Last Thursday night, we participated in the first Art Spin of the 2013 season. Art Spin is a free monthly summer series that starts in Trinity Bellwoods Park and takes you to different art events in the near vicinity. All it requires is your bicycle and an open mind.
It’s been happening for a few years, and this past Thursday was the first time we could make it, and we were glad we did. What a uniquely west-end Toronto experience! More than 200 cyclists assembled at the south end of Trinity Bellwoods, and the tour started promptly at 7PM.
We rode north through Trinity Bellwoods, up to Dundas, east along Dundas and then south down to King Street. You never know where the first stop, the next stop or the next stop is, but rest assured, the organizers plan a varied and very interesting tour. We were never bored! The tour is different each time, so you can keep going and will see new performances each time.
Likely due to the large size of the group, Art Spin brought us to parks and public spaces. It was a gorgeous night, and the things we saw and experienced were unique and inspiring. This was a truly exceptional experience – what Nuit Blanc used to deliver.
First stop: North Stanley Park. This interactive theatrical experience invited willing audience members to put on costumes and perform – the rest of us enthusiastically cheered along. A mix of dance, game playing and performance art with a lot of color thrown in. According to the Art Spin Facebook page, this was curated by Heather Nicol.
After a fun performance there, we got back on our bikes and slowly cycled south and west and into Liberty Village, eventually stopping in a street in the southwest part of the village. We again stayed outside, this time taking over the street and facing south, waiting patiently for the show to begin. We don’t have photos. because the 40 or so participants in this art exhibit opened themselves to the crowd on a very personal level. As we stood facing the end of the street, and the highway, one by one, the participants stepped out and walked slowly towards us, naked. The way they walked, stepping very slowly, and the way they looked, vulnerable and exposed, and mostly, expressionless, created a haunting experience for the audience. The audience was mostly quiet until the end, because it was thought-provoking for us.
After this experience, we hopped back on our bikes and rode back through the partiers of Liberty Village, up the hill and down again, to Fort York. Our guides took us indoors to the blue barracks in Fort York. There was lots of seating, but the group was so large that some sat on the floor in front and some stood on the sides and in the back. We heard a 4 piece experimental jazz band accompanied by a psychedelic art projection. The artists were talented, and the audience was enthusiastic.
We were at Fort York for 30-40 minutes, then got back on our bikes for a short ride north to Walnut Gallery and Walnut Studios. This was the final stop, we got to see the current exhibit at the gallery, and tour around the vast studios around the corner. The final stop also offered some cool refreshments and sandwiches, and an outdoor space to unwind and collect.
The organizers do a great job. At most of the stops, we left our bikes on the grass or against fences and there were designated watchers to keep them safe. During the actual rides, there were always people assigned to keep us together and protect us from traffic. The tour itself took about 2.5 hours, and you are free to leave early if you’d like. I wouldn’t want to miss a thing, though. This is a great way to experience art you would likely never see otherwise. Some of this is new and some is created entirely for the tour. The next two rides are July 25th and August 29th, always leaving from Trinity Bellwoods with stops unknown. See you there! Don’t forget your bike!