What is 401 Richmond Street Westin Toronto?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Ilona Kauremszky

In the middle of Toronto’s condo madness by the Entertainment District spot a non-descript red brick factory building --- a left-over from Toronto’s factory days --- and head inside.

Dubbed 401 Richmond this world of studios, galleries and funky one-of-a-kind shops cinched in a multi-storey is a fabulous detour to the rampant construction sites taking place around it.

I go there for peace of mind and to bump into some of Canada’s legendary artists who have had studio space there for decades. Over 140 artists call this nook home.

Paul Fournier is one of them. The acclaimed Canadian contemporary artist whose philanthropists have been some of the country’s biggest tycoons (there’s art collector/theatre baron and now soon to be in the condo biz David Mirvish as one) is soft-spoken but gets excited when you mention the word ‘paintings’ around him.

Much of Fournier’s highly collected work is in institutions like the Art Gallery of Ontario, the National Gallery of Canada and the revered Smithsonian Institute (You could see his whimsical Florida Mirror at the latter). Folks might recall the stunning photo of Princess Diana and Prince Charles at the Pan Pacific Vancouver Hotel in ‘86. They are standing by Fournier’s Oceanus, he tells me.

Here are some other neat 401 Richmond finds:

Print making – Did you know the city’s only working studio for printmaking artists, Open Studio has been around for 40+ years and now calls this turf home? Think Joyce Wieland and Derek Sullivan shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award and tons more as some of the past residents. Even my other half was a student there in the swingin’ seventies when Open Studio was on King Street.  ;-)

Abbozzo Gallery – While a fairly new gallery, it just became a 401 Richmond tenant in May, this Canadian contemporary gallery is one to watch as exhibitions are scheduled regularly. Upcoming is David Blackwood’s Revelation Oct. 5 – Nov. 2.

The take away – the center is like a living breathing organism and it’s constantly changing with the characters and events who enter this fabulous premise. It’s a definite must-see.

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