Monday, October 27, 2008

Public Art Picks in Toronto

For this weekend's gallery hop, published in Saturday's National Post, I picked out three public art genres that are on view right now in Toronto. It was a great opportunity to give a shout-out to 24/7 window spaces like Convenience Gallery, whose opening for the tongue-in-cheek Parkdale International Art Fair is pictured above. Read on after the jump for more.

Photo courtesy of Flavio Trevisan, Convenience Gallery

The Great Outdoors
Leah Sandals, National Post
Published: Saturday, October 25, 2008

A chill wind passed through Toronto streets this week, sending pedestrians scurrying for forced-air cover. But the truth is that there is still plenty of hot public art out there to take the threat-of-winter edge off. Whether you mix up some toddies in a thermos or grab a mocha on the go, checking out these outdoor art sites provides a grown-up kind of trick or treat.


Everyone in Toronto has seen a decent chalk drawing or two in their trips around town. But U. K. chalk artist Julian Beever takes the technique to the next level, using anamorphic perspective to create works that, from certain angles, seem completely three-dimensional. (Google him for some appealing eye-popping evidence.) Admittedly, Beever's no Banksy -- though his technique is remarkable, his content is mundane and is often contracted out for corporate purposes. Such is the case this week, where Beever's first trip to Toronto has been-- rather unromantically --made in service of a new frozen pizza brand. Still, the skills of the self-dubbed "Pavement Picasso" are worth a drop-by as he creates some pics on the sidewalks around Yonge and Eglinton. If your tastes run more hip hop than Holbein, be sure to check out Graffiti Alley just south of Queen between Spadina and Portland for a more pointed painted-on-the-city view.


Another way to experience public art is through the many window galleries that have cropped up around Toronto. Convenience Gallery, so named for its former corner store incarnation at 58 Lansdowne Ave., is one that's worth a look right now with its show called the Parkdale International Art Fair. In a dozen 2 x 3 x 2 foot mini booths, PIAF highlights neighbourhood artists while poking fun at the convention-centre-centric art fair craze of recent years. There's a surprising diversity here for the size, with highlights including Diane Borsato's Arrangements of a Stolen Flowers (exactly what it sounds like),Orest Tataryn's Great Scott, It's Mini Flav, a neon installation that jokes about famed light artist Dan Flavin, Melissa Levin's Witness, a diorama of a winter scene and Shawn Skeir's Untitled -- a glossy, colourful lacquered work. Other window galleries of note include Side Space Gallery at 1080 St. Clair Ave. W., Fly Gallery at 1172 Queen St. W. and QueenSpecific at 787 Queen St. W.


Another major form of public art to seek out this week is performance, as the 7a*11d performance art festival brings its seventh incarnation to parks and sidewalks around the downtown core. Watch for Vancouverite Glenn Lewis's wittily titled A Sweeping Statement tomorrow afternoon as the artist collects rubbish for sculptural material along Queen and Dundas between Spadina and Church. Also keep an eye out for local artist Tonik Wojtyra's Hush My Dear, a humorous performance where an RCMP officer seemingly attempts to lull a Canada goose at Trinity Bellwoods Park. Regina artist Robin Poitras's The Oval, a temporary installation of 24 chairs and 60 rearview mirrors set up in random public spaces, will also provide a spot for reflection. Find out more at

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