October 30, 2017

Spotlight: Meet the Creative Co-founders of Zebra Public Art Mgmt

Yonge + St. Clair recently partnered up with Zebra Public Art Mgmt to bring you the group exhibit titled “You Have to Take the Stairs” which will be on display from Novemeber 1-30th within the lobby of 55 St. Clair W.

We took the time to chat with co-founders Alexandra (Alex) Correia and Yifat (Fay) Ringel to get their take on the upcoming exhibit and their thoughts on public art here in the City of Toronto.

Both of these dynamic women have combined experience in the professional worlds of real estate, communications, architecture, corporate affairs and urban planning. Mix in their strong passion for art and design, and you can begin to understand how Zebra Public Art Mgmt came to be. Read more below for the whole story.

For those who may not be familiar, tell us more about Zebra Public Art Management, and how you came to be.

Prior to establishing Zebra, we worked together at a large publicly held real estate company in Toronto. Seven years ago, we were given the opportunity to develop and manage a Canada-wide Art Program that included collaborations with three renowned art universities. We also implemented and managed public art competitions and festivals for this program. These successful collaborations gave us the opportunity to work with some great emerging Canadian artists such as Meryl McMaster, Nicholas Chrombach and Rajni Perera, in their early stages of their career. For these artists, it was their first public art experience which was a great milestone on their CV.
These projects led to the path of Zebra Public Art Mgmt., where we decided to venture off to follow our real passion – bringing artful experiences to the public in public spaces.
Zebra’s mission is to engage the worlds of creativity and commerce to enhance the experience of place through art, as well as to create various platforms where people come to learn, experience and have fun, artfully.
Zebra offers public art management services. We take charge of all stages of public art installations from conception to implementation. We curate and produce art exhibitions and festivals and we create programs such as team building events with an art flavour, workshops and talk series to expose art to people in an everyday setting.

What does Public Art mean to you? And why do you think it’s important in a city like Toronto?

Public Art means so much for us. We all come across it and see it every day; probably even without knowing it at times. Public Art serves us in so many ways, it adds an esthetic quality. It can stop us in our tracks to simply say “wow, that’s beautiful” or “ugh, I don’t like that” which is also a good thing as it sparks conversation and thought. It can be a landmark in the city, helping with navigation in the urban fabric, or a meeting place where people gather.
Public Art says something about our time, about our culture and life and how artists interpret contexts within the city. It adds value to a city’s tourism economy, and can also add great value to landlords of retail and public spaces.

Any examples of public art around the world that speaks to you?

There are so many around the world, temporary and permanent pieces that we think are incredible examples; here are just a few:

21 Swings” in Montreal by Daily tous les jours. We love this interactive piece because it requires the public’s cooperation. As people swing together certain melodies emerge, but yet only through cooperation between players. It’s built on the notion that we can achieve more together than separately, and it’s playful, surprising and stimulates a sense of community and ownership of space.

Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety” . The enormous, sugar-coated “mammy” sphinx in the Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. This art piece is spectacular; you don’t need to know what its about to enjoy it and be in owe of its size and beauty. But here the artist actually encouraged us to look at visible things that we wish were invisible, such as the history to slavery, immigration and migration. Public art creates a space to engage in these difficult conversations.

JR’s photographic images throughout the world. We love his statement that the street is “the largest art gallery in the world” and that in the street, we reach people who never go to museums.

Cloud Gate or as its commonly known as The Bean in Chicago by Anis Kapoor, which in our opinion, is the number one piece on this side of the hemisphere. The way it captures the city, the sky and the people’s reflection is stunning. Public Art at its best as it serves both the city and the casual viewers on so many levels.

A-maze-ing Laughter in Vancouver, by Beijing-based artist Yue Minjun. A perfect example of a static sculpture that is so engaging and interactive; everyone touches it, climbs it, take selfies.

The Berczy Park’s new dog fountain in Toronto by Claude Cormier. The number of humans, big and small, and little dog paws enjoying this piece, is a crowd pleaser everyday, all day.

Tell us what you’re most excited about with this exhibition

We are excited to showcase great art to people, on their everyday, routine trips to and from their offices. A building’s lobby is such a great public space – it’s a wonderful space to use it in a creative way, that can really bring a community together, spark people’s imagination, and show them that art doesn’t have to be in a museum or gallery.
Another important element for us is offering original artworks that are reasonably priced. It can be a stepping stone for people’s art collection.

“You Have to Take the Stairs” is an interesting concept, can you tell us more about how that came to be?

Our office is on the 18th floor. Obviously, we’re taking the elevators daily. When exiting the elevators we land in front of a blank wall. Does it have to be a blank wall? Or can it potentially be a ‘Blank Canvas’, awaiting some colours, shapes and patterns to shape it and inspire the elevator users? This was the thought which triggered the exhibition.

We wanted to find a theme for the show that can connect to building users, in an urban hub like Yonge + St. Clair. We thought about how we all vigorously use the elevators all the time, and literally never take the stairs. We bet most of us don’t even know where the stairs are, but these elevators can also be a metaphor for climbing the social ladder, the financial ladder, chasing our dreams and aspirations, questioning ‘is there an easy way to get to the top or not.’ We thought about the common phrase “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs”, and it fit our idea to connect with all stakeholders.

What do you hope people take away from this exhibit?

To recognize that this city, province, country is full of great talent, that you can buy and start a little art collection with affordable, original piece of art for your house or office instead of mass productions. And we also hope to inspire people, to make them re-think public places and the role of Art in our everyday life.


“You Have to Take the Stairs” will be up for the month of November within the lobby of 55 St. Clair W.

Hours are Mon-Fri 9am-6pm