Announcing the Award Winners of the 59th Toronto Outdoor Art Fair

The 59th Toronto Outdoor Art Fair drives 300% increase in audience engagement through its online platform and awards $20,000 to artists with timely critical works

For its 59th year, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, Canada’s largest contemporary outdoor art fair, pivoted to provide a virtual event from July 2-12, 2020 called Toronto Online Art Fair with outstanding success.

Showcasing 300+ participating artists on its e-commerce platform, the first iteration of TOAF created income and exposure for independent artists by facilitating sales of over 600 artworks throughout Canada, the US, and as far as Japan and Hong Kong. TOAF garnered a 300% increase in visitor traffic to its website, and grew its social media following by 30% in less than 4 weeks.

TOAF’s first major fundraising campaign, Gifts of Heart, sparked the generosity of many avid supporters and new donors. The campaign raised $36,000 in gift cards to bring art to frontline workers as a token of gratitude while supporting TOAF artists.

During a time where showcase and sales opportunities for artists have halted due to the pandemic, TOAF was able to replicate the sense of community and shared experience that have been a part of TOAF’s DNA for the past 59 years. By hosting artist-led studio tours, Instagram Live artist chats and panel discussions, TOAF became a platform for encouraging conversations and interactions between artists and the arts community.

New this year was the series of Curated Collections, put together by highly-acclaimed curators, and artists. The various Collections provided new perspectives and different access points to TOAF’s vast inventory of artworks and introduced new visitors to TOAF from the curators’ immediate audiences.

TOAF Executive and Creative Director, anahita azrahimi, remarks on the success of this year’s adaptation:

“The online fair’s success was a result of the nimble structure of our organization combined with the team’s agility to respond on the fly and grow our organization in ways we never imagined. The most rewarding and inspiring part of this journey was the eagerness of our community of artists, curators, and programming partners like The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, StART Toronto, Tangled Art + Disability to collaborate and work together with the same agility to provide exemplary programming.

We are incredibly grateful and humbled by the momentous gifts from the The Koffler Family Foundation, Lindy Green Family Foundation, The Rudolph P. Bratty Foundation as well as the City of Toronto whose support ensures that TOAF navigate these uncertain times safely and celebrate the legacy of our organization for our 60th Anniversary in 2021.”

TOAF maintained its tradition of celebrating artistic excellence by presenting $20,000 cash and in-kind awards. A group of expert judges selected the outstanding artists who demonstrated originality, workmanship, and innovation.


Catherine Bratty Award for Best of Art Fair, Julien Kandolo

$3,000 by The Rudolph P. Bratty Family Foundation
JUDGED BY: Dori Tunstall, Dean of the Faculty of Design at OCAD U

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Julien Kandolo, ‘Umbrella’, 2020, acrylic, spray and collage on canvas

Julien ‘Kando’ Kandolo is a visual artist born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who lives and works in Montreal. His art focuses on identity and a deep desire for freedom.

Dean Dori Tunstall and Judge of the Catherine Bratty Award for Best of Art Fair talks about choosing Julien Kandolo’s work for the award:

“Art functions well when it helps provide perspectives on contemporary times. Julien Kandolo’s collaged paintings and sculptural objects help us better understand art in the time of Covid-19 and social unrest against intersectional anti-Black and anti-Indigenous injustices.”


The Mayor’s Purchase Award, Cheryl Rock

Value of Artwork by City of Toronto
JUDGED BY: Neil Brochu, Supervisor Collections and Outreach, City of Toronto

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Cheryl Rock, ‘B.G.M 4.0’, 2020, Hand-cut, archival paper and mixed media

In a statement from His Worship Mayor John Tory, he addresses why he selected Cheryl’s work:

“The series aligns itself well with the current political climate and the racial injustices we are addressing around the world. The series titled, ‘Re-visioning Royalty’, highlights the resilience, perseverance, and power we have seen Black women demonstrate throughout history… The art, created by Cheryl Rock, a Black Torontonian of Barbadian heritage, also showcases the diversity of Toronto – the most diverse city in the world. It is important for me that the City’s art collections reflect not only the diversity of the city but also the many ways it is interpreted by the artists who call this city home. Cheryl and her art are a strong reflection of that.

On the particular work I chose, I thought the silhouette conveyed that strength together with a sense of mystery as silhouettes do, while at the same time highlighting ornate detail that carried with its strength and beauty and femininity. … I confess to being immediately taken with this [piece] and the only thing missing is a chance to meet the artist, which I would normally do at Nathan Phillips Square.”


Best of Student Award, Varvara Nedilska

$500 Marie Collins Memorial Award & $2,500 Value Artscape Award
JUDGED BY: Justine Kohleal, Assistant Curator of Education & Public Programs at The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery

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Varvara Nedilska, ‘Sleepover’, 2019, watercolour, ink, gouache

Varvara Nedilska is a Ukrainian Canadian multidisciplinary artist and a 2020 graduate of the OCADU Illustration program. Her practice focuses on ways in which people cope with the effects of life in a fictionalized futuristic environment oversaturated with technology and their desire to return to ancient ways of life.

Justine Kohleal, Judge of the Best of Student Award, talks about her selection:

“Varvara’s blending of folk-art aesthetics and dystopian subject matter create surreal dreamscapes, and highlight the absurdity of our daily lives in ways that are both ominous and hopeful… In this way, Nedilska’s illustrations poetically speak to our present anxieties while envisioning a more hopeful future.”


For the full list of 2020 award winners, visit: torontooutdoor.art/awards

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Toronto Outdoor Art Fair
401 Richmond Street West, Unit 264
Toronto, ON M5V 3A8
416-408-2202
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