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Funktion Gallery

Posted by Derek Flack / Posted on March 16, 2009

FunktionFunktion is not your typical art gallery, if such an animal exists. How so? Well, for me, two qualities in particular set it apart. On the one hand, the gallery's artistic focus is so wide that it calls into question the very appropriateness of the term. And, on the other, it seems obvious that the people behind Funktion have to work just a little bit harder to gain the community credibility that most art galleries enjoy as a matter of course. Perhaps not surprisingly, the reasons for both of the above are interrelated.

Funktion GalleryOpened in January (2009) in the now gallery-populated Bloor and Lansdowne neighbourhood, Funktion Gallery is the 'baby' of the artistic collective, The FacelessFew, which began as a graffiti crew during some of the founding members' high school years. Over the years it has morphed into a group more than thirty strong, whose interests include music, various forms of visual art and design, breakdancing, and pretty much anything else that they find interesting and engaging.

So that's the first reason covered. I'm sure by now you've grasped the second. Those roots as graffiti artists, and the fact that many members of the collective still practice street-art, has a tendency to make some suspicious of the collective's motives. But, of course, it shouldn't. And to prove that, the members have taken numerous steps to ingratiate themselves with the community.

Funktion WindowThe most notable of these was last October's ComeUnity festival, headed up by Jose Gabriel and others who now work at the gallery. After the TTC painted over graffiti on their property between Keele and Dundas West stations, the idea was put forward to put together a community event in which murals could restore the presence of street-art in the area, but with official approval. As it happens, the event was a hit, involving all levels of the Bloor-by-the-Park neighbourhood, from families to local businesses, and even Toronto Police Services.

Funktion Gallery AnserAlthough one might be tempted to think that the community element of the event was merely in service of getting graffiti back up, that's not really the case. The very viability of graffiti as a visible art form depends upon a symbiotic relationship with the city, and by extension, particular communities. Imagine how crushing it must be to have your artwork painted over. To some extent, the only way to avoid that ever-present risk is to convince those who're in a position to eliminate graffiti that it isn't just the pseudo-anarchic action of bored teenagers. Call me an idealist, but I think graffiti - or, to be more specific, good graffiti - enriches cities, and rewards the urbanite who is visually engaged as he or she navigates the streets. I know there are potential pitfalls when it comes to street-art - and even worry that when it is officially authorized that it loses something - but in talking with Jose and another member of the collective, Clem Watson, I got the sense that in their hands Toronto neighbourhoods aren't merely safe, they're likely to become more picturesque as well.

Funktion Wall of ArtBut I digress. Back to Funktion. Being a relatively new space, numerous plans are in the works for the future, the most notable of which relate to the outside area at the back of the building. Keep an eye out for the construction of a half-pipe and live-art and sketch competitions to take place here over the warmer months. In the meantime, there's also a lot going on inside. In keeping with their desire to be open to various forms of creativity, the gallery regularly hosts live music, live painting, poetry readings, and of course, art shows. On the more commercial side, Funktion also offers custom clothing designs, along with mural, design and DJ services.

Funktion Exterior

Funktion Back Counter

Funktion Gallery AnserFor more information about the artwork of Anser featured in this profile, please visit the gallery's website.



/ March 18, 2009 at 09:53 pm
I've seen this guys graffiti on my way to school, and inside my school as well. gotta say, it's really terrible and they should stick to drawing in their sketchbook till they're good enough to vandalize things
S & E / March 19, 2009 at 12:21 pm
Totally disagree with this last comment. Anser's artwork is off the hook. Maybe his tagging is not exceptional (I don't know much about graffiti), but the painted lady is beautiful and has been followed by Torontonians for months now (on flickr etc.). I had no idea that Funktion Gallery existed but I stumbled across it on a three month chase for the painted lady and her creator. I bought merchandise from these guys for Anser's exhibit which included prints and a great hoodie. The space is awesome, the kids are cool. Nice post by Blog TO. We also thought that the gallery and artwork was blog-worthy so check us out.
Kid / March 20, 2009 at 04:13 pm
I disagree with the first post as well, as I do with most art snobs. Seeing the faces and eyes that Anser has put around the city has caught my eye amidst all the throwies, tags and occasional piece. Not all street art has to match the caliber of Ron English. The faces are in no way terrible especially considering the medium and the media used. When getting up, you don't exactly always have an hour to spend making the most amazingly awesome piece of art. Most of the time (especially near the downtown core) I bet you have maybe a 5-20 minute window before there's a chance you'll get caught putting something on a wall.
danny jones / March 22, 2009 at 09:37 pm
i checked this place out while they were doing their live painting event, bumping bob marley out the front door eating chitos pizza on a bench outside while that tall guy with the long hair was painting a character on a canvas. then they were taking audio samples of everyone who walked into the gallery...this is definitely not your average art gallery. these dudes seem to have some next creations going on. definately worth checking out.
RenovationJunky / April 23, 2009 at 05:39 pm
This is a great place to check out. For those who can't find something to put on their blank walls--get up and go there. You will be pleasantly surprised at the creativity.
NE32 replying to a comment from / January 5, 2010 at 01:50 pm
Lulu Parker / January 5, 2010 at 01:57 pm
i love this gallery. these guys do so much for the people around them. i love living close to this place. such a handsome kind hearted group of young men
Anon replying to a comment from Lulu Parker / January 5, 2010 at 02:36 pm
and women.
funktion face / January 8, 2010 at 01:15 am
Anthony Kissoon / January 18, 2010 at 09:10 am
These guys are the SICKEST!!! They bring the fresh new style and creativity that Toronto has been sleeping on. If you haven't been to the gallery yet go and SEE for yourself. It's a two minute walk from the Emerson St. Exit in Lansdowne Station. I would like to take this opportunity to formally welcome them to the neighbourhood. All of your hard work and dedication is appreciated. Thank you for beautifying our neighbourhood with your presence!


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