queen st. west toronto ontario canada street sign

On Toronto’s Queen West strip, a quiet rebirth is underway.

While the space at 1332 Queen St. West is not new, its manifesto is. Closing in Spring 2010, gallery DK sealed the shutters of urban contemporary expose after serving the Parkdale community for over two years.

As a modest gallery welcoming daily banter and gawkers, the news of its sudden removal from the area was disappointing, but not for too long. As the former working ground for five artists who coined themselves the DK Photo Group, the gallery explored architectural abandonment and sociological empowerment using a stream of contexts and forms.

art space abandoned urban decay Toronto Queen street west

architectural abandonment & sociological empowerment

The group consisted of Russel Brohler, Sean Galbraith, Steve Jacobs, Laurin Jeffrey and Matthew Merrett. Each artist’s narrative shared a common theme of urban exploration, but each one’s presentation varied.

Some of the past work exhibited included photographs of land masses such as the Alberta Tar Sands, recorded sound and video manipulations depicting isolation, assessments of tangible materials like tree bark and the influx of symbolism in alleyways.

For the majority of the installations the notion of urban decay and neglect remained an important focus.

art gallery west toronto ontario canada store front

New gallerywest storefront -1332 Queen St. West

Enter gallerywest and Saskatchewan-born Evan Tyler.

An artist, curator and facilitator of art, Evan Tyler was that fresh kid on the street who had big ideas. As a creator himself, Tyler knew the inner workings of the Canadian art scene, but Toronto was a territory he yearned to be more influential in. The opportunity to bridge a geographical dialogue between Western Canada and Toronto’s epicenter presented a plethora of possibilities for talented artists.

After being one of the final artists to show at the now deceased galleryDK, Tyler’s ‘My Girls’ photo series wove the plastic with the modern, focusing on the realism of mannequins in relation to the everyday. Shortly after news broke of the soon-to-be closed galleryDK, Tyler decided it was time to make a move—a cross-country move for ownership.

Since opening in October 2010, gallerywest has exposed a stimulating roster of original work, adding cinematic elements and performance pieces to the mix.

Video segments delving into the world of ghost hunting, large-scale root illustrations, photographs of underground waterways and provocative pictorials of inner distinction are among the topics covered to date.

Welcoming back the former DK Photo Group, the latest exhibit recaptures the essence of urban neglect. Auto junkyards, abandoned buildings, and never-before-seen photographs from a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay are all on the viewing agenda. So too is a selection of gently-woven photographs of cloud-cluster terrain, courtesy of Laurin Jeffrey.

art featuring an empty parking lot

"Hot Wheels" by Laurin Jeffrey

Onlookers will witness varying styles that cast an intimate look at bare-ridden beauty. Some spaces were easier to capture than others. Some were unexpected surprises. However, all works invite the viewer to take part in a discourse about the modern realities we create and those we seemingly neglect.

Opening reception: Thursday, February 3rd, 7pm to 10pm.

1332 Queen West

More information: 1332queenwest.com/upcoming

New Works by DK Photo Group runs from February 1st to February 28th, 2011.