Drake Art x Art Toronto: Q+A w/ Susannah Rosenstock

Posted by Mia Nielsen, October 26, 2017

At The Drake, art is an essential part of our identity. From the permanent collection at our flagship property, to outdoor installations at Drake Devonshire, to offsite artist projects in spaces like Art Toronto we're big supporters of the arts! This October marks the fourth year we've participated in Canada's largest international art fair. This year we're proud to present and support the work of visual artist Jennifer Murphy and emerging artist + illustrator Ness Lee. Ness' site-specific installation engages visitors of the fair by utilizing the gallery space in an unexpected way while Jennifer's delicate collage works frame Drake Catering curated Art Bistro.

In-house Curator and Head of Cultural Programming, Mia Nielson, took a minute to chat with Art Toronto Director Susannah Rosenstock about art collecting for newbies, international and local art world influences on the fair, and why artist projects like Ness and Jennifer's help contextualize the space.

Mia susannah

Art Toronto is the biggest fair in the country, how does it reflect the art scene in the city or at a national level?
Art Toronto reflects a large component of Toronto’s and Canada’s art scene, but obviously not all of it. While we are very fortunate to work with the country’s best commercial galleries and many museums and cultural partners, we are aware that there are amazing artist run centres, not for profit art institutions and independent artists who are not visible at the fair. We are excited to be able to offer a platform to emerging and alternative art spaces like Bunker 2 and Franz Kaka alongside well-established galleries, so our visitors can experience the amazing breadth of work being produced in Canada.

How would you suggest new collectors or first-time buyers approach the fair?
I am asked this question a lot, and I always say that it’s good to approach the fair in sections. I think for new collectors, it’s fun to start with the Verge section which features our young galleries showing work by emerging artists. The work is very fresh and will have a lower price-point, making it more approachable. The Solo section is fun because each of the 12 booths exhibits just one artist, so you can really “sink your teeth” into the work. I recommend seeing the whole fair, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once.


Art collecting can be a long game, what does the fair have to offer for folks who are interested in experiencing rather than purchasing?
Whether purchasing or not, visitors will get a good picture of what’s going on in the Canadian and international art scene at the fair. Our curator-led tours and Platform, our stage talks program are amazing ways to get the most out of the fair. . .

How do artist activations like Ness Lee's Lounge and Jenn Murphy in the Art Bistro help contextualize & shape the fair?
The projects (activations) are such an integral part of the fair. While the gallery booths are the core, the projects are exciting and important for the visitors to see art displayed in a less commercial context, more like a museum-style installation. Our SOLO section is important in this way as well – the visitors get a real feeling for the artist’s style and practice.

What can visitors from outside the city take away from the fair?
Art Toronto is an international fair featuring galleries and artists from across the country and across the world. It has a Toronto vibe and is “Canada’s art fair,” but is an international event.

What other fairs do you visit or watch? How does that inspire you for Art Toronto?
There are a lot of fairs out there and I try to visit my favorites every year, as well as new ones. The Armory Show, Frieze New York, Expo Chicago and Art Basel are always on the list. I also really enjoy NADA, Liste, Zona Maco and Art Cologne. There are so many and I take different inspirations and ideas away from each of them. I always think about what would work well for our galleries and exhibitors and what would be exciting to try to bring to Toronto.

What was the inspiration behind the FOCUS Los Angeles project? What do you expect will be the influence on the fair?
I’ve traveled to Los Angeles several times over the past year to visit the fair and galleries and speak with curators and collectors. It’s an art scene that’s grown and changed so much over the past 5-10 years, with amazing artists and galleries deciding to make LA their home. We wanted to tap into that scene and to bring some of it to Art Toronto for our visitors to experience. I think it’s going to inspire our audience to visit the LA galleries throughout the year and to consider acquiring work by LA-based artists. I also think important connections will be made between the Canadian galleries and the LA galleries and that maybe it will lead to opportunities for Canadian artists to show in LA and vice versa.

Art Toronto kicks off on Thursday, OCT 26 and runs until Monday OCT 30. Visit Canada's biggest international art fair and lounge at Art Bistro or Bar x Drake. Tickets are available here.

Posted in: Art

Tags: art toronto  drake art  drake catering  jenn murphy  ness lee