Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Koffler Gallery Off-Site returns to Honest Ed’s with the group exhibition Summer Special

The Koffler Gallery of the Koffler Centre of the Arts is excited to announce its return to Honest Ed's with the new group exhibition, Summer Special!

Curated by Mona Filip, Summer Special is presented off-site at Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor Street West, Toronto, from June 21 to November 11, 2012 and opens with a free reception on Thursday, June 21, 6 to 9 PM.

The Koffler Gallery began its program of off-site exhibitions and installations in 2009 with the critically acclaimed exhibition Honest Threads by Toronto artist Iris Häussler. The Gallery returns to Honest Ed’s with Summer Special, after over three years and thirteen off-site projects.

Summer Special takes its inspiration from the trademark signs and show bills of Honest Ed’s, Toronto’s landmark discount store. Building upon the store’s tradition of craftsmanship, Toronto artists Corinne Carlson, Robin Collyer, Barr Gilmore, Jen Hutton, Sarah Lazarovic and Vancouver-based Ron Terada create new works that explore the visual vocabulary of commercial and urban signage, infiltrating the iconic building and its façade with site-specific installations.
Drawing upon the realm of advertising, Corinne Carlson translates popular culture images and words-as-image through her idiosyncratic, autobiographical filter. For Summer Special, Carlson creates postcards that mimic letterpress cards of days gone by, capturing memorable fragments of private exchanges that will be displayed and sold along with Honest Ed’s merchandise.

Over several weeks, Robin Collyer took thousands of photographs inside the store, in the uncanny light and near silence before opening hours. The resulting stop motion film reveals the commercial machine at rest and highlights the hanging, hand-painted signs. Collyer also creates a window intervention of price tags bearing exorbitant figures never before seen at Honest Ed’s, where the highest value is the inexpensiveness of the goods for sale.

Having culled the word 'Honest' from the familiar store signage for his Nuit Blanche intervention in 2008, Barr Gilmore plays once again the détournement game by scrambling the famous letters to spell The Son. While the evocative new sign allows for many interpretations, the artist conceives it as a self-portrait – an abstract representation of an only son, born with the Sun in Cancer. Placed atop the highest elevation at Honest Ed's, The Son becomes a radiant beacon and a sign of hope.

In her intervention for Summer Special, Jen Hutton references another historic Mirvish Village sign, that of Memory Lane Books, which used to be located at 594 Markham Street. The archway entrance of the store has long been painted over, but Welcome to Yesterday becomes an equally poetic idiom for Honest Ed’s today.

Sarah Lazarovic works with Honest Ed’s signboard artist Wayne Reuben to produce a series of hand-painted signs that capture Twitter musings on Toronto urban issues in the store’s unmistakable household font. The incongruity of transferring tweets – today’s most transient forms of expression – into the medium of hand-painted signage reveals its anachronism as a process intended for a time when things written were meant to last.

Transforming some of the store’s slogan signs located in Honest Ed’s alley, Ron Terada overlays excerpts from the eccentric catchphrases unto abstract patterns referencing Frank Stella’s Black Paintings. His new signs evoke two interconnected histories within the legacy of the store’s owners as both commercial entrepreneurs and champions of the arts.

For full exhibition and program details, please visit:

This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts. Special thanks to Honest Ed’s.


Exhibition: Summer Special, June 21 to November 11, 2012, FREE
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 21, 6 – 9 PM, FREE (reception at Honest Ed’s, 2nd floor, Men’s Department)
Location: Koffler Gallery Off-Site at Honest Ed’s, 581 Bloor St. W., Toronto
Hours: Monday to Friday, 10 AM – 9 PM | Saturday 10 AM – 6 PM | Sunday 11 AM – 6 PM


June 21 to November 11, 2012 | Honest Ed’s, 2nd Floor, Men’s Department | Curator: Valentine Moreno |
An exhibition highlighting unique historic signs and records from the amazing archive of the store, celebrating its long tradition of craftsmanship.

Thursday, July 12, 2012, 6 PM | Honest Ed’s Parking Lot | FREE
Outdoor concert with The Pining, a local all-girl band whose junkie balladry and storytelling relates to life in Toronto, exploring country and indie-folk sounds with a unique contemporary urban twist. Presented as part of Fringe Festival.

September 30, 2012, 12 – 5 PM | FREE
Tour starts at Honest Ed’s, then departs for Blackwood Gallery, AGYU and Doris McCarthy Gallery, returning to Honest Ed’s for 5 PM. RSVP by Friday, September 28: 416 638 1881 x4249 or

October 18 to November 4, 2012 | Honest Ed’s, various locations | FREE
Performance intervention created by playwright/director Jordan Tannahill. Actor Virgilia Griffith shifts between diverse voices as a living record of the people who sustain the store, embodying the very essence of Toronto’s working class. Presented in partnership with Suburban Beast.

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