The Toronto Portraits - Luke Correia-Damude
Luke Correia-Damude, 24 years old. Chinatown.
If you're talented, driven, well connected, lucky...it's no guarantee you'll have a notable career in the arts. The people finding success in the scene right now are artists who make their own opportunities.
Luke Correia-Demude grew up in the Annex. Art has always been a part of his life; his father is a filmmaker and his sister a noted stage actress. He studied film at Ryerson University; in his second year he began to question the power dynamics of the gallery scene.
"My friend Patrick Struys and I we were getting really discouraged; a lot of our friends were giving up on fine art because it was so hard to get a show at a gallery. We found a loft that had been empty on Front Street for a couple years; we bargained with the owners to let us take it over for a couple months to put on a show. The exhibit went really well, it was clear to us that there was a need for a not-for-profit downtown gallery. We saved enough money to begin renting 586 College Street as a permanent venue."
The Whippersnapper Gallery (#1 in our list of the Best Contemporary Art Galleries for emerging artists) was born; a multi-disciplinary space designed to exhibit emerging artists. Situated in the heart of Little Italy, it's a vital, lively, open concept venue.
"Art is exciting and art is fun. I feel like a lot of the art openings you go to are stuffy, they're about walking around and talking under your breath about the work to your friend. Our shows are like a party. Everybody is talking, drinking, and having a good time. The whole idea is that we create an immersive experience; live music is really important to us."
Luke is a multi-disciplinary artist himself; a filmmaker/musician. His band ' The Boys Who Say No' are recording their first E.P this week at Chemical Sound. I asked Luke if he sees any recurring themes or movements in the submissions that come through his gallery.
"I'm not going to say that Toronto has some signature art thing going on, but there are exciting things happening like 'Extermination Music Nights'. If you want to do something big in the arts you really have to do it yourself. You can write a grant and wait for it to come through, but in between they'll be a lot of people actually doing it and I think that's more important."
The Toronto Portraits profiles a young, dynamic Torontonian, each week in a different neighbourhood.
Photos by Mr. Robin Sharp
Robin Sharp will be on location directing a film for the next three weeks; 'The Toronto Portraits' column will return in September.
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