History

Canada's largest contemporary outdoor art fair

Launching artists' careers since 1960

In June 1960, Toronto businessman Murray Koffler and his wife, Marvelle, attended an outdoor art fair on Washington Square in New York City. Upon their return to Toronto, they were dismayed to read in the newspaper about two artists who were removed from Toronto City Hall for trying to sell their art on city property. 

Together with Alan Jarvis, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, and the late Jack Pollock, the Kofflers closed off the parking lot and garden of the then Four Seasons Motor-Hotel on Jarvis Street for a June weekend in 1961 and the first Toronto Outdoor Art Fair was born! In 1967, the Kofflers suggested the art show be moved to the new City Hall Square (now known as Nathan Phillips Square), where it remains today.

 

“I spent a few summers in the early 80’s at the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair with my work. It was a great experience meeting fellow Torontonians and tourists and having a chance to tell my story. I even sold a few prints which made the experience that much better!”

-Ed Burtynsky

 

Beginning in 2011, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair began to produce Art Now – an outdoor exhibition of non-commercial contemporary art. Art Now offers the public a chance to interact with and learn about often-misunderstood contemporary art practices such as installation and performance art in an informal setting.  Like the namesake art fair, Art Now provides the public an opportunity to connect directly with artists and creators in a more personal way. 

We established Art Encounters, a special outreach program to remove barriers of access by offering dedicated space and professional development opportunities for artists and makers in priority groups - those who are disability-identified, Newcomer, and/or Indigenous.

Toronto Outdoor Art Fair is the largest outdoor art exhibition in Canada and has established itself as an important event within the Canadian arts community. 

For 58 years, we have partnered with the City of Toronto and private businesses to bring an engaging and exciting selection of visual art to the Toronto community. On an early July weekend - rain or shine - we present a juried showcase of visual artists working in a wide range of traditional and experimental art forms. 

Notable artists such as Ken Danby, David Blackwood, Joanne Tod, Jennifer Stead and Harlan House exhibited in the early stages of their careers.  Artists come to connect with gallery dealers, collectors and the general public.

Toronto Outdoor Art Fair is a charitable nonprofit organization