Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art
Visual art is one of Toronto's biggest freebies. Galleries rarely charge admission, and when it comes to art openings, you not only get to see some heady exhibits, you get face time with artists and can even score snacks and drinks.
Most galleries are open Tuesday or Wednesday through Saturday, and you can make an afternoon of it by taking in a bunch of shows in the same neighbourhood.
Here are some of our favourite itineraries: There's one-stop viewing at 401 Richmond, home to Gallery 44, Open Studio, A Space, Prefix, Abbozzo, Red Head, WARC, YYZ and Vtape with its fun screening room.
Angell, Paul Petro, Propeller, Katharine Mulherin, Gladstone, Stephen Bulger, Clint Roenisch and General Hardware are just a few of the art spaces on or near Queen West from Shaw to Parkdale.
On Dundas near Ossington, check out Gallery TPW, LE Gallery, Cooper Cole and Loop. On Tecumseth south of Queen find Diaz, Susan Hobbs, Georgia Scherman and Birch. Cheap storefronts and industrial spaces have made Bloor and Lansdowne a hot art nabe, with Scrap Metal, Mercer Union, Robert Kananaj, Daniel Faria and Arsenal/Division.
Don't forget our museums. They do offer some free access. Visit the Art Gallery of Ontario gratis Wednesdays from 6 to 8:30 pm (prices are discounted for ticketed exhibits), and the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art on the third Friday of the month from 4 to 9 pm.
Lakeside contemporary art mecca the Power Plant is now free all the time, with an upcoming show of narrative installations by Britain's Mike Nelson and Sunday Scene talks by local luminaries. And remember the excellent photography, craft and art exhibits next door at Harbourfront's York Quay Centre.
There's never an admission charge to the cutting-edge shows at university galleries Ryerson Image Centre, U of T Art Centre, Justina M. Barnicke, Doris McCarthy, Blackwood and Art Gallery of York U.
Look for free buses that take you to receptions at the more far-flung locations or on Sunday tours.