Yesterday was not the first time that I walked the Milky Way; I have blogged about it a few times, mostly recently two years ago in July 2017.  What surprised me most this time was just how little has changed.  A lot of murals and paintings were done in 2013 and they are still there.

below: The two horses at the west end of the alley

mural street art painting of a horses's head and neck in Milky Way alley

mural street art painting of a horses's head and neck in Milky Way alley

below: A one eyed monster, melting ice cream cone figure with big black boots.

large gate (or garage door) in an alley painted pink with a painting of a one eyed monster on it

paint peeling off wood fence, street art painting only partilly still there

below: A star that has lost its shine.

faded street art, wood grain of wood fence showing through. pink star with black sides to look 3 D, outlined in yellow

below: Unused and overgrown

a door covered with graffiti that is closed, greenery is starting to grow upo and around the door, painted murals on both sides of the door that are difficult to see

below: Someone’s not pleased.

woman's face as part of a mural in Milky Way alley, text mural around her

below: Kaos in the alley.

black door and wall in Milky Way lane, with graffit on the door, painting of two spray paint cans on the right side of the door, kaos brand. text graffiti on the left side in orange and white

below: Dinosaur riding.

old mural on a wall in Milky Way alley, a young girl is riding on the back a dinosaur, with words that say was last night they were here

below: Rafiki from ‘The Lion King’ still guards the door but his words may be lost to time.

painting of character from Disneys Lion King on door in alley, with paintings of little aliens across the top of the building, ivy growing on the walls

below: This mural was ‘defaced’ (although the faces weren’t touched LOL) shortly after it was painted.  The black letters on the middle woman have been there since at least 2017.

part of a mural of 3 nude pink and purple women, tall and skinny by palm trees, orange background, in an alley, the women have been painted over in white to cover breasts

below: This was the only street art piece painted in 2019 that I saw.

text graffiti mural in oranges and reds on blue background, in an alley, painted in 2019

text graffiti mural in pinks and reds on blue background, in an alley,

old dark door with entrance sign over the top, with lots of graffiti on the door, mural painted on walls beside the door

below: Not the best seat in the house.

pale blue door with graffiti on it, a blue rubbish bin and chair in front of the door

Follow the pointy fingers!

4 black and white stencils of hand and fingers pointing, on the sidewalk, pointing towards a mural on a wall

In a Kensington alley just north of Dundas there are several new faces.

two large faces painted side by side in an alley

below: A very bright face by Curtia Wright

large face mural on an exterior wall in an alley, in bright fluorescent oranges and blues, wearing a large floppy hat

below: An up close look at ‘Lovely’ by ahayahisone (aka Philip A. Saunders, or P.S.)

close up of a face in a mosaic like style with shapes of different colours making up the skin, green eyes, red lips, by Philip A. Saunders, called Lovely

below: A portrait of Philip Saunders by luvsumone (aka Moises Frank)

portrait of a man in shades of brown, orange and purple, with a hat, by luvsomone, a mural in an alley

A Poser bunny face and a companion mini happy face too

a black on silver poser bunny painting on a wood fence in an alley, a little happy face is in the top left corner of the picture

Bonjour from the future

black woman's head in space helmet of clear glass, futuristic clothing around her neck, Jamaican flag painted on her collar, purple lips

This one looks very much like it’s another P.S. painting.

male head in many different colours

Not as bright, but still surviving in the lane, are a couple of older faces

faded, on an old wood fence is a profile picture of a woman that is faded, the wood grain comes through very clearly, some peeling paint on the edges

on a fence that is vertical slats of wood, a portrait of a woman in blue

Mario sticks his head above text graffiti that says flyguy

head of Mario from the Nintendo game peaks over the text graffiti

“Keep yo head out the clouds” to which someone has responded.  At first I thought the response was “Nah, Rock that cloud.” but on closer inspection I see that I am wrong.  I like my answer better!

wood fence painted red with yellow words that say Keep yo head out the clouds, with a couple of white clouds, one with green eyes and a nose and mouth

on a wood fence, a drawing in white pencil of a man in a tie, beside him are the words cloudy daze.  above him are two clouds

