TORONTO OUTDOOR ART EXHIBITION at Nathan Philips Square (100 Queen West), Friday-Sunday (July 7-9). Free. 416-408-2754, www.torontooutdoorart.org. Rating: NNNNN
Celebrating its 45th year, the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is firmly entrenched as a perennial institution. The eclectic hodge-podge of crafts and fine art not only gives over 100,000 passersby access to some great affordable art; it also provides 500 artists with the opportunity to pocket some cash.
If you think of the show as a quaint, overgrown tchotchke-fest, you might be surprised at the numbers. Director Alison Eagles 's modest estimate of last year's sales was $1.5 to $2 million, all of it going straight into the artists' pockets (minus the $300 registration fee, of course). Rumour has it one artist made $60,000 in three days last year.
The noteworthy names of some artists also indicate a flourishing exhibition. Photographer Jesse Boles returns with his industrial landscapes, Scott Griffin offers some encaustic works, and 2004 Royal Bank painting competition winner Dionne Simpson presents her shredded canvas cityscapes.
As you wander through, keep an eye out for Ken Gangbar , who last year declined to set up a booth and instead spent a whole day laying a 10-square-foot plot of sod. Over in the student ghetto, OCAD's Danielle Greer , who makes silhouette cut-outs of people on the backs of photographs, might remind you of Chris Curreri.
Don't miss Dan Bi 's expert use of traditional Chinese paper cutting. With a delicate hand, he cuts designs from sheets of paper. Good Luck, in red, brings together the animals of the Chinese zodiac with such intricacy that you can't imagine drawing it, let alone cutting it out. Mount Huangshan, in black paper, is nearly as sublime as the Anhui province heritage site itself.
Lesley-Anne Green 's clay, wood and cloth dolls will also be hot items this weekend. Charisma Plus! stands 10 inches tall and is so gorgeously, earnestly ugly that there could be a fight to take her home.