The excitement in the air was thick as we entered the Art Gallery of Ontario last Thursday night. As we arrived promptly at 9pm, there was a steady stream of gold-clad Torontonians strutting into the gallery. To be honest, we were surprised by the amount of people that were arriving on time. Our best guess for this behaviour: when an event is built up as the best in its short 8-year history, no one wants to miss a minute.
The event had a jam-packed schedule right from the get-go. We made our way to the lower level and were happy to have a minute to speak with the event’s artistic director, Justin Broadbent, just as last minute touches were being made. Wishing for the hall lights to be turned off in the space where his piece, Poor Hipster, was being displayed, Justin sat down with a well deserved sigh of relief. He’s been working on the execution of this event since August of 2012, not long after he participated in the fundraiser for the second time as a contributing artist.
Although Broadbent says the entire planning process was a blur, the end result didn’t show it. The event had several key pieces spread throughout the large expanse of the gallery that all came together to highlight the events gold theme. In developing this theme, Broadbent thought of the AGO as a golden nugget in the city that he enhanced with quirky pieces by fellow Toronto-based artists.
Broadbent put together an unbelievable list of participants for this year’s show. From Tibi Tibi Neuspiel’s exciting and engaging Hurdles performance to a new piece by Thrush Holmes’ that was a homage to currency, religion and love in the form of bright neon shapes. The Revealing the Early Renaissance: Stories and Secrets of Florentine Art was a quiet refuge from the wild party that grew in Walker Court surrounding an interesting masked mannequin by Broadbent and flanked by the Kobo Photo Booth by Melanie Cantwell Designs that created a line completely surrounding the bar. Our personal favourite of the night: Mahmood Popal’s Dolla Dolla Grillz Ya’ll vending machine display. There was nothing more hilarious than seeing well dressed party guests sporting shiny plastic grills on the Ballie Court dance floor towards the end of the night. Classic.
Congratulations to all involved on an incredibly successful evening.
Photos by Tara Bartolini