Saturday, November 8, 2008

Three to See: Galleries in Toronto's Kensington Market

Kensington Market has long been a haven for Toronto's boho artists. But lately it's not just about impromptu street parties--there's been honest-to-goodness galleries springing up to house the works of same. In this weekend's National Post, I check out three of these newish venues: Pixel Gallery, Project 165, and Studio Gallery. Read on after the jump for the info.

Image of a Jesse Harris artwork at Studio Gallery from

Ironic? Iconic? Try both.
National Post, November 9, 2008
By Leah Sandals

Kensington Market has long been a haven for Toronto’s boho artists. But recently some honest-to-goodness galleries have been springing up, too. Sneak in a latte and people-watching at Casa Acoreana, and you’ve got an nice alt afternoon out.

1. Pixel Gallery 156 Augusta Ave.
The zeitgeisty-named Pixel Gallery, nestled behind the funky Function 13 design shop, opened almost one year ago. Since then, it’s done a lot to promote innovative digital art, such as video-game guns that shoot graffiti, not bullets. In its current show, Pixel collaborates with 20-year-old big-bro Pleasuredome, a still very active video exhibition collective. The result is A Lower World, a seven-artist exhibition riffing on the horrific and extreme. Though this art can be hard to stomach, the show’s a prime place to catch rising international stars. Swede Nathalie Djurberg, profiled in this month’s Vogue thanks to a recent show at Italy’s Prada Foundation, shows Claymation vids of a violent battle between dogs and people. American Laurel Nakadate pushes the boundaries of ethics and sense with wince-worthy videos documenting her encounters with lonely men. And Los Angeles artist Julian Hoeber’s unsettling flick Killing Friends has fake blood and psychological spooks to spare. On a gentler note, New York Times darling Michael Bell-Smith presents excess as scrolling, unending video game landscapes. Recent Whitney Biennial pick Mungo Thomson presents the “extreme” desert landscapes of Warner Bros. cartoons minus Wile E. and the Roadrunner. Finally, Marcus Coates of Britain offers a Monty Python-meetsMerlin scenario, performing an ancient divination ritual in the staid setting of a Liverpool apartment block.

2. Project 165 165 Augusta Ave.
Across the street from Pixel, three new exhibition venues have opened on Augusta: cafĂ©-cum-event-zone Hotshot, Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture and studios-in-the-back, gallery-in-the-front affair Project 165. While these venues don’t show art continuously, they have upped the gallery quotient of the avenue. Right now, Project 165, the newest of these spaces, is hosting drawings by self-proclaimed “lost boys” Ryan Solski and Dan Rocca. Although Peter Pan conceits and naive drawing styles are starting to wear thin in the art world, Solski’s careful sketches of maps and faces still have a fairy-tale quality, while Rocca’s busier work bridges to psychedelic brands of fantasy. The latter’s smaller drawings of isolated objects with colourful auras seem especially sprinkled with fairy dust. Tinkerbell would approve, even if grumpy grown-ups don’t.

3. Studio Gallery 294 College St., 2nd floor
Created as an extension of founder Avery Hunsberger’s design office, which counts Calvin Klein among its clients, Studio Gallery is a raw, twentysomething-friendly art and music space fluent in the iconic/ironic Gen Y style of magazines such as Vice and Nylon. Keeping with the periodical theme, Studio’s current show features artists from the second issue of Bad Day Magazine, a new quarterly created by young Ossington Avenue photographer and filmmaker Eva Michon. Many works reflect a world-weary wonder: “At a dollar a letter, I could not afford to tell you how much I have to say,” proclaims Jesse Harris’s iron-on T-shirt. A cracked, flaking and, as it turns out, microwaved CD is commemorated in Paul Kneale’s massive colour photograph. And the poetic side of Crystal Castles-centric living is commemorated in Tim Barber’s sliceof-life pics. Next, watch for an exhibition by 18-year-old internet “It Girl” Cory Kennedy, fresh from having her portrait shown at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. To access the gallery by appointment, call 416-832-3933 or visit

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