Free the Greek Gods!


This story has been in the Toronto news since May, but it’s reappeared because now there’s a Facebook page and a petition.

Among the works of the late Toronto sculptor E.B. Cox are 20 (or 21 — reports vary) pieces representing Greek gods and goddesses. They have a long history, but the salient point is that they were donated to the City of Toronto in 1978 and placed on the grounds of the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in what became known as The Garden of the Greek Gods.

The gods and goddesses are now fenced in by Muzik, a nightclub that leases land on the CNE grounds, which has been expanding its patio. So the figures, which Cox reportedly wanted children to be able to play on, are now restricted to the eyeballs of the beautiful people aged 19 and older who frequent the club.

Long Branch branch of the Toronto Public Library - sculpture attributed to E.B. Cox

Long Branch branch of the Toronto Public Library – sculpture attributed to E.B. Cox

Aside from losing these beautiful public sculptures to a private establishment, it’s troubling to imagine them as impromptu perches for Smirnoff Ice and Bud Light Lime,” said Ed Conroy in a post in mid-May.

Toronto Star story at that time noted that work on the patio has been underway since 2008. Star report Zoe McKnight got appropriately horrified comments from Cox’s family and the owner of the gallery that represents his remaining work, but when she tried to find what is going to be done about, she was sent in circles: “Ward 19 councillor Mike Layton declined to comment, deferring to Exhibition Place, which deferred to Muzik’s management for information about the licence. Club owner Zlatko Starkovski did not respond. A spokesperson deferred to the landlord, Exhibition Place, which is a city agency.”

It’s not clear that the city or the CNE or Muzik have done anything about restoring the sculptures to a public venue. But Cox’s daughter and godson have launched a petition that states, “The use of these artworks as patio decorations in a private nightclub is both disrespectful to the artist and his family as well as degrading to the art and to Canadian heritage in general,” and adds, with a tone dangerously bordering on resignation, “The art is the property of the City of Toronto, and if there is enough public outcry on this issue, city officials may decide to have the art removed from Muzik’s patio and moved to a more suitable location.” (emphasis mine)

There is also a “Free the Greek Gods” Facebook page, featuring a picture of an imprisoned Cyclops.

I haven’t shot the Greek gods (they’re not attached to a building), but there are plenty of pictures in the links provided here. However, I’m posting my pictures of some of Cox’s work on buildings, including the figure on the Etobicoke branch of the Toronto Public Library (above) and his Reading-Writing-‘Rithmetic on the Duke of Connaught Public School in the East End.









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