Evergreen presents Reube (V. Stepanova and M. Vionnet) – a new public art commission along the Lower Don

Artist Beth Stuart’s new mural on the Dundas Street bridge is now open to the public

TORONTO, ONTARIO (September 9, 2019) – Evergreen brings a bright and layered story to the Lower Don Trail with the new, large-scale mural titled Reube (V. Stepanova and M. Vionnet). Artist Beth Stuart's densely patterned mural continues her ongoing body of work related to Victorian-era social customs and conventions, and their continued influence on public life.

“We are thrilled to present this new project – the first major mural project as part of the art program in the Lower Don,” says Kari Cwynar, Curator of Evergreen’s Don River Valley Park Art Program. “Beth Stuart researches the moments in which women have inserted themselves and their work in the development of modernism and the modern city and we see that in this installation. Beth is one of Canada’s most innovative painters working today and it’s thrilling to present her first work in public space here in the Don Valley. It’s an incredible site for a mural – the underside of a Victorian-era bridge that crosses the Don River with wonderful views from the Don River Parkway. Not only is the mural visually striking, but it opens conversation around the development of Toronto as a city and how the design conventions of the modern era are still tangible in our experiences of the city.”

For this project, artist Beth Stuart re-visits the work of two significant female designers: Varvara Stepanova and Madeleine Vionnet. In the 1920s, Stepanova, a Russian artist, designed unisex sports costumes with strong geometric patterns, seeing sport and leisure as unifying and democratic activities. Simultaneously in France, fashion designer Madeleine Vionnet popularized less-confined clothing for women – changing how garments were made for the female body with clothing that allowed women to move freely in their daily routines.

Stuart's mural applies one of Stepanova’s repeated motif of circles intersected with lines, overlaid with figures based on sewing patterns by Vionnet.

This artwork invites us to consider how elements of modern design, from clothing to urban infrastructure, determine how we move through public space and suggests that the norms of the early modern period still impact how we live today.

Stuart’s artwork is part of Evergreen’s Don River Valley Park Art Program. Current installations can be found along the Lower Don Trail including Virginia Overton’s Built, Will Kwan’s A Park for All and Duane Linklater’s Monsters for Beauty, Permanence and Individuality.

About the artist:

Beth Stuart is a Canadian artist based in Toronto, Ontario. She works in an expanding range of media including writing, painting, ceramic, performance, textiles and sculptural installation. Picking up on overlooked historical moments, characters and material techniques, she creates alternate plot points in the narrative of modernist abstraction in order to examine the physical and metaphysical implications of dissolving the figure-ground relationship. Recent material research has convened bizarre Victorian bathing customs, the tiny creatures that live between grains of sand on the beach, the politics of stretch, time travel, melting rock with her bare hands, pizza, and contemporary art as a site of ritual sublimation. She holds a graduate degree from the University of Guelph, and an undergraduate degree from Concordia in Montreal. Notable exhibitions include a solo exhibition at the Power Plant (Toronto 2018), the Esker Foundation (Calgary 2014), The Painting Project UQUAM (Montreal 2013) and An Assembly of Shapes, Oakville Galleries (2018). She is the recipient of numerous residencies, grants, and awards including the RBC Painting Prize, Skowhegan, the Canada Council for the Arts Paris Residency and the Canada Council’s Long-Term Grant for Visual Artists. She is represented by Susan Hobbs where she has a solo exhibition in the fall of 2019.

About the Don River Valley Park Art Program:

The Don River Valley Park Art Program, presented by Evergreen in partnership with the City of Toronto and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, is a series of temporary sculptural installations, murals, billboards and performances along the Don River, created specifically for this site by local, Canadian and international artists. The commissioned artworks explore the Don Valley’s ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous histories, and the decisions that continue to shape the city’s public space and public art. Each project will have its own timeline, with some lasting many years and others for one day.

The Don River Valley Park, a 200-hectare greenspace spanning E.T. Seton Park to Corktown Common, aims to build connections to and from neighbourhoods, engage Torontonians and visitors in cultural activities and enhance the environment of one of the world’s largest ravine systems.