Anyone driving in or out of Downtown Toronto via the Gardiner over the last couple of months will have seen a dynamic new artwork—still a work in progress—on the facing wall of a condo rec centre now under construction beside the elevated highway.

What any given driver won't know is whether they may have played a part in helping artist Katharine Harvey create Gardiner Streams, the colourful new work. Harvey is a Toronto-based visual artist who works mostly in painting and sculpture. Her works have been featured a number of times at Nuit Blanche and have hung in office tower lobbies around the continent, many exploring currents of water.

Gardiner Streams by Katharine Harvey seen from below, image by Justin Hane

Gardiner Streams takes Harvey's work from currents of water to streams of electric light. When Karen Mills of Public Art Management approached Katharine regarding art for the Prisma Club at Concord CityPlace's Quartz condominiums, the building's proximity to the Gardiner Expressway reminded Katharine of digital photos she had taken years earlier from the top of the Hancock Tower in Chicago of the blurred lights from vehicles on the streets below. Here, one of the proposed spots for art would be perfect for Harvey to decorate the Gardiner with its own best effect; the lights of vehicles moving along it.

Gardiner Streams by Katharine Harvey seen from across the highway, image by Justin Hane

Katherine's submission, one of five from the artists approached, won the commission, and soon she was over at Panorama, a Concord Adex condo on the south side of the Gardiner, with her camera trained on vehicles passing by on the highway. Shots were layered and collaged in Photoshop to get the effect she wanted. When it was all mocked up, Harvey found the vertical mullions would cut the flow of the mostly horizontal lines she had been formulating, so she turned the work 90°. "Now the mullions skip and dance with the work", Harvey told us, reinforcing the movement captured in the piece.

Gardiner Streams by Katharine Harvey seen from below, image by Justin Hane

At nighttime even more movement will be imparted to the piece: the middle tier of the work is see-through. The entire piece is made up of 60 sealed panels, all sandwiching the work on a Dupont film—guaranteed not to fade—between two layers of glass. The top and bottom tiers have opaque white backs, but the middle tier are windows, opening up the view from the Prisma Club's pool to the city beyond. At night, dappled light from under the pool's surface will dance on the windows. Those using the facility and walking by on the pool deck will show as silhouettes passing behind Gardiner Streams.

Gardiner Streams by Katharine Harvey seen from inside, image by Gabriel Leung

Gardiner Streams by Katharine Harvey seen from inside, image by Gabriel Leung

While Gardiner Streams is Katharine Harvey’s first permanent public art installation, you have a fleeting chance to see much more of Katharine's work, now up on the walls of the Nicholas Metivier Gallery on King west of Spadina. Her current solo show Muses runs until February 22.

Gardiner Streams by Katharine Harvey seen from above, image by Justin Hane

Katherine Harvey does it all from her studio in a farmhouse in an unspoilt part of rural Markham. An Inkblot Media video by Sarah Keenlyside fills in the details.

For those wanting to know more about the Prisma Club, check out our dataBase file for Quartz, linked below. Residents of Spectra and Forward will also get to use the club. Those dataBase files are linked below too. Want to talk about it? Get in on the discussion in any of the associated threads, also linked below, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

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