North York: Oh Dear!

Running until August 26, 2013, this group exhibition of public art unhinges North York’s sense of modesty. The spine of North York (the Willowdale area) is a strip of Yonge Street between Sheppard Avenue to the south and Finch Avenue to the north. It provides distinct aesthetic markers of the past six decades. The level of redevelopment and density moves at ever greater speed in this zone. A postwar suburban district transformed into North York’s city centre, today the area surrounding Mel Lastman Square and the North York Civic Centre, serves as a central post-amalgamation Toronto hub for many new Canadians. Oh Dear! offers a self-reflective critique of this area, roughly 25 years after its major civic buildings have been built. The exhibition explores the collective forming of a suburban North York culture by pairing seven artists with seven locations along this spine. Oh Dear’s installations are located in and around the North York Centre: Toronto Centre for the Arts (1987, Zeidler Roberts Architects), Gibson House Museum (1850s Georgian Revival home of renowned surveyor David Gibson), North York Civic Centre (1981, Adamson Associates) and Mel Lastman Square (1990, Kirkland Partnership/Novita), North York Central Library and promenade within the North York Centre (1987, Moriyama and Teshima), and Ontario Historical Society’s Historic John McKenzie House (1913, styled Queen Anne Revival/Arts and Crafts). 

The seven artists and locations include: Willowdale Transit Authority by Matthew Blackett; Rare Earth by Ian Chodikoff; North York 2013 by Otino Corsano; willow BOX by Stephen Cruise; Home Economics by Bailey Govier; Homeostasis by Joseph Muscat; and A Hundred Times: The Excesses of Daily Living by Paola Poletto.

You will also find Teresa Casas’s response to the installations and Paul Hong’s spooky and totally plausible story set in North York future on the Oh Dear! blog at

Friday evening walks are part of the Cultura festival program at Mel Lastman Square, and all those interested should meet at the reflecting pool by the Oh Dear! tent in the lower square. Join Mark Warrack for a heritage-infused walk on Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:00pm. Mark lived on Hillcrest Avenue in Willowdale, for his first 20 years. Read Mark’s personal memories of the North York centre area online at