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Installation at Art Gallery of Ontario Invites Patrons to Dine Inside the Artwork
A recent installation by Balwin, Algonquin Tiki Tiki Hut, installed at the Canada Party, 2002 Venice Bienelle. ©2010 Dean Baldwin.

TORONTO.- The AGO is going local. A new exhibition series featuring the works of emerging and established Toronto artists will open at the Gallery on March 27. Titled Toronto Now, the rotating series will feature a different local artist every two months, giving Torontonians the opportunity to view the wealth of artistic talent in their city. The series will inhabit the Young Gallery, a free, street-level space adjacent to Frank restaurant, facing Dundas Street.

The series will focus on local practitioners, either Toronto-born or based, with guest appearances by artists with a special connection to the city. The series launches with an interactive installation by Toronto-based artist Dean Baldwin, titled The Dork Porch. The installation will take the form of a fanciful-yet-functional interpretation of a rustic back porch, constructed from vintage finds, building materials, found objects, and food items.

The local focus of Toronto Now ties into AGO Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich’s ongoing commitment to feature local, seasonally-inspired foods, and Baldwin is taking full advantage of this synergy by inviting visitors to dine inside his installation, which will carry Frank’s menu and be staffed by its servers.

“Toronto Now aims to showcase the broad and diverse artistic talent that our city has on offer,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s director and CEO. “As the AGO’s only street-front, free space, the Young Gallery is distinctly visible and accessible, making it the ideal space for this series, and emphasizing the vital connection between the AGO and its city.”

“Dean Baldwin’s well-known whimsy and sense of play, combined with his ongoing artistic focus on food and drink, make him the ideal artist to launch Toronto Now,” says Michelle Jacques, the AGO’s associate curator of contemporary art. “The Dork Porch challenges the viewers expectations of both the fine-dining and art museum experiences, reflecting Baldwin’s considerations of art, audience, and consumption.”

Yarymowich says that she is “thrilled” about Baldwin’s choice to incorporate Frank into his installation: “Frank was always envisioned as a place where art, food, and talk intersect; and local food and wine take centre stage. Toronto Now is the perfect complement to our vision.”

The artists featured in Toronto Now will be in impressive company situated next to Frank; the restaurant already features paintings by Canadian artists Lawren Harris, Joyce Weiland, and Paterson Ewen, as well as a large-scale sculpture by American artist Frank Stella, which hangs from a skylight above the restaurant and down into caféAGO below .

The second artist in the Toronto Now series will be announced later this month, but the AGO can confirm that Toronto artist Allyson Mitchell will be third artist featured in the series. Her recent work has been focused on large scale sculptural figures that merge feminist elements with neocraft and fun fur. Her installation will open in late summer.

The Dork Porch will be on display in the Young Gallery until May 23.

Art Gallery of Ontario | Anne Yarymowich | Matthew Teitelbaum |

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