This is my second year in my role as Executive Director of Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition and I have to say it has been a rich, intense and insanely fulfilling experience that has stretched me in so many directions.
I am passionate about what I do and I wear many different hats but I spend a good chunk of my time fundraising for the artist awards (for which I initiated a significant increase last year) and other things. Oddly enough, it is the first time throughout my arts management career that I enjoy fundraising and it comes naturally to me. First, it’s because we have an incredibly generous roster of supporters who wholeheartedly believe in what the Exhibition does for the artists. Also, as an artist myself, I get an immense joy facilitating artists getting the recognition and support they deserve.
I firmly believe that the role Toronto Outdoor plays for the artists, and the public is an important one. It is truly an art discovery platform for independent and entrepreneurial artists and makers. The premise of the organization from the beginning has been about artists having the right to sell their art directly to the public at a civic centre! The civic centre has had a particular significance because the founding members set up the first Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition in response to the removal of artists from the City Hall property when they tried to sell their work there in 1961.
A lot of effort is spent on marketing the Exhibition to bring the public in direct contact with the artists, to encourage dialogue between artist and public and encourage an exchange of some kind. We know for a fact that people spend over 2 million dollars on buying art over those three days. Yes, the Exhibition is also a sales platform and some might look at it as only a platform for commercial art, but it is not only that! Thousands of successful artistic careers have been launched for the past five decades from those white tents. We have to keep in mind that there is always some sort of a transaction associated with any works of art. There are layers and levels of transactions, whether a work of art ends up in a permanent collection of a museum, commissioned for a public gallery, lands on a cover of book or magazine, or ends up in the possession of a seasoned collector or in a humble art lover’s home! .Our role is to make these exchanges happen more frequently and help our artist community thrive artistically and economically!
I also think one of the other important roles Toronto Outdoor plays, is removing the fear and the barrier of buying art for the public. Art is accessible to people from all walks of life with all sorts of budgets. The show is an opportunity to take some of the amazing work, that for the most part can only be seen in galleries by a smaller number of people, out in the open, under the bright sunshine (not necessarily good for some works though) and put it in front of a hundred thousand people.
It is a great reminder for everyone that original art is not only for art collectors. It is not even about collecting. It is about adding quality to everyday life. It is about seeing the world around us, the objects, the concepts and our environment from different perspectives. It is about bringing in a bit of energy, creativity and soulfulness to our personal surrounding. I have made a pledge to myself to save on a monthly basis so that I can do just that this coming July. I encourage you to do the same thing.
Below are the two prints I got last year from Daniel Paterson, the winner of Founding Chairman’s Award and Japneet Kaur Saini, Winner of the Best of Exhibition that I cherish!
Please join me on July 14 – 16 at Nathan Phillips Square and discover some great art for you!
See you soon!