Styrofoam Palace

This weekend at Jimmy Chiale’s 416 Gallery in Toronto you’ll find an arrangement of young artists putting on a weekend long exhibition of their art called Styrofoam Palace. The event, attended mostly by the young peers of the artists, is a strong symbol of how young people in Toronto are coming out of their bedroom workspaces, creating and curating their own art scenes, and choosing to not shy away from the daunting challenge of being an ‘artist’.

Jooyeon Kim, a 20 year old local Toronto visual artist and one of the hosts of Styrofoam Palace, has been creating visual installations and paintings since high school. “I find that the story of most young people who try their hand at art goes something like this,” explains Kim. “They started creating something at home and pursued it for a bit in some form of schooling, and then it quickly went back to the back burner and back into their private world when they realized that there isn’t a clear, paved out road for how be a successful artist.”

Fast Spit Paint by Una di Gallo featured in Styrofoam Palace.

Sugar Beach by Karolina Ficek featured in Styrofoam Palace.


Unnamed by Adria Mirabelli featured in Styrofoam Palace.

It’s no secret that paying the bills from your art work is a hard reality to achieve. Never the less, art survives and thrives and art scenes in cities around the world are continuing to expand. But to most young artists even the term ‘art scene’ is enigmatic, and the idea of breaking into it seems next to impossible because it’s hard to know where to start.

“I think it’s especially daunting for visual artists,” continues Kim. “For something like music there’s open mic nights and bars that you can get your band to play at. And if you’re into videography or photography, there are career paths that you can try to follow because those things are in demand commercially. But what are you supposed to do with a painting? Where do you go?”

The founder of 416 Gallery faced this exact problem as a young artist living in Paris. Back in France, abstract visual artist Jimmy Chiale was just a talented kid who could draw, but he found solace and hope in Toronto when he moved there in 2006. “I’m not coming from the worst place on Earth, but I do know what it is to have fewer opportunities and you just have to set the bar high for your dreams,” explains Jimmy. “I mean, there are opportunities in France but for a 20-something year old artist trying to sell paintings every month, it’s tough. Here you have support; you’re bringing something to the community. And I want to keep bringing that support and give people the space to show off what they’re doing.”

Jimmy Chiale’s abstract works.

“I think there are a lot of small galleries around the city and in cities around the world like this one where younger artists are finally starting to show off what they can do,” adds Kim. “And I believe it’s imperative for these kinds of places and the artists that use them to be shown support because that’s the only way art and artists can keep going. And I encourage young people to get out there and attend these gallery parties because not only are they artistically moving, but they’re fun.”

To learn more about Jimmy Chiale or the 416 Gallery, please visit his website. To learn more about Styrofoam Palace, please visit their event page.

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