Leslieville’s Labspace Studio has taken on an archeological approach to art with their current East End Expedition Series.
In hopes of attracting a new set of visitors to Toronto’s east end, the Pape Avenue studio’s resident artists and owners Laura Mendes and John Loerchner have teamed up with other artists to create a four-part, multidisciplinary series unearthing some of the community’s natural gems.
Launched in early summer with “My Friend Don”, 11 artists went on a two-day canoe expedition down the East Don River to Lake Ontario.
The natural and man-made materials they found along the way became the basis of their show.
The July 16–18 show featured dance, sound installation, sculpture and paintings all referencing the Don River.
Expedition’s second installment “A Night with Leslie” launched in August, with nine artists including Mendes and Loerchner exploring the spit over one weekend.
The exhibit was an attempt to change the perception that Toronto’s west end is the place to be, said Mendes, who specializes in dance.
“(The east end) is a great space and a great community,” Mendes continues. “It has a number of great natural spaces a lot of people don’t know about because they don’t come out here.”
Take the Spit itself, for example.
Natural wonders and man made objects like foliage and discarded metals collide along the five kilometre Spit at the base of Leslie Street.
“A night with Leslie” was a culmination of that adventure, and also featured sculpture, dance, sound installation and traditional painting.
“It was a whole bunch of stuff,” Mendes says. “We really wanted to immerse ourselves in the Spit.”
Mendes says she loves the openness of the natural space.
“You can go out there and feel you are up north but really you are 15 minutes from downtown Toronto,” she says.
The third installment of the series, “Rumblings in the Rouge” opens Sept. 24 and looks at Rouge Park, while the final exhibit “Hydro Hike” explores Scarborough’s Highland Creek Ravine through the hydro fields to Yonge and Bloor.
Mendes and company hope to launch that show in October.
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