The Don River Valley Park Art Program is a curated series of temporary public artworks taking place along the Don River. Local, national and international artists are invited to create site-specific projects that speak to the many histories and present-day realities of the Don Valley and its surrounding communities – looking at the land from ecological, cultural, industrial and Indigenous perspectives and more.
The Art Program offers many points of engagement, with projects taking shape as sculptural installations, murals, billboards and performance, including dance and sound, as well as an active public program of talks, walks and research workshops lead by artists. Each project will have its own timeline, with some lasting many years and others for just one day.
The Art Program is set to become a new hub for art in Toronto, where visitors can return time and again to find new commissions and events unfolding where art meets the natural environment. The commissioned projects will foreground education and access; link art, place and audience; and foster awareness and stewardship for the Valley.
Curator: Kari Cwynar
Advisory Committee: Michelle Koerner (chair), Rui Amaral, Rebecca Carbin, Catherine Dean, An Te Liu, Barbara Macdonald, Marianne McKenna, Alissa North, Elisa Nuyten, Frances Price, Laura Rapp, Kitty Scott, Brenda Webster, Robin Young
“When considering bringing art into our natural spaces we should remember that the life and landscape of Toronto's wilds have inspired the imaginations of such renowned artists as Doris McCarthy, Margaret Atwood, Atom Egoyan, Larry Richards, and Ernest Hemingway.”
Monsters for Beauty, Permanence and Individuality
Launching Sept. 23
Artist Duane Linklater will initiate the Don River Valley Park Art Program with a striking installation of cast concrete gargoyles on the Lower Don Trail. The sculptures are cast replicas of gargoyles adorning prominent buildings in downtown Toronto.
Linklater’s project stems from an interest in the structural changes made to the Lower Don River as it became an industrial hub in colonial Toronto.
The artist asks the viewer to look closely at the trajectory of Toronto’s history and the changes made to the natural environment with the development of cities in settler societies.
The gargoyle as an icon communicates power and authority; it is a protector of a certain kind of colonial space.
Linklater proposes to re-deploy or re-purpose the figure of the gargoyle in relation to the Don River.
Linklater’s gargoyle sculptures focus attention on the Lower Don’s role in Toronto’s industrialization, while sparking a larger conversation regarding ongoing Indigenous and colonial occupation of the city.
The sculptures will be available for public viewing as of September 23, 2017. They are a long-term installation in the Don River Valley Park.
The fabrication of the sculptures was complete by Patric Coleman from Cobalt Fabrication.
About Duane Linklater
Born in Moose Factory, Ont. in 1976. Lives and works in North Bay, Ont.
Duane Linklater is Omaskêko Cree from Moose Cree First Nation. Working in performance, installation, film and other media, Duane Linklater addresses issues of cultural loss and recovery as well as authenticity, appropriation and authorship. He often collaborates with others, reconsidering oral traditions where the transmission of knowledge, stories or histories is essential to future generations. His research on the land and language of Newfoundland’s extinct Beothuck people forms one project, while the film Modest Livelihood—part of dOCUMENTA (13)—shows Linklater and Brian Jungen on a hunting trip, referencing First Nations’ rights to fish and hunt.
Linklater received a Bachelor of Native Studies and a BFA from the University of Alberta. He completed his MFA in film and video at Bard College in 2012, where his thesis exhibition involved planting 12 Home Depot blueberry bushes on the lawn outside Bard’s Centre for Curatorial Studies. Linklater’s work has been exhibited at the Vancouver Art Gallery, New York’s Family Business Gallery and the Power Plant. He is the winner of the 2013 Sobey Art Award.
Life of a Craphead
King Edward VII Equestrian Statue Floating Down the Don
Comedy duo Life of a Craphead will be launching a series of performances in which they drop a life-size replica statue of King Edward VII into the Lower Don River. The sculpture will float down the river from Riverdale Park before it is retrieved near the Don Landing where it will be retrieved for its next journey.
In Queen’s Park, Toronto, sits a 15-foot bronze equestrian statue of King Edward VII. The statue was originally erected in Delhi, India in 1922 to commemorate King Edward VII’s colonial role as the Emperor of India. After independence in India, the statue was removed, to be destroyed; years later a prominent Toronto resident and art collector brought the statue to Toronto in appreciation of its craftsmanship. It was placed in Queen’s Park in 1969 despite public outcry and criticism.
