The Gladstone Hotel is bidding farewell to the Gladstone Art Hut. Although this art gallery and incubator for emerging Toronto artists is about to become a condo sales centre, we wanted to take a look back on all the creativity, joy, and thought-provoking work it has displayed over the past 6 months. The Art Hut has seen a number of visionaries push boundaries and redefine the conventional understanding of what a gallery space should be. Every couple of weeks the space was reimagined and became entirely unrecognizable from the preceding residency.
The Art Hut aimed to spark conversation about the location’s history and imagine the future of other sites like it in our city — sites on the cusp of transformation. We are happy to reveal that the Art Hut did exactly that. It served as a mirror to the neighbourhood – its changing landscape and the public’s relationship to it.
We could never have imagined the places where artists in Toronto managed to transport this location, and we’re so grateful to each of them, along with the public, for observing and engaging with the works. Residency’s included exhibitions, installations, and mini art markets. The space has been a source of inspiration and a unifying force for the entire neighbourhood. It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye! While we’ve summed up a few highlights which follow, there were so many incredible shows that we couldn’t possibly include them all in one blog post!
Amy Siegel and Aubyn O’Grady of the League of Lady Wrestlers (LOLW) created a multimedia imagining of a feminist utopia wrestling ring in the space. ‘Femme Future‘ had a circular, hand-built ring in the centre of the room serving as the wrestling platform and stage where performers throughout the city demonstrated wrestling, singing, and more.
Artistic Director and Choreographer George Stamos‘ performance/installation piece, ‘Recurrent Measures‘, featured durational spinning, as featured below. Stamos wanted to investigate how measurements of time and motion can be continually relived and how change happens over years with repeating gestures, both physical and political. Spectators were in awe of his endurance and mesmerized by the piece.
Michael Comeau‘s- ‘Curbside Mosaics’ created a cultural mosaic of posters from the streets of Toronto since 1999. Many of these included Gladstone’s beloved parties of the past. The posters read differently depending on where you stood. Comeau’s work were evidence of how posters promoted and archived a movement through culture, and they transformed the windows of the Art Hut with generations of party poster ephemera.
Justin de Lima, created the eerie pink mobiles you may have seen hanging in the windows of the Art Hut. ‘First Gentrification‘ pieced together reclaimed objects from materials found on the street near the Art Hut, then garnished the colour used by condo presentation centres, aiming to create works that reflect the changing community. The exhibition represented the mixed feelings people in Toronto have about gentrification. Justin made us think about our role in gentrification, and how we can create positive change.
Black (Art) City drew inspiration from the activist, art and direct action space, BlackCity, (BLMTO, March 2016). Honouring the legacy of activist aesthetics on the one year anniversary of this gathering, Black (Art) City also started conversations about future collaborations between artists and activists in black liberation movements. Syrus Marcus Ware was the artist and curator behind the show who, alongside Melisse Watson, Ryavyn Wngz and other guest artists who invited the public in to have the important conversations we need to have more of, and to fill the space with their art and creativity.
Plaza by Camille Jodoin-Eng reflected on the transitionary nature of a space. A self described ‘chapel of light’ the space was illuminated by glass structures including a sublime glass fountain. Jodoin-Eng aimed to connect between physical and psychological space and what resulted was an awe-inspiring exhibition.
The Art Hut served as an extension of the Gladstone Hotel’s many experimental art-activated social spaces, while facilitating new ideas, creative expression, collaboration, and new ways of experiencing art, culture and community. From wrestling matches to all night sit-ins, it’s been quite a ride!