ICYMI: Art Toronto

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TEXT: Summer Yang

Art Toronto is Canada’s international contemporary and modern art fair, located at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in the city’s downtown core. Providing unique access to the Canadian art market, the fair is one of the most important annual art events in Canada.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Susannah Rosenstock, Director of Art Toronto, to learn more about this year’s event.

Novella: Tell us a little about the history of Art Toronto.

Susannah Rosenstock: The fair started in 2000, so this is our 17th year. We’ve always been here at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, though the fair has grown over the years. This year we have 111 galleries attending from 14 countries.

We are the only large international art fair in Canada, so this is really the place where collectors, curators, artists, and art lovers come to see what’s going on in the Canadian scene and in the international arts scene as well.

N: What should we expect to see at Art Toronto?

SR: There’s a lot going on here — there’s something for anybody who’s interested in art. We have tours led by curators, we have talks with artists. We have a stage where we have ten talks going on during the course of the fair.

Some people come simply to look at the art, some people come because they’re collectors after one new piece that they know is going to be here. Some people come to visit the galleries that they know and some people come to meet new galleries. It depends what you’re looking for, but I think for anybody who’s interested in art or curious about art, there is something for them here.

N: What are the highlights of Art Toronto this year?

SR: Well, this year we have Focus Latin America. It’s a two year project; this is its second year. We have 16 galleries from across Latin America here, and they have fantastic work. They’re all contemporary galleries showing really exciting artists — some more senior artists, some younger artists — and they’ve brought some amazing work with them.

We also have a Focus Latin America curated project. We’ve been working with a curator based in New York named Isabella Villanueva, and she curated a project with six artists. Most of the work is site-specific and was made just for Art Toronto — the artists came over from Latin America and built the artwork here just for the fair. There’s really some incredible artwork, and they’re pieces that you can’t see anywhere else.

N: How large of an audience are you expecting?

SR: Last year we had 21,000 guests over the four days plus the gala. It’s looking like our attendance is up this year, so we’re expecting even more than that.

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N: What would you say about the collecting business in Toronto and Canada?

SR: I think it’s very strong right now. We have a great community of collectors here, so we’re very lucky. There are a lot of seasoned collectors, but there are also a lot of young collectors here in their 20s who are really just starting out. They’re curious, they want to start building a collection while they’re young, and they want to start collecting young artists (which is definitely the way to do it because the price point is lower). This is a good place to come and see all of that in one place. I know from speaking to the galleries here that they’ve been really impressed with the caliber of collectors who are attending the fair this year.

N:  How do you select the galleries that get featured every year?

SR: We have a quite lengthy application. The galleries have to apply with specific artists and specific artwork, and we ask them for their exhibition history and what other fairs they’ve participated in. Then we have a selection committee made up of eight people, who are also all gallery owners and dealers, who review all of the applications. Then the choices are made from there.

All photos by Summer Yang