The annual event returns to Nathan Philips Square with more than 370 vendors as well as installations, performances and a beer garden
TORONTO OUTDOOR ART FAIR at Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen West). Friday-Sunday (July 12-14). Fri-Sat 10 am-7 pm, Sun 10 am-5 pm. Free. torontooutdoor.art.
The 58th edition of Canada’s leading contemporary outdoor art fair takes over Nathan Phillips Square with the theme Art: Unwalled. In addition to showcasing the works of 370 artists, the fair is offering art talks and tours, installations, performances, a beer garden, children’s activities and more.
Friday night features synth-electro grooves from Pantayo and there will be dance performances by Anandam Dance Theatre at the Cascading Beer Garden on Saturday and Sunday. Plus, graffiti artists from StreetARTToronto will be painting a mural on site all weekend.
Here are 20 booths to peruse at this year’s event.
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Drawing on her background in architecture and goldsmithing, Nguyen creates wearable art and crafts, often working at the intersection of contemporary design, humans and earthly matter. As a Vietnamese-born Canadian, Nguyen says her family and the hardships of immigration often inspire her art. “I find strength knowing my history and passing it on in the form of art to others,” she tells NOW. Nguyen has a BFA from OCAD and is an artist-in-residence at Harbourfront Centre.
After graduating from OCAD, Jung opened a woodshop in her garage in 2016 to pursue her passion for woodworking. She designs custom furniture and detailed wooden decor and believes that wooden pieces can add immense warmth to any space. “My main focus is to add a little joy and calmness in my pieces, imagining what people see in the textures, colours, shapes and forms of the wood,” she says.
Zoric explores themes of human experience in her high-contrast oil paintings, focusing on stories of triumph and power. Her latest work challenges people to embrace their scars and damage, an idea inspired by Kintsugi, the Japanese art form of repairing broken pottery to create something beautiful and new.
Trained in architecture, fine art and graphic design, Tony describes his work as “breaking all colour rules to define all colour rules.” His vibrant pieces have been published in numerous magazines, shown at museums and even applied to sneakers. His inspirations are just as eclectic as his output, citing nature, folk stories, music and god as his biggest creative motivations.
A paper artist from Montreal, Gaudette’s work has been shown across Quebec, as well as at art fairs in Miami and Seattle. Lately his pieces articulate around the theme of crumpling paper to form sculptures, but he also incorporates the use of aluminum, plaster, aerosol and lots of pencils. “In the act of crumpling a paper, there is an action, a movement, an irregular shape that’s unique to each,” he explains. “The paper evokes for me at once a lightness, but also a complexity that can be found in life itself.”
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Based in London, Ontario, Forbes’s playful and story-driven art is created by incorporating needlework and embroidery techniques onto found images and materials. Her pieces often explore themes of nostalgia, fantasy and memory, and she is inspired by textile artists Michelle Kingdom and Amanda McCavour as well as films. Currently, she is working on a series based on a fictional motel where the rooms are occupied by an odd assortment of guests. “I like to explore the idea of physical places becoming containers for memories,” she says.
Working with vintage black-and-white photographs of strangers, Scott obscures the portraits by removing their surrounding context before using them as a reference point for his figurative oil paintings. “I consider the paintings within the Adoption Series to be a portrait of the secret itself,” she says, adding that they’re “psychological portraits.”
Combining sculpture and painting, Mansur’s pieces are 3D sculptures placed in flat, acrylic boxes and covered with translucent lenses, which creates shifting hued shadows. He finds inspiration in colours and shadows found in everyday life, but avoids specific themes in his work, instead inviting viewers to draw their own conclusions.
Breakfast foods and doughnuts are just some of the kiln-formed glass pieces made by Panabaker. “I call these works ‘sculptural still life’ as they’re usually life-sized and fully intended to fool the viewer, at least at first glance,” she says. Inspired by the long-standing tradition of trompe l’oeil, Panabaker hopes that her glass sculptures spark a sense of nostalgia, especially to viewers who grew up in the 60s and 70s.
The Toronto-based jeweller received her BFA in Jewellery Design and Metalsmithing from NSCAD in 2015. Influenced by infrastructure, colour and pattern, Dodds describes her art as “industrial camp” and “contemporary kitsch.” Unique to her work is the use of powder coating, an industrial fishing technique that improves the durability of any type of metal.
Based in Montreal, Moreau uses an analogue camera to capture her photographs of tourist places, such as motels, hotels, playgrounds, public pools and amusement parks. “I’m currently working on a series that presents my journey through the mourning of a loved one and tries to get rid of the rituals,” she says. “The photographs I take then becomes a ritual in itself.”
The Toronto-based ceramicist and recent Sheridan College graduate rides the line between form and function in her work. O’Toole’s pieces are inspired by memories and daydreams as well as objects growing mold in the back of her fridge. “I create figurative objects that play between domesticity and a mirage of what could be,” she explains. “Colour, glaze and playful forms created in series. Each pot is a stepping stone for the next.”
A graduate of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Strong’s paintings explore physical things to evoke the intangible. In her Entanglement series, rubber bands act as a metaphor for our psychological landscapes. “The forms are stand-ins for landscape [sky, roads, hills, snow] and other material things [bubblegum, honey, clouds, skin, arteries] as well as how life’s experiences intertwine and overlap,” she explains.
The fibre artist describes her work as “a colourful and soft explosion of abstract faces and pop culture icons made of yarn, fabric and shiny things.” Her pieces include art dolls, abstract textile faces and yarn bombs, to name a few. Inspired by handmade quilts and afghans as well as textiles from the 1970s and 80s, McRonald tends to source her materials from garage sales and junk shops.
The Toronto-based self-taught painter focuses on abstract images inspired by a mix of lowbrow art, graffiti and graphic design. Playing with positive vs negative space, light vs dark and physical vs abstract forms to create dynamic paintings, the artist states, “The elements of each piece always urges your eyes to move through the painting in search of something.”
A recent grad of OCAD’s illustration program, Lougheed primarily works with paint on a variety of surfaces including fabric and wooden blocks. Inspired by folk art and artists like Ben Shahn, R.B. Kitaj, Eleanor Davis and Nicole Eisenman, Lougheed’s paintings deal with recurring themes of warmth and discomfort, power dynamics and reality.
With a fine arts degree from India, Kaur creates both 2D and 3D art inspired by personal narratives of migration, nature and the concept of home. “My work is my process of understanding and tuning into the things that matter to me: robust ecosystems, healthy communities, vibrant hives, safe sanctuaries and webs of reciprocity,” she says.
The Toronto-based photographer uses large-format film to create shots that aren’t digitally manipulated. Often her work follows the themes of nature, altered landscapes, human interaction with nature and floral still life. Arcuri’s latest series, A Shot In The Dark, features dead floral bouquets and decorative plants ignited by flames and then lit through stained glass windows. “The series works through failed hopes and rituals of letting go,” Arcuri adds.
Tung’s jewellery uses lost-wax casting, fabrication and assembly to explore 3D art and design on a miniature scale. “I have a playful design process that challenges traditional expectations of luxury in jewellery,” she explains. Tung uses gold and gemstones for experimental designs and atypical materials like pearls and colourful acrylic to create her bold pieces.
Pinheiro paints urban landscapes distilled into simple geometric shapes so that few details identifying the subject’s location, usually within Toronto, remain. “I use public transportation and laneways as symbols to show what is missed. They’re also places that aren’t perceived as beautiful,” he says. “The speed of urban living reduces the opportunity to experience the beauty of urban landscapes.”