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Art of Food at Urban Gallery This Month

Urban Gallery  was the place to be on Saturday during the opening reception for Art of Food
Can food be considered art? For Urban Gallery, the answer is a resounding yes. It makes perfect sense. Urban Gallery is owned by Calvin Hambrook who also owns the renowned Urban Source Creative Catering. Hambrook's love of art leads to the opening of Urban Gallery almost six years ago with the goal to showcase the works of up and coming Toronto artists.

Urban Gallery opened in November 2012 and has become a mecca for artists in Toronto since. Each month a new theme is in place giving artists a vision to achieve. The monthly exhibits feature new talent as well as notable works from artists that have had their works displayed in galleries around the world. With the talented Allen Shugar​ curating the shows each artist featured is given a world class showing with a welcoming reception, catered by Urban Source.

This month's featured artists for the Art of Food exhibit are Aisha Chiguichon, Anushka Deshpande, Lisa Hemeon, Janna Kroupko, Valerie McMurray, Judy Sherman,
Kirk Sutherland and Lyndon Wiebe.

Toronto native Judy Sherman's paintings have something to say. Inspired by life these oils use humour to deliver a very real message. "My artwork always has to say something," Sherman said at the opening reception Saturday, "This is a new series I am working on. It actually started with a painting of a pet pig. I painted her and I got such a good response I continued." Sherman has been painting seriously for the past 18 years. She said that during her 30s she had a 'mid-life crisis' and ventured to Italy training with a Master. Today her work is hung in corporate and private collections worldwide.

The intricate quilling work of Anushka Deshpande has a 3D quality. These brightly coloured pieces bring a sense of whimsey and cheer. It's hard to believe that she is a newcomer to the art world. Deshpande started working as an artist as a way to spend quality time with her daughter in 2016. Her first show was in Brussels and this is the first one in North America. "I get inspired by memories and happy thoughts. Nature is so beautiful and perfect." She likes to capture that perfection in her designs.

Lisa Hemeon's waterscapes may seem a bit out of place in an exhibition on food until you consider that much of our food comes from the sea. Using acrylic and heavy gels that give a waxy feel to colour her canvases Hemeon "They are reminiscent of my life in British Columbia growing up." Curator Shugar invited Hemeon to the show, letting her know that he felt that he could honour her work in relation to this show. Hemeon has been an artist since 2002 integrating it with a career in animation and design.

Valerie J McMurray is no stranger to Urban Source. In the past, she worked at the Catering company as a chef. The BC native painted a series of Spanish Lemons in oil while she was visiting Spain with a friend. McMurray has been oil painting for a few decades. She uses just three primary colours in her work, mixing the oils herself as she paints. "My paintings are generally much larger," McMurray said. She enjoys painting a single flower on large scale to show the intensity in her design.

Lyndon Wiebe was doing double duty during Saturday's reception, currently, the as head chef at Urban Source his art was on the wall and at the refreshment table. Wiebe's photography has been featured several times at Urban Gallery. Merging a love of travel, food and art is a passion of Wiebe's. Wiebe talked about his inspiration of his current work, "I always liked the signage fronts of Cote Be Boeuf." A favourite spot to get a snack Wiebe loves the storefront display at the eatery. Wiebe said that shooting food is not a passion of his, rather he enjoys capturing the fronts of his favourite restaurants.

Art of Food will be on display through August 31.


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REGULAR GALLERY HOURS
Monday to Friday NOON to 5 PM
Thursday NOON to 8 PM
Saturday 1 PM to 5 PM
Closed Sundays & Holidays

WILD IN THE CITY AT URBAN GALLERY THIS JULY

Urban Gallery owner Calvin Hambrook welcomes guests to the July show Wild In the City
 Artists Lindsey MacKay, Erik Chong, Osvaldo Napoli and Libby Simms explore their personal takes on the effect an urban environment has on its inhabitants and they have on it -whether plant, animal or human with wildly different approaches.

On Saturday, July 7 Urban Gallery was packed with visitors for the July exhibition's opening of WILD IN THE CITY. Three of the four artists featured this month Chong, Napoli and Simms were on hand to talk about their pieces. Fredericton resident MacKay was unable to make the long trip to Toronto.