Life of a Craphead’s project explores the histories and decisions that continue to shape Toronto’s public space and public art. Their performance will create the illusion that this statue has been “dumped” in the Don River. The artists developed this new project in relation to the Don River Valley.
“It’s tied to the idea that certain things are difficult to get rid of: the history of the Don as a dump site persists, at the same time that the river's natural unruliness persists, like how colonial power persists.”
Please abide by all TRCA and City of Toronto by-laws. Members of the public are encouraged to view the work from designated trails and sidewalks as indicated on our map.
This project is possible with the support of the Toronto Arts Council.
About Life of a Craphead
Life of a Craphead is the collaboration of Amy Lam and Jon McCurley since 2006. Their work spans performance art, film and curation. Performance projects include The Life of a Craphead Fifty Year Retrospective, 2006-2056 (Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, 2013), an fake career retrospective of all the work they will ever make; Double Double Land Land (Gallery TPW, Toronto, 2009), a play interrupted by a staged wedding; and Free Lunch (2007), a public, anonymously-advertised free lunch serving everything on the menu of a restaurant.
Their first feature film Bugs (72 min., 2016) has screened in Canada and the U.S., including at Night Gallery, Los Angeles; The Western Front, Vancouver; Parsons School for Design, NYC; The Khyber Centre for the Arts, Halifax; and S1, Portland, among others. Life of a Craphead also run and host the popular performance art show and online broadcast Doored, which has featured work by over 100 artists. Between 2006-09, Life of a Craphead performed frequently on live comedy shows including at Laugh Sabbath (Toronto) and UCB Theatre (L.A. & NYC).
Life of a Craphead have been artists-in-residence at the Macdowell Colony, U.S.; the Banff Centre, Canada; Department of Safety, Anacortes, U.S.; and Wunderbar, U.K.; New Space Arts Foundation, Hue, Vietnam; with upcoming residencies in 2017 at Struts/Faucet in Sackville, NB, Canada. They are the recipients of grants and awards from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council. Their work has been featured in Canadian Art, C Magazine, and Art in America. They are Chinese and Vietnamese and live and work in Toronto, Canada.
STAGING (2017) - undressed
On July 7 and 8, the Don River Valley Park Art Program presented STAGING - undressed, a new live installation work by acclaimed New York-based artist Maria Hassabi.
Featuring a team of seven dancers, including Hassabi, STAGING - undressed is presented as a living sculpture with no beginning or end, using time as a technique and as a subject. STAGING focuses on the contours of stillness or slowness, while addressing the ways in which the spectacle of performance is presented within exhibitions, and in relation to architectural environments and public space. In its “undressed” iteration for Evergreen, out-of-doors and away from its institutional and architectural setting, the work invites the context of public space to influence the sculptural form and become its new stage.
Hassabi’s work often encourages new relationships to the transitory spaces we tend to move through without notice. In Toronto, STAGING - undressed unfolded over several hours along the Lower Don River, as visitors came and went, or stumbled upon an unexpected performance. The framework of STAGING - undressed was thus widened to include mannerisms of viewers or passersby, creating the potential for any action in the public space to be seen as choreography.
STAGING was a co-production of Evergreen/Don River Valley Park (Toronto, Canada), Aarhus 2017 (Aarhus, Denmark), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, US), and documenta 14 (Kassel, Germany).
About Maria Hassabi
Maria Hassabi (b. 1973, Cyprus) is an artist and choreographer. Over the years she has developed a distinct choreographic practice that triangulates an ever evolving relationship between the body, the still image, and the sculptural object. Her performances and installations have been presented internationally in theaters, museums, galleries, and public spaces.
They have been included in festivals, venues, and exhibitions including: documenta14, Kassel (2017); Stegi OCC, Athens (2017); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Brussels (2017, 2014); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2016); The Kitchen, New York (2016, 2013, 2011, 2006); Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2015); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2015); ArtSonje, Seoul (2015); Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne (2014); steirischer herbst, Graz (2014); The 55th Venice Biennale, Venice (2013); Performa, New York (2013, 2009); Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneva, Switzerland (2012); Performance Space 122, New York (2009, 2007); amongst others.
Hassabi has been awarded: a 2016 New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award for Outstanding Production for her work PLASTIC; the 2015 Herb Alpert Award; the 2012 President’s Award for Performing Arts from Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; a 2011 Guggenheim Fellowship; and a 2009 Grants to Artists Award from Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Hassabi holds a BFA from California Institute of the Arts. She is based in New York.