The Toronto Sculpture Garden (TSG) is a small City of Toronto park at 115 King Street East, opposite St. James Cathedral. Since 1981, the TSG has commissioned temporary artworks by more than 80 artists. Until 2014, the space was operated as a partnership between the City of Toronto and benefactors, the Louis L. Odette family. Under the direction of Rina Greer, the TSG provided artists with the opportunity to work experimentally in public space, explore issues of scale and materials, and engage with the local community as well as visitors to the neighbourhood. For some, the expansion of their practice beyond the studio led to major public artworks elsewhere.
Now managed by the City of Toronto, the TSG hosts two projects per year.
Rhonda Weppler and Trevor Mahovsky’s temporary public artwork, Twilight, is housed in an improvised pop-up structure and contains delicate, taped-together monuments to everyday things. The project is a giant lantern made to look like an antique store, in homage to the many small business that have lined Queen Street West, including those which now exist only in memory. The transparent store contains 500 lanterns, each a glowing version of a vintage item, ranging from books to old technology to musical instruments. Many of the items, such as a TTC fare box, speak to the history of Toronto. Each lantern has been painstakingly made by photographing every side of each object, which the artists then print, cut, fold and tape together to make each item by hand. The store will be illuminated in a repeating computer-controlled light pattern, starting at sundown each night. The lanterns are lit one-by-one until the whole store is glowing, as if a phantom shopkeeper were stocking the shelves. Once the store is fully lit, the lanterns will then be extinguished one by one, as if purchased by phantom shoppers.
The artists have created an ever-growing online archive of many of the files used to create and assemble these lanterns. They are available for anyone to print out and make for themselves, at www.craftsabyss.com
Rhonda Weppler (born in Winnipeg, based in New York) and Trevor Mahovsky (born in Calgary, based in Toronto) have worked collaboratively since 2004. Both artists have MFA degrees from the University of British Columbia, where they met in 1996. They have exhibited extensively across Canada and internationally, including at the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), LABoral (Gijon), Dos de Mayo (Madrid), Aurora (Dallas), Flux Night (Atlanta), Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Power Plant (Toronto), Musee d’art Contemporain de Montreal, Tokyo Wonder Site, loop-raum (Berlin), 516 Arts (Albuquerque), and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax).
Permanent public commissions include The Watch Seller, at Vancouver’s Main Street Skytrain station, and The Commuters, installed at Toronto’s Saint Clair West subway station.
Their work is in the collection of the Musee d’art Contemporain de Montreal, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the National Gallery of Canada. They are represented by Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto.