Artist and writer Shari Kasman is crowdfunding to publish a tribute to the frozen-in-time 70s shopping mall, which is slated for redevelopment
As the small shops and food kiosks within the Galleria Mall shutter and the site slowly readies for redevelopment, a local artist and writer is working to preserve the memory of the mall the way that many Torontonians experienced it: as a place frozen in time.
Shari Kasman is in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign for Galleria: The Mall That Time Forgot, a book that will memorialize the 46-year-old shopping mall at Dupont and Dufferin with a year’s worth of captioned photographs, history about the rise and fall of shopping malls, history about the site itself – which dates back as far as the 1800s – as well as statements from people in the community, some more loving than others.
For Kasman, a lifelong Torontonian, her fascination with the Galleria began in 2008 when she moved to nearby Bloor and Lansdowne.
“I found the mall really wacky and I thought it was charming,” she says. “There are no windows! You really could be in a different decade.”
In 2013, as the neighbourhood began to change, Kasman correctly guessed that the building, which was built in 1972, would not be long for this world. In fact, it sold to developers ELAD Canada and Freed Developments in 2015. So she started to take photographs of everything from the shops to the candy machines to the mall’s characteristic brown tiled floors and green-striped walls as an act of preservation. She’s even hosted guided tours of the site, which is slated to be redevleoped into eight residential towers comprising a total of 2,846 residential units.
Galleria Mall is not known for flattering lighting.
Those hundreds of photographs, which Kasman had previously turned into postcards and posters, will form the basis of the upcoming book.
Kasman also did a great deal of research for the project, hoping to answer a central question. “I became fascinated and curious at how it managed to stay untouched for so long,” she explains.
What she found, and what the book focuses on in greater detail, is that as early as 1980 there were efforts made to try and revitalize the 12-acre lot the mall sits on, including the interior of the mall itself.
“Ideas for change or proposals for changes just kept getting stalled,” Kasman says. “That’s not unlike how things work in the rest of Toronto.”
The Kickstarter campaign launched at the end of September and has a month to reach its $5,000 goal, which will cover the costs of the graphic design, editing and printing of the books. Kasman projects the actual printing of the limited run will take place in November.
More info and updates on the project can be found on the Kickstarter page.
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