Changing technologies, the rise of West Queen West and Toronto's building boom dominated the art scene this decade. Here's a list of the top 10 developments.
1. Photography in flux
Digital technology upped the scale of prints to wall-sized, as in Ed Burtynsky's big, beautiful photos of industrial devastation. Though many didn't abandon film entirely, photographers used digital tech to manipulate imagery in new ways (Jeff Wall, Scott McFarland, Michael Awad). Screens can now be any size, freeing moving pictures to play on tiny devices or as mammoth projections.
2. Queen West art boom
Love it or hate it, Jeff Stober's renovation of a once seedy flophouse into the so-hip-it-hurts Drake Hotel started a wildfire of arty gentrification in 2001. The Gladstone soon followed, courtesy of the Zeidler clan, with its own high-end cultural retrofit. Both projects brought galleries into the neighbourhood, and the once solidly working-class section between Lansdowne and Bathurst morphed into bobo heaven. Now, high-concept eateries, bars, galleries and condo developments wrestle for elbow room. Keep an eye on those property taxes.
Sixties conceptualism was a reaction against the primacy of painting. The word "conceptual" is now applied to performances, installations and any artwork that makes a self-reflexive statement. Conceptual art takes centre stage at many local galleries (the Power Plant, Diaz Contemporary), and four years of Nuit Blanche proved that installations can be crowd-pleasers.
4. Art festivals go big
Mega-festivals Nuit Blanche, Luminato, Contact and the Toronto International Art Fair (now renamed Art Toronto) have emerged over the last 10 years, triggering concurrent smaller events like the Queen West Art Crawl and the Junction Arts Festival. Add the slew of film fests that have grabbed onto the coattails of TIFF (slated to have its own sleek tower by next year) and it's obvious that Toronto is becoming a major cultural destination.
5. Edifice complex
Toronto museums join the quest spawned by Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao to draw visitors with architecture. Most find Gehry's AGO a success and Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg's Gardiner pretty good, despite the echoey restaurant, but Daniel Libeskind's ROM Crystal gets mixed reviews. Next up, Fumihiko Maki's Aga Khan Museum of Islamic Art.
6. Forever young
Winnipeg's wildly successful Marcel Dzama, whose ironic drawings mine childhood nightmares, is one inspiration for a generation of artists exploring the dark side of cartoons, kitsch and adolescence (Stephen Shearer, Shary Boyle). Meanwhile, local graffiti-ers like Elicser Elliott have joined the UK's Banksy to show in galleries.
7. Art market bubble and crash
Until 2008, art rode high on a market bubble. Cash gushed and new galleries opened monthly. But following last fall's crash, 10 private galleries closed across Toronto. And public galleries find art purchases and exhibition plans impossible due to plummeting endowments. Like it or not, the market's an undeniable game-changer.
8. Galleries seize their space
The MOCCA, once an obscure gallery above midtown, has commanded a central place on the cultural scene since its move downtown in 2005. Gallery TPW occupies a handsome new spot on the hotter-than-hot Ossington strip, and Mercer Union has moved into a historic cinema on Bloor, bringing three other galleries with it. And 401 Richmond solidified its place as one of our most happening cultural centres.
9. Exhibition Transport Services cut
The Harper feds' art-front fuck-ups are plentiful - National Portrait Gallery kibosh, anyone? But sometimes it's the lesser-known jabs that cut deepest. When Harper slashed the efficient, long-running Exhibition Transport Services in 2008, citizen-owned art could not travel across our - yes, Stevie! - freakishly vast nation, thus denying Canadians the chance to see it. Ri-effing-diculous.
10. Rising museum admission fees
Though Toronto's museum-reno mania garnered coveted international press coverage, it also led to doubled and tripled admission fees that made them the world's highest. Word to boards of directors: visitor-friendly displays don't mean nothing without citizen-friendly ticket prices.