part of a blue and white sign, with the words this way and an arrow pointing left

Another sunny spring day and another walk in the city.  This time we walked along Dupont with the occasional diversion to an alley or side street.  First stop?  First Last Coffee.  Always start with coffee!  In general, this blog covers Dupont between Spadina and Ossington and as usual, there may not be much order to the photos!

pictures and signs on the wall inside a coffee hop, First Last coffee, including a sign that says coffee please

below: The transparent domed Dupont subway station at the northwest corner of Spadina and Dupont

Dupont subway station, entrance on northwest corner of Dupont and Spadina, transparent structure with dome shaped curved roof

two women waiting outside Dupont subway station, red and white TTC sign,

below: Because of the redevelopment along Dupont (some buildings have been demolished but their replacements are still holes in the ground), Casa Loma can now be seen from the street.

blue sky with chain from crane (not in picture) hanging in the foreground, a large metal utility tower in the middle, and the top of Casa Loma roofline in the distance

below: Northwest corner of Dupont and Shaw

corner of an intersection that is one big construction site

below: Someone’s comment on the construction….

Construction site entrance sign that says gate 2. someone has added the word hell so that the sign now says gate to hell

below: … And another comment – he’s so happy to have a gun that he’s drooling.

black and orange construction sign with figure of man holding sign, happy face added to head and a machine gun put in his hands, altered sign

rebar sticking out the ground, construction site, as building begins to rise from the ground

shiny hoardings around a construction site reflect the bright orange signs and cones on the street beside it

a workman in a blue hardhat cleans the street between hoardings with large photos on them and orange cones blocking traffic

workman cutting pavement on dupont,

There are quite a few construction photos, maybe more than you’d like, but construction plays a large role in the scenery along Dupont these days.

workman helping a concrete truck back up into a construction site, traffic waiting,

construction reflections in a window

vacant building beside a grassy space, red brick, tagged on the side, old grey shingle roof, boarded up lower level window, construction fence around it

below: Joe’s Convenience chaos.

below: Reflections in a restaurant window

below: Dispensary of a different kind

below: Cyclists waiting for the lights to change.

a woman with a backpack walks by a window with many reflections in it

below: No energy today (all sold out?)

looking into a large warehouse interior with lots of windows, nine window panes

below: Looking at the northeast corner of Dupont and Dovercourt.  The interior of this old industrial building has been renovated and part of it is now a basketball school.

old building, three or four storeys high, made of many small panes of glass, on the northeast corner of Dupont and Dovercourt

below: View through the window

looking through a window to young men playing basketball inside

below: The billboard at Dupont and Dovercourt features an image by Maggie Groat and was part of the CONTACT Photography Festival.  More of her work is on display at Ontario Square (on the waterfront) and can be seen in a blog post, Double Pendulum, from a few weeks ago.

billboard with image by Maggie Groat, part of Scotiabank COntact photo festival, bottom part has been tagged

below: Silver Star Car Wash – I could say that it’s all washed up but considering the time that it takes for the development process – especially in a case like this where the application involves an amendment to the Official Plan and the Zoning By-law.

silver Star car wash on dupont street with a blue and white development notice in front

below:  Although it looks like a gathering of praying mantises, it’s really a symbol of a booming construction industry, boom lifts for rent.

cranes for rent, all parked outside a rental store

below: 888 Dupont (at Ossington) is one of the next buildings to be redeveloped but that is for another story on another blog post.

tall blue crane on construction site next to glass industrial warehouse building from 1921 at 888 Dupont street

below: An old rusty sign on the side of a building in an alley just off of Dupont tells us that J.F. Spencer, Sheet Metal Worker, once worked there.  old sign on the side of a building in an alley near Dupont street,

four houses on Dupont street

below: Looking along Dupont from Delaware Ave

Dupont street looking west from Delaware Ave

three two storey houses on dupont street

below: Probably the most affordable house on the street!

a small playhouse surrounded by leaves, in the side yard of a house

below: Some people have rose bushes in their front yard…

lone two storey house on Dupont, with large rose bush in front of it

below: … and some people have horses.

sculpture in a front yard of a horse up on its hind legs

below: A seaside Nova Scotia scene by Megan Oldhues.

mural on the side of a garage of a Nova Scotia waterside scene, sailboats, dock, flag,

grey car parked beside a garage with street art mural painted on it. Lots of red, orange, and yellow, blob-like characters

I’ll end this post with a few photos of the graffiti that I saw starting with this old Lovebot.

older Lovebot paste up on a grey brick wall, part of top of head has worn away

below: A pinkish red portrait of a young woman.

red stencil of a young woman's portrait

paste up graffiti on a metal pole, beside a wood pole full of old staples, black ink on paper paste up that says gewn 2020 squid

 below:  Voodoo Ninja, brought to you by Urban Ninja Squadron along with Ave Rage (or maybe it’s Average) who gets to play the victim.

