Toronto’s 107 Shaw Gallery proprietors Lana Mauro and Danny Fazio take a few minutes to discuss the challenges of gallery life.
How is it for you guys being Vancouver transplants in Toronto?
Lana: Well, I went from Vancouver to NYC for a year, then to Toronto. It was a hard pill to swallow for sure. I couldn’t help but compare everything to NYC for like 2 years. I can honestly say I hated it here. But then I realized that Toronto is nothing like NYC and I started to love it for what it was. I met my crew and things started to make sense, and now I love it here.
Danny: For me it was the opposite. I’ve always loved the people in Vancouver but never the lifestyle. I’ve traveled a lot but surprisingly had never been to Toronto. Coming here for the first time was pretty incredible for me. It was this sprawling, exciting, urban mess – but in Canada so, still comfortable in a way. It felt like my next home.
What started you thinking about opening a gallery?
Danny: It was a combination of circumstance and ambition…
Lana: I needed to move out of my Queen West apartment. My neighbor was this douchy bar that I was not on good terms with. I can’t count the times I went over there wasted yelling at them to turn their shitty music down. I knew when I punched a hole in the wall out of sheer frustration that it was time to leave. I found 107 Shaw on Craigslist and pestered the girl until she agreed to lease it to me. After that I called Danny up and asked him to move here and start the gallery with me. We worked on it for 2 months leading up to taking over the lease and 2 months after from different cities. When Danny finally got here in March 2009 we were well underway. It was a struggle to book shows at first, but now we’re completely booked for 2010!
INNERFEAR, Les Ramsay mural.Photo: Lana Mauro
What is the concept behind 107 Shaw?
Lana: It’s really simple; we just wanted to help develop the emerging art scene in Toronto. This city is fairly conservative and doesn’t really support its own talent. We were looking for a way to give young artists an opportunity to show their work without being intimidated by the notion of having a “gallery show” but still being able to take the first step towards building an art career. Downtown Toronto is rich with young artists; we were just looking for a way to build a community around it. It’s also really important to us to draw a parallel to what is happening in Vancouver (where we’re both from) and other cities where awesome shit is happening. We really encourage artists to take advantage of the space and transform it into their own world. We have a huge mural in the alley that most artists paint for their show. I think we’re going to publish a book of all the murals at some point.
What do you miss the most about Vancouver?
Lana: Wreck beach. Third Beach. East Van. The summer breeze. Fresh food, Vancouver has the best restaurants!
Danny: Totally, Japanese food. I crave it all the time.
01 Magazine Group show.
What do you miss least Vancouver?
Lana: The pace. How young everyone is at the bar.
Danny: I lived in the DTES for five years. I don’t miss being around all the extreme poverty and drug addiction. It’s fucked how normal that shit becomes when you are around it all the time.
What were your prior occupations before opening the gallery? Are you both doing other work besides the gallery?
Lana: For the past three years I was working in music management – I traveled a lot. Now I just started a job with a film company that makes documentaries about heavy metal.
Danny: I work as the creative director for ION Magazine. I am also currently in school doing a post-graduate management program for the design industry.
Lana, how was it to working in New York? What lead you to Toronto?
Lana: After it was all said and done, I was at Vice in NY for one month as I trained to move to Toronto and start up a new marketing company separate from Vice. While in NYC, I spent most of my time running ALIFE’s head office. I can say that that was one of the most rewarding and difficult jobs I’ve ever had. The guys I was working with were nothing short of geniuses in the way they developed their brand.
Danny you were immersed in the art scene in Vancouver…anything that differs between the two cities regarding art?
Danny: People say Toronto is less sceney than Vancouver. The thing is it’s just a way bigger city. There are more people to support art and culture. No matter what you’re into. I love it! We’ve been running the gallery for a year now and I am still meeting new and interesting people at every event we do.
Tell us about “The Chosen Ones”.
Lana: The Chosen Ones is a monthly pop-up sale that we started in the gallery with another Vancouver girl named Melissa Ball (who plays in one of the best bands EVER called Teen Anger). She buys vintage clothing for a well-known and long standing company here in Toronto. She came to us with the idea and 107 Shaw branded it.
