Anxiety. My boss and I have little over a week to pull off our part in one of the biggest art shows the city has to offer: Art Toronto (formerly Toronto International Art Fair) opening Thu, Oct 22 at the Convention Centre.
I’m an assistant and installer for a Queen West art gallery. I have worked the strip for the last 10 years, watching the art district grow and expand. But I readily confess to being unprepared mentally or otherwise for art fairs. I have the management skills of Annie Potts’ Iona in Pretty in Pink and the organizational skills of Delta Burkes’ Suzanne Sugarbaker, so when it comes to art fairs it’s a struggle to get my game face on. It’s a gauntlet — endless chatter, greeting visitors, clients, artists and curators, always promoting the gallery, always selling. Thanks to a steady stream of double Americanos and sexy-looking exhibitors to cruise and schmooze the stress just cruises away.
The fair celebrates its 10th year with a renewed focus on Canadian art. Jeffrey Spalding, past director and chief curator of Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, is in charge of a special project this year, Heartland. As quoted on the Art Toronto site, Spalding “intends to reflect upon the growing strength of Canadian art and to advocate on behalf of its diversity, vitality and pertinence.”
For those with their eyes set on something a bit intellectual and a bit of exercise, power walk to the Power Plant (231 Queens Quay W). Keynote speaker, and perhaps pinup for all you polar bear lovers, Richard Flood kicks off Power Talks, a great series of discussions around the stability of the art world.
Now if you’re like me — someone who parties all the time and has little or no money left over for food let alone original art — you might be swayed by ArtAccess, the perfect program for those afraid to buy art or who don’t like entering galleries for fear of pressure buying. Art professionals, in partnership with the Art Dealers Association of Canada, are on hand to educate and coddle you, to tell you art is good and that maybe someday you might want to buy some. It’s all about baby steps.
UpArt is a not-to-be-missed ancillary event at the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W; $8). Less the stock market, home show environment of the Convention Centre, UpArt is more a chance to chill-out with art. Curated by Barbara Gilbert and Chris Mitchell, this year’s theme is Rooms of Wonder, transforming the hotel and its second floor into a backdrop for site-specific works.