By Darin Drugan
This winter, the West Island of Ontario Place is home to twelve illuminated exhibits by twenty some local artists. The website says, “Woven through the fabric of the landscape, the exhibition will guide visitors through a journey of exploration all while enjoying the beautiful winter setting.“
Here are the names of the exhibits and the artists who created them,
Bridge of Imagination by Phil Sutherland and Reanna Niceforo
Icicle Silo by Chris Foster
Elevated Wavelengths by Jeff Howard & Codrin Talaba
Expanded Horizon by Polymétis
Kizmet’s Future Light Mural by Kizmet Gabriel
Lumos by Matt DesLauriers, Steven Mengin, Jean-Michel Gariepy
Reactor by Ryan Longo
Shard by Nuff & Nupanap
Shine and Shimmer by LeuWebb Projects
The Crunch of Snow Underfoot by Andrew Maize & Joshua Collins
Winter Fields by Tonya Hart
Winter Lights by Catherine Curran
With all the nice weather we have been having I figured I would take a walk down to the Lakeshore, or better yet to Ontario Place proper, and explore their winter festival of lights. Below is an outline detailing of my adventure. I will only focus on some of the installations here because due to lighting conditions, my amateur photography skills, vandalism, and the fact that you too should really get out and see it for yourself.
I prepped my camera at the entrance putting on a new lens for it’s for first test run! At the foot of the bridge headed to the Western Island you are greeted with giant glowing Ontario Trillium placed about 30 feet from the ground, after correcting my settings on my camera on I made my way down the catwalk.
Shard – Nuff, Nupanap (a.k.a Sergio L. Sanchez)
A piece that you first encounter to your left when crossing the bridge, I believe is supposed to represent awakening and awareness with your relationship to others and within society. As you take in the jagged edges and walk around the what appears to be a giant crystal, light illuminates it from the inside, turning it a glowing white then lavender, shadowing it’s ruggedness, creating depth and character.
Next, I headed west passing another installation that was to represent the sun during winter. I passed a young couple, on a date, taking pictures of each other ‘solo’ (for their social media profiles?) under a section a beautifully lit trees. At yet another installation, a painting by an artist named Kizmet titled “Future Light Mural” would change in psychedelic colour and tone depending on which light hits it. At the back end of the island you get an unparalleled view across Humber Bay and the stunning frozen ice shapes Mother Nature creates with water on rocks. Except for a small groups and the occasional runners, there weren’t too many people here, and I didn’t mind as it gave me better backgrounds but perhaps less energetic foregrounds. I spotted a lone swan, swimming in the darkness of the south side of the island. She certainly seemed to be enjoying herself. How cold is that water? These are the things attendees see but cannot share as they do not photograph well, and there was so much of that here – the show is made of light and best experienced at night.
I approached the next install and while reading plaque, a jogger who didn’t want to make any space between myself and the open road behind me, deliberately ran close past my body in alpha annoying kind of way only to meet his demise on a nearby patch of black ice. Rising to be the better man I held in my explosive laughter, but it rang forth anyway from others who witnessed his collapse, including a small group of giggly girls and this must have made the ice burn a little more.
LUMOS was conceptualized, designed and created by Matt DesLauriers, Steven Mengin and Jean-Michel Gariepy.
Matt DesLauriers is a self-taught media artist and creative coder with a background in Film & Media at Queen’s University. Based in Toronto, he combines his love of art, programming and technology to build interactive installations, generative artworks, and rich audio-visual web experiences. An installation inspired by warming huts that have been used for the last several 100 years for explores in Canada. The purpose of this installation is interactive. By itself, the installation emits a cold blue light. But as soon as any audience member comes close, the piece uses thermal imaging to detect and capture their body heat. It then changes from blue to oranges, reds and yellows to represent their warmth. I was too cool however, given the nice weather and the fact my jacket was undone most of the night, I went undetected.
At the southern most side of the island one more installation stands broken, titled “Expanded Horizon” it appears to have been vandalized unfortunately. Unsure of what happened here, this event runs until March so hopefully the artist will be able to fix what looks like a very interesting piece.
By now it was starting to get cold, my fingers were becoming numb and so I decided to make my way to the fire pit. Yes this outdoor interactive sculpture and art installation festival has a fire-pit with onsite staff who regularly feed the flames, but there’s no s’mores, hot chocolate or cider. When I get to the pit I’m greeted by the same people I have seen all night with friendly nods and smiles – most everyone here is equipped with a real camera. there’s some commotion nearby and i see a boom microphone.. They are shooting a movie. Oh indeed as it turns out, a winter tourist commercial for Toronto.
As soon as I warmed up, I made my way across another platform that brought me to the skating area and skate shop rental. I thought this was cool. What’s even cooler is it’s not real ice. It is made from some sort of polyurethane that they said is apparently really hard to skate on. But if ice skating is what you are looking for there are plenty of places around the city like Trinity Bellwoods, Nathan Phillip Square and the newly opened trail under the Gardenier Express Way.
Shine & Shimmer
Artist – LeuWebb Projects – Christine Leu, Alan Webb. An absolute spectacle of light runs down the cliff of the west island’s man made mountain. This installation glows, glitters and reflects from the top all the way down to the base and under the snow, looking like a magical waterfall that continues on with a river of luminance. Probably one of my favourite pieces here but my pictures could not capture its splendour.
To my right is the staircase to the top of the mountain. I make my up and into the caverned out tunnel at the top which houses yet another installation titled “Winter Lights” by artist Catherine Curran. This piece is beautiful and entrances you if you stare at it too long. Read the story. It will make you want to venture out into the wilderness to find the natural phenomena for yourself.
Reactor by artist Ryan Longo made its debut at Burning Man 2016
To my right as I exit the cave stands giant metal installation that changes colour. Based off the flailing human movement, it simultaneously imagines if humans were bionic machines and if trees were made of steel and aluminum. This piece captivates me in a way that gives me chills and also stand in awe.
Icicle Silo by Chris Foster
Chris Foster is from Halifax, or more generally from the east coast, now based in Toronto, Canada. He received a Bachelors of Fine Art from the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design (NSCAD) in 2008. His art takes many forms including public installations, sculptures, drawings, prints and collaborative projects. Working across many disciplines, he seeks to engage conversations about material culture, the built environment and spaces in transition. His work has been exhibited throughout Canada and can be found in private and public collections internationally.
Following my path west bound again this piece, was right next to Reactor is simplified by beauty, a representation of the Ontario Place Silo, it stands 12’ tall and houses glowing crystalline shards hanging from the ceiling.
Bridge of Imagination was made by by artists Phil Sutherland and Reanna Niceforo.
As the path wraps around you are met with the “Bridge of Imagination”. This installation is an artist’s ploy to redefine the experience of art by using existing architectural structures for the art. For example they used a bridge as a canvas to project flowing artwork of winter themed images gathered from the collective unconscious portrayed into light and shadow.
I stop for a minute to take in all the images being projected before moving on the last and final place. The clearing at the top of the mountain where almost every tree has been strung and wrapped with lights. It is one of those places that can be described with words of beauty, it’s surreal, almost ethereal, in a sense it allows you to escape and forget about life for a minute. Every crisp cool glowing breath of fresh winter air you breath in you get a sense of comfort and warmth. And for the moment although a little late, I feel this is where I found my holiday magic.