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Hariri Pontarini To Design Art Gallery of York University – Urban Toronto



Hariri Pontarini Architects (HPA) have been selected to design a new, stand-alone art gallery at York University. The new building will become a centrepiece at the Keele Campus, building upon the rich history of the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU), and magnifying its reach into the local community and the world beyond.

Rendering of the winning design. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects.

Boasting a contemporary, contextual design with the firm’s signature curves, HPA’s proposal stood out in the online design competition which saw a wide show of interest from strong contenders in the architectural community. Moriyama and Teshima Architects and gh3 were also on the shortlist. All three firms have received Governor General’s Medals in Architecture.

The new building will be located at the heart of the School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, adjacent to the Harry W. Arthurs Common, steps from the subway station. The three-storey building will highlight contemporary and historic art and include a ground level event space with four separate gallery spaces set within a xeriscape garden.

AGYU’s collection currently contains 1,700 works including…

  • prominent donations of works by Norval Morrisseau and Andy Warhol
  • 200 prints and sculptures by renowned and influential Inuit artists including Kenojuak Ashevek and Kananginak Pootoogook
  • paradigmatic work by Canadian “Automatistes” Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paul-Emile Borduas
  • American Modernists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Kenneth Noland
  • RISE, an internationally acclaimed film by Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, featuring performances from some of Toronto’s most influential spoken word and rap artists.

Aerial: The new building will sit at the heart of York Keele Campus’ School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design, adjacent to the Harry W. Arthurs Common, between the Accolade East Building and the Centre for Film & Theatre. Image courtesy of Googlemaps.

Founding Partner Siamak Hariri cites his excitement to help reimagine the AGYU’s future, “To signify this transformation, we were inspired by metaphor and nature. Like a butterfly, each of the five wings of the new gallery extend their reach out to the campus and of course beyond. Responding to the AGYU’s aspiration to expand the social and civic role of the gallery, the building will have a powerful presence, a new presence, embracing the full University Common, and welcoming and attracting visitors to all the wonder it has to offer.”

The AGYU opened in 1988 and moved into its current 3,000 ft² in 2006. The new building, combined with the AGYU’s existing space, will form a unified art institution and an important hub for artistic engagement. “The new design reflects our vision of an accessible and collaborative art gallery that serves as a space for creation, exhibition and appreciation of diverse art and culture,” says President & Vice- Chancellor Rhonda Lenton.

Philanthropists and art collectors Joan and Martin Goldfarb donated $5 million towards the gallery, kicking off this expansion and flagging the importance of the arts on campus. The eponymous Joan and Martin Goldfarb Gallery will honour the Goldfarb’s long history of supporting the arts at York University.

Rendering of the winning design, aerial view from across the Harry W. Arthurs Common. Image courtesy of Hariri Pontarini Architects.

With this win, HPA adds to its notable cultural and institutional portfolio, which includes the recently opened Tom Patterson Theatre in Stratford, and the internationally award-winning Bahá’í Temple of South America.

You can learn more from our Database file for the project, linked below. If you’d like to, you can join in on the conversation in the associated Project Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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Banned art project depicting Winnipeg as a queer paradise revived 23 years later –



Lorri Millan and Shawna Dempsey set out more than two decades ago to depict Winnipeg as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community — a Winnipeg that didn’t exist  — through a mock advertising campaign.

It never saw the light of day then. But now, after more than 23 years, their art work is finally being displayed where it was always intended.

Posters heralding Winnipeg as “One Gay City” have been plastered on three bus shelters in the downtown, as part of a new art project from the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery.

“I think it’s pretty fantastic,” Millan said.

“It’s great to see work that, for a whole lot of reasons, has never been seen before in the setting it’s meant to be seen in.” 

Imagining city as ‘mecca for queerness’

It was 1997 when the two collaborators sought to riff on Winnipeg’s “One Great City” slogan by promoting the city as a “mecca for queerness,” as Millan put it. 

One print was to show a man pouting while dressed as the Golden Boy. “Where everyone is light in their loafers!” the headline proclaimed, above a revised take on the city’s slogan, “Winnipeg: One Gay City.”

In another, a smiling woman would be seen carrying fish she caught. “Where the fishing is great!” the caption declares. 

