Back for a third year, Grow Op invites urbanites consider the interaction between natural and built environments.
The Gladstone Hotel’s Grow Op is back and, no, there’s nothing illegal about it. The third iteration of this annual multi-disciplinary exhibit examines natural and built environments, filling the hallways and rooms of the building’s second floor. Throughout, you’ll find art installations inspired by local landscapes and personal struggles with urbanism. It’s less gallery work and more about showcasing creative expression from a environmentally-focused community.
The exhibit is an eclectic mix of work by contributors who specialize in architecture, landscape design and environmental studies. At Grow Op, you will find everything from artist and landscape architect Adrienne Hall’s pitch black room that evokes memories of being in a white pine forest (if you’ve ever been in a white pine forest) to architect Julie Bogdanowicz’s beautiful photographs of septic tank mounds. This isn’t work to be bought and sold, but ephemeral site-specific set-ups that are more powerful when viewed together.
The effect is heightened by room-contained work like the “Textures of Toronto” collection by Mammalian Diving Reflex and Sanjay Ratnan. It’s an addictive and clever viewing experience. In mason jars and milk crates, artifacts from Toronto neighbourhoods are displayed like rare museum objects-whether they’re cigarette butts from outside the Parkdale Library or job board flyers from Chinatown. It’s a visceral microcosm of the city in one hotel room.
“The strength of the show keeps getting more bold,” said Christina Zeidler, The Gladstone Hotel’s president. “It’s making its psychic mark in the city.” This year’s exhibit will be accompanied by several events, including a karaoke on Saturday night and an urban agriculture brunch hosted by the Bowery Project on Sunday.
In the midst of the post-Internet art zeitgeist (that is, easily recognizable work full of avatars and webcam glitches), it’s refreshing to see work that’s made from sticks and dirt. These point to a creative process that is driven less by the mythology of an esoteric career in art than by a desire to draw attention to timely issues that surround us. Ultimately, Grow Op intends to connect with nature in a way that urbanites can understand. Stop by the Gladstone Hotel to see the exhibit and you’ll likely leave with enough inspiration to start your own project, even if it’s just a few plants on your windowsill.
Grow Op runs from April 23 to 26 2015 at the 2nd Floor Gallery public spaces throughout the Gladstone Hotel. Hours are from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, 11:00a.m. to 10:00p.m. on Saturday, and 11:00a.m. to 5:00p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit the event’s website.