4 paste ups on a box, all black on white. One is an urban ninja squadron collaboration with ave rage, and three are inky blotty drawings


old window in an old brick bilding, with street art that is peeling around the bottom part of the window

scrawled graffiti, happy face

pink rose on a large rose bush

until next time…. stay focused! … if possible….

small blue car parked on Dupont, with Ontario licence plate that says unfocused

old numbers on a building, 888, removed but traces left behind, on a teal coloured wall

below:  888 Dupont Street is at the northeast corner of Dupont and Ossington.  The building was designed by Canadian architect William George Hunt and was built in 1921.  The first owner was Thomas Oswald Aked whose company Aked & Co (or Aked Worsted) was in the yarn spinning business.

old industrial warehouse building on the northeast corner of Dupont and Ossington, teal cloured cladding with lots of small square window panes, graffiti tags all over the windows, posters along the wall at street level

After World War I, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind established a broom, brush, and mop-making business to provide employment for servicemen who had lost their vision in combat.  In 1952 this business, Blindcraft, moved into 888 Dupont.

below:  The entrance to 888 Dupont is now behind a construction fence.

double grey metal doors, entrance to 888 Dupont, now behind construction fence, on three storey industrial building, first built for a yarn company, Aked and Company

In recent years the building became home to many artist studios.  Although the building was never deemed residential, some artists used it as a place to live.  They have now been evicted to make way for condo development by TAS Design.

below:  Through a gap in the window…

interior of an abandoned building with old furniture and furnishings still in the building, a shopping cart, gas pipe, trash,

outdoor sidewalk space, narrow, between old building and construction fence

side of a an empty building at 888 Dupont waiting for demolition, small space beside building with old chairs and other junk under a steel beam overhang

The building has also become a canvas for some graffiti including some protesting redevelopment in general and condos in particular.

below: Toronto vs Condos

two stickers on a city development notice that instead of saying toronto vs everybody, say toronto vs condos

below: “I told you that… with guns get what they want”.  Some of the words are covered but the meaning is still clear.

poster protesting condo development, picture of a gun, text that says I told you that those with the gun wins

below: Poster – Who can afford to live here?  Which one of you can afford this?

graffiti poster with lots of text, weathered and difficult to read

below: Large one-eyed daisy by Life© (life in the streets)

large one eyed daisy. blue eye, graffiti on an abandoned building

a poster on a construction site for Tilley clothing, graffiti too

posters, advertising grapefruit gin cocktail drink by Muskoka brewery, on a wall at a construction site with graffiti

posters on the wall of a construction site including a large map of the world with pairs of baby shoes around it (large photo)

below: Liars – Doug Ford (Ontario Premier) and John Tory (ex-Toronto mayor).

sticker on a city blue and white development notice sign, faces of Doug Ford and John Tory with the word Liars

below: Happy little family? Pasteup by 33wallflower33

pasteups on a piece of plywood on a wall, car, three members of a family, mother, father, and daughter in a line, just their faces

southeast corner of building, 888 Dupont, now empty and covered with graffiti

graffiti on a wall

orange construction sign, pedestrians use other sidewalk, with stickers and pasteups on it, an old car in black and white

Earlier in May there was a collection of works by Vancouver based Jin-Me Yoon at the Image Centre (Toronto Metropolitan University).  She was a 2022 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography award winner.

below: Part of the large work, “A Group of Sixty-Seven”, 1996.     These are members of the Korean-Canadian community in Vancouver and they are all standing in front of the same painting, “Maligne Lake Jasper Park”, 1924 by Lawren Harris.  There is a companion piece that shows the back of each person’s head instead of the face.

Many of the images on display featured people in masks.

below: “Untitled 6 (Long Time So Long)”, 2022, inkjet print.

The words on the all for this exhibit describe the ‘Long Time So Long’ series as “absurd satirical elegy to a broken world”.  In each photo, one person is seen in a mask, posing at different sites creating little stories, little dramas just like Korean talchum mask dances and theatre.  Masks to facilitate stories; masks as entertainment.

below: Is it the inside or outside of the mask?

