Artists Across the World Come Together for Toronto Art Book Fair

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I know, I know. You hear the words art book and you immediately have to fight off the yawn. But bear with me, because this is not your typical book fair. When I first heard about the second annual Toronto Art Book Fair, I was a bit curious. I’m a writer so anything with the word book is already a draw. Plus, I’m a semi regular at art shows across the city so I thought “why not.”

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I really wasn’t expecting much. Maybe a few local artists putting together cool zines that I’d browse for a few seconds before moving on to the next vendor. I figured I’d see a few familiar faces, stay for an hour, then be on with my evening. Talk about being dead wrong.

From the moment I stepped into the doors of Artscape Youngplace, I felt this gust of energy. Music is playing just loud enough to where you can bop your head or tap your feet, but not so loud you have to shout at your friend standing right in front of you. People are moving back and forth through the hallways and up and down the staircases so they can catch the work from all three floors.

Oh and the artists. Yes! Although I did see some creatives I recognized (what’s up Rajni Perera), I was shocked by the distances some of these artists traveled to be part of this event. A pair from El Salvador takes the prize for me. One was a graphic designer and the other a musician. They put together these incredibly unique pieces where they interpreted scores as graphically designed artistic imagery.

Although these two may have traveled the furthest, they certainly weren’t the only ones racking up the miles. A photographer from New York, another from Venezuela (I bought two of his photographs), Ohio, BC, It was nothing short of amazing to see the broad representation of cultures all under one building.

All of this, and I’ve barely touched on the actual art. The vision of these creatives is possibly outmatched only by the messaging of their work. I bought issue number 2 of Milkweed. There’s no pandering to pop culture at all in this magazine. Its messaging of sexuality and feminism is front and centre and in bold on every single page. Raw, real, and still completely tasteful; a confluence difficult to accomplish.

And that was just one book on one station. There were three floors of subtle mayhem spread across three days and each just as entertaining as the next. To think this was only Toronto Art Book Fair’s second year putting this together. Oh, and did I mention it was free to get in?

Let me be the first to say that I will be back next year. It was a truly inspiring event put together by the people at Artscape. Check out some of the images below.