506 is the number of the Carlton streetcar which runs from High Park in the west to Main Street subway station in the east.  The older cars still run on this route and one advantage of these older streetcars is that they have windows that open.  This makes it easy to take pictures while travelling; yesterday I went eastward from Yonge as far as Coxwell, sometimes on the streetcar and sometimes on foot.

below: Pointing the camera out the window, D & J Mart Convenience store at the corner of Gerrard & Sackville.

picture taken out the window of a streetcar on Gerrard, an older 2 storey brick building with retail on the lower level, two large old wood hydro poles

below: A new curvy building rises up on the corner of Carlton and Church.  The older building on the left with the R U on the top is the old Maple Leaf Gardens, now part of Ryerson University as well as a large Loblaws.

new highrise building under construction beside the old brick building that was Maple Leaf Gardens on Carlton street.

below: People, striped hoardings, and closed sidewalks.

people walking past painted hoardings in front of a construction site, painted in stripes

below: Waiting outside Jenny’s at the corner of Parliament and Gerrard where the streetcar makes another turn.

a young man stands beside a stroller outside Jenny's Convenience store on Parliament street, large red and white sign with kit kat logo on it twice - once at each end

below: Another convenience store on a corner on Gerrard.  This time there is also a construction site in the picture!  Are there more construction sites than variety stores or vice versa in this city?

from the streetcar window, a food mart on the corner and construction across the street from it.

people sitting on a TTC street car, three people, two women and a man.

below: Looking south on Broadview at Gerrard.

Broadview looking south from Gerrard with utility poles and lots of wires, people crossing the street, some traffic, the clears with the sign with a red cross on it

below:  The 506 streetcar passes through Chinatown East (the area around Broadview & Gerrard) where many of the old houses are also businesses.

older houses turned into businesses on the ground floor, two semis with Chinese businesses, one is Ly Ly beauty salon

below: The southeast corner of Broadview and Gerrard now has an A & W restaurant which seems like an intruder in an otherwise Chinese/Asian section of town.

looking at the southeast corner of Broadview and Gerrard with a large A and W restaurant on the corner. Beyond that, the other stores and restaurants are Chinese

below: At the intersection of Gerrard and Carlaw, where the railway passes over the roads, the walls have been freshly painted.  The north wall is a series of abstract shapes and colours like this.

a person in an electric wheelchair, or motorized scooter, passes by a wall that is covered with street art, traveling on the sidewalk

below: The new painting incorporates the older art that was there. In the center of the newly painted rectangles are two grey shapes, these are originals.  They are part of a 1996 installation by Dereck Revington called ‘Blue Fire’.  There is still a plaque that describes these aluminum pieces as “a constellation of five paired aluminum fragments etched with traces of a poem by Robin Blaser and suspended from the entrances to the underpass”.   Strange grey shapes (flames?) on dirty white concrete.  Regardless of what you think of the concept, the reality is that it was drab.

part of a railway overpass has been painted with street art

below: Lead artist Kirsten McCrea (also known as Hello Kirsten) and her assistants, Victoria Day & Julian Palma, have certainly brightened up the space!  The south wall is a series of frames pictures of hands holding flowers.   As seen from across the street ….

railway underpass street art, seen throughthe supporting concrete arches, paintings of hands holding flowers, framed

below: … and from close up

a dark brown hand holding a sprig of small light purple flowers

below: And lastly, the end support wall of the overpass where the flowers and the stylized shapes come together.

painting on a concrete pillar of a railway overpass, a rose with leaves, stem, and thornes, a collage of abstract shapes and

below: Store signs near Pape including the bilingual Italy Hair Design – but not in Italian!

store fronts on Gerrard including one that is painted bright green, signs over the doors including the Italy hair design store with sign in English and Chinese

below: With remnants of the past such as string of pennants faded to grey….

old three storey brick building with big bay windows on the upper two floors. Ground floor is a store or restaurant with bright red door and yellow metal bars over the windows

below: … or an old street sign still attached to the building.

side of an old brick building with stone features, an old street sign on the building Gerrard Street, now a law office with signs in the windows

below: After Greenwood, the 506 streetcar passes through Little India before it turns north on Coxwell.

food and containers on a table outside a store, with pink and green floral table cloth

below:  In the late afternoon and evening, Little India is much more lively.  Many shops sell food on the street – roasted corn on the cob (a pile is ready to cook on the green table here) as well as south Asian foods.   To the right of the corn is a bundle of sugar cane.

