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Attention, Toronto artists. Local landmarks are looking to exhibit your work

Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist Shellie Zhang's Beacons was chosen to exhibit at the Bentway skating trail for the 2022-23 season. The Bentway is seeking artists' submissions for next year's exhibit. (Shellie Zhang - image credit)
Toronto-based multidisciplinary artist Shellie Zhang's Beacons was chosen to exhibit at the Bentway skating trail for the 2022-23 season. The Bentway is seeking artists' submissions for next year's exhibit. (Shellie Zhang - image credit)

Local artists have at least two opportunities to showcase their work at high-profile tourist venues this year.

The Bentway and Ontario Place are both looking for proposals this month for upcoming exhibitions.

Anna Gallagher-Ross, senior manager of programming at the Bentway, told CBC Toronto the skating attraction is looking for local artwork that embraces the winter season.

"We're looking for artists who have a unique take on winter and who are ready, really ready, to collaborate … and to think through what it means to produce an artwork in the cold," she said.

The Bentway is seeking submissions as part of its Transform the Trail program. In its second year, the program offers artists from all over Canada the opportunity to showcase their work alongside the unique skating trail located under a stretch of the Gardiner Expressway. The artwork will be displayed from December 2023 to February 2024. The submission deadline is Jan. 31.

Ontario Place
Ontario Place

Ontario Place is soliciting proposals from Ontario artists for Lumière: The Art of Light (formerly known as the Winter Light Exhibition) for this year. The annual event is set to transform Trillium Park every night between March 10 and May 7. This year's theme is "renewal" and seeks to celebrate the change of seasons from winter to spring.

The chosen artist may receive up to $12,500 for their work and the submission deadline is Jan. 16.

Offering a space to showcase local art is one of the added benefits of running a popular attraction like the Bentway, said Gallagher-Ross.

"Each year at our skate trail, we welcome over 30,000 people from across the GTA," she said. "We like to think that we convert those skaters to art lovers because they're so able to encounter really unique and fantastic, original commissions from artists."

For its current season, the Bentway is showcasing multidisciplinary artist Shellie Zhang's Beacons, a set of glowing gradient beams scattered throughout the skating trail.

Shellie Zhang
Shellie Zhang

The exhibit was created to meet the theme of "first winters" with new immigrants to Canada in mind. Zhang was born in Beijing but now calls Toronto home.

Beacons is meant to celebrate the Bentway as a free space where people can gather, she said.

"Free public spaces like the Bentway were a huge moment for me growing up when I first came to Canada," Zhang said. "Spaces like libraries, community spaces, religious spaces, these were places where not only you got to meet people in your community but meet people and establish relationships outside of what is sort of familiar."

She believes artists can enhance these spaces.

"We kind of have the unique position where we get to make rules a little obsolete and where we get to make a little more magic happen in places where experiences can be quite isolating among the urban concrete we all live in," Zhang said.

The Bentway's programming has also been developed to complement this year's exhibit with activities like free skating lessons for newcomers to Canada.

For next year's exhibit, The Bentway is encouraging artists to think about how they can enhance the unique space and the experience of skaters. A public information session will be held Jan. 19 at 5:30 p.m.

Ontario Place bills Lumière as a "free light exhibition [that] allows visitors to explore the park and experience art developed by Ontario artists."

Artists are asked to submit a proposal that exhibits a strong connection to the "renewal" theme. It must also have an interactive component and a creative use of light. Proposals should include mockups and a detailed budget.

More details about how to submit can be found on Ontario Place's website.