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Art Toronto Dealer Poll: Hometown Hopes

Metro Toronto Convention Centre October 24 to 28, 2013

Deciding to do Art Toronto can present a difficult choice for local dealers. Some choose to do the fair, while others try to attract out-of-town visitors to their existing Toronto galleries. Yet others do the fair in alternate years, splitting the difference. Here, five great Toronto galleries who are at the fair this year weigh in with their thoughts.


STEPHEN BULGER GALLERY, TORONTO (BOOTH 824)
STEPHEN BULGER, PRESIDENT

Doing any art fair generally involves a large expense. Why did you choose to use your resources for a booth at Art Toronto?

I think it is a good investment because you can meet new people, reconnect with clients and have social time with friends and colleagues. The paybacks are numerous.

In five words (or less) how would you describe your gallery’s interests or program?

Appreciating great photographs, all types.

What artists or artworks are you showing in your Art Toronto booth? Why?

Alison Rossiter, Sarah Anne Johnson and John Vanderpant. I decided to show only unique photographs, so the selection of Alison for a solo booth made great sense. For the outside walls I am showing an exciting piece from Sarah Anne Johnson’s newest series entitled Wonderlust; and a terrific vintage 1920s photograph by Vanderpant, one of the great modernist photographers, who happened to be Canadian.

What other art fairs do you show at?

AIPAD, New York; ParisPhoto; Classic Photographs LA and a small fair in Pittsburgh.

Who would you say is your favourite artist that you do not represent?

Michael Snow.

As a returning dealer, how do you think Art Toronto could improve?

I can’t say that I enjoy the show running on Monday. I’m happy to call it a day on Sunday night.

 


MULHERIN, TORONTO (BOOTH 1106)
KATHARINE MULHERIN, CURATOR/DIRECTOR

Doing any art fair generally involves a large expense. Why did you choose to use your resources for a booth at Art Toronto?

Having participated in the Toronto art scene for so many years, it seems important to present at Art Toronto from time to time. Sometimes we skip a year in Toronto if we are going elsewhere, but in general it seems like an advertising budget well spent. We get some immediate results and meet collectors that just haven’t been to the gallery.

In five words (or less) how would you describe your gallery’s interests or program?

We are contemporary, experimental, thoughtful, playful. We respect studio practice and ideas.

What artists or artworks are you showing in your Art Toronto booth? Why?

Dean Baldwin, Annie MacDonell, Mike Bayne, Oscar de Las Flores, Kris Knight and others. They are key players in our gallery program.

What other art fairs do you show at?

We’ve shown at Armory in New York, VOLTA in New York and Basel, Untitled in Miami, Art Los Angeles Contemporary in LA, and lots of others over the last 10 years.

Who would you say is your favourite artist that you do not represent?

Wow…that’s tough…Bruce Nauman? Brad Phillips?

As a returning dealer, how do you think Art Toronto could improve?

I think the model it has is a good one. It’s a more traditional kind of fair, but it works.

 


MKG127, TORONTO (BOOTH 1212)
MICHAEL KLEIN, DIRECTOR

Doing any art fair generally involves a large expense. Why did you choose to use your resources for a booth at Art Toronto?

Every year I am introducing the gallery to new people as well seeing people who I see once a year, at Art Toronto.

In five words (or less) how would you describe your gallery’s interests or program?

Diverse, conceptual, inventive, rigorous, fun.

What artists or artworks are you showing in your Art Toronto booth? Why?

Sky Glabush, David R. Harper, Laura Kikauka, Laurel Woodcock, Geoffrey Pugen, Ken Nicol, and John Marriott are some of the artists whose works will be featured.

Some of these artists have had a high-profile year, featured in magazines, important exhibitions, etc.; some have made exciting new work that is being shown for the first time; some have never had work shown by the gallery before; and others are consistently popular at Art Toronto.

What other art fairs do you show at?

MKG127 has exhibited in fairs in Miami Beach, Los Angeles and most recently Chicago.

Who would you say is your favourite artist that you do not represent?

Ed Ruscha.

As a returning dealer, how do you think Art Toronto could improve?

I would like to see more visitors coming from other countries.

 

PAUL PETRO CONTEMPORARY ART, TORONTO (BOOTH 1008)
PAUL PETRO, DIRECTOR

You are a Toronto gallery. Why invest in a booth at Art Toronto, which isn’t all that far from your space?

Well, even living in Toronto you can sometimes feel like you’re a well-kept secret in your own hometown.