Mumbai Paan shop on Gerrard Street in Little India with a barbeque on the sidewalk, a bucket of corn and a pile of sugar cane

These few kilometres on a streetcar route have opened a small but fairly typical cross section of the city starting with the newer, taller, shinier center.  There’s quite a bit of multiculturalism, some history, and some colourful new art.   It’s a story that plays out all over the city in many similar yet different forms.  Familiar but unique.

 

below: Searching for a story? 😇

three people looking into the sun. Two are shielding their eyes with their hands, wearing sunglases, looking slightly upwards as if searching for something.

 

In Graffiti Alley to be more specific.

Recently, a few pasteups have appeared in Graffiti Alley that are either text based or have a lot of words written on them.

One series consists of posters with sayings credited to A.J. Maldo whose instagram page calls the work “Poetry for the Mind, Body, Soul”.  You’ll find many more of these positive messages if you follow the instagram link.  I saw three in Graffiti Alley yesterday. 

a poster with a saying or perhaps poes credited to A.J. Maldo

“A simple notion to reveal an ocean, without commotion, you can swim in stride if only you tried, even in times of waves, be confident, you have what it takes.”

.

a poster with a saying or perhaps poes credited to A.J. Maldo

“Dig in deep where beauty grows, see in you where the magic rose, your soul is at stake, no time to waste, choose your fate, inside it waits.”

.

on a wall in Graffiti Alley, a poster with a saying or perhaps poes credited to A.J. Maldo, with a woman in a turquoise sari walking past

“It’s not easy realizing that you’re the one who has been holding you back this entire time.”

The next paste-up, seen up high on a wood utility pole, is by hnr_hnr (aka Henrique Nobrega from Brazil).  You probably recognize the girl in the picture.  I am not sure what the words say but the text starts with “girl” and ends with “half woman”.    A lot of Nobrega’s paintings and stickers involve words.

on a wood utility pole, a picture of the girl in the Vermeer painting with words written part in English and part in Dutch over her face

below: The woman and the text/symbols below her are both by Nobrega.  The words talk about ups and downs and enjoying the ride in this cosmic world.

six paper paste up graffiti pieces, four with mens faces in profile with top of head missing but eye beside the chin, one with black woman in profile with yellow over her face, and one with words and symbols

And last is this hand written note, a poem.   By ending with this one, I am ending on a down note but c’est la vie, swim in stride, it’s all part of the ride.

hand written note on white paper written in pen, pasted onto wall in Graffiti Alley

A Thought without Warmth
More powerful a trauma
a wound of fright
Most and all the sadness
in the darkness with
no light
To be alone
alone in the night
[a drawing of an open book of paper matches]

***

I am me!

a young man plays a violin in front of a pedestrian Sunday banner

It was a very busy (i.e. crowded) Sunday afternoon at Kensington. Last Sunday that is.

an Asian woman walks holding a white umbrella with frilly trim

below: Bubbles of joy

a young boy in yellow shhorts and blue shoes is laughing as he runs through a stream of bubbles, outside on the street

below: Honkers on their saxes performing on the sidewalk.

two saxophone players, hinkers group, at outdoors performance

below: Street performance by Hero-San, a Japanese man who has been performing around the world for 25 years.

hiro son, a Japanese performance artist stands on one hand on a box in front of a crowd, outdoors, on the street, street performance

below: His show is part comedy and part stunts involving standing or walking on his hands.

hiro son, a Japanese busker and performance artist does a hand stand on the arms of two men standing facing each other, orange sweat pants and legs open wide for balance, a crowd is watching from behind

below: The finale was Hero-San walking on his hands while going through the open legs of a young boy. Even though his body was very close to the ground, only his hands actually touched the ground.

