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Hunter & Cook: The Hub of Toronto's Art Scene

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With all the condo development going on in downtown Toronto recently -- the good, the bad and the embarrassingly ugly (Hello there, Bohemian Embassy -- what is with that sign?!) has come a smart new wave of Toronto's downtown art scene.

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Hunter & Cook, the magazine. Image: hunterandcook.com

Little galleries -- The Department, Tomorrow, Erin Stump, General Hardware, the Feminist Art Gallery -- and others -- have popped up, anchored by stalwarts like the beloved Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) Clint Roenisch, MKG127, Jessica Bradley and Jamie Angell, not to mention the now nearly ancient artist-run space Whippersnapper.

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Sam Falls, Mexico 1, Acrylic and pastel on archival pigment print, 9"x11". Image courtesy Hunter & Cook.

These spaces are key players in the city's up-and-coming art scene, and local artist-run art magazine Hunter & Cook, now in it's ninth edition, is there to document it along with an impressively chosen selection of the Canadian art scene across the country. It's a worthwhile magazine to pick up (or subscribe to for 30 bucks!) for artists look at what's hot in Canadian art.

On Sept. 8, Hunter & Cook, which is run by artists Tony Romano and Jay Isaac, will open the doors of its new headquarters at 1082 Queen Street West in Katherine Mulherin's former gallery space.

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Inside the space. Image: courtesy Hunter and Cook.



Tony Romano, hard at work. Image: courtesy Hunter and Cook.

The space, which the artists describe as a "hub for the Toronto art scene" will be their office, a gallery space and a shop selling other magazines and artist editions.

The idea is to move the magazine off the printed page and into a brick-and-mortar physical space. The mandate, like that of their magazine, is to show Canadian artists outside of Toronto "through group show and projects in international venues and launches," says Jay Isaac.

The plan is to introduce artists to Toronto -- their opening show will be by New York artist Sam Falls, followed by Kirsten Stoltmann from Los Angeles, Nicole Ondre and Ron Tran from Vancouver.

Meanwhile, they have arranged a group show of Hunter and Cook artists in October in L.A. at Night Gallery. The new issue of the magazine will also launch in New York.

I find it interesting that with more young artists seemingly emerging from art school than ever, it seems to be all about the social network. Artists form international connections -- whether from school, residencies abroad, travels -- and it's not uncommon for a new art school grad to begin showing internationally straight away, actively building up his or her resume in preparation for 'real' commercial representation.

This is one reason why it's become more common for artists to open their own small storefront or studio galleries, showing work by their friends. This practice is important because it keeps them aware of what other artists are doing, and it fosters a place for dialogue about art, which is a vital part of the process.

It's good for the art, and it's great for the city.