Inside Art Metropole’s new College Street space

Inside Art Metropole’s new College Street space

A tour of the non-profit indie bookstore run by an artist collective

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After completing a two-year residency at MOCCA, Art Metropole has taken up a new address on College Street. A peripatetic existence is nothing new for the 50-year-old organization. Since first opening on Yonge Street in the early ’70s, Art Metropole has moved more than five times. But this cultural stalwart, founded by artist collective General Idea, is no run-of-the-mill bookstore. Contents include political manifestos, zines, ceramic arts, essays, postcards, limited-run art books, music albums, artists’ correspondence, videos and more.

Since only a small fraction of the 2,000-item collection can be displayed at a time, floor space is dedicated to new and current works that are for sale. Modular shelves by artist Christian Kliegel allow the space to transform for book launches, panel discussions and informal gatherings.

The expansive collection includes works by Yoko Ono, Dan Graham and Andrea Fraser, as well as countless emerging and mid-career artists. The stock changes multiple times a week, but on a recent visit, the shelves were lined with books by Nour Bishouty, Derek Sullivan and SF Ho, postcards of Bloordale Beach by Shari Kasman, a satin fabric print by GenderFail press, and posters by David Hartt, Kota Ezawa and Dodie Bellamy.

A text-based mural project by West Coast artist Cathy Busby weaves its way through the room—a tribute to Busby’s late partner, conceptual artist Garry Neill Kennedy, produced in his trademark Superstar Shadow typeface. The text reads, “I Wonder,” a phrase Kennedy would repeat frequently during his gradual decline from dementia.

Art Metropole is also an active supporter of the arts, recently publishing a book, by Pulitzer Prize–winning artist and composer Raven Chacon, of experimental music scores for Indigenous performing artists.

896 College St., 416-703-4400, artmetropole.com

Careful curation keeps the 1,200-square-foot space from devolving into chaos