Saturday, May 28, 2005

The New Queen West

the drake hotel toronto
Originally uploaded by 416style.
Back in the day, Queen West was the place to go, to eat and to shop, but the big boys and big brands moved in, and though it still has some charm and style, cool had to move further west. It did, and West Queen West was born. More great boutiques and eateries, including Susur Lee’s designer fish and chip shop.

This became the new trendy part of Queen, now near Trinity Park, but it too has lost its original boho charm. So let’s go further west, out near the Queen Street Mental Health monolith. Welcome. Until recently, the rundown area didn’t see too much action, but it’s come alive, and it is the new cool. Now galleries and subdued cafes easily mix with greasy spoons and vintage clothing shops.

I’d long meant to see what the area had to offer. Today was the perfect opportunity, I’d drank too much at The Drake Hotel last night and had to go back for my car this morning. So this is where my stroll began, at The Drake’s Beaconsfield Street. 18 galleries I counted, on a 6 block stretch to Shaw.

I hadn’t even noticed the largest of them before, the MOCCA (Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art). Its student art show didn’t impress me the same way the smaller galleries work did, where works of art, design and science hung and were projected onto spaces gutted to the reveal the guts and bones of an original 1800’s building.

The Deleon White gallery with it’s massive ceilings took me in. I nodded to the fantastic little man working away on his mac G4 laptop. Upstairs, the Emmersive gallery showed me what a water drop looks like magnified and made luminescent by a laser beam. The Spin Gallery had its homo-moderne twist of New York 70s body art.

A few blocks further down, at the Clint Roenisch Gallery, I realized that gallery owners whiling away at their G4’s is a bit of a cliché. I enjoyed the artist’s printing techniques while coyly smiling in his direction.

Katherine Mulherin’s Contemporary Art Projects space was most impressive (see link). Strewn across the walls were small frames of needlework showing little Japanese space girls partying with polar bears, something I’m sure Bjork would love to see. There were futuristic robot dolls and also a map of the world etched out of several old layers of paint on an antique piece of wood. I liked that the space contained a variety of media and artists' work.

How charming this street is, I thought as I looked up to the sign for Camera Bar, a swank and original little space used for screening movies. This, I thought, had to be filmmaker Atom Egoyan’s new venture. It was indeed. The filmmaker sat at the edge of its communal table, while people poured out into the street, no doubt reflecting on the latest kudos received at Cannes.

So cool can be found, but not always where you’d think. Because if everybody already knows about it no doubt it's already lost some originality, and isn't that what cool is all about.

Explore a little farther down the street next time and see where it takes you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply on MYSPACES, I'm happy it was a positive note concering graf art. Not many people are fond of such a great art form. So do you live on Queen St. I use to live on Queen, right near the Drake on Beaconsfield. I liked it but my roomie was into coke and had dealers at our house all hours of the night. I want to move back soon, living in the city is wonderful, much better then ...Burlington!
The artist you speak of is PLUM BUTTER, I have some more of his work also, visit back later and I will post some of his pieces!

Blogger Bells said...

Hehehe. I think I've seen bits and pieces of Toronto. And the pics. you show in this blog... it's still not the same as downtown Quebec City. =/ I don't know how you can hide something like that in Toronto. And my parents loooove European architecture. I would have seen them a million times already if there was any. Oh well... maybe I really am missing out on Toronto.


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