At the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) at the moment is another set of photos with masks.  This time the series is “Acts of Appearance” and the photographer is Gauri Gill (b. 1970, India).  Gill had traditional mask makers create a series of masks for her.   Instead of the usual religious masks that they make, she asked them to make masks of themselves or of ordinary things in their lives.

close up of photograph on a gallery wall, a couple sits on a bench, both wearing hindi masks. The man is in navy shorts with white stars on them and a long sleeved buttoned shirt, woman is in red leggings and an animal mask

Gill’s subjects, as well as the mask makers, were from an indigenous community (Adivasi) in Maharashtra India. They are known for their papier-mâché objects especially the traditional sacred masks that depict deities and are worn during festivals.  The main festival is the three day Bohada Festival (usually in May) where people wear masks of 52 different gods and goddesses.

two photos on a red wall at the Art Gallery of Ontario, photos by Gauri Gill, people wearing Hindi masks


people in a white truck, photo in India by Gauri Gill, person looking out of back seat window has a large white happy face mask on

Masks appear in many cultures and feature in many religious activities.  The practice goes back many millennia and probably finds its roots in shamanistic activities.  Shamanism played an important part in primitive societies as the channeler of spirits for healing, purification, and protection of those under his supervision. Masks helped the shaman embody one of the spirits (or gods/goddesses) and use it to heal the sick, drive away evil influences, and help people through events that might be affected by the spirit world. When hung in a house, the mask served a protective function.

below: One-eyed shaman mask made of wood, on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

very old wood shaman mask with one eye on display at the art gallery of ontario

below: “Raven Steals the Moon”, 2021, by David Ruben Piqtoukun.  Art Gallery of Ontario.  From the words on the wall beside the artwork: ” In this sculpture the Shaman appears as both human and bird, with pieces of the moon stuck in his beak.  Piqtoukun tells the story of a Shaman who was not respected by the people in his community because they did not believe in his powers.  In order to prove himself, he tells them that he will steal the moon an bring it back.  He asks everyone to cover him with rocks and snow, and uses his powers to steal the moon from the sky.”

He accomplishes this by turning into a raven and flying to the moon.  Once there he grows very big and eats the moon, piece by piece, until it is gone.  The world goes dark and people can not hunt or fish.  [My note: why can’t they hunt and fish during the day?]  Shortened version of the ending: people repent and change their ways so raven spits up the moon piece by piece and makes it whole again.

sculpture of a mask with two sides of the face different

Masks bridge the spiritual and earthly worlds.  They also connect religion to art as well as to other aspects of culture.  They become part of theatre and drama and allow us to become different people or different creatures.   They help us tell stories and both Gill, with her use of masks to alter the ordinary, and Yoon, with her masks that highlight the absurd, are part of that age-old tradition that transcends cultures.

Under the masks are faces.  And faces play a large role in   how we see ourselves,  how we look to others,  and often more importantly, how we want to be seen by others.   Jin-Me Yoon’s portraits of Korean-Canadians puts very Asian looking people in a static pose in front of a scene created by a very iconic Canadian painter.    How do we portray ourselves and our communities especially when we want to move beyond the physical?  These are just some of the things that I thought about as I walked through the AGO (having just seen the Yoon exhibit that morning).

below: “Her Blood Spoke in Creole, in Gaelic, in Twi, and in Yoruba”, 2021, Alberta Whittle (b. Bridgetown Barbadoes, 1980).

painting in predominantly purple, two headed serpent, one head at each side of face of a person with a white halo, Alberta Whittle, at AGO

But art looks more than one way.  Like the purple Whittle piece above, we use it to look inward and to express ourselves and our situations.  But we also look outward as we explore and document the world around us.

below: Photo by Louie Palu (b. Toronto 1968),  “Afghan civilians by a graffiti-ed wall with machine guns and anti-coalition slogans in Pashto (‘Death for America’, ‘Death for London’). Helmand Afghanistan 2008.

photograph in a gallery, three young men, one is looking at camera, Arab clothing,

What makes us want to look at the images produced by other people?

a man with a red backpack stands in an art gallery

What makes us want to stop and take a closer look?  The average person looks at a painting in a gallery for about 15 to 25 seconds (depending on which study you read).   Admit it, you scan through these photos fairly quickly!  Maybe you catch a few words; maybe you don’t.

a young man in a gallery stands close to a photo of a man with his hands partially covering his mouth and chin and nose

woman looking closely at a wall full of photos

The self portrait – artists have been creating them forever.

below: “Self Portrait with Blue Handkerchief”, 1941, by Alma Duncan (b. Paris Ontario 1917, d. Ottawa 2004).

painting in a gallery, self portrait

Of course technology has made it possible for everyone to “take selfies” whenever they want.  Whether it’s art or not is an entirely different question!  If you could paint (or other medium) a self portrait of yourself how would it differ from a photo?   How could you convey something more about yourself?  What stories would you want the world to know?

