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A multicultural experience at this weekend’s Toronto Art Expo – Metro US

A multicultural experience at this weekend’s Toronto Art Expo

It’s an international affair at The Toronto Art Expo. Starting tomorrow, more than 300 artists from 12 countries will put their top pieces on display at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

More than 14,000 customers will pass through. Though local private galleries will lose some business this weekend, they’re welcome to join this yearly event, and judging by the way this expo keeps growing each year, they probably should.

“The Queen Street scene may be a bit jealous because we suck several million dollars out of that market,” explains director Peter Mcguire.

“But they can buy booths here, no problem. Lots of private dealers do. One American gallery bought 14 booths this year.”

This is Toronto’s largest indoor art event. All the art shown is pre-screened to ensure it’s at a professional standard.

High quality prints by masters like Dali and Moore are also available. Not the usual ink jet knock-offs: only actual limited editions, which the artists themselves had a hand in making.
Mcguire’s business model is also at a higher level.

“We charge each participant a flat fee and no commission,” says Macguire. “So the artists and the dealers get to keep all the money they make.”

Now in its eighth year, the expo started by showcasing just 75 artists. It’s since become the largest event of its kind in Canada, and it’s not just art on walls, either.

Big cultural events are happening. Actual whirling dervishes from Turkey will perform and Korean dancing drummers.

Some of the art for sale is monumental in scale, too.

“We’re displaying works on rice paper from China, twelve feet by 40 feet, says Mcguire. “There’s an enormous amount of non-Western art to discover here. We’re proudly multicultural, like Toronto is.”

According to local painter Andrea Chadwick, who has displayed her own works at the expo for several years running, the event invents opportunities that artists need.

“Most artists can’t rely on just gallery contacts anymore,” says Chadwick. “We have to self-promote. The expo gets thousands of people looking at my art in a single weekend and that helps me make a living.

“It’s also helped me develop as an artist because there is so much feedback happening. I can witness people’s reactions. I can talk to them about it. Plus I meet other artists, and dealers, too. There’s a great collegial atmosphere there, which I know has made me a stronger artist.”

The Toronto Art Expo runs Feb. 25-28 at 255 Front Street West.

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