I’ve been whiling away the hours by looking through photos I’ve taken over the last couple of years, especially the wall art. They’ve been bringing back good memories of long walks with mom and reminding me of the incredible encouragement she offered while I got Bitter Grounds off the ground. She was always saying “just go show people the city the way you see it”. It was good advice. Although mom was never fond of all the construction sites I lurked around. She figured I should have gone into construction so I could play with the big toys. So, to connect with mom, I’ve been looking at some of the photos we sorted through and enjoyed.
This was trip along Bathurst, running south, from a trip sometime in the summer of 2018. There’s a lot of great architecture and wall art scattered all through the area. One of the best examples was a defunct restaurant’s artwork. The art is starting to fade, but is still pretty lively.
I loved the way the shadows played along the wall. This is a good spot to stop and recharge.
The entire village scene is fun, but the part I like best is the bar scene.
I’m not sure who the artist is. Pity, they should get credit for this. It really evokes a mood, doesn’t it. I think it’s one of my favourite hidden gems. When the quarantine is lifted, I’m going to trot back over there to see if it’s still there.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be revisiting the photo archive. I kept the bulk of what I shot so I could use it as a measuring stick to evaluate my skills and growth. Can’t really go out and do any photography at the moment so it’s a good time to examine my work with fresh eyes.
Thanks for the camera mom.
While sipping on an ale, I sat back and rethought the article I was originally working on. I decided to break it down into 2, with slightly different focuses. The decision was heavily influenced by the utter deliciousness of a cold ale on a hot day, buzzing conversations around me and music reminding me why I love living in a large city so much. When I walk down a stretch of road exploding in a riot of colour and ideas, I feel like I’m walking through an urban art gallery. As I wrote the previous article, in one short walk you can encounter whimsy, anger, cynicism, hope, and a whole lot of confusion. Today’s post is all about murals rather than the graffiti.
I have no idea where to start with this. I call it Dog-A-Thingy. Let’s just say the Zombie Apocalypse got a whole lot more interesting.
The art on this next one shuns the usual sharp (and sometimes harsh) lines usually on display. This is a fuzzy, warm mural that stands out because of the striking stylistic difference.
And then we have Mr Angry meets plastic bag.
Originally I had airbrushed the plastic bag hanging off the horn, but I’ve decided leave it. When Toronto banned plastic bags (for a brief time) there was a surprising decrease in the number that drifted in the wind. When Ford removed the prohibition, bags once again became the official leaf of Toronto – hanging in trees, blowing by in the wind, filling ditches and stuck on walls. As a species, we really are asses.
Near Dog-A-Thingy, is a wonderful wall filled with vibrant colours, ivy and faux windows. The entire section looks like this.
At the end of the lane, you pop out onto Harbord. Before you leave, look on the west wall for a moving tribute to Toronto both past and present. It’s a beautiful mural.
The next couple of photos were taken on Harbord, east of Bathurst. Keep your eyes open as you trot along, for little lanes and alleys that hold some inspiring art. This teapot is part of a larger mural that’s beginning to flake away.
It covers a large section of the wall and some of my shots weren’t good enough to post. The angles were all wrong, contrast off and well I wasn’t happy with them. At the time I was more interested in the teapot so I’ll have to return to grab the rest.
I’m ending with my favourite shot of the day.
He’s massive! The phto is stitched together from 6 separate shots. I scoured the print trying to spot where the pieces joined, but Photoshop did an excellent job. The perspective correction is spot on too. Very happy with Mr Snail. Or is it Mrs Snail? Is there such a thing as snail sexing? To date, this is my all time favourite street mural.
Look for the 1st Mapping Toronto post late next week. As I was trotting down to the Boxcar, I realised I’d left out a few important things so a re-write is in order.
I wandered back down to Boxcar Social for an espresso fix and ended up sipping a Left Field Brewery Oatmeal Brown Ale. No idea why, but it seems to fit the lazy, warm Sunday. So here I sit, with a stack of photos to rifle through, a cold ale and my pen & notebook.
While sifting through the mass of shots I took Friday, I acquired a greater appreciation of Toronto’s street artistry. Queen St’s Graffiti Alley gets a lot of attention (and rightfully so), but many are not aware that Toronto is hopping with smaller urban canvases. One of my favourite areas to crawl around is south of Bloor and Bathurst. Aley ways snake through the area, filled with jaw dropping artwork & occasional witty graffiti tirades.
Friday’s walk (Catpaw finds her (photographic) groove) took me through a couple favourite hotspots. On Lennox St, beside the Randolph Centre for Arts, is a long lane worth checking. Some of the art is nothing more than mediocre scrawls, a few are pure whimsy or riotous explosions of colour and a few display an applaudable cynicism.
I keep returning to the old Honest Ed’s site to see what progress is being made. For those not familiar with Toronto icons, Honest Ed’s was the big, gaudy block long discount department store that sat on the south west corner of Bloor and Bathurst for … well for ever, it seemed. The store closed down a few years back and now the land is being redeveloped. When the big old warehouse style building was torn down, some stunning old wall adverts were revealed for the first time in decades. I posted this photo the wall on Instagram months ago:
I remember standing on the corner thinking grab the shot now, it won’t be there much longer. It’s an amazing combination of old commercial art & modern graffiti. It’s gone now – demolished with the rest of the building. There was something about that particular wall that captured my attention. The mix of structured commercial adverts with colours still sharp after so much time + the graffiti that thumbs it’s nose at the lines below. Ah, I loved that view and now it’s rubble.
Strolling along the alleyways of Toronto is always entertaining, Take the Great Canadian Flame Wars in the next photo:
There seems to be a slight disagreement over the philosophy. It cracks me up. No idea why, it just does.
The interesting thing about street art is, it’s never static.
Time flakes off one layer and someone fills the gap. It’s never static.
These 2 seem to be having issues:
Maybe some counselling might help R & S get over whatever issues they’re experiencing. A bit of anger management therapy? Let’s look down the lane for a consultant, ok?
Umm .. no. Just .. no. Dear god … no. Some graffiti is mundane, but once in awhile I stop for a bit and wonder what was the thinking behind a particular patch. This guy defines “I have issues”.
There is so much to see on this one lane, that I find different things to focus on each trip. Next post will look at some of the murals scattered along the walls and doors. (I’ve already written the article so you won’t have to wait so long this time.)
Oh .. and that ale from Left Field Brewery here in Toronto? Couldn’t ask for a more divine way to while away an afternoon than sipping it while writing.
Walking by Honest Ed’s on Saturday and had to stop to grab this shot:
Honest Ed’s was a massive department store, here in Toronto, that was part of the cultural landscape for decades. It feels like every immigrant family I know has a story to share about their first trip there. Everyone knew who Honest Ed was. You couldn’t miss the huge side show attraction on the corner of Bloor and Bathurst. But times change, as do shopping tastes. The store closed it’s doors last Christmas (2016) and is being redeveloped. It’s difficult to explain how big a cultural touchstone Ed’s was, but this sign hints at it. The poster is an interesting nod to the importance of Ed’s and a bit of cheeky humour at Drake’s expense.
After blowing up the photo I spotted Apologies.Ltd in the corner. Here you go https://apologies.ltd/ Get the poster on a shirt.