Power Ball Unites Toronto's Creative Scene With Art and Sandwiches
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Power Ball Unites Toronto’s Creative Scene With Art and Sandwiches

This year's edition of the annual Power Plant fundraiser brought in people from all walks of life.

Abby McGuane and friend with Marc Theut’s pulled pork sandwiches at Power Ball. Photo by Courtney Vokey.

It’s easy to be cynical about art parties with triple-digit ticket prices. Sipping on sponsored tequila and hollering over relentless house music, the connection between gallery and gala fizzles out. If you spend your Thursdays hauling ass to openings around the city, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself looking around the room and wondering, “Who the hell are all these people?”

The Power Plant’s Power Ball is Toronto’s quintessential art party. There’s interactive performance art, exhibitions, and mini sandwiches. But with over 2,500 people packed into the Harbourfront gallery, it’s difficult to get one of those sandwiches. It’s also difficult to give the artwork the attention that it deserves.

After a few moments of watching Ryan Trecartin’s “riverofthe.net” projection, viewers inevitably got distracted by a swarm around the Johnnie Walker bar. “I Will Tell You Exactly What I Think Of You,” a videotaped interview series by Zeesy Powers, was intriguing, yet inaudible because of its location at the entrance. If you were at this party looking for a change-your-life art experience, you were looking in the wrong place.

But that isn’t what the Power Ball is about. If that happens, it’s an added perk. The event is a fundraiser, with tickets ranging in price from $180 to $4,500. It financially supports The Power Plant’s year-round public programming, which includes exhibitions of internationally acclaimed work, artist talks, live performances, and workshops. In other words, the real stuff is free.

This year’s Power Ball theme was “15 Minutes,” after the famous Andy Warhol saying about everyone’s impending momentary fame. The night aptly represented Warhol’s ideology. Everyone was included; everyone got to be a part of the art world for a while.

From the suits with impeccably groomed scruff to the genuinely scruffy artists smoking in the rain, the party played host to an art ecosystem. There were celebrity TV hosts chatting with fashion designers, photographers creeping around best-dressed candidates, and a solid contingent of people who looked like they snuck in.

In addition to funds, the Power Ball brings new blood to the scene. There were hundreds of partygoers in attendance who wouldn’t normally set foot in an art gallery. That being said, the drunk couple making out on the stairs didn’t seem to know they were in an art gallery at all. Or maybe it was performance art. That’s the magic of the Power Ball.