A Toonie For Your Art: “Accessible Art, Encapsulated”

Four young Toronto artists took over DAIS last Friday to bring to Queen West one of the most interactive and inclusive art shows I’ve experienced, Capsule. I ventured to the thing pretty blindly, knowing only to enter from the back alley entrance and to expect “accessible art, encapsulated”, whatever that meant. So, I put on my art pants and my new experience boots and hopped a couple puddles to stumble into Capsule on a gloomy Toronto eve.

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Although the front door was open and accessible, I was glad that the event page had instructed me to use the back entrance as I walked right into the bar upon entry. Yes, please. After a shot of Jameson and the acquisition of a tall can, I was ready to veer into the thick of it. Giles Monette, who starred in and curated the show with Pauli Jackson, was standing over by a rack of t-shirts which boasted his own ghoulish designs. We chatted and laughed and it was lovely.

I pivoted in the crowded section of the bar to find myself face-to-face with a piece familiar to me from Herman and Audrey gallery, Live Fast & Die Young, by Ben Johnston. Given the retro vibes I would come to later experience, this piece, like everything else, was perfectly curated. I left the bar, the t-shirts and the narrow entrance behind me as I made my way to the main exhibit room.

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Around the four walls of the space you could see about 7 different framed pieces, each respective artist having one coin operated capsule vending machine mounted below their work. I felt immediately nostalgic for the malls, theaters and chucks-cheeses of my childhood. I took nothing away from those loonies and toonies spent but some cheap plastic toy I would undoubtedly step on later. What made this amazing was that I was paying 2$ to walk away with something of value, a memento of this exhibit, a piece of hassle-free art, and a sense of involvement with the artist I would otherwise have never experienced. I felt charged; I was literally jumping up and down after dispensing my first toonie, scrambling quickly to the bar for more change. I was excited to participate with the work in this way, and I was even more excited that an art show had succeeded in engaging me in such a refreshingly accessible manner. I get it completely. Accessible art, encapsulated. Brilliant.

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In one instant, I was so drawn to Rajni Perera’s piece The Fox and The Crow that I wanted to purchase the one framed copy of it. To my dismay, it had been sold, but I was quickly revived when I realized I could still take a small part of it home with me regardless. I ran to the coin slot and took home a button she designed that I now take with me on my purse wherever I go. Brilliant.

I spent the rest of the evening browsing a variety of striking works. They seemed to all touch on themes of mortality and veered on the darker end of things in a neat and bold way; black, white and red being the primary colour scheme, it was a nice contrast to the feelings I was getting from the gum ball machines of my nostalgic youth.

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The exhibit is now over, but be sure to follow Dais (1196 Queen St W, Toronto, ON) on Facebook and look out for future curations by Giles Monette on his Instagram page.

Words by Nikki Bagheri; Photos c/o Buruk Kebedom & DAIS 

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