Free Spirit Restaurant, Free Spirit, Free Spirit at Riverdale Hub

Free Spirit @ Riverdale Hub, our 100% non-alcoholic cocktail bar, restaurant and café – NOW OPEN!


The Riverdale Hub houses four gallery spaces, located on the first, second, and third floors of the community center building. The Riverdale Hub Gallery is dedicated to employing the transformative power of art to engage Toronto’s east-end community, connect with other communities across the city, and provide a platform for local, national, and global conversations.

Time & Script

An exhibition by Saima Bajauri and Anu Kalra

On view starting July 18th, 2024

Meet the Artists
Saturday, July 20th
from 12 PM to 4 PM

Main Floor Gallery

‘Time & Script’ weaves together the beauty of tradition with the innovation of contemporary aesthetics. Featuring the work of Saima Bajauri and Anu Kalra, this exhibition brings cultural and historical artistic inspirations to the forefront. ‘Time & Script’ is a stunning homage to the intricacies of South Asian art, each piece a rich historical monument mixed with a modern artistic perspective.

Art is a stamp of time and yet timeless: from the intricate details of old masters’ work to the bold strokes of the expressionists; from a piece of beautiful writing to the light in a photographic image; the energy, shades of light, and the movement in any form of creative art inspires me to paint.” – Saima Bajauri

“Through my art, I hope to evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity in the viewer, as well as a connection to the cultural heritage that inspired it. Whether depicting mythological scenes or everyday life, my paintings invite the viewer to step into a world that is both familiar and exotic, ancient and modern with a “Then and Now” twist.” – Anu Kalra

Pictured: “Unfold Your Own Myth”, by Saima Bajauri, Acrylic on Canvas with Gold Leaf.


An exhibition by Nashid Chroma

June 15th – July 13th, 2024
Main Floor Gallery

Nashid Chroma is a Bengali-Canadian artist drawing inspiration from pop culture and ornate florals, with a bold saturated colour palette. Portraits of contemporary icons, mostly musicians, with flowers and embellishments partly obscuring their faces is the signature visual component found in Nashid’s art, shedding light on the phenomenon of celebrity worship in modern day society.

Nashid abstracts his subjects using visual motifs that relate to their upbringing, influences, and their art. These adornments both humanize and anonymize the person in question, highlighting the spatial gap between celebrities and fans.

Read More

Through his unique style of portraiture, Nashid challenges the instant recognizability of celebrities by striking a careful balance between familiarity and distance. While celebrities are real people with emotions, insecurities, and dreams, they are also idols of secular worship and adoration.

The question of intellectual property and copyright is flirted with in Nashid’s work due to the direct clash between an artist’s freedom of expression and a celebrity’s right to publicity. Consequently, the motifs act as a shield to protect Nashid’s artistic efforts, but their delicacy alludes to the power struggle between independent creators like himself and large corporate media entities.

After graduating from University of Toronto with a Masters in Architecture, Nashid worked in this field before deciding to become a professional artist. Since then he’s grown his social media following to just over 200k followers between Instagram and TikTok; collaborated with brands like Disney, Adidas, and LCBO; and did a massive self-funded billboard campaign in Toronto back in 2021.

“Foreign Flwrs” includes a collection of large canvas prints of Nashid’s digital art as well as a series of traditional art pieces that he has created for this exhibition. Through the medium of portraiture, this exhibition delves into the intricacies of modern celebrity culture, examining the tension it creates between anonymity and authenticity.

In 2021, Nashid initiated a self-funded Art Scavenger Hunt campaign in Toronto and proactively presented his paintings across the downtown, from bus shelters, bike share stations to large scale billboards. Redefining the boundary between art and public advertising space, this showcase brought himself into the culture ethos of Toronto urban life.

Pictured: “LXRRY FSHRMXN“, by Nashid Chroma, Limited Edition Giclee on Canvas.

The Invisible Playground

An exhibition by Miyaka Emon

Main Floor Gallery

Miyakah’s process begins with an impulse; an itch aimed at making what is invisible, elusive and intangible within them visible, visual and well defined. Their work comes from their gifts and unique sight as a black Neurodiverse (ADHD and ASD) person; in that way, each brushstroke is both stimming and an affixation of their innate ability to perceive and internalize the subtle, complex energies around them. Miyakah’s work surprises and revels in what is bold, defiant, dynamic and formless; in many ways it can be said that their playground consists of the conveyance of sensation, chaos and emotion, all the while highlighting the pockets of order that float within it. Miyakah is primarily based in Toronto, Canada.

