Officially designated the ‘West Queen West Art and Design District’, West Queen West was one of Vogue’s ’15 Coolest Neighborhoods in the World’. In addition to quirky cafés and trendy shops, the area is also home to the largest concentration of art galleries in the city. Here are ten worth checking out.
Birch Contemporary is a cutting-edge gallery that exhibits the work of emerging and mid-career artists from Canada and the United States. Formerly known as Birch Libralato, the gallery is set in an inconspicuous warehouse-like setting. A subtle arrow work by Toronto-based multimedia artist Micah Lexier provides the only clue to the gallery’s location for passers-by. Inside, the gallery showcases artwork across two large exhibition spaces. The curators here generally favour more conceptual work, and feature pieces by a number of notable contemporary artists, including abstract painter Jaan Poldaas and Dutch photographer Toni Hafkenscheid.
Birch Contemporary, 129 Tecumseth St, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 365 3003
Alison Milne Gallery
The Alison Milne Gallery began as the studio of interior designer Alison Milne and has since emerged as a showroom of innovative contemporary art. Exhibitions are featured in a relaxed environment where guests can sit on the furniture and take their time admiring the artwork. The gallery collaborates with emerging and mid-career artists, showcasing local artists and introducing names from abroad to Toronto’s art market. Eight exhibitions are presented annually, featuring everything from painting and photography to sculpture and installation.
Alison Milne Gallery, 198 Walnut Ave. Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 203 6266
Edward Day Gallery
Edward Day Gallery is dedicated to showcasing Canadian and international art in a range of mediums. Representing both emerging and established artists, the gallery presents a diverse exhibition schedule of drawings, sculpture, photography and painting. Founded in 1991 in Kingston, Ontario, the gallery moved to Toronto’s Yorkville district and then on to West Queen West. The gallery is moving again and will be reopening in the spring in a new location.
To stay up to date on their relocation, follow them on Twitter.
Georgia Scherman Projects
Opened in 2006 and in its current location since 2008, the Georgia Scherman Projects is defined by its philosophy of prioritizing freedom of expression over commercial value. The gallery encourages collaboration between established and emerging artists, presenting work in a wide variety of mediums, pushes the boundaries of typical commercial gallery exhibitions. For example, it has presented private collections that are not for sale but are meant to expose Canadians to the work of local and international artists.
Georgia Scherman Projects, 133 Tecumseth St, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 554 4112
Half studio, half gallery, Graven Feather is an accessible space open to art enthusiasts and novices alike. Although it’s only officially open three days a week, visitors can stop by nearly anytime to see owners Pam Lobb and Erin Candela at work. The gallery hosts a variety of contemporary exhibitions including ‘In the Round’, an annual group show featuring circular art pieces created by more than 100 artists in a variety of media. In addition to exhibitions, the gallery hosts letterpress workshops, artistic residences, art lectures, and other events.
Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Arts Projects
An important force on Toronto’s contemporary art scene since opening her first gallery, BUSgallery, in 1998, Katharine Mulherin’s Contemporary Arts Projects has expanded over the years, with two galleries in Queen West and a satellite space in Manhattan. One of Toronto’s most respected gallery spaces, the Katharine Mulherin Contemporary Arts Projects has played a significant role in developing West Queen West’s now-exciting art scene. The gallery hosts regular exhibitions by up-and-coming and mid-career Canadian and international artists, typically focusing on artwork that incorporates an underlying narrative.
Propeller is an artist-run gallery founded in 1996 by a group of graduates from OCAD University. Although the gallery collaborates with artists at various points in their careers, a large number of its members are students or recent graduates. With a focus on networking and education opportunities, the gallery gives art students a chance to showcase their work outside their school galleries and enhance their professional development. The gallery also hosts regular solo and group exhibitions, in addition to curated and juried shows. The mediums range from printmaking to ceramics and artists are always present to talk about their work.
Propeller, 984 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, 1 416 504 7142
Stephen Bulger Gallery
Stephen Bulger Gallery is committed to exhibiting the work of historical and contemporary photographers. The gallery works with international and Canadian artists, mainly hosting exhibitions by mid-career and established artists. Presenting solo and group exhibitions, the gallery tends to favour documentary photographers that tell a story through their work. In addition to frequently-rotating exhibitions, the gallery hosts free film screenings on Saturdays, houses thousands of photography-related books, and assists collectors in locating specific prints. The gallery regularly introduces Canadian artists to wider audiences at international art fairs, and plays an active role in Toronto’s own CONTACT, the largest photography event in the world.
Stephen Bulger Gallery, 1026 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 504 0575
Twist Gallery aims to be a more approachable exhibition space, welcoming both experienced collectors and new enthusiasts. A former graphic designer, director Nadia Kakridonis draws on her experiences as a young artist to foster other emerging talents. The gallery is open to exhibitions in any medium, showcasing work by both up-and-coming and established artists. The loft-style space is undeniably beautiful, with high ceilings, French arch windows, and exposed brick. In addition to hosting a new art exhibition each month, the gallery also serves as a venue for weddings, receptions, and other events during evenings and weekends.
Twist Gallery, 1100 Queen St W, Toronto, ON, Canada, +1 416 588 222
By Jessica Dawdy