AGO Puts Focus to Local Artists for Toronto Now Series

Inaugural installation invites patrons to dine inside the artwork

TORONTO – The AGO is going local. A new exhibition series featuring the works of emerging and established Toronto artists will open at the Gallery on March 27. Titled Toronto Now, the rotating series will feature a different local artist every two months, giving Torontonians the opportunity to view the wealth of artistic talent in their city. The series will inhabit the Young Gallery, a free, street-level space adjacent to Frank restaurant, facing Dundas Street.

The series will focus on local practitioners, either Toronto-born or based, with guest appearances by artists with a special connection to the city. The series launches with an interactive installation by Toronto-based artist Dean Baldwin, titled The Dork Porch. The installation will take the form of a fanciful-yet-functional interpretation of a rustic back porch, constructed from vintage finds, building materials, found objects, and food items.

The local focus of Toronto Now ties into AGO Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich’s ongoing commitment to feature local, seasonally-inspired foods, and Baldwin is taking full advantage of this synergy by inviting visitors to dine inside his installation, which will carry Frank’s menu and be staffed by its servers.

“Toronto Now aims to showcase the broad and diverse artistic talent that our city has on offer,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s director and CEO. “As the AGO’s only street-front, free space, the Young Gallery is distinctly visible and accessible, making it the ideal space for this series, and emphasizing the vital connection between the AGO and its city.”

“Dean Baldwin’s well-known whimsy and sense of play, combined with his ongoing artistic focus on food and drink, make him the ideal artist to launch Toronto Now,” says Michelle Jacques, the AGO’s associate curator of contemporary art. “The Dork Porch challenges the viewers expectations of both the fine-dining and art museum experiences, reflecting Baldwin’s considerations of art, audience, and consumption.

Yarymowich says that she is “thrilled” about Baldwin’s choice to incorporate Frank into his installation: “Frank was always envisioned as a place where art, food, and talk intersect; and local food and wine take centre stage. Toronto Now is the perfect complement to our vision.”

The artists featured in Toronto Now will be in impressive company situated next to Frank; the restaurant already features paintings by Canadian artists Lawren Harris, Joyce Weiland, and Paterson Ewen, as well as a large-scale sculpture by American artist Frank Stella, which hangs from a skylight above the restaurant and down into caféAGO below .

The second artist in the Toronto Now series will be announced later this month, but the AGO can confirm that Toronto artist Allyson Mitchell will be third artist featured in the series. Her recent work has been focused on large scale sculptural figures that merge feminist elements with neocraft and fun fur. Her installation will open in late summer.

The Dork Porch will be on display in the Young Gallery until May 23. Toronto Now will be open during Frank’s regular hours. For more information or to make a reservation, visitors can contact Frank by phone at 416-979-6688 or online at

Toronto Now is generously supported by The Contemporary Circle. Contemporary programming at the AGO is supported the Canada Council for the Arts.


With a permanent collection of more than 79,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery’s façade; and the feature staircase, spiraling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic new African art gallery; from the cutting-edge works in the Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.