hiro son, a Japanese performance artist is standing on his hands in front of a young boy who has his hands close to his mouth, crowd watching in the background

below: A wagon full of plants to sell. $25 each.

people around a man with a woagon full of small marijuana plants that he is selling for twenty five dollars a plant

below: Sitting in front of poser bunnies while the world walks past.

two people sitting in front of poser bunnies mural in Kensington as other people walk past

below: A dog and many tattoos

a dog on a leash being held by a person with tattoos on booth knees and shins

two black women walking down the street while looking at their phones, on in a bright pink T shirt

a woman walking in short brown dress and floppy beige hat, another woman sitting in the window of a cafe and a third woman in striped pants and grey hat

below: Paper graffiti on a utility pole

on a utility pole, a paper graffiti piece of a man's face with the eyes from a different picture

Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington are the last Sunday in each month from May to October.

Summer in Toronto.  Those days where it doesn’t matter where you walk, you will always encounter something interesting.

This weekend is the Taste of the Middle East festival at Yonge Dundas square, one of the many ethnic based festivals in the square over the summer.  As usual, there were performances, activities, and food.

woman in a pink top and sunglasses turns her head towards the camera with a big smile, behind her is a performance on a stage and a man in an orange baseball cap clapping with his hands above his head, at Yonge Dundas square Taste of the Middle East festival

Products like date syrup were also available.

a man stands behind a display of bottles of date syrup that are for sale at an outdoor event

4 women watching a performance on an outdoor stage, three are wearing head scarves, and two are laughing

below: Young artist at work at Yonge & Dundas.

a young black boy sits on a chair at Yonge and Dundas and paints small pictures while people stop to watch him

below: Adelaide Street was blocked between Yonge and Bay all weekend for a film shoot involving a large number of police cars, police officers, and dummies that look amazingly like real police officers.

part of a film set on Adelaide, a red pick up truck with propane tanks in the back, with another tank wired to the back of a white panel truck

below: When the Netflix series ‘Zeus’ comes out, you can play spot the Toronto locations!

looking through the window of a restaurant with two empty tables, to a scene where a film set is setting up to shoot a scene involving exploding buses and police cars

blurry picture of peoples' legs and feet and shoes as they walk on a sidewalk

below: In the Allan Lampert Gallery at Brookfield Place is an art installation “Into the Clouds”, four large, happy inflatable clouds created by ‘Friends with You’, a Los Angeles based group.   They bring a positive message of light, love and happiness.

art installation in Brookfield Place of 4 large white clouds, three of which have happy faces on them, suspended from the ceiling over the escalator from the lower level,

below: In front of the RBC building at the corner of Front & Bay.

three people in front of the R B C building on Front St.., with its gold coloured reflective windows, An Asian couple stopped to look up and a black woman taking a picture, reflections of other buildings nearby. All people are wearing shorts

below: Relief sculpture on an exterior wall of the Scotiabank Arena (formerly ACC).  A series of these sculptures were made by Louis Temporale Sr. in 1938-39 on what was then the Toronto Postal Delivery Building.

relief sculpture in concrete on exterior of wall, cavemen scene, with palm trees, three people dressed in animal skins. One is cooking - stirring with a stick in a large pot over a fire, one is standing and shouting with hands cupped around his mouth. A ladder made of wood pieces lashed together leans against a rock

below: At the foot of Bay Street, a TTC bus stops beside the Westin conference centre.  The top part of the concrete building is covered by a large photographic art installation – “Milky Way Smiling” by Elizabeth Zvonar.

a red and white TTC bus stops beside a concrete building with a very large photograph pubic art installation on the upper part of the building,

below: Sitting on Jack Layton’s shoulders

a boy in an orange T-shirt, grey shorts, and black crocs sits on the shoulders of Jack Layton sculpture by the ferry terminal, holding onto Layton's head, and smiling at the camera

below: Broken. A gigantic bubble.

