General TPL Talks and Programs

Informative Event for Artists

On a winter evening in 2011, I attended “Calling All Artists!” at Northern District Library. The massive turnout filled a huge meeting room and had staff scrambling to add rows of chairs to accommodate all the Toronto artists eager to learn more about exhibiting their work at the Toronto Public Library.

Four speakers talked us through the application process. The person  in charge of TPL’s Art Exhibits went over the application form in detail. Greg Astill promoted the services of the popular Digital Design Studio at the Toronto Reference Library. Then we learned more about displaying our art to its best advantage from Carol Barbour, TPL Gallery and Exhibits Curator. Finally, Susan Cohen discussed the business and marketing aspects of the art profession. She generously gave us the benefit of her experience as Program Director for Cultural Careers Council Ontario.

I took away many helpful ideas from the information session, but two of them stand out the most.

First, Ms. Cohen emphasized the crucial importance of a clear and concise artist’s statement: “You need to know exactly what you are doing and why you are doing it.” If our marketing vision is not clear to ourselves, how can it be clear to our viewers and potential customers?

Second, Ms. Barbour advised us to demonstrate strong artistic commitment not only in the careful planning of exhibit details but also in researching the galleries and walls of the thirteen libraries to which we can apply. Our applications will be even stronger if we can make a case for why our work belongs in a particular space. To emphasize this point, one of the speakers said, “For example, large abstract works would not be appropriate for a small, intimate gallery like the one at Yorkville. They would be perfect for Northern District’s Skylight Gallery, though.”

As I was reflecting on the curator’s advice, it occurred to me that my library blog could facilitate the research element of the application process. (For new readers to Breakfast in Scarborough, I have visited, written about, and photographed all 100 branches). The thirteen posts listed below offer glimpses of each library’s unique atmosphere and should give TPL exhibit applicants a sense of which one might best showcase their work.

To check out the specific branches that host community exhibits, please click on the hyperlinks below:


Albion  (photos in this branch were taken before the 2017 rebuild)


Deer Park

Don Mills



Northern District

North York Central

Oakwood Village Library and Arts Centre


Richview’s gallery was site of my first library art exhibit!

Woodside Square


Three cheers for art in the libraries!!!

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