Various Artists

The Cold City Years


The Power Plant presents an exhibition of ephemera and artwork from the Cold City Gallery, tracing the gallery’s history through its archives and including a number of key works from that history.

Curated by Nancy Campbell, Marlene Klassen and Pamela Meredith

"Cold City Gallery initiates a new departure in the concept of the artist-run gallery. Through cyclical solo exhibitions of its members, it will offer the same sustained exposure for its artists as private commercial galleries with the exception that in Cold City the artists represent themselves. It is planned as a commercially viable co-operative where artists join together to share the gallery, not only as an exhibition space, but as a vehicle for introducing work to private and public collections.... Cold City will also sponsor group, exchange and curated exhibitions in its schedule. It hopes to provide an aggressive alternative to existing programming in other galleries both public and private. By adapting some of the positive functions of both systems, Cold City wants to provide commitment, continuity and independence for working artists."

So said the inaugural press release dated July 25, 1986; from the outset Cold City’s mandate was focused and innovative. The brainchild of Toronto artist Dyan Marie, Cold City was formed as a new way to exhibit and sell work. While many hybrid galleries similar to the Cold City model have flourished since, Cold City was arguably the first of its kind in Toronto. The name Cold City was adapted from the “Cold City Fiction” issue of Impulse magazine – a literal and metaphorical take on the state of affairs in Toronto. In this context, the gallery offered its member artists the opportunity to regularly exhibit conceptually challenging work with complete freedom. The stable of artists changed over the co-operative’s thirteen-year duration, with some leaving for commercial galleries, and new members joining. This fluidity was part of Cold City’s success, but the bar was set very high for member artists. In addition to exhibiting its members, Cold City hosted numerous invitational and guest artist exhibitions, including those of Ken Lum, Annette Messager, Dennis Adams, and William Burroughs.

The member artists of Cold City were: John Armstrong, Therese Bolliger, Peter Bowyer, David Buchan, Peter Cosco, Cathy Daley, Tom Dean, Rob Flack, Eldon Garnet, Mark Gomes, Brian Groombridge, Marla Hlady, David Hlynsky, Garry Neill Kennedy, Ginette Legaré, Mark Lewis, Landon Mackenzie, Stephen Menzies, Arnaud Maggs, Dyan Marie, Al McWilliams, Sarah Nind, Louise Noguchi, Dominique Pelletey, Jaan Poldaas, Randy & Berenicci, Sandra Rechico, Mario Scattoloni, Susan Schelle, Brian Scott, Carl Skelton, Ian Wallace, Shirley Yanover, and Carolyn White.

The Cold City Archive is now in the permanent collection of the Doris McCarthy Gallery, University of Toronto at Scarborough. The donation will allow scholars to catalogue the material and contribute to the history of art galleries and artist-run centres in Canada. The Power Plant is pleased to present an exhibition of ephemera and artwork from the Cold City Gallery, tracing the gallery’s history through its archives and including a number of key works from that history.


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