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Art Metropole

CANADA, IT USED TO BE SAID, is a place with more geography than history. But that old joke about a place where nothing happens desperately needs retiring. Vancouver has been a major international city since World War II, a multicultural hub of Pacific Rim business that swelled with wealth and power following the influx of rich Hong Kong Chinese in the mid-’90s. Toronto, too, is a bustling, big-shoulders town, with new steel-and-glass developments muscling upward on practically every downtown corner. If the cities as a pair epitomize two sides of a vibrant northern economy, they also fall back on one or two iconic figures in the visual arts—in Vancouver, Jeff Wall; in Toronto, Michael Snow. Like nineteenth-century industry barons, these titans have long towered over the Canadian art scene.

But in Toronto, in a second-floor walkup that Maclean’s magazine described as an “island of apparent

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