CONTEMPORARY FINE ART AND CRAFTS TAKES OVER NATHAN PHILLIPS SQUARE JULY 6, 7 AND 8
Story by Kate Fane
Images provided by Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition
Rob Ford may not be Toronto’s most art-friendly mayor, but come July 6th, he’ll have to suck it up as the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition surrounds City Hall.
Let’s have a little history:
In June 1960, Toronto businessman and art patron Murray Koffler and his wife Marvelle visited an outdoor art fair in New York City’s Washington Square. Unfortunately, 1960s Toronto and New York were vastly different places. After the couple returned to Canada, they learned of two artists who were removed from City Hall for attempting to sell their work on civic property.
Thankfully, Koffler was able to use his substantial public standing (the man created Shoppers Drug Mart), as well as the talents of his artist contacts, to put together the first Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in the parking lot of the Four Seasons Motor-Hotel. Just seven years later after they removed the artists, the city embraced the new exhibition, and artists were now able to openly sell their work in front of City Hall.
The exhibition has come a long way since leaving the parking lot, and the TOAE is now the largest outdoor art show in Canada. Over its fifty years, more than 20,000 artists have shown at Nathan Phillips Square, granting unparalleled exposure for emerging talent and allowing the public the chance to view exciting contemporary art.
The exhibition can be a little manic, especially in the July heat, but leaving the gallery behind definitely has some benefits. Its location (right behind the skating rink) ensures that the show remains completely unpretentious, and the enormity of work on display means you can easily spend an entire afternoon in the square without getting bored. You may miss out on the standard free wine and cheese, but the TOAE gives visitors unparalleled access to the artists in a way that the traditional gallery opening often does not.
It may be a casual atmosphere, but the exhibition does some serious business. On average, more than $2 million in art sales are generated during the TOAE’s three-day run, not the mention the various prizes awarded to many participating artists.
TOAE runs July 6, 7 and 8 2012 at Nathan Phillips Square.