Sometimes the Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition is pooh-pooh’ed by the established Toronto art world, but this is a genuine crucible for emerging artists and crafts people, and is a great opportunity for both exhibitors and the buying public. This outdoor fair features over 300 artists in a dazzling array of media including photography, mixed media works, jewelry, ceramics, painting, drawing, sculpture and more. The price range for works is between as little as $5 to upwards of several thousand dollars. Bring your wallets – cash is king at this event and most likely the best thing for purchases, but some exhibitors are able to take credit cards or cheques. It all happens rain or shine.


Nurielle Stern, ‘Eyes of Metal & Agate’, Ceramics, 35 x 40 x 20cm, 2014 (see Preview below)

I am so happy the TOAE has moved this event to September, as it used to be in July when it was so hot that it was difficult to concentrate on the wonderful art! Let alone the fact that exhibiting artists became baked potatoes in their tents over the weekend.

Art Hag has outlined ten artists to look for at TOAE this weekend, just a small slice of the fantastic works to be seen at Nathan Phillips Square. I also highly recommend the Opening Party, Friday, September 17 from 6 – 10 pm which is a fundraiser for this not-for-profit organization that has kept the show running for decades, making TOAE one of the longest functioning exhibitions of its kind in Canada. In previous years the Opening Party has been a total blast and will undoubtedly be just as fun this year. Tickets are $10 in advance online or $15 at the door. General Admission to the Exhibition is free.

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition @ Nathan Phillips Square

Top Ten Preview (no particular order):

Simone Frank’s zine-styled mixed media works use her delightful calligraphy, photography and print making techniques to talk about, in part, her experience as a black woman in Toronto and Canada. Frank’s works range from the political to the inspirational. Main Exhibition, Booth G22, 2015


Simone Frank, ‘Bio – A Black One’, Mixed media, 1997, 29 x 26cm

Sybil Lamb is a wonderful illustration artist and painter. Her works often feature funky feminine figures in futuristic landscapes and sometimes cute creatures she has conjured from her freaky but fabulous imagination. Main Exhibition, Booth K6, 2015


Sybil Lamb, ‘Bottom of the Ocean (lgbt)’, Illustration, 30 x 45″, 2014

I am in love with Ness Lee‘s plump figures engaged in love making and other provocative poses! Many of these illustrations riff on historical Japanese and Chinese prints and are updated in surprisingly beautiful and humourous ways. Check out this artist’s selection of ceramics in similar themes. Main Exhibition, Booth C5, 2015


Ness Lee, ‘Untitled Woman’, Illustration, 35 x 30 cm, 2014

Lunacy Glass jewelry is simply amazing. Their attention to detail in their bead work is divine (and that is an understatement.) Every tiny bit of their glass works makes me so happy! Main Exhibition, Booth K37, 2015


Lunacy Glass, ‘Ten Years with Glass Anniversary’, Glass, 39 cm l, 2013

Micah Adams small-scaled sculptures ride the blurry, but totally worthy line between sculpture and jewelry. Adams’ sculptures are the perfect investment for the masses of Torontonian condo and apartment dwellers with small spaces. Main Exhibition, Booth G15, 2015


Micah Adams, ‘Deer on Flower Patch’, Sculpture, 7.8 x 5.5 x 5.5, 2014.

Christopher Hayes mixed media works chronicles the lives of downtowners (especially Parkdale) and often portrays hipsters and millennials. His works use a tongue-in-chic approach to retro illustration. Main Exhibition, Booth K7, 2015


Christopher Hayes, ‘Parkdale’, Mixed media, 19 x 11.5″, 2014.

Elfer Castro’s bust portraits embrace fashion photography, glamour and science fiction all in one glance through the filter of sculpture. Castro’s women warriors in the ‘Guerras’ series also wonderfully fetishizes fab hair styles. The artist seems to be channelling an “Angela Davis warrior from outer space” vibe (which I love) in the work illustrated below:

Main Exhibition, Booth B14, 2015


Elfer Castro, ‘Guerras’, Sculpture, 95 x 75 cm, 2013

Tynessa Walters‘ jewelry features fruit-themed pieces, and even one necklace named after Carmen Miranda, but it is her work using knives that amazes me. Walters’ ‘Cut the Crap Necklace’ and ‘A Cut Above Earrings’ play with the very ideas of the sharpness inherent in the materials used to make jewelry. Smart and beautiful. Main Exhibition, Booth E33, 2015.


Tynessa Walters, ‘Cut the Crap Necklace’, 18″ l, 2013.

Valerie Denis’ fabric sculptures and wall pieces are going to please both minimalists and maximalists alike. Her hyper paired down colour schemes will tickle the minimalists, and her use of intense repetitive pattern will excite ardent maximalists. Main Exhibition, Booth F11, 2015


Valerie Denis, ‘Grey Linen’, Fibre, 30 x 30 x 7cm, 2015

‘Eyes of Metal & Agate’ by Nurielle Stern is a great ceramic sculptural work from 2014. Considering that the internet is practically clogged to the gills with cat pics and memes, she makes a fresh cat sculpture that is both sweet and surreal – unique in relation to it’s web counterparts. Stern’s other works use feature sea creatures that are are thoughtfully rendered and her use of colour, masterful. Main Exhibition, Booth D21, 2015


Nurielle Stern, ‘Eyes of Metal & Agate’, Ceramics, 35 x 40 x 20cm, 2014

Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition

Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto City Hal – 100 Queen Street West, Toronto

September 18 – 20, 2-15, Free – Hours Daily 10:30 am to 6:30 pm

Opening Party, Friday, September 18, 6:30 pm – 10:30 pm, $10 online or $15 at the door p: 416-408-2754


About the Author

Artist Statement My interests in artistic production range from the obscure, to experimental, popular, spiritual, queer and to the political. Working with individuals, collectives and community groups have been part of my practice as an artist, curator and director. I prefer to create narrative-based and identity-based art, but also love artwork that explores more formalist themes and materials. Biography Andrew Harwood is a Toronto-based artist who recently graduated with Masters Degree in Fine Arts form the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg in 2014. Harwood is the former Co-Director of Mercer Union, Interim Director of A Space Gallery Director of Zsa Zsa (Toronto) and Zsa Zsa West (Winnipeg). He has had over 30 solo exhibitions in Canada, The United States and participated in group exhibitions and biennales internationally. Harwood’s work is in the collections of the Toronto Dominion Bank, The Bank of Montréal, The University of Guelph, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON, Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Owen Sound, ON and in private collections throughout Canada and internationally.