MICHAEL AWAD at Nicholas Metivier Gallery (451 King West), to May 19. 416-205-9000; Patrick Cummins at Urbanspace Gallery (401 Richmond West), to May 31. 416-595-5900. See listing. Rating: NNNN
Ever since Ed Ruscha photographed Every Building On The Sunset Strip in 1966, artists everywhere have been creating continuous streetscapes. Two local photographers show that Toronto is as good a place as any for this treatment.
Updating a tradition that dates back to 19th-century pre-cinema pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, Michael Awad uses various forms of digital technology to depict movement through space and time. He journeys through graffiti-painted laneways or the Bloor subway from Islington to Warden and observes the changing crowd at the Santa Claus parade or on the Eaton Centre escalators.
Capitalizing on our conditioning to read from right to left, he composes rectangles of stacked horizontal photos digitally joined into continuous panoramas. The strip-like structure makes the photos appear somewhat uniform from a distance, but up close the detailed images provide a lot of visual fun, capturing Toronto's busy human congestion as well as familiar architecture.
Patrick Cummins has been documenting Toronto streets for three decades. His three-level panoramas of the same addresses on Queen Street and other locations shot in the 80s, 90s and 00s, which he calls "collations," track changing neighbourhoods and gentrification. He celebrates the humble vernacular architecture of convenience stores, tiny shack-like dwellings and laneway garages in panels called "typologies."
For those of us who've always loved the city's eccentric structures and DIY storefronts, Cummins is both historian and kindred spirit.