One Night Only shines a much needed spotlight on Toronto’s emerging arts scene

Chris Ludo knew there was a huge gap in the art scene that needed to be filled. With museums and galleries that boast the likes of well-known artists, the city has been forgetting one major sight; emerging artists.

One night only is Ludo innovation along Drake Hotelshowcasing the city’s new emerging talent, from photographers to ceramists.

One night only the drake

Lodu started for one night only in November last year, hosted in the lobby of the Drake Hotel. Photo by Farin Karim

A painter himself, Ludo began working with the hotel when they were both hosts, and now works as a cultural programmer. Now, Lodu works in the curatorial world to welcome the budding artist into a new space.

When their first exhibition, hosted inside the hotel lobby, started, Ludo knew immediately how they were going to present the series. Childhood friend Austin Ambraska series ‘Summer Skin’ in November 2022.

One night only the drake

Creative programmer Chris Ludo focused on highlighting up-and-coming artists. Photo by Farin Karim

“He was working on it [Summer Skin] “For the past three years, and it’s been about us calling outside during the lockdown,” Ludo said. “We grew up together.” [and] It all came full circle within the professions of others.”

Since then, One Night Only has featured 4 artists since and takes place twice a month on Thursdays.

Starting this year, Ludo plans to host these events every Thursday.

One night only the drake

Photographer Haley Hirota has exhibited over a dozen pieces of her work. Photo by Farin Karim.

The point of this “one night only” stay is simple; Helping artists navigate the exhibition and show world with ease, providing them with a space that works for them.

“[Austin] I really felt so in love that night, it made me happy to see the artist transform this space and all the different possibilities that can come with it,” Ludo said.

One night only toronto

Only one night at the Drake Hotel.

Ludo said that with their series they want to break down barriers that emerging artists may face. The cost of installation, hanging, and application fees are barriers that some artists may not be able to overcome when entering the art world.

“It can be tough as a budding artist.. It’s like if you don’t get into this gallery after paying the application fee, the $100 you use for the application fee can go to art supplies because again that’s very expensive,” he said. Ludo.

One night only toronto

Working from Halle Hirota for one night only.

One Night Only has hosted artists such as Devon Pryce, Kenaan O’Toole, and Daniella Williams.

“[At One Night Only]Artists receive 100 percent of all commissions and royalties, a $100 bonus, drink tickets, and an Uber ride here and there.”

On the first Thursday of January I was able to visit Lodu’s first fair of the year; Haley Hirota.

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Hirota exhibited a solo exhibition on January 6, her first with Lodu’s One Night Only series. Photo by Farin Karim.

Hirota is a Toronto-based photographer who works on topics related to the human body, queerness, and transcending the growing nature of femininity. Through Hirota’s work, the red and realistic tones within human color and skin are a constant.

She chose Ludo Hirota after watching her grow in the Toronto art scene over the past few years. Ludo had attended Hirota’s “Rules and Regulations” exhibition in December of 2021, an artwork in which they were shown by themselves.

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Hirota’s work focuses on breaking the stigma and censorship of nudity. Photo by Farin Karim.

“It was really cool to see the whole process of how people are cast, and how comfortable they are with their models and style,” Ludo said. See all her fingerprints [at the show] It made me want to work with her.”

The exhibition was held in the Drake lobby, which opened in January 2022. Working alongside the hotel also opens doors for a new generation of visitors to access and enhance the space.

One night only toronto

Some of Haley Hirota’s work is on display at the Drake Hotel.

Hirota has shown more than a dozen pieces of her work, including “Rules and Regulations,” which includes a short group of topless models filmed in Super 8.

Hirota’s work challenges notions of nudity and homosexuality and explores their relationship. Her work destigmatizes and creates a new perception of love and normalcy.

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The fourth exhibition of One Night Only featured Hirota’s work during her career. Photo by Farin Karim

Much like previous Ludo events, the turnout was huge and brought in a host of creatives from all over town. The Lodu concept naturally gains traction for the people you choose to view, bringing in new crowds every Thursday.

“This is important because there is a whole new generation of voices that need to be heard and their work needs to be shown,” Ludo said. “I always try to focus on gay POC artists because I know the divide within the gallery scene is very white and cis.”

One night only toronto

Inside Drake Hotel for one night only.

One Night Only of Ludo with ceramic artist Taylor Chan Daly continues on January 12th. Ludo plans to continue the series, working with Toronto-based curators and artists from across the scene.

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