Friday, October 07, 2011

Toronto Sculpture Garden

The Toronto Sculpture Garden is hidden in plain sight along the south side of King Street East just across from St James Cathedral, between Church and Jarvis. The park is quite tiny, squished between two buildings with an alley that leads to the Metro Supermarket in the St Lawrence Market area. I cannot believe I have been so close to this site without noticing it before. I thought there might be several sculptures but it looks like it features one artist at a time.
During my early October 2011 visit the garden contained a high stack of 7 white car bodies which I found out was called 'Gold, Silver & Lead' by artist Jed Lind. The sculpture is defined as a "monumental stack of refined first generation Honda Civics.' See the artist statement from the Sculpture Garden's website below, after the jump.

The plaques at the entrance to the 115 King Street East gardens say "The sculpture garden is situated between two of the original city buildings built in the Georgian style of the early 1840's. This row between Church and Market Streets was a prominent part of the Main Street of the city as it developed west of the old town of York. Oak Hall, an outstanding commercial building with a cast iron front, was built here in the late 1870's. The site was cleared in 1938 for use as a parking lot and in 1981 was redesigned as a city park for the Toronto Sculpture Garden." And "The sculpture garden in this city park was constructed with generous contributions from the Louis Odette family and the Province of Ontario to promote the art of sculpture for the enjoyment of the people of Toronto.

An art advisory board organizes exhibitions which exemplify  a variety of sculptural styles and techniques by artists working in Canada and around the world. Opened September 11, 1981."
In the shadow of St. James Cathedral across the street.

Artist Statement follows the jump.

Gold, Silver & Lead is a monumental stack of refined first generation Honda Civics, in painted steel, which rises 20’ above the viewer in a repetitive succession. Recalling the form of Brancusi’s Endless Column, but modified and transformed, it suggests both infinity and the wholeness of a finite form.

The work also references 1979, when the Toronto Sculpture Garden site was still a parking lot, and when Buckminster Fuller endorsed, in an advertisement, the Honda Civic as the car to service his own unique mobility needs. The TSG converted an old parking lot into a critical space, a thinking garden. Similarly Fuller’s vehicles wait for ignition and, once mobile, switch from the material to the immaterial - a mental
state of fluidity. These parallel histories of transformation intersect neatly in 1979, the year that planning began for the Toronto Sculpture Garden. The totemic form of Gold, Silver & Lead acknowledges this history and pushes the idea of mobility one step further by making the automobile static and something to be considered rather than experienced.

Gold, Silver & Lead looks to the sublime, through repetition and pattern, but the attempt would seem to fall short, as the Civic modules have been fabricated to disassemble as they reach into the sky. The column is modeled on the obsolete industrialized object of the Honda Civic automobile, thus colliding Fuller’s notion
of expansive mobility with Brancusi’s suggestion of the infinite through pure form.Thus, the hard object fades into the realm of mantra and repetition, encouraging a perception that is drifting.

Both the TSG and the artwork’s idle vessel form share the potential to transform our experience and to act as a starting point for something redundant or extraordinary. Knowing the origins of the site and the idea of Fuller’s vehicles sitting empty throughout the world, Gold, Silver & Lead embraces the concept of idleness and potential.

Jed Lind, Gold, Silver & Lead, 2011; 25' x 4' x 8' approximately, painted steel.

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