Lorri Millan and Shawna Dempsey’s mock advertisements were inspired, in part, by Winnipeg’s then-mayor refusing to recognize what was then called Gay Pride Day. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

The duo was inspired by then-mayor Susan Thompson, who refused to acknowledge Gay Pride Day. 

People they knew had suffered violence from strangers, or verbal abuse, based on their presumed sexual orientation. Winnipeg was hardly a mecca for them.

“In many ways, Winnipeg is a dystopia for gay people,” Dempsey told the Winnipeg Free Press at the time. “Violence committed against gays has resulted in murder.”

The bus shelter ads, however, were never installed. Some Winnipeggers caught wind of the advertising campaign and an outcry ensued. 

The advertising agency objected to the queer content, backed by the Canadian Advertising Standards Council, and barred the posters from running.

The duo filed a human rights complaint. They reached a settlement with the ad agency in 1999.

By then, Winnipeg had elected Glen Murray, the first openly gay mayor of a large North American city.

It didn’t feel right to recreate their exhibition, Millan said.

Lorri Millan, left, and Shawna Dempsey have received international accolades for their performance art, which is largely presented through a feminist and lesbian lens — with a sense of humour. (Submitted by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan )

“We felt that if we put [the posters] up, it somehow would be seen as a response to having a gay mayor rather than the larger cultural issues, which were still in play,” Millan said. 

The idea was cast aside, until the University of Manitoba School of Art Gallery approached the two artists — among Canada’s most renowned performance art duos — about staging an exhibition of some kind.

They settled on a show where Millan and Dempsey’s art would reclaim their home on bus shelters.

“We’re thrilled that this work is finally being seen,” Dempsey said.

“But more than that, we’re thrilled that the world has changed. And now Winnipeg is a much, much, much more inclusive place than it was 23 years ago for LGBTQ, two-spirited, asterisk folks.”

Two of the duo’s art pieces can be found at the corner of Broadway Avenue and Donald Street in Winnipeg. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Alongside their prints, the exhibition commissioned other bus shelter ads from a crop of Winnipeg queer artists: Jean Borbridge, Mahlet Cuff, Dayna Danger, Ally Gonzalo and Larry Glawson.

Dempsey said the intergenerational collaboration is gratifying. 

“We’re in this context of community with other artists who are out there, visible and queer and celebrating all of our diversities in public space — and it’s supported now,” she said.

“Lorri and I, we’re really glad we’re here, and we’re really glad we’re not alone.”

The One Queer City exhibition, curated by Blair Fornwald, will run on eight Winnipeg bus shelters until Feb. 14. A map of the locations is available here.

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‘There’s so much pain’: Art shows mental toll COVID-19 taking on youth, expert says – Global News



A collection of children’s drawings made during the pandemic illustrates the mental toll it’s taking on Canadian youth, says the researcher behind a project analyzing their artwork.

Many of the submissions by kids and teenagers on depict people alone, haunted by shadowy spectres, or worse, their own thoughts.

READ MORE: Ontario parents, children dealing with stress of virtual learning

Collectively, the images paint a stark picture of how the trials of young life under lockdown could shape the next generation, says Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at University of Guelph-Humber.

While the study is still underway, Martyn said initial observations suggest that coming of age during the COVID-19 crisis can create an emotional maelstrom during a critical period of adolescent development.

Being a teenager is tough enough at the best of times, she said, but finding your place in the world while stuck at home has left many young people feeling like they have no future to look forward to.

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“The saddest part for me … is that kind of loss of not being able to see through to the other side,” she said.

Coronavirus: Mental health impact of virtual learning

Coronavirus: Mental health impact of virtual learning

“There’s so much pain and so much struggle right now that I think needs to be shared and seen, so that we can support our youth and make sure they become healthy adults.”

Since September, Martyn’s team has received more than 120 pieces from Canadians aged two to 18, submitted anonymously with parental permission, along with some background information and written responses.

Martyn marvelled at the breadth of creative talent the project has attracted, with submissions ranging from doodles, sketches, digital drawings, paintings, pastels, photos and even one musical composition.

Researchers circulated the call for young artists at schools and on social media. While the collection includes a few tot-scribbled masterpieces, Martyn said the majority of contributors are between the ages of 14 and 17.

