STREET / Summer at The Bentway

Media Launch on April 20, 2022 at The Bentway Studio 55

The Bentway is nestled beneath the Gardiner Expressway, stretching from Strachan Ave. to Fort York Blvd. It opened in 2018 with The Bentway Skate Trail and was created through the collaboration of a number of urban partners and funders. The Bentway connects neighborhoods and follows the original shoreline of Lake Ontario. It is also a member of the High Line Network which is an international network of different projects recreating the urban landscape.

This summer The Bentway programming will offer a variety of activities including a Summit (May 27 – 28), a convergence of artists and urbanists, and another event with dancers that will lead visitors on a tour of the city. There will be Night Walks (July 14 -16) with young teens, And With (Sound Walk, June 25 and 26) with a choir and musicians, and an Audio Walk with sound installations (partnered with Sketch).

Bodies in Urban Spaces by Willie Dorner, (from a prior performance) Vilnius, 2017. Photo: Lisa Rastl

Night walk with Teenagers, (from a prior performance), Amsterdam, 2018. Photo: Ryan Lewis

The Bentway’s summer activities will end with a Bentway Block Party (August 14). Sounds like a full calendar of happenings and a lot of fun.

The Bentway Block Party, 2018. Photo: Andrew Williamson

STREET is part of the summer programming intended to make us look at our streets in a new light. As Anna Gallagher-Ross, Senior Manager of Programming, explains, “The Bentway was founded on the idea that the street is not only a path from point A to point B but a destination in its own right”.

STREET is comprised of three public art installations.

Parade by Mimi Lien utilizes a suspended track with colourful assemblages of urban sculptures that will — just like the street — have a continuous movement of objects surprising the viewer. The kinetic work will celebrate the street. Mimi Lien, originally from New York, has created a number of urban projects such The Green – a green welcoming space in a sea of concrete — at Lincoln Centre, New York City and The Tree in Philadelphia in 2016. Her background is in architecture and she has done commissioned designs for live performances winning a Tony Award for her design.

Parade by Mimi Lien, rendering, 2022

There were content challenges in coming up with an installation that would be equally playful and engaging for pedestrians. The design for a suspended group of works had some engineering challenges. Depicting Toronto’s population diversity was done by pulling together a creative palette of colours and objects one might normally encounter on the streets. A company familiar with industrial track systems will be creating that element of the piece and another company will put together the objects. It all comes to life on May 26 and will run until August 21. This is Mimi Len’s first time exploring Toronto and she has created a great art work for us to gaze upon while walking The Bentway.

Another installation is Weweni Bizindan (Listen Carefully) by the Ogimana Mikana Project (Susan Blight and Hayden King) uses a series of words presenting language and space in a “poetic way”. The words are all connected to the concept of echo that is created by call and response. There is a break in the poem indicated by marks on the beams rising from the ground. This is their largest project since working together in 2013. They continue their practice of place by naming paths and roads with Anishinaabe words. They stated that with the sounds of the Gardiner and the wind you “listen and respond to the sounds of Anishiaabe life”.

Ogimaa Mikana by Ogimaa Mikana Project (Susan Blight & Hayden King), 2013.

Installation in collaboration ArtworxTO, Future Perfect (photoshopped version). The billboard itself is in Calgary. Image credit: Action Hero & Mia+Eric. 

Running from May 26 to July 24 is Moko Jumbie Mas Camp by Michael Lee Poy. It will engage youth with lessons in stilt walking and costume making built upon Michael’s roots in Trinidad and Tobago. It will conclude in a parade of some fifty youths on stilts at Canoe Landing — with tie dye banners that will add another layer of colour to this fun project (July 17). Michael teaches at OCADU and is an artist and architect as well as an educator.

Moko Jumbie, Queens Park Savannah, Trinidad & Tobago, 2018. Photo: Lisa Fernandez

The STREET promises to engage the public with these three installations, as well as many other programs and will give people an opportunity to embrace their urban environment in different ways. This will be a great way to celebrate our city with renewed wonder and curiosity.

Phil Anderson

Images are courtesy of The Bentway.

*Program information: May 26 – July 24, The Bentway, 250 Fort York Blvd, Toronto. For detailed program information please click here

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