CULTURE ON THE COBBLESTONES Toronto’s first pedestrian-only neighbourhood, the Distillery Historic District is dedicated to promoting the arts. Browse internationally acclaimed galleries: Arta Gallery offers a collection of contemporary works; The Sport Gallery (55 Mill St., 416-861-1867) is North America’s only gallery devoted exclusively to sports photography and illustration; Sandra Ainsley Gallery features creations in glass and mixed media; and Thompson Landry Gallery specializes in works by Quebec artists.
MIDDLE GROUND Midtown is home to some heavy hitters on the art scene, such as the Gardiner Museum of Ceramic Art and the Royal Ontario Museum. Not to be overlooked are the area’s smaller venues, like the O’Connor Gallery, Canada’s first gallery to represent an exclusively gay and lesbian roster, or the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, on the University of Toronto campus in historic Hart House.
BRIGHT LIGHTS Downtown galleries are as diverse as its population. For First Nations art from the Pacific Northwest, stop by Bay of Spirits Gallery, or visit 40,000 works of the world under one roof at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
NORTHERN TOUCH The north of the city encompasses some upscale enclaves, like Forest Hill Village. Here, you can challenge yourself with Lonsdale Gallery‘s contemporary paintings, sculpture, photography and installation art. On Eglinton West, have a look around Petroff Gallery‘s comprehensive selection of Canadian glass works, plus ceramics, textiles, jewellery and more.
QUEEN SCENE I Queen Street West is a major gallery destination, with a vast array of venues to peruse. Stephen Bulger Gallery shows both contemporary and Canadian historical photography. Loop Gallery and Gallery 1313 are operated by artist collectives and showcase their members’ work. Refurbished boutique hotel The Drake (1150 Queen St. W., 416-531-5042) features permanent installations as well as changing exhibits and artists-in-residence.
QUEEN SCENE II No longer content to play second fiddle to popular Queen West, Queen Street East is developing its own dynamic arts community. Near Queen and Broadview, find Hang Man Gallery, the exhibition space of the Artists’ Network of Riverdale, and Eastern Front Gallery, a co-operative exhibition site and resource centre for East Toronto artists and enthusiasts. Further east, Parts Gallery shows contemporary pieces by a diverse range of artists.
BETTER TOGETHER There are two gallery hot spots along Spadina Avenue. At King Street, a cluster of galleries including Leo Kamen Gallery, Moore Gallery and Trias Gallery house a variety of works by emerging and established artists. Further noRth at Richmond Street, Wynick/Tuck Gallery and A Space have contemporary art, and YYZ Artists’ Outlet promotes exhibits that are outside the mainstream.
OFF THE BEATEN TRACK Morrow Avenue (near Dundas Street West and Roncesvalles Avenue) is home to a collection of galleries. Well-known Toronto art dealer Olga Korper’s eponymous Olga Korper Gallery is at 17 Morrow; Christopher Cutts Gallery has been located at 21 Morrow for more than 15 years, and maintains an active roster of 31 artists; and 23 Morrow’s Peak Gallery is committed to facilitating alternative and cutting-edge projects.
GO WEST Just 20 minutes from downtown Toronto, Mississauga has several galleries that are worth the trip. The Art Gallery of Mississauga features community-based projects along with national and international contemporary art. Harbour Gallery is a large space with works ranging from traditional to abstract in various media. Also to the west, in picturesque Oakville, Oakville Galleries houses a contemporary permanent collection and hosts travelling exhibits.
OH CANADA! The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg is a truly unique place. Celebrated for its devotion to collecting and exhibiting only Canadian art, the permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, First Nations and Inuit artists. Built on 100 acres of conservation land, the gallery promotes the enjoyment of Canadian landscape paintings in the woodland setting that inspired them.
For more art, follow our step-by-step tour of Yorkville galleries in Gallery Walk.—Jordana Camerman