Contributed by Laura Mendes
Originally built as a police station at the height of Toronto's art deco boom, Gallery 1313 has been luring Queen West gallery hoppers to the district of Parkdale for nearly a decade now. Located a wee bit west of the Gladstone Hotel at Queen and Cowan, the modernly subdued complex was converted into an artist run centre in 1998; a city initiative led by the Parkdale Village Arts Collective, the Parkdale BIA, Artscape and former Metro Councilor, David Miller.
Since its inception, the neighbourhood has transformed rapidly, making way for trendy cafes, bars and boutiques - many of which still carry that nostalgic tinge of grunge that has defined Parkdale since the 80's. Unlike its neighbouring district to the east, the area has yet to see condo development and you can still manage to grab a cheap beer at local hangouts like the Cadillac Lounge and the Rhino.
Over the last 10 years there have been over 400 exhibitions and close to 800 local and international contemporary artists within the gallery. According to Phil Anderson, Founding Director of Gallery 1313, "Our focus at the gallery has always been to be an incubator for new artists while at the same time offering a venue for professional art exhibitions."
The gallery also plays host to a number of significant guest curators: Camilla Singh (Mocca), Kelly McCray (Edward Day Gallery), Richard Rhodes (Canadian Art Magazine, Editor), Wil Kucey (Le Gallery), Patrick Macaulay (Harbourfront Centre) and Gary Michael Dault (Art Critic), to name a few.
Beyond exhibiting cutting edge contemporary art, the gallery also publishes a quarterly community arts mag called Artery, curates an annual fundraiser fashion show, and coordinates a series of professional development panels.
Police station turned bona fide artist run centre, Gallery 1313 continues to play a critical role in the cultural transformation of Parkdale Village. Let's hope it manages to retain that Parkdale edge into the next decade.