Factory Art PartyToronto April 30. 2016

An empty Toronto warehouse at Spadina and Wellington was the site of Blank Canvases4th Annual Bangin’ Art Bash. Artists, supporters and art fans gathered on a balmy spring night to celebrate, fund-raise and promote a great cause the deliciously stylish 80’s way: within a perfect raw space, an iconic film projected on the wall, live art being made while people mingled, and the well dressed getting down to a steady stream of 80s and 90s beats. The mood was high and fun, with something to do or watch for everyone as they sipped on passed shooters, beer or wine, and munched on mac and cheese or, if you pleased, oysters on the half shell. The revelry was hosted by The Line Design Lab & Espresso Bar, whose fabulous new gallery/design space invites visitors to linger, admire and covet.

Blank Canvases is “an art programme that uses the authentic artistic approach to inspire children and stimulate creative thinking”, whose mission is “to use authenticity of the artistic process to inspire engaged art making and creativity in those we teach”. They offer workshops, classes and art parties geared to children of various ages and adult programming as well. This weekend’s Factory Art Party earmarked all proceeds to benefit schools in Toronto’s designated at-risk neighborhood.

Along the way, as promised, was a Bangin’ Art Bash: an art-filled masterpiece of a night was created, taking us back to an earlier time (that we should continue to strive for) when raw spaces were the perfect canvas for people from different worlds and scenes in this big city to mix, create, dance and celebrate together. Highly notable and refreshing was the lack of screens, tonight put away in favour of the real, the public, the happening, the moment. Mobiles were pocketed as people connected: with Toronto’s Notorious EGR who made live art before our eyes in a few short hours; with canvas of their own in a massive, factory wall to wall group painting; with DJs (Mark Foreman, LenX) spinning without a pause, causing mini dance floors to spring up all over the place (shout to the corner group!) and in those DJ spins, incidentally, it made room also for some much needed time for people to publicly celebrate the life of the recently departed Prince in the only and the best way possible.

As the night progressed, EGR (aka Erica Balon) created a diptych sort of mural of a stunning woman with sparkling eyes, hair of at least five ice-creamy colours, and armed with a guitar. My kind of weapon. Music, art, and colour flowed and bounced off people and this canvas to the opposite wall where guests shared space on mini-murals of their own. At times, the area directly in front of EGR became a dance circle, which didn’t phase this street artist. Seeing this work created and being in the presence of the artist at work was something special, and a key part of the night’s vibe and success. It was a stroke of genius for the party’s activity to be so inspiring, and so closely linked to its mission. From the established muralist and illustrator to the party guest to the child, everyone can pick up a brush and experience the power and potential in applying paint to canvas, to communicating and sharing, and the power in creation.

Jacqueline Howell

Links/further reading:

Learn more about Blank Canvases and their special workshops

See Blank Canvases in action at model school Parkdale PS

EGR – Erica Balon Art (gallery, bookings & commissions)

The Line, Toronto