Danny: We wanted to use the gallery space to create a sales event that felt curated. Hand picked vintage by hand picked vendors. Every month the sale sets up in the gallery. With a rotating list of vendors (all with amazing taste) the clothes are always fresh.
The Chosen Ones,Photo by Kristie Muller, March 2010
Lana: We’re just about to mark our 1-year anniversary in April. It’s awesome because I meet people all the time who tell me that they always find amazing stuff at our sale that ends up being their favorite clothing.
Danny: Yeah, it has done really well….I love it because I don’t even have to go shopping for vintage- it just comes to me!
Lana: It’s like having 10 personal shoppers come to your house once a month!
Who was the first artist to show at your gallery space?
Lana: The first show that we did was a Valentine’s show called The Love Letter Show. Looking back it’s amazing how far we’ve come! That was our first attempt at a group show… The first solo show was Cody Cochrane.
Danny: The first show we did after I moved to Toronto was a group show called “Public Address” that was curated by Cody Cochrane. It was psyche inspired. There were some awesome Toronto artists in it like Michael Deforge, Dennis Chow, and Jesit Gill as well as Matt Furie and Jay Howell from San Francisco.
Who would be your dream artist to show at your gallery?
Lana: Right now I really love all the artists that ended up in A New York Minute in Rome this past summer. I’m excited to see what comes after that whole aesthetic. Nate Lowman constantly impresses me. It was an honor to start the 2010 program with Tim Barber’s Mystic Heather, Virgin Snow.
Mystic Heather & Virgin Snow, Tim Barber, February 2010 Photo: Jeremy Jansen
Danny: Yes! Imagine what Neckface would do in our space. It would be insane.
Do you think that your relationship as friends has evolved since opening up the gallery together?
Lana: Danny and I have worked together before. He put me up in his loft at Hastings and Cambie when I had nowhere to live. He’s Italian. I’m Italian. He’s basically my younger brother who’s older than me. I can’t imagine going on this adventure with anyone else but him.
Danny: I feel exactly the same way. I’m really proud of what we have accomplished together. We are family now!
Is there any emerging new talent that we should know about coming out of Toronto?
What were your biggest challenges working together?
Lana: Working AND LIVING with friends is hard. We’ve definitely run into obstacles. Now we have an understanding – we do business by email for the most part, unless we’re both down to talk shop. We are friends and room mates the rest of the time.
What is the funniest moment that has happened at your gallery?
Lana: We had this amazing show in honour of David Cronenberg during TIFF 2009. It was a group show (and Danny’s bday!). A few of our friends showed up with Adrien Grenier from Entourage. He bought two of Jeremy Jansen’s photos. We were all super stoked cause it was our first “celebrity sale” which on it’s own is pretty hilarious. We framed the prints and waited for MONTHS for him to send us a check. When we’d given up all hope that one was coming, a friend started a Twitter war with him. He got in touch with us through other friends in a matter of minutes and we received the cheque a week later. It was one of the funniest things that ever happened.
Danny: That was amazing. OK, another favorite moment for me was when Jeremy Jansen had his show at the gallery last June, he put up a wheat paste photograph on our outdoor mural wall. Halfway though the night, he got Chaz (aka Thursday Friday) to write over and around the piece in giant black letters ‘FUCK COPS | BURN USA’. Everyone at show was like “Hey! Some asshole tagged the gallery wall!” It caused all this confusion. It was kind of like performance art.
So Depressed. Not Impressed., Jeremy Jansen, July 2009
What was the last piece of art that captivated you?
Lana: I really love DB Mahoney’s grave rubbings. Everything on his site is either something that he’s made, has found or owns. I’m drawn to and fascinated with construction, destruction and decay in societies and art.
Danny: We do this event at the gallery with Scott Cudmore called “They Shoot Videos, Don’t They?”. It started out as a bi-monthly music video show but has evolved to consider all types of art where music and video intersect. At the last show, Jonas (Evening Hymns) did a live installation. He played for four hours straight, all in rhythm with a video he shot earlier that week of a sunset in Port Hardy. As the sky brightened up, his music intensified. It was all so spontaneous; it was easy to get caught up in the moment.
DB Mahoney’s Grave Rubbings