EXPLORE THESE TORONTO ART DISTRICTS TO DISCOVER EXCELLENT GALLERIES AND SOME OF THE BEST CONTEMPORARY WORKS FROM CANADA AND ABROAD
Think Toronto’s renowned public museums offer some cool views? Numerous commercial galleries have equally striking artworks to ponder—and purchase, if you like what you see. There are dozens of great galleries downtown—from edgy indie outlets to venerable fine-art dealers. Make the most of your browsing time by heading to these five Toronto art districts, which boast a significant collection of exhibitors within close proximity to one another.
The Junction Triangle and its Surroundings
Some of the city’s leading modern galleries occupy converted garages and warehouses in this slightly rough-around-the-edges area that’s gentrifying into a must-visit among Toronto art districts. Four excellent entries—Daniel Faria, Clint Roenisch and Scrap Metal galleries, plus Gallery TPW—are situated on the same block just south of Bloor Street, while a similar cluster of respected spaces sits, literally, on the other side of the tracks: Narwhal is known for works that are both conceptual and playful, whereas the venerable pair of Christopher Cutts and Olga Korper galleries represent some of Canada’s most well-respected contemporary practitioners. Just north of Bloor, Montreal import Division Gallery exists in a fairly sprawling space that’s perfect for showing large-scale pieces.
West Queen West
Numerous art spaces contribute to the cool quotient of this stretch of Queen Street—arguably the best known Toronto art district—and its surroundings. The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art is a local hub, as is the Gladstone Hotel, which offers a full slate of local exhibitions and art events, not to mention unique, artist-designed guestrooms. In between these venues sit the must-see likes of Angell Gallery—home to innovative Canadian creatives such as Kim Dorland and Bradley Harms—Paul Petro Contemporary Art and photo-focused Stephen Bulger Gallery, among many others.
The Distillery District
Corkin Gallery is arguably the best known of this historic quarter’s art spaces, boasting a roster of internationally recognized artists like Barbara Astman and David Urban. Also tucked away along the pedestrian-friendly attraction’s laneways are Julie M Gallery, as well as Thompson Landry Gallery, which displays works from Quebec artists in a pair of beautiful spaces. A significant clutch of artist studios and artisan shops further bolster the Distillery’s creative bona fides.
Niagara and Tecumseth Streets
Just south of Queen Street, west of Bathurst, is a concentration of galleries known for emphasizing thought-provoking, often highly conceptual works. Unmissable in a squat, lavender-coloured building is Diaz Contemporary, where owner Benjamin Diaz presents established Canadians such as Kim Adams, Kelly Mark and Quebec installation-art collective BGL. Similarly worthy, but a little more austere, is Susan Hobbs Gallery; the bookish installation pieces of Ian Carr-Harris are representative of Hobbs’s holdings. Hungry for more? Birch Contemporary, Georgia Scherman Projects and Pari Nadimi Gallery are all nearby, too.
Toronto’s ritziest ‘hood is home to many of the city’s standard-bearers for the fine-art aesthetic. Largely situated within converted heritage houses, businesses like Loch Gallery, Mayberry Fine Art and Kinsman Robinson Galleries cater to refined tastes with myriad works by historical and currently practicing painters of landscapes, portraits and still lifes. Kinsman Robinson is particularly known as a purveyor of works by Aboriginal artist Norval Morrisseau. Also in the area is Liss Gallery, which often features pop-art perspectives (it recently showed prints by John Lennon and Dr. Seuss, for example), and the Craft Ontario Shop, a boutique with an extensive selection of functional and decorative pieces ranging from glass works to Inuit sculptures.