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Photo exhibit captures the ‘living’ side of Toronto

When Patrick Cummins moved from Georgetown to Cabbagetown in 1977, he never imagined that the unkempt nature of the neighbourhood would prove to be the inspiration behind his life’s work.

A photographer, Cummins was attracted to the dilapidated signage and homes that lined the streets on his walk to art school, and started shooting store fronts and blocks of housing.

Now, many of those photos are taking centre stage in Full Frontal T.O., a book, with text from local writer Shawn Micallef and exhibit as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT photography festival.

“I think in general I’ve always been attracted to Toronto as a working city,” says Cummins. “The people who live and work here, not the Toronto that gets promoted all the time. The living neighbourhoods.”

Cummins shot these “unimportant” buildings haphazardly until about 1988. “I realized I was reshooting things,” he says.

More importantly though, he realized his subjects were changing as the ebb and flow of people and businesses moved in and out. From then on he started taking a more organized approach to his work.

These days, Cummins keeps shooting lists and itineraries, although he does like to wander, sussing out neighbourhoods that look like they might be on the verge of rapid change or buildings with similar signage or architectural style. He figures two thirds of the 75,000 photos in his collection are of the city’s architecture.

Nineteenth century buildings continue to act as “the backbone of the city,” he says, surviving long beyond the original intention of the people who built them.

“The lives that are lived in [these buildings] change and mold them to their shape,” he says.

“We try to control this, but these things are just happening.”

Full Frontal T.O. — To May 31. Urbanspace Gallery, 401 Richmond St.

50 years of the Rolling Stones

The Analogue Gallery at 673 Queen Street West already keeps a pretty stellar collection of rock ‘n’ roll photography. But that collection gets a boost this month with its latest exhibition, 50 Years of the Rolling Stones. This retrospective features pics from the English band’s early days, through their rise to fame, all the way to contemporary shots of the aging stars. The gallery was also able to snag 40 signed copies of All Access: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Photography of Ken Regan whose work is featured in the show.  50 Years of the Rolling Stones runs May 3 to June 3 as part of CONTACT.

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