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Thompson Hotels Toronto Influencers X Simon Cooper


Curator & Gallerist to Watch

Simon Cooper of Cooper Cole gallery, began his professional career in the arts at the age of 25 when he started an exhibition space both in his apartment and on the internet. He was working part time in a local picture frame shop, exhibiting artists he knew from his immediate community, and beginning a humble art collection (largely in support of these artists). Now, eight years later, he’s curated and mounted over 100 exhibitions, participated in over a dozen international art fairs, and has established himself as a full time curator and gallerist in the Canadian and global art world. He recently relocated his beautiful brick and mortar space to Dupont Street. Here he gives us his guide to his new hood and more.

The gallery recently moved, what do you love about your new hood?

The move has been an invigorating experience. Our new location is a much nicer room to present exhibitions and the neighbors have been very welcoming. The area is still pretty desolate in terms of retail making the gallery more of a destination spot.  That said there are some hidden gems. There is a great cafe on the corner of Gladstone Ave and Shanley St. called Rosie Robin, they make incredible empanadas. It’s a good spot to check out if you are walking up to the gallery from Bloor St. We also tend to go to Three Speed for drinks after our openings, they have a great patio in the summer time. Finally, a bit east on Dupont St. closer to Bathurst is Amore Fine Foods which hands down serves the best Italian sandwich in Toronto. They are only open for lunch and it is mostly a take out spot but the guys running the place are true gems. It’s got an authentic old school feel that is becoming harder and harder to come across in Toronto.

What are your three favorite places to enjoy art in Toronto?

Toronto has a very vibrant arts community with a lot of great venues and artists.  I would suggest the obvious like the AGO, Power Plant, or Mercer Union; but I think there are quite a few interesting artist run venues and projects that people should have their eyes on. One of my favorite spots to check out is the artist run space on Spadina Ave. called 8eleven, they have very diverse programming that includes visual art in addition to hosting music shows, performances, and readings. I also like the shows presented by Kunstverin Toronto, they are a nomadic exhibition platform that exhibit a variety of Canadian and International artists. I am excited for Roberta Pelan, a project space that is opening on Adelaide St. this spring, I will also be curating a show there in April with artists Jimmy Limit, Jesse Harris, and Shawn Kuruneru . As a bonus I would also say Art Metropole.  Toronto is so lucky to have a store like this, it is a must for artist books and multiples and a great spot to get interesting gifts for people that can’t be found anywhere else.

What shows are you most excited about at Cooper Cole this year?

I am excited about all of them! In February, I am presenting a multigenerational group show called I am not an Answer which features artists Zoe Barcza, Georgia Dickie, Gerald Ferguson, and Robin Peck. I think it will be an interesting show that will contextualize an older generation of minimalists (Gerald and Robin) with two younger artists (Zoe and Georgia) whose works exist within similar formal constraints but are basically an opposite reaction to a minimalist approach. That exhibition opens at the gallery on February 25th. You can find out more online on our website: