Rupen is a young active artist interested in abstract structure and form. He enjoys supporting his community by providing accessible exhibition space for those he feels produce different work-challenging the audience in some way. Window Galleries are great because, not only does it give needed exhibition space, it doesn't require him to be there to keep it open. He leaves the decision as how to use the space up to the artists. About 90% choose to do a site-specific work.

Stefan Schmuhl, a gallery owner himself (project storefront gallery) and recent OCAD student, has chosen to display a series of photos of what seems to be the New York skyline. His portraits of office towers are mounted in a somewhat urgent fashion. They hang randomly angled and visibly supported by a construction of temporary wood planking, strung across the two windows. They remind me of a clothesline, the wash hanging in the wind. At first, I think he must have run out of time to mount the images properly. But just as the colour contrasts of the photos only slowly reveal the details of the images, I come to understand the structural elements to be a conversation of reflected forms and the social alienation of the city. Devoid of people or emotion, and shot at a distant angle from above, there is nothing emotionally pleasing or gratifying about these subjects. Stepping back, the photo's and their mounting look more like an abstract canvas, the structure of the storefront entrance made more visible by the lines reaching like a frame around the light of the windows. From a moving car, the photo's are dark and indistinguishable, the framing like eviction or protection hoarding slashed across the windows.. A critical viewer might feel this is a weakness, given the audience of the space. For an instant in time or at a distance, it is neither attracting nor very informative. The existence of art seems obscured. But it is a commentary that is worthy of reflection.

She Said Boom
- 372 College Street
Unlike the other locations, this window gallery is not clearly separated from the business of books and music for sale within. The display corner is placed in the corner of a full single picture window of the store, where the stacks of used books and CD's are clearly visible from the street. You could say that it quietly asserts that art, books and culture all are one. This has potential to be a contextual tool but it clearly poses a visual challenge for the artists using the space. As one of the store staff, a self confessed art Luddite, commented: "the quality of the exhibits are a bit spotty, I want someone to tell me where the bullshit ends and the art begins."

Placed on one of Toronto's diverse and ethnically mixed neighbourhoods, and at one of the central retail, restaurant and club districts, it has a steady stream of ready views. People are obviously taking note, even when the staff does not. The response to the artwork has resulted in some requests to purchase, comments and notices when pieces seem out of place.

Electrohome EVM-9R2 - is intended as a sculptural piece- two small video antique (by nanosecond standards) electroholme monitors, their faces and information obscured by layers of translucent scotch tape woven carefully into place, is perhaps best seen at night. At night,the magical white spots of light energy grab at you in their intensity. The test lines and wavering light infofuzz that comes through their vacant but electrified screens shows like two blinking eyes of a great night owl, and softens the dialogue and competition between the piece and the bustle of the bookshop. The formal drama and intensity of the piece is somewhat lost while looking down on them, on the street or at a distance, surrounded by distracting activity of daylight.

Leslie Peters creator of Electrohome EVM-9R2, admitted this was a learning experience for her. She enjoyed the departure from her usual video media - a chance to move her virtual ephemeral work into the real world-contextual and textural. She was amazed at how small her monitors looked in the window. She could now see them standing at eye level, from a distance, partly consumed by the space around them. She had been living with them for years, working on them, slowly modifying them, and allowing them to become part of her everyday environment. They had taken a life of their own and took a lot of her personal and physical space. But she only just realized the fact of their existence once she moved them for viewing and now notices the space they left behind. Whether it was the trick of the She Said Boom Window Gallery's viewing angle or the transfer of emotional miasma, I too sensed their displacement of this space.

The success of a window gallery should be measured by the artist's ability to feel the pulse, understand and evaluate their space, and while recognizing the power of conversation, respect their audience. In the democratic case of window galleries, each person is the judge! And here's a tip: no matter how self absorbed, shy or suspicious, people are incurably curious and love an event. Every time I stopped to view a window, no matter what the weather, a small gathering of strangers would ensue. Inevitably at least a comment or two was thrown in my direction. At The Fly Gallery, a gruffy little handyman with five o'clock shadow and a faint odour of alcohol on his breath, couldn't help asking me "it's always someting, I don't get it, what do you tink they selling here?" At the Solo, it was cold and raining white stuff, but at least three girls stopped to helpfully share stories and an umbrella, as we took turns playing with the film loop timer knob. At Pages, well the couple couldn't help kissing and whispering between giggles (it was Valentine's Day after all) then decided to go back into the store. SO here's the thing- feeling alone? Spending too much time in cyberspace? Need a little humanity contact? Check out your local window gallery. The fastest way to get a life-really.

Suzanne Farkas 4.01


Leslie Peters, 'Electrohome EVM-9R2' double monitor video installation
at She Said Boom - Toronto 2.01