Toon’s on Transit: Saskatoon’s mobile art gallery

By in Culture

Saskatoon’s annual mobile exhibition of photography, Toon’s on Transit, will be roaming the streets for the second time until mid-November. This year, some University of Saskatchewan students are also involved in the project.

Hosted by PAVED Arts and the City of Saskatoon, the exhibit includes 35 photos from local photographers displayed in approximately 100 public transit busses that will be circulating the city on various routes, throughout the duration of the project. All submitted works will also be on display in the PAVED Arts “Toon’s Kitchen” media gallery downtown.

The call for submissions was not only open to professional photographers but also to anyone in the Saskatoon area with an interest in photography, regardless of their level of experience. Over 317 photos were submitted for consideration, and each artist could submit up to three photos but only one could be selected.

The photos were chosen by a jury that included Jennifer Crane, a photography professor at the University of Saskatchewan, professional artist and photographer Laura St. Pierre, StarPhoenix journalist John Shelling and the Living YXE Instagram operator Shreya Pahwa. The goal of the jury was to select photos that reflect the city through the eyes of its people.


Kenton Doupe, one of the selected artists and current U of S fourth-year fine arts student, sat down with the Sheaf to discuss his experience with the project.

“I think the main purpose [of the project] would be to facilitate artists to show their work. It’s a very user-friendly way to do that,” Doupe said.

Without having to worry about printing and hanging their photos, this project allowed artists to display their work easily.

“Sometimes certain art hanging and art showing opportunities around Saskatoon or Saskatchewan or Canada can be a little bit daunting, especially for artists who are not comfortable and have not done that before. This was very easy. You don’t have to worry about printing, you don’t have to worry about hanging, you don’t have to worry about anything,” Doupe said. 

Doupe found out about the project last year from friends working with PAVED Arts and decided to submit his work. This year, Doupe was one of the lucky artists selected to be part of the project.

Doupe talked about the significance of the distinction between having art in a gallery and having art on a public bus.

“I think it’s that informal tone that kind of helps people loosen up to the idea. Galleries can be very daunting. Being on a bus, it’s a lot more low-key and casual. Plus, even for the public to look at them, lots of people won’t go to a gallery because they don’t think they have any need or they don’t want to. But lots of people have to take transit, and it’s a nice surprise to see a photo. They might not think a lot of it, but at least it’s out there and people can look at it,” Doupe said.

Last year, at the debut of the project, then city councilor and now newly elected mayor, Charlie Clark, spoke about his appreciation for the influence the project has on our city.

“I think this is a great project,” Clark said to the StarPhoenix. “While people are sitting on the bus, hopefully they take their eyes up from their phones for a little bit and look up. It gives them a chance to look at a picture that reminds them of something or makes them think about our community in a different way.”

More information about the project can be found on PAVED Arts’ website, While the project is currently coming to a close, submissions will be accepted again next fall for the 2017 season. If you are interested in participating, watch for news from the team at PAVED Arts.

Sydney Boulton

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor