September 21, 2018 / 7 pm
158 Sterling Ave, Toronto

Good things are worth waiting for. Judging from the two long winding lineups of members and guests snaking around the building, people were ready to check out the newly renovated space and MOCA’s curator, David Liss’ inaugural exhibition, BELIEVE.

The five floors of the building dedicated to MOCA’s new home were filled with curious visitors. The main floor was packed for the reception as people chatted and visited the bar. The large circular support columns of the building, which go up the ten floors of the structure, were embraced and helped remind us of the building’s history as an automotive industrial property. The new elevators whisked people up the other 5 floors of the MOCA – a great expansion from its Queen Street location.

The new location is in the Junction, an area already feeling the impact of galleries such as Angell Gallery, TPW, Division Gallery, David Faria Gallery, Clint Roenisch Gallery, Robert Kananaj Gallery, Mercer Union and many others seemed like the right locale for this new art hub. The next two floors were the site of David Liss’ BELIEVE exhibit – a mix of works from local and international artists.

Installation views of BELIEVE

On the fourth floor there were studios from the Akin Collective and some residency studios from the Ontario Science Centre. I chatted with an excited Elaine Whittaker, artist in residence in the Ontario Science Centre Studio as part of the Idea Projects. Whittaker will be at MOCA for three months working in the studio.

Curator Ana Klasnja (left) and artist Elaine Whittaker (right)

The Akin Collective Studios were busy with crowds trying to catch a peak at some new art works. Akin artist Raquel Da Silva was happy to see interested viewers looking at her colourful pieces. The fifth floor’s administrative offices were not open to the public but when peaking in, they looked impressive as well.

Raquel Da Silva

In the lobby curator David Liss was beaming all happy smiles to see that the long journey of renovation has ended, and their new home is now open to the public. Board Members and patrons of MOCA enjoyed the opening.

Curator, David Liss (left) with guests

Volunteers were helpful in encouraging visitors to become engaged whether watching video works on the fifth floor, such as Laws of Motion in a Cartoon Landscape by Andy Holden or playing on a giant dart board ART IN USE, created by Adrian Blackwell, on the fourth floor.

MOCA has made serious efforts to involve the public whether encouraging them to interact through social media and tagging and become “a partner in the dialogue“ or engaging them with the exhibitions on display. MOCA also acknowledged the history of the land. We learned that it sits on treaty land of the Mississaugas of the New Credit where the Haudenosaunee, Wendat and Anishinaabe once had their homes. MOCA will not only recognize the history of the land but will have Indigenous works in its programming.

Artists Luis Jacob and Chris Curreri felt the moment as a special one in the Junction’s and Toronto’s art history. OCADU President Sara Diamond was probably thinking of art students from the college looking at MOCA as a goal to strive for. Gallery owners, Jamie Angell and David Faria were also present, celebrating the event.

Artists Luis Jacob (left) and Chris Curreri (right)

OCADU President Sara Diamond (right) with a friend

Montreal gallery owner Juno Youn (right) and a friend

On the main floor a neon sign BELIEVE (by artists Kendell Geers), a principle piece in the exhibit BELIEVE (curated by David Liss), hung above the room with a DJ’s spinning tunes. Indeed. believing has paid off as Toronto’s new crown jewel in the art world was unveiled.

Text and photo: Phil Anderson

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