RITA LETENDRE | TORONTO PUBLIC ART
26 MAY 2018 – 21 JULY 2018
FRIDAY 25 MAY 2018, 6:00PM – 8:00PM
Image courtesy of the artist.
YYretroZpective | ORGANIZED BY ADAM LAUDER
For years, RITA LETENDRE’s public art cut radiant vectors across Toronto’s urban grid. After decades living in Montréal and California, Letendre relocated to Toronto in 1970. Through a combination of public and private commissions for monumental murals and large-scale canvases, the artist, who is of Abenaki/Québecois and Mohawk/Québecois ancestry, quickly made her mark on the notoriously generic public spaces of her adoptive hometown. By the decade’s close, her signature “arrow” paintings—hard-edge, iridescent abstractions—were a daily sight for thousands of Torontonians. Yet, through a combination of misadventure and neglect, Letendre’s once ubiquitous and cherished public art works steadily vanished, beginning with Sunrise (1971), her dazzling, seven-floor mural for Ryerson’s Neill Wycik residence, which was permanently obscured when an adjacent 25-story residential tower was erected in 1978, leaving only a 10-inch gap between the two buildings. Duane Linklater, an artist of Omaskêko Cree heritage whose projects excavate subterranean narratives of Indigenous presence and resilience, has interpreted the disappearance of Letendre’s public art in Toronto as a symptom of the historic dispossession of Indigenous peoples.
Rita Letendre | Toronto Public Art is the first exhibition focused on Letendre’s Toronto public art. It reunites the recently-restored Sunrise II (1972)—an imposing sequel to the obscured Neill Wycik mural—with Ixtepec (1977), the basis for Letendre’s forthcoming Joy, a reinterpretation of the artist’s 1978 skylight for Glencairn subway station, which was de-installed following years of neglect. Supplementary documents include plans for both the original and forthcoming Glencairn projects, and a new video interview with the 90-year-old artist.
YYZ acknowledges the support of Galerie Gevik (Toronto), Galerie Simon Blais (Montréal), and the Art Museum at the University of Toronto.
ADAM LAUDER is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at York University in Toronto. He obtained a Ph.D. from The Department of History of Art at the University of Toronto in Fall 2016. He is currently researching Canadian information art in the 1970s. Since 2009, he has curated and co-curated exhibitions for a variety of museum and university art gallery venues. He has also contributed articles to scholarly journals including Amodern, Art Documentation, Canadian Journal of Communication, Future Anterior, Imaginations, Journal of Canadian Studies, Technoetic Arts, The Journal of Canadian Art History, TOPIA and Visual Resources as well as features and shorter texts to magazines including Art Handler, Border Crossings, C, Canadian Art, e-flux, Flash Art, Hunter and Cook and Millions. He edited H& IT ON (YYZBOOKS, 2012), featuring original art by ground-breaking information artist IAIN BAXTER&, and is the author of chapters appearing in Finding McLuhan (2015), The Logic of Nature, The Romance of Space (2010) as well as Byproduct: On the Excess of Embedded Art Practices (YYZBOOKS, 2010).
Adam Lauder would like to acknowledge the support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.