06/18/2014 12:18 EDT | Updated 08/18/2014 05:59 EDT

#NXNEART2014 Animates the City Like Never Before

Where is the art? Where is the ART? WHERE IS THE ART? Some have said if you build it they will come. A new art program as part of the NXNE Festival runs this week may be a true test of this sentiment.


So you woke up this morning. Coffee. Shower. Breakfast. World Cup scores.

Walking. Seeing construction. Buildings being built. Gravel. Empty walls.

Empty of life. Empty of humanity.

Lacking inspiration. Frustrated. Must get to work.

Now, imagine your mind stimulated with something else. Something with imagination. Something with heart. Something that makes you feel.

What could it be? What could it be? What could IT be?

Where is the art? Where is the ART? WHERE IS THE ART?

Some have said if you build it they will come. A new art program as part of the NXNE Festival runs this week may be a true test of this sentiment.

How can art animate a city in a beautiful way with multiple benefits?

We sat down with Jacquelyn West, a passionate city builder and a principal/producer at Hermann & Audrey to get her insights on a timely initiative. She is the creative lead for the first ever NXNE Art 2014, a program that runs all week and through the weekend.

What is the reason to curate the NXNE Art 2014 program?

We wanted to, for one week, show what can be possible if we started thinking as a community and pushing forward what we want to see next for our city and the way we engage with it and the people in it.

How did this come together?

The thematic for NXNE Art 2014 is Art + Urbanism. In this phase of unprecedented growth and change in Toronto, we wanted to expose an as-yet-to be imagine future potential for the role that art can play in defining our city experience. We invited change-makers and innovators from the North East to help us paint a new potential canvas for Toronto and see what conversation we might be able to spark.

Why now and why NXNE?

NXNE is an opportunity to take a stage and try to catalyze that long overdue conversation. The youth of Toronto are disenchanted, if I was to generalize, with the city as it is developing around them. Few jobs, high rents, little respect for their long educations and high debts and a growing apathy that doesn't see a benefit to trying to make an impact in a city where little support is extended their way.

We joke and laugh about the state of our mayor and the cluster-messes of transit, the Gardiner, shoddy development and barriers to success in our city. We wanted to use the platform of NXNE as the instigator to say, what do we want to see next? What's our collective vision for a Toronto for tomorrow?

NXNE Art is more than wallpaper. It is artworks that are transformative, changing found + lost spaces into spaces that can connect us to one another and our city. To encourage participation beyond consumerism and provoke a more pleasant pedestrian and civic experience. Our interior installations are centered on imagining Toronto differently, and the installation Toronto 20 Whatever at the NXNE Art Lounge enables you to do that by real-time polling and changing a virtual model of the city. This comes to life in an immersive environment powered by Samsung technology.

Role of public art is?

It can go beyond the sculptures that are currently being built on top of HVAC units in new condos builds, just because it's status quo doesn't make it right.

When does this take place and where can readers get more info?

June 16-22 in Toronto and they can visit the site here. Has all details.

Best way to see the art installations?

Take a tour of the various outdoor and public art. Follow the urban takeovers map here and be sure to stop in on the en Masse takeover at 49 Niagara.

Take the bicycle ride and discover Life Cycles.

Walk through the 15+ murals happening in Graffiti Alley, between Niagara & Tecumseth.

Check out the Art Lounge, located at 363 King Street West, open to the public as well as reserved for some private events.

Find our app for the best way to navigate the festival at large.

Let's see if this sparks something we can see all year. Kudos to the progressive and open minds of some of Toronto's real estate developers who helped make some of this happen. Will others follow?

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