11 must-see sexy, thoughtful, celebratory, richly textured, colourful, cleansing art exhibitions in Toronto this spring

Toronto Star

By: Sue Carter

February 3, 2023

Original URL: 11 must-see art exhibitions in Toronto this spring | The Star 

Meryl McMaster (b. 1988), Calling Me Home, 2019, Digital Chromogenic Print, 101.6 x 152.4 cm, Courtesy of the artist, Stephen Bulger Gallery, and Pierre-François Ouellette art contemporain, © Meryl McMaster

After a brief hiatus over the holidays, Toronto galleries are returning with a full roster of engaging shows, offering a variety of world views.

While a groundhog might predict the weather each year, we don’t need a rodent in a top hat to inform us that the spring art is in full bloom. After a brief hiatus over the holidays, Toronto galleries are returning with a full roster of engaging shows, offering a variety of world views. Here are 11 exhibitions to check out this season.

The Burn
Various locations until March 11

At the beginning of the COVID-19 lockdowns we stood on our doorsteps, banging pots and pans in recognition of front-line workers. In an effort to regain that sense of community healing, the city has commissioned “The Burn” by artist Roger Mooking, in collaboration with artist and designer Javid JAH and multidisciplinary artist and Wyandot elder Catherine Tammaro. toronto.ca/explore-enjoy.

Until March 12, everyone is invited to 21 sites across the GTA to reflect on what has been lost over the past three years. The spherical wooden vessels marking each site will be brought to Nathan Phillips Square on March 11 to be burned in a daylong ceremony featuring fire, water and audio, with the ashes to be spread in city gardens.

Mary Ellen Mark: Ward 81
The Image Centre until April 1

Documentary photographer Mary Ellen Mark spent 36 days at the Oregon State Hospital in 1976, capturing the lives of female mental-health patients living in a high-security psychiatric facility. Although the photos and the accompanying audio recordings and other archival materials are more than 40 years old, the work resonates in its documentary-style approach to revealing lives rarely seen. theimagecentre.ca

Radical Remembrance: The Sculptures of David Ruben Piqtoukun
Art Gallery of Ontario until June 25

This exhibition of Inuk sculptor David Ruben Piqtoukun’s work covers a notable career that has spanned over 50 years and is still going strong. It’s fascinating to see how Piqtoukun has returned to the same motifs over the decades, using stone, metal, wood and bone to produce thought-provoking and occasionally humorous works, grounded in deep environmental concerns and reflections of Inuit culture. ago.ca/exhibitions

A Sex Show
Gallery 1313 until Feb. 12

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, things might get a little kinky at the Parkdale artist-run centre with its annual exhibition dedicated to all themes sexual. More than 20 artists are participating, covering a diverse range of perspectives and media, including film, collage and painting. g1313.org

Black Families & Historic Settlements
Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue until March 3

Although the Parkdale home of Black Artists’ Network in Dialogue (BAND) is currently under renovation, the gallery and cultural centre has a full slate of events this spring. Up first at its pop-up location at 789 Adelaide St. W. is “Black Families & Historic Settlements,” a show highlighting Black stories, including an animated documentary about the history of Africville by Raoul Olou and a collection of archival family photos shared by artist Barbara Moore. bandgallery.com

Meryl McMaster: Bloodline
McMichael Canadian Art Collection Feb. 4-May 28

It’s worth a spring road trip out to Kleinberg to catch this survey of work by photographer Meryl McMaster. The artist, who is of mixed Plains Cree/Métis, Dutch and British ancestry, is best known for her stunning photos that emphasize the connection between land and body through otherworldly portraiture. mcmichael.com

Amartey Golding: In the comfort of embers
The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery Feb. 4-May 14

The Power Plant kicks off the season with three strong shows, including works by British artist Amartey Golding, who examines the portrayal of Black masculinity and pervading homophobia in British society. Golding’s first Canadian exhibition features three of his films, accompanied by the incredible sculptural garments worn in the multimedia works, as well as a selection of photos. thepowerplant.org

Ten of Toronto
Myseum Feb. 7-April 30

For its first exhibition of the year, the Myseum of Toronto looks back at the origins of 10 neighbourhoods, including Thorncliffe, Casa Loma and Baby Point, to showcase our collective histories through various themes, including economy, immigration and culture. myseumoftoronto.com

Athena Papadopoulos: The New Alphabet
MOCA Toronto Feb. 24-April 30

Greek-Canadian artist Athena Papadopoulos created two site-specific sculptural bodies of work for MOCA during COVID-19, concerned that they would never been seen. Lucky for us, Papadopoulos’s richly textured sculptures, which pull in everyday objects such as seat cushions and wigs, are coloured with items associated with femininity including hair dye and self-tanner, creating almost grotesque forms. moca.ca

Body of Work
Cry Baby Gallery March 2023

In celebration of International Women’s Month, the Dundas West art venue and cocktail bar is raising a glass with a curated show of works featuring the female form by Toronto artists Marcia Bianchi, Alyssa Goodman, Maxine McCrann and Emily Pope. crybabygallery.ca

Hilos Conductores
Sur Gallery Feb. 2-April 1

The gallery space for Latin American-Canadian Art Projects (LACAP) on Queens Quay opens with an exhibition of Chilean textile artists whose political work threads together commonalities between Chile and Canada, including mining, water ownership and decolonization efforts. The show is co-presented with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and the Textile Museum of Canada, which is hosting an accompanying series of talks and workshops. surgalleryvirtual.ca

Media wishing to request an interview with exhibition artists, curators, or to obtain high-resolution images of the artworks are asked to contact Sam Cheung at scheung@mcmichael.com or 905.893.1121 ext. 2210.

Ces informations sont aussi disponible en français. 


The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the only major museum in the country devoted exclusively to Canadian art. In addition to touring exhibitions, the McMichael houses a permanent collection of more than 6,500 works by historic and contemporary Canadian artists, including Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, Indigenous artists and artists from many diasporic communities in Canada. The Gallery is located on 100 acres of forested land and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information, please visit mcmichael.com. 


Sam Cheung
Media Relations and Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210

Grace Johnstone
Director, Communications, Marketing and Sales
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905-893-1121 x2265