Cross-Country: Arts Professionals Offer Thoughts About Canada's Largest City and Art Scene
Canadian Art , Vol. 24, No. 4
Winter 2007-08
By Leah Sandals

Andrew Wright - Artist/Vice Chair, CAFKA (Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area) 

"In Southern Ontario, we both benefit and suffer from proximity to Toronto. We’re just far enough away that we’re not in Toronto, but we’re close enough that we’re lumped in from a distance. So we’re in this netherspace. All the artists here who have careers or who are trying to have careers have to maintain some sort of presence in Toronto. It’s good because you’re close, you can get in when you need to, but you’re not in the hub. And unfortunately it is the hub.

Some strange things come out of that. I know artists here, for instance, who have collectors who also live here, but the collectors don’t know the artists live in their community because they go to Toronto to buy the work. That’s where buyers are going because that’s where they think good art is made.

At the same time, there’s recognition that comes with selling work in Toronto, like the recognition Canadian artists get when they sell abroad. You can be showing and making work here with little recognition but as soon as you get success in Toronto then you’re recognized here.

It’s taken me ten years to feel like I know people in Toronto. I think Toronto’s “slow to warm up.” My wife’s a psychologist and that’s a phrase they use to describe some children’s reactions to new situations or people. It means taking time to react and assess and think and see what they are going to do, maybe even being a little wary.

Still, I’m always amazed how much friggin’ great work comes out of Toronto and Ontario. And how much great art is in this country in general. It’s astounding. When I go to galleries in New York I just see crap in comparison.

We need to recognize the amazing stuff that’s happening here and create an environment to let other people see that. But we all need to invest the money municipally and otherwise to make that happen.