When Glad Day, the world’s oldest LGBTQ book shop, was settling into its new location at 499 Church Street in Toronto, there was a conversation about what to do with an unused room in the basement. "They talked about using as a ‘dark room’ for people to... you know, hang out in,” Glad Day Brand Manager Sean MacPherson told OUT. By “dark room,” he was referring to spaces, typically in queer clubs where attendants turn a blind eye to sex. “I had mentioned it to Emily [Peltier] and we talked about maybe that room being the gallery and it kind of progressed from there.” Today, that progression is unveiled as Glory Hole Gallery, a series of eight 12 inch by 12 inch boxes, installed at the front of the new Glad Day space.
As a continuation of the 500 square foot upstairs gallery space from the last Glad Day location, Glory Hole is set to make quite the impression.“It’s really important to us for us to keep the work really inclusive, queer and sex positive, which is where the name ‘Glory Hole’ came from” MacPherson said. “It’s explicitly stating that it is a sex positive space.” As such, for the newfangled gallery’s first exhibition, Pansy Ass Ceramics, will debut installations in all eight boxes.
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“I got connected with Pansy Ass last year,” Peltier, a former curatorial volunteer at the old Glad Day location said. “They were actually the last show we did in our last space. They had a show there through their collective A.M.E.N., which is Men’s Erotic Network.” That show featured art by the Toronto-based Pansy Ass, as well as photographer Jeremy Lucido and print artist Sean O’Connor.
“We really liked the idea that we closed out the old gallery space with their work and we were opening the new space with their work,” MacPherson said of Pansy Ass. “There was something poetic about that.” For this new, solo exhibition, the ceramics company has created a collection of small sculptural pieces, using each of the eight gallery boxes as rooms. Titled “Tease,” the pieces deal with similar work that’s available on the company’s e-shop but with new artistic updates.
“We have made small sculptural pieces that take elements of gay-male sex and gay culture and present it in a playful and hopefully unexpected way,” said Andy Walker, who founded the company with his partner Kris Aaron. “In the eight little fantasy rooms we have created for the show, you can expect to see fruits, woodland creatures, tropical birds and little men giving into their temptations and celebrating the joy of gay sex.” Each box’s interior, which is where the art will sit, will be viewable through a two-inch hole at the front. Boxes will be illuminated by pressing a button.
Moving forward, artists will be able to apply to take over the boxes after the two-week run of Glad Day's opening exhibition. “Our mission is to showcase queer art from Toronto but because it’s a miniature gallery we can actually accept art from around the world pretty easily through the mail,” MacPherson said. And while the gallery gallery will always stay central to the idea of art in these mini-galleries, MacPherson and Peltier have confirmed they are interested in installing them in other places.
So before you know it, there could be a few glory holes near you.