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By Rebecca Tucker

Toronto’s financial district isn’t known for it’s art.

But that changed last month, when EcoMedia Direct Inc., the company that supplies Toronto with its three-tiered recycling bins, partnered with the Magenta Foundation for their annual Flash Forward art program and gave some exposure to Rye grads.

Flash Forward is a photography competition hosted by Magenta, a non-profit arts publishing house. In the past, the selected pieces have been shown at art galleries.

This year, thanks to EcoMedia’s interest in the program, winning submissions can be seen in public, on 20 recycling bins around Bay St. Each recycling bin features two pieces of art, as well as a brief biography and contact information for the photographer whose work is on display.

Among the artists selected for exhibition this year are Johanna Warwick and Jamie Campbell, two former Ryerson University photography students. Warwick’s sweeping abstracts and Campbell’s pop art-inspired scenes are screened on recycling bins facing each other at King and York Streets.

“It was exciting to be a part of something that is so unique and happening for the first time,” says Warwick. “It really is a creative way to gain exposure to such a different audience and on such a grand level.

“It is encouraging to have companies in such a different field connect with artists and find a way to work together.”

“Here in Toronto, it gets a little bit dreary on the street at times,” says Craig Marwood, president of EcoMedia. “This is an urban beautification program, but it is also a way for young artists to get exposure.”

“What we’re giving [artists] is a public forum for their work,” Marwood says. “We feel that the program has a lot of potential to go beyond a traditional exhibition, and exposes artists to an audience that would otherwise not see their work.”

The Magenta Foundation started Flash Forward in 2005 to allow young, emerging artists to have their work shown in two of the most important artistic cities in North America. Photographers from Canada, the U.K. and the U.S. under the age of 34 submit their works directly to Magenta, and winners are selected by a panel of jurors from the foundation. Winning submissions have been exhibited in two galleries, one in Toronto and one in New York City, and are published in a book issued by Magenta.

Ryerson image arts department was only involved as an official partner with the program in 2005, and Marwood, whose son attends Ryerson, would like to work more closely with the university in the future.

“City-wide [art] is our goal,” he says. “We’re here to say that we can do this 365 days a year, and we’d love to migrate the boxes to Ryerson campus. We want to involve the school’s various artistic departments, from fashion to graphic design more significantly. I would like to talk to the Ryerson faculty to help us with that.”

Flash Forward’s Toronto gallery exhibition took place from October 4-12 at the Lennox Contemporary Gallery, and will be shown at New York’s Kathleen Cullen Fine Art Gallery from Nov. 29 to Dec. 22.

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