Since its inception in 2000, galleries from around the globe have come together in Toronto for this country’s most important modern and contemporary art-filled weekend. Art Toronto is no exhibition, though many come to gander with no intention to buy; it’s a marketplace just like its international counterparts – think mega fair Art Basel or London’s more refined Frieze – a place where deals get done and orphaned works of art compete to find new homes. The opening night preview, on Oct. 22 this year, also acts as a benefit gala for the Art Gallery of Ontario, one that’s raised more than $5-million over the past 15 years to support AGO exhibitions and programming initiatives. A portion of the proceeds also help purchase works of art from the fair, which will find a new home in the AGO’s permanent collection.
Led by the galleries chief curator Stephanie Smith, the selections committee, which included among others Fredrik S. Eaton curator of Canadian art Andrew Hunter and curator of modern and contemporary art Kitty Scott, selected five works by four Canadian artists, Luis Jacob, Michael Dumontier, Seth and Jacob Whibley. The space inside the convention centre this year felt more open and accessible, a reflection perhaps of a need to be more inviting to new art enthusiasts. The stalls delegated to each gallery varied in size and shape and also felt more welcoming. Also new were design-conscious flora– and fauna-filled rest areas, a place for fair-goers to take a break with nature and cleanse the visual palette before heading back into the busy art fair environment. Curated by Mexico City– and Berlin-based Abaseh Mirvali, the fair’s area of focus was Latin America, and included in this were eight galleries from across Mexico, Central and South America that specialize in Latin American art. Mirvali’s selection contained an installation consisting of scattered numberless clocks called Anti Personel and a suspended black rope braid call Timeline, both by Argentinian artist Eduardo Basualdo.
Guests in attendance were the first to feast on six site-specific installations on view throughout the weekend, including works by Gordon Monahan, 8-Eleven, Ricardo Mazal, Tammy Salzl and Stéphane Gilot. A mixed opening night scene it was, as business, social and fashion folk were all spotted weaving through the isles. Collector David Mirvish, who attended with his wife Audrey, swanned though like a rock star with in-theknow eyes on the look out for inspiration. MOCCA director David Liss was on hand too, as was Robert Wittman, former senior investigator and founder of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Art Crime Team, who was one of the Platform series speakers the following day; Scotiabank’s executive VP and general counsel Deborah Alexander; lawyer Brian Greenspan; art advisor Popsy Johnstone and her husband Bob; art fans Sue Kidd and Beverly Creed; gallerist Vida Heydari; developer Peter Menkes and his wife Allison; architect and interior designer Dee Dee Eustace; lawyer Max Gotlieb and his wife Heather; Art Toronto director Susannah Rosenstock; collectors Sheldon Inwentash and his wife Lynn Factor; fashion designers Christie Smythe and Andrea Lenczner of the label Smythe; and National Gallery director Marc Mayer.
Illumination: Portraits of Canadian Literature
Over to Toronto’s Gardiner Museum, where a party was held on Oct. 27 to unveil a 12-piece collection of crystal sculptures titled Illumination: Portraits of Canadian Literature. The highly detailed and labour-intensive works by notable photographer and crystal sculptor Mark Raynes Roberts celebrate Canada’s brightest literary figures in crystal form.
Themes in each writer’s work come to life through centuries-old stippling and intaglio diamond wheel engraving techniques. The end product: a carved in stone tribute to CanLit’s biggest names, Miriam Toews, Margaret Atwood, Joseph Boyden, Leonard Cohen and Margaret MacMillan among them. The project was no petty undertaking; the sculptures, plus an accompanying projected installation that consists of 150 photographs, was two years in the making, with Raynes Roberts travelling over 20,000 kilometres and snapping some 22,000 shots along the way. Each sculpture is displayed on a pedestal and flooded with light in the museum’s gift shop-adjacent space, allowing viewers to experience the work up close in great detail. Nearby, projected on a white wall were familiar faces in those 150 photos. The subjects who inspired the work and supporters of this gleaming artwork were on hand for the unveiling.
Among the guests were authors Anne Michaels, Rohinton Mistry, Toews and Jane Urquhart; The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson and author John Ralston Saul; National Arts Centre past president Jean Riley; finance type Michael Gundy and his wife Shauna; author Barry Callaghan and artist Claire Weissman Wilks; Cisco Systems VP of corporate affairs Willa Black; film producer Anne Marie La Traverse; Virtual Newsroom IZEA director Kara Wood; socialite Catherine Nugent and the Four Seasons Hotel’s Marc Dorfman; Senator Jerry Grafstein and his wife Carole; art advisor Natalie Ribkoff; philanthropist Wendy Myles; and jewellery designer Krystyne Griffin. The retail exhibition has been extended until Nov. 15.