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Cooper Cole Gallery

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on November 30, 2011

Cooper Cole GalleryCooper Cole Gallery isn't exactly a complete departure from Show & Tell, the gallery space that Simon Cole opened up over two years ago on Dundas West, but the decision to start anew was about more than just the name on the sign. Although Show & Tell quite quickly established itself as a successful gallery showing mid-career artists from Toronto and the U.S. working in predominantly lowbrow and pop surrealist styles, some of the early press the gallery received positioned it as a street art gallery (even if that very designation doesn't make much sense).

Cooper Cole GalleryCole, who's about as unpretentious and welcoming as gallery owners get, felt that his developing roster of artists — many of whose work doesn't tidily fit within the genres/styles mentioned above — warranted an effort to distance the gallery from this reputation, despite its dubious accuracy in the first place.

"As I've grown, so too has the gallery," explains Cole. "The rebrand is meant to reflect the work on offer is more established... A lot of the artists wanted this to happen." For proof of the diversity of work that will grace the walls at Cooper Cole Gallery, one need look no further than the future exhibitions section of the recently relaunched website — nary a street art-styled piece to be seen.

Cooper Cole GalleryThat's not to say that visitors will be treated to a whole bunch of boring landscape paintings at Cooper Cole, either. Brothers of the Weird, the first show on display at the rebranded gallery is anything but conservative or driven by a desire to feign sophistication. "The irony that the first show under the new brand features works that look like kids paintings is not lost on me," Cole chuckles. But in some way it's all rather perfect. He may be trying to shed some of the labels originally given to the gallery, but this latest step is more about evolution than tearing anything down.

What's most noticeable about Cooper Cole's roster is the variety of styles the artists collectively bring to the table. Sure, there's still some lowbrow-influenced examples to be found, but there's also plenty of abstract and conceptual work, and even some sculpture that's entered the mix. It's clear, in other words, that Cole isn't trying to craft a particular stylistic category for the gallery.

Cooper Cole GalleryWhat's more important, he tells me, is the effort "to bring a younger voice to the Toronto art scene." While the artists on the gallery roster range in age from 26- to 66-years-old, the general focus is on those on the younger end of that spectrum, many of whom are already established and better-known south of the border. Although Cole plans to show the work of local artists on a periodic basis, most of those who make up the current roster are from the United States.

As for changes to the gallery space, Cole has swapped out the signage and ditched the two couches that used to sit at the centre of the gallery, but there are no plans to leave his Dundas West storefront space. That's a good thing. Like its predecessor, Cooper Cole remains perfectly situated to bring important artwork to a neighbourhood that's doing some growth of its own.

Cooper Cole GalleryCooper Cole GalleryCooper Cole GalleryCooper Cole Gallery



Greg / November 30, 2011 at 01:28 pm
Excellent gallery. Glad to learn of the rebrand.
jan / February 17, 2012 at 03:53 pm
Simon's a fine gallery owner, knows his clients and artists. What more can one ask.
jonathan sadowski / March 6, 2012 at 02:50 pm
Hello Simon,
Just wondering if you would have the time to look at my new work sometime at your conveince, I'm looking for a Toronto daaler and moving forward. I am gaining a following with some clientel and hope soon to have representation.
kevin aguiar / April 19, 2012 at 08:56 pm
i'm a christian artist looking for representation... if your interested in christian art and architecture please let me know.... thanks
FIDDo / December 10, 2012 at 03:28 pm
i recently bought a camera for my niece. her pictures are truly spectacular - if you are interested in some poignant photos to Show and Sell, please email me and let me know what your offer is.
Kopelev / March 2, 2013 at 08:47 am
Dear representatives of gallery

I would like to present you my photos

I remove and print always the photos itself. A classical black-and-white photo. Serebrjannaja Bromozhelantinovaja photographic paper and toning by salts of sulphurous sodium and iron simultaneously, or sepia, either salts of iron or copper salts.

Name and address : Kopelev Alexander
Russian Federation, Moscow, 109457, Jigylevskai st., h.3, room 141
Phone.: +7-926-111-40-61,
Ralph MacDonald replying to a comment from kevin aguiar / January 14, 2014 at 12:06 am
Kevin, if you are looking for attention, ATTEND to your spelling and grammar. Jeeesus, christian!!! (Your "your" should be "you're".)
Nadia Gula / February 28, 2015 at 09:06 am
Most of the "paintings" shown here are plain nothing, just empty , with no substance at all.
I think, like most of the galleries you are talking about here, are a loosing business proposition in which the owners have some back up money to support themselves. What ever they are showing is not sellable. At least most of it. Point.

Tow of the best ( real art galleries) in TO are Ingram Gallery in Yorkville and Nicholas Metivier.
They have the best real artwork worth seeing and buying in a variety of styles.

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