A recent exhibition at Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art (MOCCA) was called "This Is Paradise". It was a retrospective of the Canadian artists from the 1980s that congregated in the emerging Queen St West art district. Many of the collection of paintings, videos and multimedia installations focuses on art that was featured at The Cameron House, a bar, hotel and small theatre that was a favoured meeting place for Toronto's avant-garde artists, musicians, actors and writers. Also on display as part of this show were works from the National Gallery of Canada from the same 1980s era.
"This is Paradise" refers to a phrase that artist Tom Dean painted on one of the walls of The Cameron House where he roomed after being evicted from his studio. It has been written that Dean meant this ironically given the grungy, seedy conditions on Queen St in the tumultuous 80s when AIDs, drug use and threat of nuclear warfare were the topics of the day. But within the context of Cameron House, perhaps he meant it sincerely, since this was a haven where he and fellow artists found a sanctuary that fostered their creativity.
Rich like this cubism-influenced rendering of the band Dogsound who played at Cameron House and other local bars. I thought they looked like space aliens playing instruments.
Other interesting images included one of Lenin holding "The Joy of Cooking", a cowboy hat made of rice crispies, and a photographic spoof on Andy Warhol's pop art, depicting a man naked except for a large can of campbell's soup covering his nether-regions.
MOCCA - 952 Queen St West
The Cameron House - 408 Queen St West