Where to hang
Butterfield Park, under Will Alsop’s spaceship on stilts, is not only a gathering place for OCAD arties, but one of T.O.’s most enthralling new urban spaces. A stage for art and public space events when it’s not a hangout for students, Butterfield is an edgy place to become entangled in your thoughts. The stilts dance like a giant tarantula’s legs in the light and dark of the setting sun. Freaky.
If you’re walking along Dundas West in the vicinity of McCaul and some frowning kids dressed in tattered second-hand Ts or fluorescent 90s-revival hipster track jackets start judging your pleated and cuffed Dockers, Hollister hoodie and frosted tips, you’ve probably stumbled onto the Ontario College of Art and Design neighbourhood.
OCAD is the big time when it comes to art and design schooling in Canada, and while your parents have (hopefully) accepted that you’re not going to be a brain surgeon or Supreme Court justice, you can still surprise them with the information that OCAD is now a real university.
Yup, the name OCAD is a little misleading, but OUAD is nearly impossible to roll off the tongue. Regardless, its bachelor of fine arts or bachelor of design diploma is the real deal.
You also can’t beat the prime location. You can see U of T from here, so you get to watch all those kids freak out about their lack of direction, and you get Queen West, which, if it were in a fun fight with Bloor, would win hands down.
A major issue here is finding more exhibition space. The student union is pushing the school to invest in new property for gallery spaces because student art is being forced to compete in the regular market
Amid its cluster of buildings, OCAD’s Sharp Centre attracts the most attention. Completed in 2004, it was designed by Will Alsop, though I’m pretty sure I designed it first as a toddler playing with Lego and pencil crayons. The building has won a few awards, and there are always a couple of tourists hanging about calling it “inspiring” or “hideous.” Inside, students learn that kerning is not the process that makes popcorn delicious.
Next door is the Art Gallery of Ontario, where we’ll eventually have a Gehry to call our own.