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Variations on a Staircase

07_09_22_baldwinsteps.jpgThe Baldwin Steps, the set of stairs at Davenport and Spadina Roads that leads up to Casa Loma, are so recognizable that they’ve warranted their own Wikipedia article and feature as a battle backdrop in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Depending on the time of day and season, the Baldwin Steps––also called the Casa Loma Steps, or The Death Climb At The End of Spadina––can be romantic, creepy, trying, or picturesque. Now a group of visual artists have put together Toronto Upstairs, a group show at the Sideshow Gallery with artworks that “explore the staircases leading up from Davenport Road as transitional space, and contemplate and express the upness of here.”
The Baldwin Steps are but one pedestrian path that zigzags across the steep bluff created by the ancient Lake Iroquois, before it receded and became Lake Ontario. The length of Davenport Road neatly divides the city between lower and upper grounds, while public and private staircases take walkers up to and around the ritzy neighbourhoods at St. Clair Avenue.
Toronto Upstairs positions these staircases as crossings between the world of the garden above and the city below. It’s an intimate––albeit boastful––glimpse into the crooks and crannies of the Casa Loma area. The exhibit is pretty small, but worth catching if you’re passing by St. Clair West and Dufferin. (And if you’re going this Saturday, you can help the show raise money and participate by eating your words.) The Side Space Gallery itself is interesting enough to warrant a look: it’s an elegant window display gallery practically stapled to the side of a Liberty Tax Service branch.
Toronto Upstairs runs until October 25th at the Side Space Gallery, 1080 St. Clair Avenue West. Photo courtesy of The Blogless One.

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