Art Gallery of York University celebrates the legacy of Toronto artist Will Munro

picture of a room with photo's on the walls and decorated underwear hanging from the ceiling in the Will Munro exhibit

The exhibition Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic is about the history that Toronto artist Will Munro based his work on and the history he was – his glam subjects and the glamourous one he was – and the magic dimension of his last work. Munro, who was a DJ, music promoter, activist, queer community catalyst, and visual artist, died in 2010 of cancer. He was just 35 years old.

To celebrate his legacy, the AGYU opens a major retrospective exhibition this evening from 6 to 9pm with a celebration in the gallery space. All are welcome. The exhibition continues until March 11.

Will Munro: History, Magic, Glamour, installation view, AGYU. Photograph by Cheryl O'Brien, courtesy Art Gallery of York UniversityRight: Will Munro: History, Magic, Glamour, installation view, AGYU. Photograph by Cheryl O’Brien, courtesy Art Gallery of York University

Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic  concentrates on the multi-media work Munro produced after graduating from the Ontario College of Art & Design University (OCADU) in 2000, from his first exhibition Boys Do First Aid (2000) to his last, Inside the Solar Temple of the Cosmic Leather Daddy (2010).

It also captures his various signature underwear work (his handcrafted underwear made from heavy metal concert T-shirts); the banners of legendary queer performers such as Klaus Nomi and Leigh Bowery; his stitching collaborations with West Side Stitches Couture Club, Jeremy Laing, and others (which includes the restaging of The Pavilion of Virginia Puff-Paint, his collaboration with Laing made for the AGYU in 2004); his experimental films; the multitude of hand-made silkscreen posters that accompanied his DJ’ing and music promotions at his nightclub venues Vazaleen, Peroxide, No T.O., and Moustache. The dynamic exhibition will be punctuated by a collection of never before seen ephemera and archival material that stitches together the many vibrant activities of this non-stop artist. The exhibition is generously sponsored by Salah Bachir and Jacob Yerex.

Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic, installation view, AGYU. Photograph by Michael Maranda, courtesy Art Gallery of York UniversityRight: Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic, installation view, AGYU. Photograph by Michael Maranda, courtesy Art Gallery of York University

In conjunction with Will Munro: History, Glamour, Magic, AGYU continues to celebrate the legacy of Toronto’s feminist and queer communities with a series of collaborations, specifically commissioned projects and new alliances.

Get on the AGYU Performance Bus

Artist and DJ Syrus Marcus Ware turns the AGYU’s Performance Bus into his memory of a circa 2001-2002 Friday night Vazaleen party that was hosted by Munro and artists Miss Barbrafisch and Rawbrt at the Elmocambo. Tonight, gallery guests can ride to the AGYU for the opening reception on a free performance bus departing OCADU at 6pm.

AGYU and the Feminist Art Gallery

An initiative between AGYU, Feminist Art Gallery (FAG) and The Power Plant, CInenova: All Hands on the Archive develops a dialogue between the work in the London-based feminist CInenova film and video collection and Toronto’s long-rooted feminist and queer histories as a means to access, activate and animate. Visit AGYU website for more information on the month-long project including: opening night screening on Feb. 3 at The Department, 1389 Dundas Street West at 7pm that has been curated by CInenova Working Group member Emma Hedditch; An Audience of Enablers Cannot Fail sessions at FAG 25 Seaforth Avenue, side gate, on Feb. 4, 11, 18, and 25; and the closing party featuring a commissioned performance by Sharlene Bamboat, and special screening curated by artists GB Jones, Alex McClelland, Leila Pourtavaf, and Lex Vaughn on March 4 in the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom (1214 Queen Street West) starting at 8pm.

People, Power, Magic

In this AGYU “in-reach” project, Toronto artist John Caffery engages queer and trans youth through a direct dialogue with Munro’s ideas and artwork. Caffery was close to the source as a friend and collaborator in the West Side Stitches Couture Club and, like Munro, his practice moves across multiple communities and media, locating his aesthetics and politics in textiles, film, and music (his band is Kids on TV).

This collective, multi-disciplinary program features Caffery working with many members of Munro’s army of lovers – frequent collaborators and friends – including artists Scott Miller Berry, Lorraine Hewitt (aka Coco La Crème), Luis Jacob, Jeremy Laing, and Zavisha, as well as the Toronto Kiki Ballroom Alliance, the recipients of the first annual Spirit of Will Munro Award. People, Power, Magic is dedicated to creating real opportunities for self-expression in order to provide a space for outcasts and freaks to thrive without fear. Program presented in collaboration with Supporting Our Youth (SOY).

The Art Gallery of York University is a university-affiliated public non-profit contemporary art gallery supported by York University, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council, and its membership.

The AGYU is located in the Accolade East Building, 4700 Keele Street Toronto. Gallery hours are: Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm; Wednesday, 10am to 8pm; Sunday from noon–5pm; and closed Saturday. AGYU promotes LGBT positive spaces and experiences and all events are free and open to everyone.

For more information, visit the AGYU website.