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2 min

Parkdale love affair

Lab Cab Festival features queer Mexican-Torontonian artist Ulises Regalado

André and Ulises — an art couple with hands deep in Parkdale’s Lab Cab Festival. Credit: -

When André du Toit and Ulises Regalado met at a Pride party, it was no accident. The artist/producer pair, who have been together for seven years and married just over five, met through a sneaky introduction. Regalado was a new arrival from Mexico enjoying Toronto’s festivities for the first time. A mutual friend with eyes on setting them up told du Toit about a fresh-faced boy about to spend his first Pride alone. Playing a somewhat similar card with Regalado, she told him it was she who was facing a Pride of solitude and begged him to accompany her to the party.

The friend’s manipulative ways played out for the best, and the pair were married a year and a half later. At the time, du Toit was working as a theatrical lighting designer and producer, though Regalado (a photographer) hadn’t yet begun his current career path.

“When we first me, I had no interest whatsoever in art,” Regalado says. “In fact, I knew very little about anything arts related. But being with him brought this new experience of producing art and how rewarding it can be.”

“But you’ve always been interested in taking photographs, your whole life, right?” du Toit interjects.

“Just for my personal satisfaction,” Regalado adds. “But now that I have more knowledge, I can see the potential of allowing others to enjoy what I see.”

Regalado’s exhibition for the Lab Cab Festival features a series of 10 photographs focusing on small architectural and natural details in Toronto and Oaxaca, Mexico, his “two home towns.”

“Although I consider myself a Torontonian now, I very strongly connect to my home country of Mexico,” he says. “With these pieces, I want to join both parts of my life, which in a way I see as an analogy of André and me.”

While Regalado is busy hanging his show, du Toit will be managing the whole show, as the festival’s artistic producer. Born as a monthly cabaret series at Factory Theatre in 2000, Lab Cab became a full-fledged festival in 2006, filling the former Victorian mansion’s many nooks and crannies with all manner of art. This year’s event (which du Toit co-helms with Aviva Armour-Ostroff) spreads out to fill more than 70 venues in Parkdale with visual art, theatre, dance, comedy, crafts and film.

“It’s grown as our lives together have grown,” du Toit says. “When we first moved in together, the place was in Parkdale, and as I got to know the neighbourhood, I really fell in love with it. When we decided to move the festival, Parkdale seemed an obvious choice, as there’s so much to showcase in terms of the interesting buildings and stores, and there are also so many artists living here. It’s also my neighbourhood. I’ve never felt like my art has been as connected to a neighbourhood as it has with the Lab Cab Festival and living here. Being part of the community Lab Cab is celebrating definitely increases local pride.”