If you ever want to get on my good side, it never hurts to put your art in a space that isn’t white or cubic. I’ve seen exhibitions in a church, a school, an abandoned architecture office, a house, a satchel, a bunch of wading pools, and random places throughout the city including some memorable parking garages. While the standard gallery provides a neutral space for artists to do their thing, the outside world brings art and life together in a way that – when it works – is mutually beneficial. If I had the time, I might even argue that art woven into the fabric of everyday spaces is the best way to experience it. Suffice to say: when you send me the exhibition invite to your alternative space, you’ll have me at “site-specific.”
Art Spin is a Toronto-based organization that brings together bike tours with gallery crawls. They also curate their own pop-up annual exhibition; the most recent one took place this past weekend in a heritage-protected, but long dormant building (that also appeared in a Drake video) on the creative hub that is Sterling Road. It’s just the type of place you expect to see an exhibition of edgy young artists carving out a space for themselves in the city: industrial, cavernous, raw, dusty, dim, somewhat dangerous. Given the unique environment, the participants who most succeeded in bring their game were those who built on what they found. I’m not sure what is accomplished by hanging a painting on a wall here; it seems no different that it would in a gallery. Making use of the space, as Lois Schklar did with her wire sculpture, is really what made this a memorable experience. Noel Middleton did it with a shrine to some abject geometric deity that looked like it might have been found here by the curators. And Marcus Heckmann‘s laser art interacted with the architecture to turn a dead elevator shaft into the frame for his light show.