Artist Eric Chong came to the show with two completely different approaches to dealing with plastic pollution. Using found items for PLASTIC STATE OF MIND and THIS BAG IS NOT A TOY Chong shows the dangers of plastics on our environment. "We all have to do our share to save the environment," Chong says. In his other works, Chong has a gentler approach.

Chong explained that he used a new acrylic paint that recently came on the market on aluminum foil as a canvas. "I find it very interesting," Chong said during the opening adding that the foil gives the art a mirror-like finish. The artist gave these pieces more serene titles. He also revealed that some of the paintings also glow in the dark.


Jayne Libby Sims has been painting since 2001 focusing on abstract art. A student of expressionist Frank Arnold this Toronto artist uses music as a muse when she paints. Her paintings can take years to complete as is the case of SURVIVOR BENEFITS. The painting follows her journey as a widow. It started shortly after her late husband's death and each step of the brush came as she went through the emotional steps of grieving. "I painted the painting the day after my husband died. It is completely different from the first go round. I knew more about the process of death so I went back at it and redid it. I stuck with that for a while and then a year later I looked at it again. And then I knew what I wanted to do. I never know how many paintings are going to turn out."

Osvaldo Napoli is an artist to keep your eyes on. This is his first large exhibition, with a planned solo show coming in October to Urban Gallery. He may have come to the art world later in life but his work has a very talented maturity about it. His paintings and sculptures reflect the human body and social condition.

"I am fascinated by the complexity of the human mind and the mystery's about how we all perceive reality."

Take the time to explore his work and his approach to revealing how society and the mind of people take form. He comes to his work with the humble eye of a true observer. Each piece is like a piece of his family.  

'WILD IN THE CITY' will be on exhibit through July 28.
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Monday to Friday NOON to 5 PM
Thursday NOON to 8 PM
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Urban Gallery Features the Theme Women at Work for 2018 CONTACT

The work that women do is essential to society, yet it is still often under-appreciated, underpaid and undervalued, and in many cases undocumented.

Photography is hot in May around Toronto with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival in full swing. At Queen St. East's hot Urban Gallery 4 stand out photographers were tasked with showing their versions of the theme 'Women at Work'. The results show how varied the worldview of work when it comes to women making this show a notable collection to take in during the coming weeks.

Artists Dorothy Chiotti, Wally Jay Parker, Erin McGean and Lyndon Wiebe each came to their version of what work is for women from a different vantage point. From working with rescue horses to boxing to making a social commentary on how women are viewed in media the pieces that grace the gallery this month reflect how photography can capture the world around us.


Dorothy Chiotti's collection features the hard work involved in caring for the horses at her own farm. She likes to work with light and shadow play with her photography.

This is Wally Jay Parker's first exhibition. Parker's new to the craft. She captures people that are in her life.

The only male photographer in the show is Lyndon Wiebe. Wiebe splits his creative passions between photography and food. A well-known celebrity chef Wiebe has been featured on the TV show "Chefs Run Wild". When it came to what he wanted to highlight for the Women at Work theme Wiebe said during the artist reception on May 5,"I wanted to show grace because I was raised by my mom and my sisters. For me it isn't about women physically doing work, it's about doing what they do with a touch of grace that men never have. It's a parallel but at the same time with showing what they do with their teaching and training."

Erin McGean is one of those new artists that need to be watched. Her beautiful photographic collages bring social issues that face women every day into view with a subtlety that makes you really think about the images.

While McGean's work typically focuses on women in nature the theme of the show had her really thinking about how women are viewed by the media and advertising. As she prepared she poured over magazine ads featuring women she started to observe patterns, many that didn't sit well with her. "I got inspired as I was creating this work. The art isn't negative but there is a bit of negative undertone with the pieces." Realizing that in advertising women have not evolved that much today from the image of the 1950s housewife. McGean talked about her piece '9 to 5' during the artist reception, "When I came up with that title I started singing the Dolly Parton song 9 to 5 and remembering that I watched the movie as a young girl a lot. I went back to look at what the plotline was, angry secretaries who were treated unfairly. They kidnapped their boss to try to get fair wages and a good work environment. We haven't changed."

