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Dupont Street Art District

Nude in the Woods, Jessica Groome, Erin Stump Projects.

With many of Toronto’s beloved galleries making the move to Dupont St., I decided to take a walk in the new gallery hub on a shockingly warm November day. With such a high population of contemporary galleries within a couple block radius, there is a real sense of a growing community.

Though at first the street felt slightly quiet and desolate, the moment I exited the underpass just west of Lansdowne and Dupont- the mood quickly changed.

Immediately I felt I was in a new part of the city, one that was clearly in the midst of developing into a unique and creative community.

On my tour, I visited 3 galleries in their new homes to take a look at their current exhibitions. I couldn’t help but notice that each gallery I visited was showcasing artists who were working in unique and incredibly tactile ways with manipulating material. You could see the artists touch in all of the pieces; there was a sense of preciousness and labour in their work.

Angell Gallery’s new space is the first one I hit. Located at 1444 Dupont St, in a large commercial building, in Unit 15. The space is beautiful, incredibly open with tall ceilings. The main space displays Neil Harrison’s Holding the View, a collection of large and colourful paintings by the Canadian artist, which play with form, design and symbols. The work is clean and engaging. The back space displays Toronto artist Talwst’s The History of Touches. This show consists of a series of miniature dioramas depicting intimate scenarios of private interactions. In each piece, we are brought in to a private moment, a narrative, which is carried out with the artist’s meticulous creation of these seemingly timeless scenes. Angell creates a very dynamic experience by contrasting the scale of Harrison’s massive paintings, with Talwst’s miniature dioramas.

The History of Touches, Talwst, Angell Gallery.

My next stop was Erin Stump Projects, located at 1558 Dupont St. ESP’s new home is definitely more spacious then its previous spot on Dundas Street West, and has tons of beautiful natural light. In the front space, The End of Vandalism, by Katie Lyle is on display. The works are a series of paintings that explore the connection between author and character. Through the use of layering, there becomes a depth to each character, a revealing and erasure, which is quite compelling. The back space displays Jessica Groome’s exhibition Nude in the Woods. Inspired by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s painting Dri Akte im Wald (Three Nudes in the Forest). Groome creates large scale geometric paintings on linen as well as paper collages, which really feel like sculptural based works. The cut out pieces create enigmatic shadows on the walls, and seem to come to life. Groomes’ use of colour, form and material is captivating.
Nude in the Woods, Jessica Groome, Erin Stump Projects.

My final stop was at Autumn Studios; located at 1620 Dupont St., Autumn’s new home is engaging and bright. On display is Lynda Cronin’s Arti-Fact, a series of print and object based works. Cronin creates a series of representations of found objects from the remains of a local school turned farmer’s field overlooking the Cookstone River. The work is incredibly tactile, with pieces stitched together and hand printed on vinyl. There is a sense of indexical play within the pieces, with the patterning of prints and the use of color. As a lovely final touch, the artist displays some of the physical artifacts in shadow boxes.

Arti-Fact, Lynda Cronin, Autumn Studios.

There is an incredible amount of captivating work in such a concentrated area. It is clear this new art hub is thriving, so I would absolutely suggest taking a walk along Dupont to check out everything it has to offer.

– Maddie Alexander