a young woman sits on a bench taking a photo while a man waits with her at the other side of the bench

This blog post has veered in a different direction from most and has been a bit weird to write.  It’s not often that I get distracted by thoughts and questions.  But I hope that you’ve had a chance to think along with me at least for a short time.

reflection of a person in a patterned reflective wall

And maybe the next time you’re out walking you’ll start thinking about some of the stories that are swirling around us.

two men walking through the art gallery of ontario

I’d like to end this with a quote that is displayed on a wall at the AGO: “All that we are is story.  From the moment we are born to the time we continue our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here.  It is what we arrive with.  It is all we leave behind.  We are not the things we accumulate.  We are not the things we deem important.  We are story.   All of us.  What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we are here; you, me, us, together.  When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time.”  Richard Wagamese (1955-2017) Ojibwe author and journalist.

On the side of Fat Pasha Restaurant at the corner of Howland and Dupont there is a large mural of ten local Annex residents painted by Troy Lovegates.

whole Troy Lovegates mural, faces of 10 Annex residents both male and female

part of Troy Lovegates mural, faces

part of Troy Lovegates mural, two faces of young men in a variety of colours

Troy Lovegates mural, faces by the side door, including a younger person

Troy Lovegates mural, faces by a red door with word kitchen over the top of it, blue face of a woman, also an upper storey window

Troy Lovegates mural, faces by a red door, and two upper level windows, a line of light green garbage cans beside wall, two bikes,

This row of old two storey row houses has been vacant for years. Recently the developer that owns the properties provided a couple of Toronto artists the opportunity paint the exterior.  This is the result.

large street art painting by nick sweetman and luvs aka moises on a row of empty houses at Broadview and Eastern

If you look carefully, you can see that Nick Sweetman and Luvs (aka Moises) have painted the word CHANGE across the front of the buildings.   As a theme for a mural on a redevelopment site in a city bursting at the seams with such sites, change seems very appropriate.

below: I’ve played with the colours a bit to highlight some of the letters.  You should be able to see C, H, and A across this image.

part of a street art mural with the word change written in gold and yellow on a multi coloured background, on old houses with boarded up windows

But the mural is more than colour and letters.  There are three animals featured here – pigeon, raccoon, and coyote  – all of which have adapted to changes and now thrive in urban environments.

below: A blue pigeon

street art mural of a large blue pigeon on the side of an empty old house

below: A pinkish marroonish reddish raccoon

a large street art raccoon on an old house, part of a mural by nick sweetman and luvs moises

below: A coyote with a dead leaf and new buds.

large mural with a coyote face, a large dead orange leaf,

Funding provided by Streetcar Developments

a row of old brick houses with boarded up windows has been covered with a large mural

upper window of an old vacant house now covered in many colours, mural

below: The houses to the north….

row of houses on the east side of Broadview near Eastern, two story, peaked roof,

poster on a boarded up window that says so far so good

Photos taken 25 May 2023

… an art project by Sunday School,  a creative agency formed in Toronto in 2017 by Josef Adamu.  At the moment there are billboards at a few locations around the city including here at Dundas and Lansdowne where there are 3 images.

billboards above a vacant lot. The boards feature 3 large images by Sunday School. On the far left is a reclining woman with arm supporting head. In the center is a billboard with two images. Someone is brushing the hair of a young black woman in one photo. In the other, a person is sitting in a small orange car, viewed from the drivers side of the vehicle.

close up of images on billboards. two images. Someone is brushing the hair of a young black woman in one photo. In the other, a person is sitting in a small orange car, viewed from the drivers side of the vehicle.

Other photos by the group are on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario.  Two examples are:

below: “Jump Ball” is an ongoing project that explores the relationship between basketball and the African Diasporic communities.  Home is not restricted to private spaces, it is also found in unity. Here, in “Jump Ball: Toronto (2019)”,  you can see carefully composed pairings of young men in vibrant Ghanaian Kente cloth or a Senegalese boubou on the basketball court (what is identity?  how does basketball bring young men together?).  These were photographed by O’shane Howard.

photographs on a gallery wall, two in colour, and a group shot in black and white. the coloured photos are of young black men in traditional african clothing on a basketball court

below: Another series of pictures is “Ten Toes Down”, photographed by Kreshonna Keane.  This series features a ballet dancer in her home – a Black dancer in a field that is almost exclusively white.  Home is not just a building.  Home is the body; home is self expression.

