To In­fin­ity and be­yond

AGO’s re­cent ground­break­ing show sparks in­ter­est in Toronto’s in­cred­i­ble gal­leries — here are a few off-the-radar faves to check out

North Toronto Post - - Currents - By Ron John­son

Toronto is hav­ing an art mo­ment. Thanks to Yayoi Kusama and her In­fin­ity Mir­rors, more and more peo­ple are talk­ing paint­ing, pho­tog­ra­phy and sculp­ture. Re­cent re­search out of Aus­tralia sug­gests that ex­po­sure to art for a cou­ple of hours every week can dra­mat­i­cally im­prove one’s men­tal health and over­all sense of well-be­ing, so re­ally this is a must-do. With the Con­tact Pho­tog­ra­phy Fes­ti­val on and a plethora of pretty lit­tle gal­leries in town, there’s no better time to add more art to your life.

PRO­JECT GALLERY

Pro­ject Gallery is lo­cated on the main floor of a sleek new con­do­minium on Dun­das Street East at Car­law. De­van Patel orig­i­nally opened a space on Queen Street East five years ago be­fore re­lo­cat­ing. He also has a more ex­per­i­men­tal gallery called Pro­ject Stu­dios on Broad­view Av­enue, nearby.

The Dun­das Street gallery is spa­cious with ex­pan­sive floor-to­ceil­ing win­dows look­ing out onto the street, white walls and a polished con­crete floor. The build­ing is right next to an­other fetch­ing new build­ing that is home to Crow’s The­atre and French restau­rant Gare de l’Est, mak­ing for a se­ri­ously cul­tured date-night dou­ble fea­ture.

When we vis­ited, Patel was host­ing a rare group show fea­tur­ing a num­ber of tal­ented young Toronto artists.

Patel is a collector and also an art con­sul­tant who works with a lot of emerg­ing Toronto artists in the mil­len­nial age range, as well as a few more es­tab­lished artists such as Ken Monkman.

All of the artists in Patel’s group show, and the ma­jor­ity of the artists he works with, are peo­ple of colour.

“That is kind of the gallery di­rec­tion and es­thetic,” he says. “I’m think­ing more and more about al­ter­na­tive nar­ra­tives.”

Com­ing up in May, Pro­ject Gallery will fea­ture the pho­tog­ra­phy of Greg Mc­Carthy, as part of the Con­tact Fes­ti­val, and at the same time the artist will cu­rate an ex­per­i­men­tal pho­tog­ra­phy show at Pro­ject Stu­dios, www.pro­ject­gallery.ca.

GALLERY 181

Lo­cated across the street from Moss Park, Gallery 181 is a charm­ing small space run by HGTV star Danielle Bryk. When we vis­ited, a group show with a num­ber of street artists from New York and Toronto as well as South Korea were on dis­play, in­clud­ing some amaz­ing works from Phoe­beNewYork.

The space is a slen­der slice of artis­tic heaven with old wooden floors and a de­light­ful pic­ture win­dow.

Bryk stud­ied art his­tory at Queen’s Uni­ver­sity, and her first in­tern­ship was at the Pill Gallery in New York City.

“I’ve been deal­ing art pri­vately for years, for my clients and also for my own show,” she says. “When it came time for the big re­veal of the be­fore and af­ter, you can­not have a lot of blank spa­ces, it reads very bar­ren, so it’s not al­lowed on cam­era, and peo­ple were al­ways like let’s go to Home­sense and pick up a few pieces, and I was like no no no, wait a minute. So that’s how we met many of these peo­ple, through the show, and I’ve just worked with them for years.”

Bryks’ gallery is in an area of the city not gen­er­ally on the tourist route but worth a visit as other gal­leries and cool new restau­rants con­tinue to crop up.

Look­ing ahead, Gallery 181 will fea­ture the vi­brant work of Toronto por­trait artist Gor­don Shradrach, open­ing May 31.

“His work is re­ally pow­er­ful. He is paint­ing portraits mostly of black men, some women, in a very classical way and also in vin­tage and re­claimed frames, very for­mal and very or­nate,” Bryk says. “He says black peo­ple have been con­spic­u­ously ab­sent from classical art, in terms of rep­re­sen­ta­tion, and I see a re­ally sub­ver­sive qual­ity and such an in­cred­i­ble nar­ra­tive,” www.gallery181.ca

DANIEL FARIA GALLERY

Crav­ing an af­ter­noon of gallery hop­ping? The clus­ter of spa­ces on St. He­lens in the Bloor and Dun­das area are just the ticket.

The best of the group could be the Daniel Faria Gallery, an ex­pan­sive com­mer­cial gallery with a pen­chant for dis­play­ing works of heavy-hit­ters such as Dou­glas Cou­p­land. The West Coast artist’s new show, Tsunami, was re­cently fea­tured.

Here, Cou­p­land dis­played de­bris that had washed ashore near his home on the west coast fol­low­ing the Ja­panese tsunami and Fukushima nu­clear dis­as­ter in 2011.

Other artists who show at the Daniel Faria Gallery in­clude Shan­non Bool, who re­cently par­tic­i­pated in the Na­tional Gallery of Canada Cana­dian Bi­en­nial in Ot­tawa, and Mark Lewis, who had a show at the AGO re­cently and rep­re­sented Canada at the Venice Bi­en­nale.

Faria, a stu­dent of art his­tory and con­tem­po­rary art, worked at artist-run gal­leries and re­gional gal­leries be­fore finding his place in the com­mer­cial art world, and he now puts on seven or eight gallery shows per year in ad­di­tion to par­tic­i­pat­ing in art fairs.

“I like the model of com­mer­cial gal­leries,” he says. “I work closely with the artists, and you’re part of that on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion. It seemed like a nat­u­ral fit.”

This month, the Daniel Faria Gallery will fea­ture an exhibition by El­iz­a­beth Zvonar, en­ti­tled Ageless Am­bi­gu­ity, May 3 to June 8, www.daniel­faria­gallery.com.

Clockwise from left: Dou­glas Cou­p­land’s lat­est at Daniel Faria Gallery, Danielle Bryk at Gallery 181 and Ness Lee’s art at Pro­ject Gallery

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