Posted on May 10, 2012 by Marina

May is CONTACT Festival month in Toronto.

The largest photography festival in the world that is held in Toronto. The festival increases exposure and recognition for local, Canadian and international artists with 1000 exhibits at almost 200 venues. Steam Whistle Brewery is one of these venues and in May we are hosting  Building Storeys – a photo exhibit of transportation in Toronto. The exhibit is co-curated by Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star and Gary Miedema, Chief Historian at Heritage Toronto.

Photo: Toni Wallachy

Building Storeys is a visual documentation and anecdotal exhibit of Toronto’s cherished – and in some cases, somewhat unknown – heritage buildings and sites. The project brings together both the heritage and arts communities in collaboration to create awareness of the depth of our city’s heritage.

Gary Miedema, Chief Historian and Associate Director at Heritage Toronto, further discusses the inspiration for the exhibit.

What is your role with Heritage Toronto?

I’m the organization’s Chief Historian and Associate Director.  I help guide Heritage Toronto’s programming, and work closely with partnering organizations across the city to raise awareness of this city’s fascinating history.  This exhibition is a great example. The photographers, the Building Storeys Collective, have been a truly great group to work with. Brook Restoration and the Howard and Carole Tanenbaum Family Foundation were key sponsoring partners, Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star has been a brilliant co-curator, and Steam Whistle made the on-site work a pleasure.

How did Heritage Toronto get involved with the CONTACT festival?

This is the third edition of our Building Storeys exhibition, and the first one that is a part of CONTACT.  The move into CONTACT was recommended by Howard Tanenbaum in 2011 when we were planning this year’s show. Given the way the exhibition had matured, that move just made sense, and we are thrilled to be a part of one of the world’s great photography festivals, here in our own city.

What inspired Building Storeys?

In short, a driving passion to tell the stories of this city’s past through exceptional contemporary photography.  Too often, people either unwittingly overlook the richness of this city’s historic buildings and infrastructure, or worse, consider them not worth looking at.  The photographers in this show have done what they do best – capture beauty and intrigue in unexpected places, and stop us in our tracks to appreciate it. And suddenly we see our own city a fresh new light.

Photo: Sean Galbraith  & Toni  Wallachy

How does this show compare to the previous years?

The quality of the photographs remains exceptional.  We are very happy to be at Steam Whistle for the first time – a perfect match for this year’s theme of transportation infrastructure, and that match brings something very rich to this show.  It’s also important to note that this year we added new curators – Christopher Hume and myself. With Christopher Hume’s input, we significantly enhanced the written story panels that enrich the photographs.

What is your favourite piece at the exhibit?

Each photo was chosen because it was particularly striking, and because it added something to the story of a theme or site.  I was immediately struck by Rick Harris’ photo of the subway wheel – it reveals that screeching and grinding piece of brute machinery to be an object of engineered perfection, and it intrigues me  with its perception of both blurred motion and exacting sharpness.  It tells a piece of this year’s story – of the unseen work done by generations in the city’s subway and streetcar yards.

Photo: Toni  Wallachy

You can check the exhibit out for yourself until May 31st 2012 at Steam Whistle Brewery (255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto).  See you soon!