Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition: A 55-Year Legacy

By Samantha Rodin, Visual Arts Editor, LaVaLab, visualarts@lavalab.ca

 

55 years ago, a few art enthusiasts returning from an outdoor art fair in New York embarked on creating opportunities for artists in Toronto after their dismay with the news that two artists were forced to remove their work from City Hall after attempting to sell on public property [read full history here].

 

This opportunity resulted in the creation of Canada’s largest and longest running juried outdoor art exhibition know as the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (TOAE).

Image: Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in Nathan Phillips Square

 

As described on the TOAE’s website, the exhibition “works to advance the knowledge and appreciation of art through outdoor public exhibitions. TOAE prides itself on creating an environment which gives artists the chance to interact directly with the public in an informal setting – removing the barriers to access, and dispelling the formality of a traditional gallery or art fair experience.”

Over 300 artists participate in 14 categories, offering hand-made originals to 100,000 visitors attending the exhibition every year.

The belief that artists should be given a public and accessible platform to sell their work directly to consumers and the success that came out of making it possible has spawned a culture of art fairs across Canada and has kept TOAE going strong for over half a century.

The organizers of TOAE have preserved the essence of the fair’s original spirit by keeping the tents planted in Nathan Phillips square and have injected new energy through programming such as Art Now; an outdoor exhibition of non-commercial contemporary art, Art Hear speaker series and an opening night party. With strong new leadership in the appointment of Executive Director, Anahita Azrahimi, and Chair, Alex Ciappara, the exhibition is sure to take things to new heights in 2016.

The 55th exhibition will take place July 8th – 10th and artist applications are being accepted until March 6th. There’s still time to apply and have your names associated with the likes of notable artists such as Ken Danby, David Blackwood, Joanne Tod, Jennifer Stead and Harlan House, who exhibited at the art fair early in their respective careers.

Visit http://torontooutdoorart.org for more on the exhibition and artist submission process. 


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