Revolver Gallery: Andy Warhol

If you follow the chain of cities on my blog, a few years ago I talked about the pop-up restaurants in San Francisco… next, it was the pop-up gyms in Los Angeles. Now that I am in Toronto, I have discovered a whole new world that includes pop-up Art Galleries.

They are all over Toronto. They take over abandoned factories, churches, old banks, rooms at the airport, and even abandoned shoe/clothing stores. The first rendition that I discovered was a pop-up pop art gallery on Bloor called the Revolver Gallery. The gallery’s only focus is on the works of Andy Warhol.

The “revolver” in the name refers to the practice of “revolving” through the works of Warhol periodically; in fact, during our visit, new art came in as old art went out. The intent is to attract repeat visits, which worked for us… we were intrigued by what arrived in the wooden crates… intrigued enough to go back.

Most of the pieces are owned by Canadian entrepreneur Ron Rivlin, who came out of nowhere in Toronto’s gallery scene. He started purchasing Warhol art in 2012 in a passionate, devotional frenzy and now has enough of the artist’s work to revolve through the small gallery on Bay and Bloor. The location is a surprise to some but not unexpected to me because this is the place where finance and fashion intersect in Toronto. This matches the dichotomy of the world of Warhol: an introverted, sensitive but meticulous New York illustrator who became the unexpected rockstar of the art world.

There are parallels between Warhol and Rivlin as well: no one would accept Andy’s art in New York. He was an illustrator and in the eyes of the snobby New York art scene, this does not make an artist. In Toronto, Rivlin is treated as an outcast and it’s said that the Art Gallery of Ontario even went so far as to refuse a sizeable donation from the entrepreneur. I’m sure the backstory here is complex and suspect it may have been the trigger behind the pop-up gallery revolution in the city.

From my perspective, the exhibit and location are very welcome. It brought Warhol to me in an easy, accessible, and down to earth way that I use as an “escape” from the daily chaos of my current project. Andy was an interesting and complex man; it takes more than one visit to understand him. The same could be said about Rivlin.

Unfortunately, the gallery is only on Bloor until December 2015.

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