Pictured: “OnSunset”, by Miyakah Emon, Acrylic and Oils on Canvas.

Steve McDonald: Natures Cathedral

(Roxana Pye McDonald, photographer)

1st & 3rd Floor Gallery, Riverdale Hub

Steve McDonald is a widely recognized Canadian illustrator. His work has taken many forms over the years but he is best known for his highly detailed line drawings and fantastical illustrations of both architecture and landscapes. He is an international best-selling author and illustrator with his coloring book series from Chronicle Books. Recently he produced four new sketch books with Field Notes as their spring 2023 editions. A few past notable clients include Architectural Digest, Blueman Group, Amazon Prime, Entertainment Weekly, and The Atlantic. He is a fan of many techniques and has even spent the last few years mastering the new AI rendering platforms and diffusion modelling tools. Steve doesn’t see these tools as a bad thing – he views them as a progression of the evolution of image crafting.

To classify Steve’s work one should look at his influences: Moebius, Terry Gilliam, Luc Besson, Imperial Boy, Hayao Miyazaki, Roger Dean, Noriyoshi Ohrai, Looney Tunes, and then painters like the the Canadian Group of Seven, NC Wyeth, Norman Rockwell, and even Frank Frazetta. His new work could be best described as ‘escapist fantastical realism’. Steve believes almost all approaches and tools are legitimate as long as the work you are producing is striving to be singular and unique. He also believes in having fun and hopefully making you smile.

Roxana Pye McDonald began photographing her many travels at a young age. Living and growing up in Canada, India, and Indonesia, and spending her summers in Algonquin Park gave Roxana a fantastic array of locations to practice her hobby. Roxana began successfully showing her work alongside her father’s illustrations as a teenager and continues to travel and photograph their many adventures together. Among them are trapping beavers in Northern Ontario, surfing in Java, exploring the nooks and crannies of Morocco, and most recently adventuring around Canada’s West Coast in preparation for the ‘Nature’s Cathedral’ exhibit. Roxana’s Photographs tell a story of time and place and often leave us wondering about the why, where, or what is portrayed.

Pictured: Steve McDonald, Clearview Township, reverse digital print on acrylic glass, mixed process (analog, digital & diffusion).

The Intensifying Storm

Poonam Khanna


Most of the earth’s water — 97 per cent — consists of undrinkable salt water. Freshwater from rain and snow sustains our plants and forests, feeds our freshwater streams, rivers and lakes, and enables life on land to thrive. However, rising temperatures are intensifying our planet’s water cycle. This means more frequent and intense storms in some areas, including Canada, where the average annual precipitation has increased.

Through my rainy day urban landscape paintings I tell the story of everyday life in the city as it is affected by rain. When it rains, I head out to take pictures through various kinds of glass, including car windows, bus shelters and a piece of glass from an old frame. I capture pedestrians, cyclists and cars on their daily journeys through the city in the storm. These images form the starting point of my paintings, which rely on vibrant colour grounds and soft edges.

Read More

Much as the environment erodes, the rain blurs the lines between objects, and many things start melting into one another. Delineations are no longer clear. And sometimes the raindrops contain their own mini landscapes, transforming how we see.

Car headlights glow on the pavement and sparkle in the raindrops, turning an otherwise dreary day into a beautiful one. The headlights and street lamps signal the attraction we feel to the conveniences of modern life. But the oncoming headlights also present a sense of foreboding and approaching danger, even as they dazzle.

In one of my paintings, “The Rose Emporium,” a lone pedestrian walks home at night. To her right is a flower shop, signalling the beauty of nature — though contained and clipped. On the road a car approaches from behind, bringing with it a sense of peril. In another painting, “Pedalling Through the Storm,” a determined cyclist bikes to his destination, navigating through a busy road even as the rain blurs the scene making it difficult to demarcate objects.

Pictured: Poonam Khanna, Rain-kissed Metropolis 3, acrylic on canvas, mounted on wood.


Yes, I want to receive exclusive offers and news about products, program launches, gallery exhibitions, events and more!