In an overnight, city-wide showcase of contemporary art, east-end residents stepped up to celebrate stories of home, the wilderness, memories and displays of how deep their roots can grow.
More than 24 local artists showed their interpretations of The Space Between Us, this year’s theme of Nuit Blanche, an event that originated in Paris, France, in 2002.
In case the smashing piñatas, or dancing the night away at a silent disco wasn’t their scene, the Danforth/Coxwell Parkette across from Coxwell station was where showgoers could comfortably found themselves, accompanied by a pair of mammoths.
The piece invited viewers to ask what “imprint” or “layers” they were leaving for future generations.
“At the moment, we are on the top layer, and the creatures that were here before us, are now below our feet — often times, we don’t even realize they’re there,” Ling said. “I want people to enjoy themselves, but I also ask people to remember that we are all connected to the past, and will connect to the future.”
More to life
While artists showcased their works along the Danforth, attendees of the overnight spectacle were tasked with moments of reminiscing, surprised with laughter, and attentive in their desire to learn about the installations, and the artists behind the work.
Walking along the Danforth across from Petroleum Imprints was Toronto singer-songwriter Michelle Rumball, offering praise for the locations and attendance of this year’s event.
“It’s been so great to see so many people out tonight,” Rumble said. “[East End Arts] did a great job in dividing up the spaces, it’s been a great night.”
Although, the praise didn’t just stop with how well organized the night was, with east-enders thankful for more than just the opportunity to celebrate art.
Toronto-Danforth street artist Yannick Ariel Bihan, painting murals and outdoor drawings throughout the area for more than 15 years, also had the chance to showcase an original work at the corner of Bastedo and Danforth avenues.
Priding himself on his use of colours and breathing energy into varying spaces, Bihan shared why events like Nuit Blanche are important for not only celebrating arts culture, but also for celebrating life.
“I want to express art and express nature, so a lot of my paintings have a lot of colours, like Bruno Smoky,” Bihan said. “You know, a wall that’s grey, it’s meditative, but there is more light to life. If we can express that, and see that around the streets, then why not? Just like the monotony of life, there’s much more than that.”
Between Coxwell and Woodbine TTC stations, and only five minutes from Ling’s outdoor exhibit, the in-view installation Memories was on display at Broad Lingerie, capturing beauty in the ordinary, while using a variety of colours, light, and shadows.
Having immigrated to Canada in 2013, artist Sara Vargas Nessi uses her life experiences and memories of her home, Caracas, Venezuela, as inspiration behind her art.
Nessi, a graduate of the Fine Arts Studio program at Centennial College, is also the artist behind the two-story mural at Centennial College Story Arts Centre.
She doesn’t take for granted the opportunity to display her work in a space that helped ease her challenges of immigrating to Canada.
“It has been a dream come true,” Nessi said. “Being accepted into college was the first step for me in becoming a permanent resident here in Canada. I went to school in Venezuela where they had a ramp similar to the Story Arts Center, so, to have my installation in front of that ramp, it’s like a full circle for me.”
Social media echoed the positivity surrounding the event, with East end resident Laura Anonen taking to Twitter to share her reaction to Nuit Blanche.
This year’s Nuit Blanche event was a welcome return to in-person events in Toronto. With 150 artists bringing life throughout the city, from Etobicoke, downtown, North York, East Danforth and beyond.