North America agenda: art events focus on photography and museum awareness

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The Independent Travel

The accent in the US is on the arts this May from festivals and Museum Day to a design fair and special exhibitions. Also featured this month are music and web media awards.

15th Toronto Photography Festival CONTACT 2011
May 1-31
Toronto, Ontario

CONTACT is the world's largest annual photography event. It attracts more than 1,500,000 visitors each year. The month-long festival is organized in collaboration with 200+ galleries throughout Toronto and is comprised of exhibitions of more than 1,000 photographers' works, also at museums and public installations. The year's theme, 'Figure and Ground,' will also be explored at lectures, workshops and films. Additional photography events in 2011 include PHotoEspaña, Les Rencontres d'Arles, the New York
Photo Festival, Photo London, Paris Photo and the Hereford Photography Festival.

Ai Weiwei's Public Art Project
May 2-July 15
Pulitzer Fountain in Central Park
New York City, New York

The 12-piece sculpture, 'Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads,' from artist Ai Weiwei, referred to as the Andy Warhol of China, goes on display at the Pulitzer Fountain. Inspired by Beijing's Yuanming Yuan fountain, the installation features large-scale bronze heads of an ox, tiger, rabbit, rat, monkey, and more. It travels to LA, Houston, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC. Also at London's Somerset House, May 12-June 30. The dissident artist has been detained in China and will not be present at the openings.

15th Webby Awards
May 3 winners announced/June 13 gala
New York, New York

An international prize for the best of the internet for websites, interactive advertising, online film and video, mobile and mobile apps. Each of the 70 categories gets a Webby, awarded by the 750-member academy, including David Bowie and Richard Branson, and The People's Voice award is announced. Entries come from more than 60 countries with over 750 million media impressions and winners have included Google, Twitter, Flickr and iTunes.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Metropolitan Museum of Art/The Costume Institute
May 4-July 31
New York City, New York

Five collections from the fashion designer's 19-year career span Dante (1996-97), Number 13 (1999), Voss (2001), Irere (2003), and Plato's Atlantis (2010), as well as videos of his runway presentations up to McQueen's death last February. His dramatic and imaginative culture and identity display iconic designs, including his signature kimono jacket and Origami frock coat, as well exaggerated silhouettes spanning the 1860s to the 1950s. Approximately 100 examples include works crafted into romantic
narratives with technical ingenuity and innovative vision.

21st James Beard Foundation Awards
May 9
New York City, New York

Considered the "Oscars" of the US culinary world, this annual ceremony at Lincoln Center recognizes the "best and brightest" in America's culinary world. The gala event, begun by chef and food writer James Beard, also presents television and journalism awards on May 6 along with the 'Ultimate Melting Pot' reception featuring dishes created by chefs from across the country, representing the diverse ethnic variety. Similar awards include the International Association of Culinary Professionals competition and the World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards.

23rd International Contemporary Furniture Fair
May 14-17
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
New York, New York

The latest trends in home design are on display at ICFF with 590 exhibitors from 43 countries from lighting to seating. It draws 24,000 designers, retailers, architects and manufacturers to the Jacob Javits Convention Center with May 17 open to the public. Special events include sessions with Dutch designer Marcel Wanders, Design Deutschland, and Living La Vida Loca with Spain's leading designers. The largest design fair in North America, comparable to Frankfort's Tendence and Singapore's fair in Asia.

35th International Museum Day
May 18

Museums in the US join with 30,000 in more than 100 countries around the world for International Museum Day. To celebrate the impact that the visual arts have on society the galleries offer free admission. The 2011 theme is 'Museum and Memory,' highlighting the preservation of objects with cultural and historical significance. The day includes special activities, screenings, workshops and lectures.


8th San Francisco International Arts Festival
May 18-June 4
San Francisco, California

A multidisciplinary festival of dance, music, opera and theater with 40 performances including Cuba's Los Munequitos, Poland's Teatr Zar, Spain's Omas Sosa, Israel's Barak Marshall, and the US debut of ‘Iraq Bodies,' a collaboration between the Netherlands and Iraq dance companies. The 2011 theme is 'The Truth in Knowing/Now: Threads in Time, Place, Culture.'

2011 Billboard Music Awards
May 22
Las Vegas, Nevada

Rihanna, Eminem, Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber lead the nominees in Billboard magazine's awards show in Las Vegas, marking the return to television after a hiatus since 2007, airing on ABC-TV. Winners in 46 categories are determined by Billboard chart performance and social media activity. Performers include the Black Eyed Peas, Jennifer Lopez, Taio Cruz, Metallica, and Britney Spears. Other comparable music awards include the Grammys, Canada's Junos and the Brit Awards.

110th BookExpo America
May 23-26
New York, New York

BookExpo America is the premier book fair in North America and the world's largest English-language book event. More than 1,500 exhibitors, 500 authors and 30,000 visitors are expected attend. In 1902, Mark Twain was the featured author; in 2010 Barbra Streisand, Jon Stewart, John Grisham and Christopher Hitchens were featured. Other major North American book fairs occur in Los Angeles, Miami, Washington DC, and Guadalajara, Mexico.

Tim Burton
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
May 29-October 31
Los Angeles, California

This major retrospective explores the filmmaker's creative work as a director, artist and illustrator. Inspired by popular culture, fairy tales and gothic themes, the exhibition brings together over 700 drawings, paintings, photographs, puppets, concepts, costumes, and cinematic ephemera, including art from personal projects. Many of these objects come from the artist's own archive, as well as from studio archives and private collections of Burton's collaborators. The show was curated by the Museum of Modern Art.