And for me, being from Toronto all my life, I get to see people from different branches and parts of my life that I don’t always see on Queen Street. So it’s a great occasion to say hi to people on that level.

Because it’s a strong regional fair, it’s also a gratifying opportunity to talk with colleagues. And we have curators across the country who don’t have budgets to fly everywhere, so this is a real opportunity for them to see and do a lot.

There’s always the acquisition imperative, and on that level we always do well. I mean, it’s expensive temporary real estate, but it is always a great experience.

How would you describe the work you are presenting this year?

Some of the words that have come up so far in feedback are soulful, magical, earthy and poignant.

For instance, we have works by Robert Flack and Stephen Andrews and Will Munro hanging together. The 20th anniversary of Rob’s passing was this month. I showed his final body of work, which he produced in ’92, and I showed it in the same space where I had shown Will’s final body of work. There are very strong, deep, beautiful connections there, and in each case, these artists were producing what they knew would be their final bodies of work—what they would leave for us. That’s very powerful.

Stephen and Rob were studiomates. Even formally, we can talk on a number of levels about how these works play out together.

What’s great is that visitors to the booth are often seeing that bigger picture for me. The fair pays terrific dividends that way, psychically. You get to step out of yourself a little bit when you’re at a fair versus the same spot on Queen. You get to see the connections. And people are often more frank and intimate in their feedback at a fair than they are in the gallery.

Are there any recommendations or wishes for change that you have at the fair?

Well, my original hope and expectation for the fair hasn’t played out the way I always imagined it would. But I’ve adapted to appreciating what its strengths are as a strong regional fair.

On the strengths side, we live in an exceptional country with an incredible diversity that no other country can claim, and it makes us very culture-forward. It’s really interesting to see how those particles get assimilated and then put back out through art. I think we’re privileged in that regard.

But you know, we’re also a cautious society that takes time making up its mind about things. This has become the tradition, not impulse.

So my original expectation for the fair was that it would be a draw for collectors from elsewhere to seize a terrific opportunity to come to Toronto and experience the fair, of course, but also appreciate the other things that Toronto can offer in the form of amazing hotels and restaurants, cultural institutions that are top-notch, and an array of private collections to visit. One would like to see the trustees from different museums from further afield coming here and seizing that opportunity. I don’t have a sense of that happening yet.

 

ERIN STUMP PROJECTS, TORONTO (BOOTH 1202)
ERIN STUMP, DIRECTOR

You’re a Toronto dealer. Why invest in an Art Toronto booth?

In September I just moved locations, so it is sort of a perfect opportunity to let people know that I shifted from Queen to Dundas. Also, last year I had such great success and a really good experience. I was happy to participate again.

Also, as much the Toronto fair doesn’t draw the same collectors and curators that New York might, this is our community; the people that are going to support you throughout the year are the ones coming out. To me, it’s about [building relationships that are] going beyond one night—like, many months beyond one evening. Like in January and February—that’s when you really need the Toronto community to come out to shows and support you!

What other fairs are you doing or planning on doing?

So far I’ve only done Art Toronto and Papier. But I’m very interested in doing the New York fairs and Miami fairs someday. In the spring I visited Frieze New York, which is just like the ultimate fair in terms of experiencing art. It’s huge, it’s a beautiful tent, the work has so much room, it’s displayed well, they have these amazing solo booths where you can really understand the artist and their project. Frieze, to me, is the marker: it changed my mind about the possibility of what fairs could be.

How did you decide what to show in the booth this year?

I decided to display artists who either had just had a show or have a show coming up, almost as a promotion of programming. And I kept it pretty minimal with the decision to sort of switch it up midway through. The next show is Elise Rasmussen; Jessica Groome is the current show; Naomi Yasui I’m actually doing a project with at Battat Contemporary in Montreal in November so, it kind of has to do with promoting projects.

How would you like Art Toronto to grow or change?

It’s hard, because as much as ideally we would love a Frieze or Independent—you know, one of these beautiful, really experimental fairs that are in huge tents—I’m happy.

I know there are a lot of criticisms in terms of Art Toronto. It’s tough. The community really comes to it—the collectors are here, the buyers are here, the corporate people are here. I get to see all the faces and it’s so nice to see them once a year—remind them you exist, remind them you’re still curating shows!

Also there is a divide in the show that everybody knows about—between the contemporary work and the more commercial work. I guess there’s buyers who don’t even bother going to one side [of the exhibition hall] or the other—it likely goes both ways.

These responses have been edited and condensed. For daily updates on Art Toronto visit canadianart.ca/arttoronto or see us at Booth 940 at the fair.

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