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As the submissions trickled in, she was struck by the potent and sometimes graphic depictions of adolescent anxiety, despair and isolation.

Recurring themes include confined figures, screaming faces, phantasmic presences, gory imagery and infringing darkness.

An example of a child’s artwork during the COVID-19 pandemic is shown in a handout. THE CANADIAN PRESS/

Some images contain allusions to self-harm, which Martyn sees as a physical representation of the pain afflicting so many of the study’s participants.

Just as unsettling are the words that accompany the images. Some artists transcribed the relentless patter of pandemic-related concerns that pervade daily life, while others expressed sentiments like “I’m broken,” “this is too much” and “what’s the point?”

Martyn said many participants wrote of struggling to keep up in school, while some were dealing with family problems such as job loss, illness and even death.

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Many of these feelings and challenges are common across age groups, Martyn noted. However, while adults are more accustomed to the ups and downs that life can bring, young people are less likely to have fostered the coping skills to help them weather a global crisis.

A coalition of Canadian children’s hospitals has warned that the pandemic is fomenting a youth mental-health crisis with potentially “catastrophic” short- and long-term consequences for children’s wellbeing and growth.

READ MORE: Coronavirus pandemic taking its toll on children’s overall safety and health, report says

This would be consistent with research from previous outbreaks suggesting that young people are more vulnerable to the negative psychological impacts of quarantine, including increased risk of post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and behavioural problems, according to an August report by Children’s Mental Health Ontario.

An online survey of 1,300 Ontario children and young adults last spring found that nearly two-thirds of respondents felt that their mental health had deteriorated since COVID-19 hit, with many citing the abrupt end of school, disconnection from friends and uncertainty about the future as significant stressors.

Lydia Muyingo, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University, said when she looks through the images in the gallery, she can see how these concerns are confounding the typical turmoil of being a teenager.

Adolescence is a time for young people to figure out who they are through new experiences, interests and social interactions, said Muyingo.

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This transition tends to bring about intense emotions, she said, and the pandemic has exacerbated this upheaval by replacing familiar anxieties about fitting in with fears about mortality.

Muyingo said she’s encouraged to see that the project is giving young people an outlet for these difficult feelings they may not even be able to put words to.

Click to play video 'Doctors weigh in on extended coronavirus-related school closure in southern Ontario'

Doctors weigh in on extended coronavirus-related school closure in southern Ontario

Doctors weigh in on extended coronavirus-related school closure in southern Ontario

She encouraged adults to keep an eye out for children’s silent struggles, perhaps setting an example by sharing their own vulnerabilities.

“I think parents are sometimes scared of talking about dark themes, but the reality is that kids know a lot more than we think,” she said. “I think art like this can be used as a tool to communicate that it’s OK to feel this way.”

Martyn said the study has given her hope for what a future led by the quarantined generation could look like, because while pain pervades many of the illustrations, there are also symbols of resilience, connection and compassion.

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“One of my visions from the very beginning of this was to have this as an art exhibit in a gallery, and to be able to go and be enveloped by it, have it around us and fully experience that lived idea of what children in Canada experienced.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Thames Art Gallery wants community art for Black History Month display – Sarnia Observer



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The Thames Art Gallery and ARTspace want to celebrate Black History Month in February with artwork from Chatham-Kent residents.

People are asked to make a work of art on this year’s theme, Celebrating Black Lives, for the gallery’s digitally based installation.

They can work in any medium. Once they’ve drawn, painted, designed or written their piece, they’re asked to send a photograph of it to

Gallery staff will print and assemble the works into a community art “quilt” to be displayed during February in the ARTspace window at 165 1/2 King St. W. in Chatham.

“Almost nine months after George Floyd’s death, the rise of Black Lives Matter, and (Chatham-Kent’s) own peaceful march down King Street, we want to keep carrying it forward,” gallery curator Phil Vanderwall said in a statement. “Creativity can help us to confront and overcome our challenges. Art can help us create the world we want to live in and what better way to focus our energies than to join together as a community and participate in a positive vision for 2021?”

A donation will be made for each participating artist to support distribution of the film The North Star: Finding Black Mecca.

For more information, go to or Follow @TAGCK and @ARTspaceCK for updates.

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