Sexy Deco

Great little show at the Market Gallery, Deco and Art Moderne buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. The displays could use a bit more information, especially dates of construction and (too often) demolition, but the black-and-white photos are terrific and point to some really interesting buildings, including at least two of gay significance, the Oak Leaf Steam Baths at 216 Bathurst Street and the Ashley and Crippen building at 83 Bloor Street West near Bay. Charles Ashley and James Crippen were a gay couple who photographed dozens of famous Canadians and lived not far from another famous same-sex couple, the sculptors Frances Loring and Florence Wyle. Stripped of its Deco flourishes, their studio is now just another box-like component of the Bloor Street luxury trade (Hugo Boss division), but from 1977 onwards it was one of the gayest non-gay venues in Toronto: Bemelmans bar and restaurant. The Oak Leaf has been open since c. 1939 (it’s shown here in 1941) and is still going strong today, though perhaps with a tad less panache.Oak Leaf Steam Baths, Sept 1941, CTA 372 33 795

Oak Leaf Steam Baths, Sept 1941, City of Toronto Archives, Fonds 200, Series 372, Subseries 33, Item 795

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