The Toronto Outdoor Art Fair
2018 constitutes the 57th edition of the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair. Rain or shine, since 1961, Toronto artists have been hauling their work down to City Hall. The idea is to connect with a member of the public and make a sale!
TOAF is juried. 750 applicants were whittled down to 360 participants. Fees are low: $50 per application. Artists get to keep 100% of sales receipts.
TOAF is intent on getting people in the buying mood. For example: The organizers set up an apartment tableau so that prospective buyers could test a painting over a generic couch/lamp/coffee table setup and get a sense of how it might look at home.
“Quite good. I’ll take it.”
Established artists rarely talk about the connection between money and art. In art school, the topic of how to make a living as an artist is frequently dismissed with a shrug. That’s not the case at the TOAF. This is a place to openly market artwork, figure out a price point that works and be prepared to make change.
Art work by Ezio Molinari
The global art market grew 12% in 2017, to total $63.7 billion, according to Art Basel. Market share is largely located in the US (over 40%) with China a distant second, followed by the UK. Because Donald Trump is in power the US figures are expected to rise again this year. Why? Art sales apparently escalate as income inequality increases. (…) Changes to US tax law are also favourable to buyers of pricey art. Note, however, that the recent rise in the art market is confined to the high end galleries and auction houses. Galleries with more modest prices did less well. (TOAF does not allow prints or multiples, which interestingly are the one bright spot on the lower end market, according to Bloomberg.)
But the buying habits of the 1% are not really relevant here on this stretch of hot cement. The TOAF is bootstrap capitalism: refreshing, raw and often surprising.
I was happy to see this big, pink foam thing, made by Michelle Cieloszczyk. She said it doesn’t really need to be suspended. It can be shown leaning against a wall or just laying down on the floor or somewhere. I like the way this piece flips between a kind of fuzzy feeling, like flannelette, and then suddenly evokes hanging meat or something equally ghastly.
Michelle Cieloszczyk with her sculpture Flat Can
I saw ceramics at the TOAF that were inspired, fresh and beautiful. Water jugs by Jordan Scott appear so effortless and loose. Joon Hee Kim creates complex narratives, bizarrely detailed and imaginative, using fired clay.
Ceramics by Jordan Scott
Ceramics by Joon Hee Kim
There were hand printed scarves, home decor and lots of jewelry but the bulk of the TOAF is painting and photography. It was a lot of fun wander through the blazing heat and peak into a unique sensibility created within each 10 x 10 foot white tent.
Beverley Hawksley created a glamorous, business girl mood.
Parveen Dhatt dressed appropriately.
Clare Allin came up with a sixties counter-culture vibe.
I came home with a pocket full of festive business cards, reminding me to shell out and buy some original art.