto writer-illustrator Richard Ungar. The story concerns a group of orphans who become time-travelling thieves for a conniving “uncle.” Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St. (south of Richmond). Thursday, April 26, 6 to 8 p.m. Refreshments provided. Author’s talk at 6:30.
• Itanu Toronto presents bestselling author Rachel Simon, speaking on her book The Story of Beautiful Girl, which features a love story involving characters with disabilities who overcome significant obstacles. Wine and cheese reception follows. Tamari Family Hall, Lipa Green Centre, 4600 Bathurst St. May 10, 7 p.m. RSVP to Anna, 416-635-2883, ext. 5263, by April 27.
• Abraham Karpinovitch, Avirama Golan, Morley Torgov, Mira Magen, Mario Levi, Jasminka Domas, Menachem Kaiser and Roberta Newman are among the authors featured in the seventh edition of Jewishfiction.net, released online earlier this month. The site bills itself as the only web address to be “devoted exclusively to the publishing of Jewish fiction.” Nora Gold, the Canadian author and academic, is the founding editor.
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• TDJ Special Projects presents The Thing Is, an eight-piece ensemble led by composer-vocalist Tova Kardonne that fuses jazz, Balkan, funk and Afro-Cuban music, with allusions to Sephardi and Ashkenazi musical traditions. The Thing Is CD release takes place at 918 Bathurst Centre for the Arts, Sunday, April 22, 8 p.m. $20 at the door. www.torontojazz.com
• The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre presents the Stars on Spadina Gala, an arts fundraiser hosted by Marilyn Lightstone and featuring Theresa Tova, Moshe Hammer, Hilario Duran, Laura Tucker, Daniela Nardi, Ron Davis and more. Monday, April 23, 7:30 p.m. 416-924-6211, ext. 0, ww.mnjcc.org
• Conductor-violinist Itzhak Perlman performs Beethoven’s Violin Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on April 25 and 26. Perlman also performs alongside his former student and collaborator, TSO music director Peter Oundjian, as soloists in J.S. Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins on April 28. Following their performance, Perlman and Oundjian will engage in a conversation from the stage. Roy Thomson Hall, April 25, 26 and 28, 8 p.m. $49 to $179. 416-593-4828, tso.ca
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At the Galleries: Icons of Loss: The Art of Samuel Bak showcases the art of Vilna-born Holocaust survivor Samuel Bak, who based many paintings in the show on a 1943 photograph showing a little boy at gunpoint during the liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto in 1943, and many others on Melancholia I, a 1514 engraving by Albrecht Durer.
Gerda Friedberg, founder of the Toronto (Neuberger) Holocaust Education Centre, who spearheaded this first major exhibition of Bak’s work in Canada, initially met him in 1945 in Landsberg am Lech, a displaced persons camp. Presented in part by the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. At the Joseph D. Carrier Gallery, Columbus Centre, 901 Lawrence Ave. W., until April 30. Admission free. 416-789-7011, ext. 300.