Toronto Outdoor Art Fair is Canada’s largest, longest-running outdoor art fair. Founded in 1961, Toronto Outdoor Art Fair was established to put visual artists and makers in direct contact with the public, and to nurture artistic excellence and artists’ entrepreneurial spirit. This free public event showcases works by over 360 contemporary visual artists and makers, ranging in medium from painting, photography, and mixed media to jewellery and ceramics, and attracts 115,000 visitors each year to Nathan Phillips Square in the heart of downtown Toronto. Our charitable status is under our original name, The Toronto Outdoor Art Exhibition (119259620 RR0001).
In June 1960, Toronto businessman Murray Koffler and his wife, Marvelle, attended an outdoor art fair on Washington Square in New York City. Upon their return to Toronto, they were dismayed to read in the newspaper about two artists who were removed from Toronto City Hall for trying to sell their art on city property. Together with Alan Jarvis, former Director of the National Gallery of Canada, and the late Jack Pollock, the Kofflers closed off the parking lot and garden of the then Four Seasons Motor-Hotel on Jarvis Street for a June weekend in 1961 and the first Toronto Outdoor Art Fair was born! In 1964, the Kofflers suggested the art show be moved to the new City Hall Square (now known as Nathan Phillips Square), where it remains today.