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Gallery Hop 2011: Gala Goodies, Terrific Talks

A sold-out crowd enjoys Jon Sasaki’s northern lights–themed chandelier at the Canadian Art Gallery Hop Gala and Auction on Wednesday evening / photo Chris Healey

The sold-out Canadian Art Gallery Hop Gala and Auction was the place to be in Toronto on Wednesday night as bidding became heated over works like Revelation 34 by Micah Lexier—the prominent Toronto artist who’s also been collected by the British Museum and Saks Fifth Avenue—and Transcendental Capacities (Santo & Johnny – Sleepwalk) by Jeremy Shaw, a Vancouver artist currently showing at MoMA PS1. In attendance were hundreds of well-known artists, collectors, dealers and curators who enjoyed installations by artist Jon Sasaki and a special dinner by Jamie Kennedy.

The energetic gala is the annual fundraiser for the Canadian Art Foundation and its many educational programs, like the free Gallery Hop tours, talks and panel happening this Saturday in venues across Toronto.

Kicking off the Gallery Hop activities on Saturday is a morning panel at the TIFF Bell Lightbox featuring artists Sarah Anne Johnson, Jed Lind and An Te Liu. Based in Winnipeg, Los Angeles and Toronto, respectively, the artists, moderated by Canadian Art editor Richard Rhodes, will explore the connections and slippages between art and place.

Art and place is a particularly salient theme for Lind, who just this week debuted a work honouring the 30th anniversary of the Toronto Sculpture Garden. The sculpture, a tower of 1979 Honda Civic bodies, recalls an earlier incarnation of the site as a parking lot.

“I’m really particularly interested in how we end up at a place or how technology or vehicles factor into getting there,” Lind said over the phone on Wednesday, explaining that Toronto’s location on the Great Lakes echoed another influence for the work: the Endless Column Brancusi once had planned for the shores of Lake Michigan.

“I’m not sure whether there is truly anything like an absolute location,” Lind continued. “We’re always navigating through different histories or trajectories of time.”

Site and its potential sensibilities also thread through the work of Sarah Anne Johnson, who, in the fall issue of our magazine, tells Nancy Tousley about the northern journey that formed the basis of her newest series, Arctic Wonderland.

“The impact of the place was so overwhelming,” Johnson told Tousley, “It is so perfect and beautiful and it has nothing to do with us. We could only hurt it.”

An Te Liu, who studied architecture, makes many works that are sensitive to location. In the summer edition of Bravo! to Canadian Art, he described the origins of one of his recent works, a staple portrait of Che Guevara.

“The inspiration came from my neighbourhood, Kensington Market, where there’s a lot of postering done on wooden telephone poles, often done with staples,” Liu said. “I always thought it was really beautiful just seeing years of staples left over with the posters now gone. So I thought of making a representation just out of staples. And I thought of my neigbourhood as a lively, somewhat politicized neighbourhood still, so I thought of doing something with Che Guevera because he’s such a revolutionary icon.”

More art insights will be shared face to face Saturday afternoon in neighbourhoods across downtown Toronto thanks to free gallery talks and tours led by critics, curators and other art-world experts.

Finally, an evening in the historic Distillery District will the cap the day with a launch for the new fall issue of Canadian Art at Monte Clark Gallery.

For full details on this day of free educational programming, please visit Videos of the panel and photos from related talks and gala events will also be posted at in the weeks to come.

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