Going once… going twice… a woman waved her bid paddle to indicate to the auctioneer it wasn’t over. “Setting Trap,” a painting by Ed Pien, was one Robyn McCallum, the art coordinator at TD Bank, had intended to purchase. There are two paintings on her list. “I know what I want ahead of time, I check the piece out in person, and if all is good I buy it.” Going once, going twice… SOLD! Robyn outbids the other collectors in the room at the ninth annual “C Magazine” Auction, a contemporary art fundraiser.
“Typically, most of the pieces we buy are from galleries in the city. It’s treasure hunting. But it’s not only Toronto, if we are in Calgary we try to purchase from an artist in Alberta.” Pamela Meredith, Senior Art Curator and Robyn work together to acquire Canadian art from local artists across the country with focus on the vernacular.
Acquisition is part of, but not all of Robyn’s job description. “I’m the one who manages physically where all the art is in TD’s footprint, which is kind of extensive. I have a huge database which lists all the artwork and where it all is. So, if someone changes offices and moves it, I have to keep track of all that. If one gets damaged I take care of it.”
“Last week I shipped a set of Caribou Antlers across the border which was difficult. We ended up gifting it to the embassy; it was stamped as diplomatic cargo; after that it was easy.” The Antlers are part of a TD sponsored show, currently at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, showcasing contemporary Inuit artwork. The show will be in Ottawa later this month, after that it will be at Canada House in London for Canada day. “On Monday I am going to Ottawa to install the exhibition at the national art center.”
“TD has a gallery that showcases their Inuit collection which is open to the public on Wellington.” The original exhibit was set up on the 55th floor of the Toronto Dominion Center on Canada’s centennial in 1967. Allen Lambert, the president of TD at the time, spent 2 years with 11 experts searching the Arctic for art which would be included in the banks collection of close to 1000 pieces.
“It’s an exciting time to be here because TD is now making a conscious decision to recommit and focus on their art collection as well as arts related sponsorships. Everyone is excited about the art collection, and TD is behind it so we have the opportunity to do a lot.”
“This morning I gave a tour of the 54th floor.” She is referring to the period correct boardroom on the 54th floor in the Toronto Dominion Center, finished in 1968, and designed by Mies van der Rohe. “It’s straight out of Mad men.” She tells me. It is home to part of TD’s collection including their most expensive piece which was purchased in 1964: a 79”x 110” abstract painting by Jean-Paul Riopelle. The boardroom hasn’t changed since it’s construction. It is open to the public and tours are available to those interested.
WORDS: ADAM HENDRIK
PHOTOS: ALEX BROWNE
HAIR & MUA: LIV LUNA & NATALIE SHEMUEL
STYLIST: DEAN L.G. ELLIS
CLOTHING BY: CABARET VINTAGE