two photographs on a gallery wall. on the left a black woman, a ballet dancer, sits on her floor surrounded by pairs of ballet shoes or slippers. the other picture is shoes and books

below: This image by Carlos Idun-Tawiah can also be seen in a parking lot by 80 Spadina Ave (see above, at Lansdowne & Dundas).

image of a young black woman

Sunday School website

Sunday School’s Instagram page

below: At 460 King West (at intersection with Spadina) there is a mural on the wall and a poster in the Pattison advertising space. Both are part of the CONTACT Photography Festival.

view from parking lot on Spadina, large image on wall of adjacent building

a contact photography festival image, as a large mural, by Jake Kimble showing the artist as a young boy dressed up as a cowboy with large text added to photo that says I was told that the peace was mine to keep

Jake Kimble is a Chipewyan (Dëne Sųłıné) from Treaty 8 Territory in the Northwest Territories. The original photograph is of Kimble at age 6 or 7 and it was taken by his mother. In it he is wearing a cowboy at and apparently he was on his way to the Calgary Stampede.

“I was told that peace was mine to keep.” On the CONTACT webpage that describes this installation, this text is “the statement of a promise unfulfilled or a burden to bear. The phrase implies both that peace was his, and its opposite—that he was to be the peacekeeper”.

TTC streetcars on Dundas at Yonge street

two men talking, one holding a large white banner with blue chinese writing on it.  Some English words, Heaven will soon eliminate the CCP, secret china .com and epoch times,

small group watching a street performer at yonge and dundas, one black man is holding a guitar, a woman with a phone, another man putting a coin into a can

four men standing on the sidewalk watching a street performer

sign on Comics Cafe, store now closed, with C in Cafe missing, a picture of superman

a woman in a red jacket stands in the doorway of a double decker tour bus as a man walks past

woman in short shorts and fuzzy brown slippers waits for a bus

man yelling in Japanese, wearing black outfit and a head band with large red dot on it, beside sign that says

people looking at comic books tht are lined up on a cloth on the sidewalk, for sale

man standing on sidewalk with dog on a leash, looking at his phone

a garbageman in orange t shirt and large black bag walks past intersection of Yonge and Dundas, cyclist waiting for the traffic light to change

two young women smiling as they watch street performer

a woman wearing a blue dress and a hat walks past a store window with many reflections

two men talking together, one has a long white beard and white hair

an older black man is sticking his hand in a fountain at Yonge and Dundas

May 2023 edition

woman sitting in a chair in an art gallery

below:  “In the Comfort of Embers” by Amartey Golding. Photography, video, objects, all in a darkened red space.

Amartey Golding installation at the Power Plant art gallery, red lights,

photograph on red wall, person helping to light a cigarette for man in a hoodie

below: “Drink from the River” by Brenda Draney – a collection of her paintings.

woman in an art gallery looking at some paintings

painting by Brenda Draney of two women at a table

below: A lime green webbed folding lawn chair on a red surface dominates this picture and overpowers the large negative space.

painting on a wall in a gallery, a man in white cap sitting beside a green lawn chair on a red table

below: “Decoded” by Joi T. Arcand.  The walls are covered by this blue and pink striped design.  Using the pink plastic hearts, one can look at the wall  and see things differently – can you find the words, can you decode the message?

pink heart shaped plastic beside a wall of blue and pink stripes

below: Black and white photographs by Anique Jordan both inside the gallery. “Glitches”, a woman on a bed holding two large chunks of watermelon.

black and white photo by Anique Jordan, woman sitting on a bed with half a watermelon, black and white

below:  … and on the exterior south wall.  “These Times 2019” by Anique Jordan

large black and white photograph on an exterior wall, black woman lying on bed with back to the camera, in white t shirt and black and white patterned shorts

two people sitting on a bench by the waterfront, beside boat with a lifeboat

Just outside the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery is Ontario Square.  There is another art installation there – Double Pendulum by Maggie Groat.  Photos of that display are in a previous blog post (Double Pendulum, 19 May)

There are now three large images on display at Ontario Square (on Queens Quay near the foot of York Street).   Collectively, they are  “Double Pendulum” by Maggie Groat who has constructed them as wheatpaste collages.  They are part of this year’s CONTACT Photography Festival.

Cubic concrete structure at Ontario Square, two sides visible, each with a large image by Maggie Groat, part of Double Pendulum

below: Butterflies constructed from other shapes and objects. Does this show the interconnectedness of all things, as in the “Butterfly Effect”?

abstract image by Maggie Groat with sections of things put together to make butterfly shapes,

large image by Maggie Groat, abstract with a lot of semi circles and yellow daisies