Contact Photography Exhibition now showing

Henry VanderSpek's 'Taxi Drivers of Toronto' is a show seven years in the making. PHOTO: Henry VanderSpek

The annual Contact Photography Exhibition is on throughout the city this month, with a few exhibits here in the East End, and several opportunities to see the work of photographers from our area across the city.

Lisa Robertson , Birch Forest, 2016

The Great Escape Bookstore on Kingston Road plays home to The Allure of the Forest, an exhibition by photographers Lisa Robertson and John Davidson, curated by Great Escape owner Katya Nosko. With images that show still life amongst nature and Birch trees, the viewer is transported to a quiet, tranquil place of wilderness. Spots photographed include: Kortright Centre, Rouge Valley, Ward’s Island, Durham Forest, Scarborough Bluffs and the Ganaraska Forest. This is the fourth Contact festival for the Great Escape. Opening reception is May 6 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 957 Kingston Road.

On now at the Dylan Ellis Gallery, 1840 Danforth Ave., A Foundation of Ash is an exhibition by St. John’s artist Will Gill. Using life-like props, staged in studio or in nature, the result is a stark, exploratory body of photographs that begs a closer look. On through May 13.

Then, the one-of-a-kind Alternative Photo Revolution, a group exhibition that combines contemporary photography with historical printmaking processes. Curated and printed by Bob Carnie, the show returns after a jaunt through Glen Echo, Maryland and New Orleans. Opening reception May 18, 6 to 9 p.m.

Kimberley Spencer, Flight, 2016

Close to home, Studio 888, 2359 Queen St E, hosts An Equine Photographic Journey with work celebrating Kimberley Spencer’s lifelong relationship with horses, from the deserts of Morocco to the wild American Southwest. The show runs through May 28 with a reception May 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Local artists abroad, if you will, include Beach photographer Maria Ricossa, whose catching photographs depict “unrepeatable moments from people’s lives.” She is one of four artists showing at Urban Gallery, 400 Queen St. E, in Water: Sustaining Life, with an artist reception May 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. Water plays in her practice, and life, said Ricossa.

“I’m on the boardwalk at least once a day so am definitely drawn to the water and people who gather around water. So many scenes reveal themselves,” she said.

But she also seeks out her subjects.

Maria Ricossa, Blue Dress

“Other times I love to walk the different neighbourhoods of Toronto and other cities where there is always so much life and so many stories. Sometimes I’m drawn to people and other times I’m more interested in images made of elements not related to each other.”

Documentary photographer and nine-year resident Danforth East  Henry VanderSpek mounts a show seven years in the making: Taxi Drivers of Toronto at Daniels Spectrum Gallery, 585 Dundas St. E., with an opening reception May 2, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Since 2013, VanderSpek has been taking portraits and conducting interviews with Toronto taxi drivers, taking the viewer beyond the eyes in the rear view mirror, provoking empathy, conversation, and giving a glimpse into the neighbourhoods they drive in and the world they live in.

“Taxi drivers form a hidden and unappreciated social network that the city benefits from,” said VanderSpek.

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