When Andrew Bockner, the designer and owner of high end furniture boutique Andrew Richard Designs in Toronto’s east end had the opportunity to expand the furniture showroom space, he jumped at the opportunity. But once he saw the space empty, he had another idea. “I thought: This is the most beautiful Chelsea-style art gallery that doesn’t exist yet in Toronto,” says the long-time art enthusiast. “The type of art that I like and that I collect just isn’t available in Toronto, and there are so many up-and-coming street artists, and graffiti artists, and even some pop artists, some of the masters—that are just not shown or given space.” And the idea struck: “I decided to give this space to the art community in the city,” he says, and that was the beginning of Struck Contemporary. The gallery showcases big-name pop artists such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, and Roy Lichtenstein, as well as new talents such as Matt Barnes, Jayscale, and Sandra Chevrier, who are pushing boundaries, amassing a growing fan base and carving a place for the next generation of “greats.”

Bockner notes that while the rest of the world seems to be experiencing a major interest in contemporary art, the uptick hasn’t quite reached Toronto. “If you look at the scene in the US or even in Europe, these artists are everywhere, and they’re doing some amazing things. But it doesn’t have much legs in Toronto just yet.”

Since the gallery’s opening in October of last year, Bockner has already played a role in getting Toronto on track, and has virtually “created collectors” out of people who never thought they’d have such a reaction to the fine art hung in a gallery, or such a strong appreciation for it. But with its colourful artworks featuring today’s most recognized pop-culture icons such as David Bowie and Michael Jackson, newcomers are finding themselves moved.

“People are realizing that art like this can take you away a little bit,” he says. “It can give you a kind of enjoyment you didn’t think you could get out of it.” And frankly, it’s a reaction he says he expected. Bockner sees the movement becoming even bigger over the next few years. “The pulse of this industry seems to be physically moving right in front of our eyes, and I think Toronto is really going to get into this,” he says.

Watch for Struck Contemporary’s pop-up gallery, set to run this summer in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood. struckcontemporary.com