She also touched upon the images in National Geographic, a magazine that caterers to men and adventure travelling the globe, and how women are depicted; tribal women who are half naked, princesses or the occasional domestic kind of scene. "When you look at fashion magazines there are those vacant stares that the models have."

'Women at Work' will be on exhibit through May 31.   
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ABSTRACTIONS ON METAL
Solo Exhibition of Photography by Andre Vittorio

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Toronto photographer Andre Vittorio has been exploring his art since the age of 17. His work is currently on exhibit at Urban Gallery on Queen Street East.

Vittorio's current work has an impressive range, from crisp black and white architectural and street portraits to colourful bold stills of water reflection that showcase the buildings of Venice.

Walking into Urban Gallery I was struck by the bold colours staring at me from the back wall. This nine-piece collection has an abstract feel but it's not. Each piece is a true to life water reflection. While talking with Vittorio I was shown the full image of one of the reflections that had been cropped to highlight the boldness of colour and motion. The effect is stunning. "The colours were there, to begin with, I just upped the vibrancy of them."

Twenty-two years ago Vittorio went to the University of Toronto studying computer science and history. While at school he discovered photography and he was hooked. "I do it for the love of it," the artist said. The show at Urban Gallery is his second show. He was featured four years ago during CONTRACT focusing on his Cuban collection.

Asked what drives him to go for different styles of photography Vittorio said that he "sees the picture and then takes the picture. The trick is to organize it together with something that flows. This collection was taken at different times, they were not all shot together as part of a planned collection. It was just something I saw that I thought was really nice."

The lines of architecture draw this artist in. "Sometimes you don't know what you are going to get until you blow it up."

While Vittorio does use digital cameras he is old school when it comes to his love of using real film. His first camera was a 1950s Rolleiflex. Learning on the older camera was a learning process.

Curator Allen Shugar said Vittorio's work is beautifully presented. Shugar said that the style of mounting the metallic paper on aluminum plates is "just glorious". Shugar said that he has heard many comments during the artist reception from visitors that are interested in purchasing the art.

This collection is a must see this April. Be prepared to fall in love with the pieces. Priced very reasonably this collection is on sale all month.

Exhibition dates
Thursday April 5, 2018 to Saturday, April 28, 2018          
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Urban Gallery Starts Year Off With WAIT, WHAT?

 On Saturday, March 17 students from Centennial College's Fine Arts Studio Program took part in the annual First Year Student Exhibition at Urban Gallery. This event has taken place for the last four years at the trendy art gallery on Queen St. E giving students real-life experience in the business side of the art world.

Curator Allen Shugar gave students the parameters of using an 18-inch square shadow box leading to this year's theme of 'Wait, What?'

The students worked for a month to prepare their pieces using a variety of mediums for the exhibition. The results are pieces of art that beacon visitors to take a second look to explore universes of double meaning, hope, despair, humour, longing, madness, genius, and skillful virtuosity.

Program Coordinator for the college David McClyment was on hand encouraging his students at the Gallery.

Each year there are standouts among the students. This year Ayyappa Kumar's The Puppet Vendor was among the top pieces. What is most inspiring about this new artist is just how new to the medium he is. He first picked up a paintbrush around Christmas time and his raw talent is amazing.

Lillian Jang's Apnea shows a maturity with her brush strokes on her impressionist mixed media piece.

Danielle Northmann's acrylic Journey brings the peacefulness of a sunset to life with vibrant colour.

Takanya Marsh's Re-Examining Medusa captures the rage of sexual assault with intensity.

The exhibit is on display through Saturday, March 24, 2018.
REGULAR GALLERY HOURS
Monday to Friday NOON to 5 PM
Thursday NOON to 8 PM
Saturday 1 PM to 5 PM
Closed Sundays & Holidays
On Exhibition Reception days, URBAN GALLERY will open at the Reception start time
Thursday Receptions -open at 5 PM
Saturday Receptions -open at 2 PM
(unless otherwise noted)
Viewings outside gallery hours by appointment
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