This Summer, Dive ‘Beyond Concrete’ at The Bentway

April 18, 2023

The Bentway’s 2023 summer season explores the Gardiner Expressway’s unique urban ecosystem

Today The Bentway announces its Summer 2023 season, Beyond Concrete, presented under the Gardiner Expressway.

As Toronto wrestles with important questions about the Expressway and its future, The Bentway invites the city to dive “beyond the concrete” and explore the nature of the Gardiner. Visitors will discover a thriving urban ecosystem beneath the highway, where human-made infrastructure intertwines with resilient wildlife, growing in spite of, and because of, the concrete.

Running May 26 to September 24, Beyond Concrete includes a collection of artworks, performances, parties, and conversations, including the first North American commission by Filipino artist Leeroy New; the North American premiere of Brazilian choreographer Clarice Lima; new and existing works from Torontonian artists Alex Sheriff, Lisa Jackson, Public Visualization Lab/Studio; a vibrant Opening Night Party on Friday, May 26; and an array of free talks, tours, and workshops.

“The Gardiner is so much more than the concrete, traffic, and debates we’ve become used to; in fact, The Bentway has already helped reveal that,” says Anna Gallagher-Ross, Senior Manager of Programming at The Bentway. “We’re excited to be working with artists from Toronto and around the world to consider, in the midst of a rapidly changing climate, the ways in which urban nature and the built environment can co-exist, entangle, even collaborate.”

The Bentway’s popular al fresco dining experience, Communal Table, and Roller Skating with SUSO Skate also return.

Join us for Opening Weekend
May 26 – 28

Opening Night Party
Get Tickets

Friday, May 26, 7-11pm
The Bentway Skate Trail (250 Fort York Blvd)

Kick off Beyond Concrete and celebrate the start of summer with an outdoor party featuring a performance by Leeroy New’s Aliens of Manila! Experience this season’s art while you mix, mingle, and dance!

WOODS by Clarice Lima

May 27 – 28, 1:30pm & 3:30pm
The Bentway Skate Trail (250 Fort York Blvd)

Five people doing headstands on a public street with onlookers gathered in the background.

Against Toronto’s high-rise horizon, encounter an array of upside-down human bodies growing out of the concrete, reminiscent of ancient and forgotten forests. In Clarice Lima’s WOODS, participants’ bodies struggle to maintain their verticality, calling attention to the struggle that nature itself faces: How long can the body resist? How long can our forests survive? What happens when their time – and ours – runs out? Visiting Toronto, and North America, for the first time, this powerful performance prompts us to consider the struggle of nature amidst human development and deforestation, and the impacts on our cities and planet.

An individual speaking into a microphone in front of a crowd of participants sitting on chairs, underneath the Gardiner Expressway.
Beyond Concrete Talks, Tours, and Workshops

May 27 – 28, various times
The Bentway Skate Trail (250 Fort York Blvd)


Join us under the Gardiner for a series of talks, tours, and workshops that explore how Toronto’s unique urban nature and built environment can co-exist, collide, and collaborate.

Rendering of organic shapes made of bamboo, living plants, and discard plastics wrapped around highway concrete bents.
Photo credit: Rendering courtesy of Leeroy New

Come explore Beyond Concrete’s free offerings:

Artist Installations

On View May 26 – September 24

Balete Bulate Bituka by Leeroy New (Manila, Philippines)
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • An otherworldly creature germinates at The Bentway, its parasitic tentacles emerging from the history of waste materials used as land fill to create the solid ground where the Gardiner now sits. Woven together with bamboo, living plants, and hundreds of locally-sourced discarded plastics, Leeroy New’s first North American commission presents nature reasserting itself amidst our concrete infrastructure. Co-presented with Fort York National Historic Site and the City of Toronto.

Groundcover by Genesis Báez (New York, USA)
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • Photographer Genesis Báez co-creates with the soil and stormwater below the Gardiner, burying film underground beneath the highway to absorb the surrounding landscape. Developing and displaying the images at large-scale reveals the reciprocal nature of the Expressway and its ecology. Co-presented with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Atmospheres by Public Visualization Lab/Studio (Toronto, Canada)
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • What can the wind teach us about our city’s infrastructure and our own needs for comfort? Atmospheres manifests this powerful force into a series of soaring soft sculptures, sound, and video that both generates and visualizes environmental data collected under the Gardiner.