a young boy breaks a very large bubble that a man has made, outdoors

below: An oversized picnic table

a group of people sit on an oversized picnic table painted in camo colours in a park

below: 25 figures in bright orange clasping onto black inner tubes – an art installation by Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier call SOS (Safety Orange Swimmers)

two small boats on Lake Ontario, Toronto harbour, pass by the art installation S O S or Safety Orange Swimmers

below: Ahoy matey!  We be rainbow pirates!

a pretend pirate ship, as a harbour cruise boat passes by the public art installation, SOS, or Safety Orange Swimmers

below: The spotlight seems to shine on a sleeping body.  The location is Harbour Square Park inside the large concrete sphere that is “Sundial Folly”  created by John Fung and Paul Figueiredo and installed in 1995.  Whether it’s because of high water levels, or for other reasons, access to the interior of the structure is closed to the public. 

a person is asleep, on back, under a maroon sleeping bag, inside a spherical art installation with a slit in it that lets in light such that sleeper is spotlit

waterfront beside Harbour Square Park, walkway, trees, and boats

below: Queens Quay at the foot of Yonge Street is not my favorite intersection.  It’s not uncommon for cyclists to not realize that there is a red light and for pedestrians not to realize that just because they have a walk signal doesn’t mean that there won’t be a bicycle whizzing past.

woman on a bike cycles through a red light at Yonge and Queens Quay

below:  … and that shape on the sidewalk across the street? That is “Between the Eyes” by Anita Windisman.

cars, cyclists, and pedestrians at an intersection

below: Future buskers

two young girls pretending to make music with large plastic inflatable guitars while a woman pushing a man in a wheelchair look on.

below: The public art at Pier 27 condos on Queens Quay East lies in an elevated garden between two condo buildings. This sculpture is the work of American artist Alice Aycock and it consists of a whirlwind (or tornado) form and what looks like whorls of paper.   Litter blowing from the lake?  It’s title is “A Series of Whirlpool Field Manoeuvres for Pier 27”.

a long white sculpture in a garden in front of a condo

part of a large sculpture, sheets of white material curve and join together like the shape of a rose

white sculpture that looks like a very large whirlwind or tornado in front of a condo building

below: Basketball players on the Esplanade.

a group of boys playing basketball on a court that has a mural of two hands forming a heart shape with their hands, the heart is under the basket, mural is on wall

I was driving south on Warden the other day when I spotted a large church dome.

dome of very large pale brown cathedral church, St. Marks Coptic Church, new building, against the blue sky with a few puffy white clouds

This is St. Marks Coptic Orthodox Cathedral near Warden and Steeles.  The Coptic, or Egyptian, Church is believed to have been founded by St Mark at around AD 42 in Alexandria Egypt. It split from the rest of the Christendom in 451.  In the 600s, Egypt was ruled by Islamic conquerors but it wasn’t until the 12th century that Coptics became a religious minority.

very large pale brown cathedral church, St. Marks Coptic Church, new building,

Construction of the church began around 2008/9 and was completed by 2015.  It was officially opened by Pope Tawadros II who is the 118th pope in the Coptic church.   The Roman Catholic Church and the Coptic Church are the only two religions in the world led by a “pope”.

below: Seven large carved wood doors.  The colour of the exterior is reminiscent of desert sand.

large front doors of very large pale brown cathedral church, St. Marks Coptic Church, new building,

A large mosaic mural across the top of the church is almost complete.  It has been grouted and now is being cleaned.

working on mosaic mural, very large pale brown cathedral church, St. Marks Coptic Church, new building,

below: Come out of Egypt my son, Matthew 2:15

mosaic mural across the top end of very large pale brown cathedral church, St. Marks Coptic Church, new building,

below: The interior of the church is massive; under the dome, the nave is just over 29m high.   There is seating for 1800 people.

side view of very large pale brown cathedral church, St. Marks Coptic Church, new building,

As I was walking around the church, I spotted another cross just to the north – the Toronto Christian Community Church – with a different style of architecture.  The name of the church was also written in Chinese but the church functions in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English.  It was built in 2001.

part of front of modern white church with skinny vertical windows and a white cross on top, two small trees in front

side view of part of front of modern white church, looks like an office building fro the side