Friday the 20th of July 2018 was a hot summer night in Toronto and the concrete was sizzling, the people were sweating and whole neighbourhoods were swaying to the sound of music. Buskers make beats on street corners in the summer and anyone can soak it up and dance.
A quick bicycle ride along College street fills a riders’ senses with urban stimuli. They see restaurant patios filled with people and can smell their meals cooking in the kitchen. They see and smell the exotic ice creams for sale at The Big Chill and the fresh-picked strawberries baking on wooden racks in the vegetable markets (where its still 25 degrees in the shade). Readers may not believe a bicycle rider can smell such subtle notes from the street, but I assure you it happens on these hot summer nights.
At 8pm, on College Street in the heart of Toronto’s Little Italy, the Million Dollar Movie Poster Show debuted at Super Wonder Gallery. This show put Conceptual Posters for Movies That Don’t Exist on display. That was the call-to-action you see, and all contributing artists had to conform to that request and to produce art that was the required size 36″x 24″.
Christian Aldo is the face of the gallery and when he wasn’t furiously cleaning, polishing or schmoozing the press he was out on the sidewalk promoting the show. He channeled PT Barnum, flexing his charisma soliciting strangers into the gallery by saying, “Come see Original Movie Posters for movies that have never been made!“
The show opened with over forty pieces of art on the walls and Christian promising to unveil more as the night progressed. He did, and he even screened art movies in a special enclosed screening room in the the back of the venue.
So much salacious art at Super Wonder Gallery, 584 College St.
The Million Dollar Movie Poster show reminds us that film studios once spared no expense to make high-quality artistic posters. This cinematic ephemera used to be an art form with a very structured lexicon of words, crisp typography and subtle but meaningful iconography that movie fans would understand. The subtleties of light and shadow, canted frames and dynamic action in the frame to bring out a special meaning is what makes a great poster. It doesn’t matter if the movie is any good or not, but obviously the best movies are the hardest posters to find and collect.
Movie posters were once powerful marketing tools that worked to pique viewer’s interest in cinema products. Dedicated moviegoers would visit multiplex theatres and choose their screen based entirely on the posters. Blockbuster movies like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark had iconic movie posters that once set the gold standard. Today that great art is lost. It has been replaced by posters consisting of the bare essentials: the photographed faces of the actors the studio wants you to see, the branded title, and a release date.
Here’s something different; do you recognize this fragment of Toronto’s music history? The black scrap of canopy fabric looks old, but in my friend’s hands, this is a fresh piece of art today.
The show was well laid out and presented a lot of terrific ideas.
At the end of the evening we all felt impacted by the art we had seen and touched, and we all had our favourite works. Our friend Paul Perrier realized he was Mousse Willis, and Pie Hard was his movie.
The curiously interesting art was rivaled only by the wide array of fascinating artists in attendance.
The Million Dollar Movie Poster show is scheduled to run until Friday, July 27, 2018 midnight.