31 August 2018By Eden Kaill
I’ll admit that I kind of love generic corporate art – massive abstract paintings in hotel lobbies, huge and vaguely unsettling sculpture pieces outside bank towers. But here at the Babin Bessner Spry offices, our art is anything but generic.
Our walls are hung with an eclectic assortment of photographs, prints, originals, and even a mural. I admit there are pieces I’ve walked past every day for the last five and a half years and never really thought about. Others I’ve noticed and enjoyed but didn’t know where they came from or why they were chosen. I’m really glad I finally asked…Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see on a wander through 65 Front St. East, Suite 101:
When you first walk in, you’ll see two old framed maps. If you look more closely, you’ll notice something familiar. Yes, that’s where you’re standing right now! This is a city map of the area from 1878, from the Toronto Archives.
Walk around the corner, and you’ll see these two photographs by Toronto artist/urban explorer Stephanie Avery. The first was taken in the abandoned Beelitz Military Hospital near Berlin. The second, a little closer to home, is a photo of the abandoned ballroom on the top floor of the King Edward hotel on King Street in Toronto. Steph climbs through broken windows and up crumbling staircases to take these photos – and we get to benefit from her bravery!
Pop into our boardroom, where local artist (and Ed Babin’s mother-in-law) Mary Lou Rober gives us an industry-appropriate take on Dogs Playing Poker (in court).
Also in the boardroom - Ed Babin had a fraud case in the 90’s that ended up as a magazine story, and this was the story art. I can’t tell you anything else, it’s highly confidential*
*not really, we just can’t remember anything else about it. But it’s pretty cool.
Back into the main office area, you can’t miss this - when the BBS (then Babin Barristers) office was designed, an OCAD student was commissioned to paint this cityscape mural above the office doors.
Note this detail, based on the album cover of the 1981 album Moving Pictures by Rush:
Now that I know that, I’ll never be able to unsee it.
This one is my absolute favourite and gives me chills now that I know more about it. Ed Babin was in Prague in December 1989, just days after the revolution and collapse of the communist government of Czechoslovakia. He and Cathy Rober managed to make off with this campaign poster for the political party of Václav Havel. Note the traditional Czech Christmas scenes.
The Takeaway: I highly recommend that you take a minute out of your day to look at the art on the walls of your workplace – and ask for the stories behind them.
“We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” - John F. Kennedy