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Resident Artist At The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto Shares How To Experience Toronto’s Art Scene Like A Local

From Queen West to Bloor East; from the Distillery to Downtown – Toronto is a mecca for art enthusiasts. The Resident Artist of The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, Jacqueline Poirier, shares her local guide to Toronto’s arts and culture scene.

Graffiti Alley

Some say Toronto is one of the best street art cities on earth. Stretching almost a full kilometre from Spadina Avenue to Portland St., Graffiti Alley is a colourful display of works by local and world-renowned secret wall art painters like Evan Bansky, the subject of the documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop, who left his own indelible mark on the city when he visited a few years ago. Check out the video on YouTube as Jacqueline guides us through Graffiti Alley.

Jacqueline’s Insider Tip: For a quick bite, visit 416 Snack Bar. This local eatery features a cutlery-free menu of tapas style foods.

Distillery District

In addition to being North America's largest and most well preserved collection of Victorian industrial architecture, the Distillery District is widely regarded as Canada's premiere arts, culture and entertainment destination. Brimming with creativity, the pedestrian only village is home to over 20 art studios and galleries, as well as unique stores, shops, restaurants, cafes, theatres and more.

Jacqueline’s Insider Tip: Express your love at the Love Locks installation. Bring along a padlock and declare your love for that special someone at this Paris-inspired symbol of affection.

Arts & Cultural Festivals

Throughout the year, Toronto plays host to some of the best festivals in the world. Each June, Luminato celebrates Toronto's rich multiculturalism and diversity with a 10 day festival of art and culture. The city's theatres, parks and public spaces come alive with hundreds of events celebrating theatre, dance, music, food, visual arts, magic, film and more. Hailed as one of the preeminent art festivals in North America, Luminato commissions more than 66 new works of art and features 7,500 artists from 40 countries.

Originally conceived in Paris, Nuit Blanche attempts to bring contemporary art to the masses in a free all-night art event. During a designated night each Fall, the streets of Toronto are transformed into a walking gallery of temporary exhibitions that can be explored from sunset to sunrise. Toronto was the first North American city to participate in the world-renowned festival and has inspired other urban centres like Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Miami to do the same.

Jacqueline’s Insider Tip: During the festivals or any time of year, check out the Art Gallery of Ontario. Designed by native Torontonian, Frank Gehry, this building features over 4,000 works of art across 110 galleries.

West Queen West

Recently named one of the world's coolest neighbourhoods by Vogue magazine, West Queen West is where cutting edge galleries dot the street scape from Trinity Bellwoods Park to Dufferin Street. This hip strip oozes creativity, and features pop-up markets, public art installations and community events such as Art Battle where on the last Tuesday of each month, brush-toting fighters compete to create original pieces in under 20 minutes. Anchored by great nightlife, eclectic shops and unique boutiques, it's a must see for any visitor to the city.

Jacqueline’s Insider Tip: Be sure to leave time to explore the works of Canadian mosaic artist, Luis Jacob, under the Dufferin Bridge. Three years in the making, Jacob’s Spirits of the Grotto consists of 34 large metal panels, each bearing a pair of mosaic tile discs representing eyes.

And to see Jacqueline in action visit TOCA at The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto. As a server in the restaurant, Jacqueline was inspired to create her own works of art in the form of one-of-a-kind, hand-painted charger plates. The colourful plates adorn the walls and each place seating at the restaurant, providing visitors with a rotating gallery of iconic Toronto landmarks, Canadian landscapes and other playful images. 

Follow us on Facebook for insider tips for exploring Toronto’s dynamic art scene. As your experience our Resident Artist Jacqueline’s local guide to Toronto, share your photos with #RCMemories for a chance to be featured on our Twitter or Instagram accounts. To view Jacqueline's video guide, check out our YouTube channel.