The Public Art Advocate
The son of Jamaican and Guayanese immigrants, Duane Bobbsemple never really felt included by Toronto’s art scene. “My parents … felt super intimidated by gallery spaces. Growing up, when I would go to museums, I didn’t see any work that felt validating,” he told Now Toronto. His solution? Taking art out of the galleries and onto the streets, so that it can be shared publicly. The creative director and curator cemented his commitment to democratizing art and amplifying diverse voices with the launch of Banded Purple, a collective of curators, artists, writers, thinkers and marketers, in 2017. Purple, the agency’s site says, “is reserved for the most outlandish of outsiders. To be banded with purple is a wilful refusal to conform to the norm.” Banded Purple’s exhibitions can be found throughout Canada and online.
Making its debut in 2022, Spaced is a public photography installation and walking tour in Toronto that questions how photography changes in a public setting. On show: art by up-and-coming Black Canadian artists, including Luis Mora, Isabel Okoro and Saemouhl, plus live performances, film screenings, and a closing cookout. In 2019, Purple Nights’ second installment combined visual artists, creators, and dancers paired with a live performance of Frank Ocean’s greatest hits. Another free event from Duane’s agency, Purple Films invited Toronto creatives to share short films and videos in front of a live audience.