RavinePortal exhibition explores Toronto’s changing relationship with its ravines

Curated by Megan Torza of DTAH, in partnership with New York’s Storefront for Art and Architecture, RavinePortal aims to provide a greater understanding of the role Toronto’s ravines can play in supporting an increasingly dense and urban city, and explores how environmental stewardship efforts can continue while access, use, amenity and programming of the ravines is accommodated and increased.

“Toronto’s growth and intensification is remarkable. But as the population of our city increases, the demand for accessible public open space also increases. This demand reflects a renewed appreciation of being in nature, of living within walking distance of green. The ravines have the tremendous potential to fulfill the open space needs of Toronto’s citizens. The challenge that the stewards of the ravines face is how to accommodate more people, access and use without losing the unique characteristics that make Toronto’s ravines unlike any other open space network in the world. This is a challenge that is shared with the design community, and it is not a bad problem to have,” said Megan Torza, Partner, DTAH.

Featuring work by local artists, architects, environmentalists and planners, RavinePortal considers in particular the role that public art can play in the enjoyment and interpretation of the city’s ravine landscapes, and provides a platform for discussion of recent City-led master-planning efforts in the Lower Don Valley in establishing a future vision for the ravines as a form of public linear park that is sustainable and achievable.

Situated on the threshold of the Rosedale Valley, RavinePortal transforms the entrance of the historic 50 Park Road studio into a public exhibition venue visible by pedestrians, cyclists and commuters. Projected on the building’s front window, the exhibition integrates text, photography and mapping with visionary proposals produced by local designers, students, environmentalists and artists in order to communicate the vital role the ravines have, do and will play in the life of the city.

Contributors include: artists, architects, authors and academics Dan Bergeron, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Michelle Gay, Amy Lavender Harris; students from the Etobicoke School for the Arts and the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto; local arts and environmental organizations Well and Good, No. 9 Contemporary Art and the Environment, Evergreen, Toronto Trees and Parks Foundation, Toronto Park People, Pan Am Path, and #LoveTheRavines; public-sector partners Toronto and Region Conservation, City of Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation and the City of Toronto Archives; community outreach partners North York Arts and UforChange; supporters DTAH; and in-kind donations of material and expertise by 3M and Ian Garrett, Center for Sustainable Practice in the Arts.

“As members of the design community who do a lot of work on public projects, we feel a great responsibility to share our thinking process, and the key considerations in the problems we set out to solve, with the public,” said Torza. “Participating in WorldWide Storefront has given us the opportunity to establish a new venue in Toronto where this kind of direct communication can take place. RavinePortal is the first in what I hope to be an ongoing series of exhibitions on important design problems that are affecting Toronto right now, empowering the public with information in order to encourage greater engagement in the design of our city.”

RavinePortal runs from September 26 to November 21, 2014, and includes two RavineTalks by Toronto environmental and design leaders: “Expect the Unexpected” on October 9, 2014 and “Possible Futures” on October 30, 2014. The exhibition forms part of the larger WorldWide Storefront, a project composed of 10 alternative exhibition spaces around the globe accommodating images, ideas and discussion on site-specific topics pertaining to contemporary art and architecture practice. All events will be recorded and broadcast through the WorldWide Storefront online platform, and presented in New York City within the Storefront for Art and Architecture’s gallery.

Storefront for Art and Architecture was founded in 1982 as a non-profit organization committed to the advancement of innovative positions in architecture, art and design. Their program of exhibitions, artists’ talks, film screenings, conferences and publications is intended to generate dialogue and collaboration across geographic, ideological and disciplinary boundaries. As a public forum for emerging voices, Storefront explores vital issues in art and architecture with the intent of increasing awareness of and interest in contemporary design.

For more information, please visit http://dtah.com/category/news/?id=4838 and www.storefrontnews.org.