Multispecies Lounge by Double Happiness (Buffalo, USA and Austin, USA)
The Bentway Studio (55 Fort York Blvd)

  • At The Bentway Studio facing Canoe Landing Park, a new set of public furniture invites interspecies-encounters with urban wildlife. Through UV-painted details, the piece offers glimpses of how birds and insects see beyond the human eye and offers a more-than-human lens through which to experience the urban ecosystem.

Bentempus Gardinus: A Long-Exposure Ecological Portrait by Alex Sheriff (Toronto, Canada and currently based in New York, USA)
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • Geometric animal sculptures emerge from the Gardiner, representing species who’ve imhabited this place across time – from prehistoric woolly mammoths to sly modern foxes. Alex Sheriff’s speculative new work uncovers each of their stories and reconsiders our own role within natural history.

Lichen by Lisa Jackson (Aamjiwnaang First Nation; Tkaronto, Canada)
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • Remarkable, powerful, and resilient, “lichen” are ancient and diverse life forms, both an individual and a community. Anishinaabe filmmaker Lisa Jackson re-imagines her acclaimed short film as a multi-media installation and invites us to learn from lichen about being in relation to our environment and one another.

Photo: Andrew Williamson

Celebrations and Programs

Free or Pay-What-You-Can

The Bentway Animal Parade presented by The Bentway and Luminato Festival Toronto, with creations by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts (Toronto, ON and London, UK)
Sunday, June 11, 12-1pm
The Bentway Strachan Gate (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • Join a community parade that honours the resilient urban animals who persist along highways and streets, with special guest Little Amal. Local residents are invited to create their own animal mask or welcome flag celebrating Little Amal’s visit to The Bentway on June 10. Presented with Luminato Festival Toronto, with creations by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts.

Earth Dreams: A Summer Party for Grief & Love by Nocturnal Medicine (New York, USA)
Saturday, July 8
The Bentway Strachan Gate (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • Artist studio Nocturnal Medicine, known for their recent “Rave For Eco Grief” in New York, present a contemporary festival that centres both joy and sorrow, dancing and meditation, as we confront our planetary health crisis. Equal parts DJ dance party and urban ritual.

Eco Library Pop-up by The Bentway in partnership with Toronto Public Library: Fort York and Art Metropole
June 15 – September 18, Thursdays – Saturdays, 1-6pm
The Bentway Studio (55 Fort York Blvd)

  • A pop-up library at The Bentway Studio (facing Canoe Landing Park) offers reading materials and activities for the whole family – curated with the Toronto Public Library Fort York branch, Art Metropole, and other collaborators.

The Bentway Block Party
August 13, 12pm-9pm
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • The Bentway Block Party is back for its fourth year, with a full program of performances, art workshops, food, drink and summertime vibes. All free; all are welcome.

Photo: Wei Qi

Also Returning This Summer

Communal Table
Starting June 29
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • The Bentway’s weekly communal dining program offers enchanting foodie experiences served by Toronto’s most exciting culinary talents. Guests are invited to dine with friends or make new ones at family-style seating every Thursday night. First tickets go on sale May 16.

Roller Skating with SUSO Skate
Starting June 14
The Bentway (250 Fort York Blvd)

  • SUSO Skate offers roller skate rentals by the hour at The Bentway, Wednesdays to Sundays! Bookings open May 16 at

Supporters and Partners

Presenting Partner:
Balsam Foundation

Knight Foundation, Canada Council for the Arts, Government of Canada, Maxine Granovsky Gluskin and Ira Gluskin, Mazyar Mortazavi and Bita Doagoo, Hogarth Family Foundation Fund (at Hamilton Community Foundation), and The Bentway’s growing family of friends and supporters.

Co-Presenters & Other Partners:
Fort York National Historic Site, City of Toronto, Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Luminato Festival Toronto, Toronto Public Library Fort York branch, Art Metropole, Doors Open Toronto, and DesignTO.