Posts Tagged ‘parking lot’

bus stop and shelter on Don Mills Road at Wynford, Crosstown construction and high rises in the background

I’ve been keeping an eye on the old IBM building at the corner of Don Mills and Eglinton. It was built in 1951 as IBM’s Canadian manufacturing plant and head office.

It’s been empty for a long time but recently work has begun on the site.

east side of old IBM building at Don Mills and Eglinton, low rise yellow brick, horizontal windows, empty and ready for demolition

The IBM complex sits on 60 acres and the whole site will be redeveloped in the coming months.  The white tower in the background is also on the site, right beside the CPR tracks that mark the northern boundary.

piles of metal from demolition of building

below: A Canada goose struts near one of the entrances to the old IBM building that is being demolished.

solitary Canada goose walking on the grass beside the parking lot for old IBM building, demolition of one of the entrances in the background

an entrance to the IBM building on Don Mills Road being demolished

below: 1954

an old black and white photo of the IBM building on Don Mills Road in 1954

photo credit – taken from ‘Urban Toronto’ online article about this development

below: Apparently the plan is to build a mix of residential and commercial buildings on the site ranging from 3 to 44 storeys.  A new community centre and park are also included in the planned Crosstown Community.

corner of Don Mills and Eglinton during Crosstown construction, IBM building in the background

In terms of construction and development, this intersection is very busy as it is also the location of the future Science Centre LRT station.  It has been a mess for so long that I can’t remember how long it’s been.  There are  signs of progress starting to emerge from the chaos so perhaps there is hope for a 2021 opening of the Crosstown LRT.

below: The new bus bays on the northeast corner are starting to take shape.

west end of the new bus bays at Eglinton and Don Mills, under construction, glass walls and roof

below: More of the NE corner.

vacant lot on Eglinton Ave by Great Canadian Superstore at Don Mills, edge of Crosstown construction site

concrete barriers being stored on a vacant lot, one ornage and white cone too

below: Looking across Eglinton towards the Mormon church and other buildings on the south east corner.

construction on Eglinton at Don Mills, Mormon church in the picture - Church of Latter Day Saints

below: A sign of the times.  Covid-19 dos and don’ts.

signs re covid-19 on a green fence around a construction site

below: New tracks being laid where the LRT comes back to the surface east of Don Mills Road (looking east towards the DVP).  The Science Centre station is underground even though the tracks on both the east and west side are above ground.

construction of the Crosstown l r t, tracks being laid on the above ground portion of the line, near Eglinton.

below: From the NE corner (black building is/was the Ontario Federation of Labour) looking south.  All buildings are on the east side of Don Mills Road.

from the northeast corner of Don Mills and Eglinton looking to the south east corner, Foresters building, another older office building and two newer condos.

below: A sidewalk, temporary, lined with cones, along Eglinton.

line of orange and black traffic cones on both sides of the sidewalk along Eglinton through Crosstown construction zone

There are other buildings being torn down.  The building in the background is 1200 Eglinton Ave East.  It was an office building with a parking structure beside it.   This is the view from Wynford Drive.

two concrete buildings from the 1970s or 1980s, one behind has started to be demolished, a parking lot and large tree between the buildings

The same building a few days later when I went back to check on the demolition’s progress.  The parking structure is now just piles of rubble and more of the exterior walls of the other building are gone.

green machery demolishing a parking structure that is now just piles of rubble, beside another building that is partially demolished

lower levels of a building that has been partially demolished, all the exterior walls have been removed, leaving just the interior walls

below: The large, almost empty, parking lot behind the Bell building on Wynford.

large yellow arrow painted on the surface of a large parking lot, only a few cars

below: With a few exceptions, most of the buildings around Wynford are products of the 1960s and 1970s.

three storey white concrete building with the width of the floors increasing as you go upwards

low one storey building with two large windows with blinds closed, no cars in parking lot

two trees in front of a concrete building with lots of narrow vertical windows

a red brick one storey light industrial building

below: Another empty parking lot.  This picture was taken on a Saturday afternoon which might explain the lack of cars but as I drive around the city I see lots of empty parking lots even during the work week.   A sign of the times.

bent metal pipes as a railing, painted in yellow and black, empty parking lot beyond with a couple a buildings in the background

below: Looking across the Don Valley Parkway

tree silhouette (no leaves) in front of a glass building that is reflecting the blue of the sky

below: CPR tracks behind Wynford.

graffiti, tags, along the concrete embankment beside the CPR tracks, apartment buldings can be seen over the wall

below: Rusty metal spirals, tightly wound, found amongst the gravel along the train tracks.

a pile of rusted spiral pieces of metal formed from drilling into the sides of railway tracks, lying in the gravel beside the tracks

a set of three railway lights at 2042-1 pole, lights are arranged vertically, one on top of the other

edge of parking lot that it empty, with railway tracks behind, a wall with graffiti, and an apartment building in the background

below: Looking east along the tracks just before they cross the DVP.   If you follow the tracks, they lead you to the CPR marshaling yard at McCowan and Sheppard.   So, that’s where I went next…. (scroll down!)

a lone chair sitting in the grass beside the railway tracks, shrubs behind the chair, early spring, no leaves on the shrubs

along the railway tracks, shrubs, and an old wood utility pole with glass knobs

One part of the city that has changed immensely over the past few years is the area near Spadina and Front streets.  I was in the area last night and had a few moments to spare so I thought that I would take a look at what’s there now.

below: Waiting for the 510 streetcar

back end of a new TTC streetcar, at a stop on Spadina, people waiting, a man is on his phone as he waits, condo behind

below: Looking south on Spadina approaching Front Street.

looking south on Spadina near Front, streetcar stop and shelters in the middle of Spadina, some people waiting for streetcars, 2 small trees, tall condos in the background

below: Many cranes working at the site of the old Globe & Mail buildings on the north side of Front Street, just west of Spadina.

3 cranes at construction site on Front Street where Globe and Mail used to be

below: Intersection of Spadina & Front, looking southwest

looking southwest at intersection of Spadina and Front, condos

below: Looking west from Spadina as it crosses the railway tracks.

yellow metal pedestrian bridge over the railway tracks, looking from Spadina bridge, condos in the background, lots of tracks, no train

below: City Place, south of the tracks.  Red sculpture is ‘Flower Power’ by Mark di Savero.

red sculpture in front of condo buildings

below: On the south side of the railway tracks, east side of Spadina, part of Northern Linear Park.

trees in a small park along the side of the railway tracks, condos behind

below: There is still a parking lot on the northeast corner of this intersection. This image is the view across the parking lot to City Place.

looking across parking lot at north east corner of Spadina and Front towards the traffic and lights at the intersection, billboard, people

below: Reflections in the clear and green glass of a new building on Front Street, just east of Spadina

reflections in clear and green glass

below: Waiting for the light to change

a young man sits on his bike and checks his phone while waiting at an intersection for the traffic lights to change

below: And once we started walking across the intersection, I loved how her skirt moved as she walked.

a woman's long red skirt moves as she walks across the street

a food truck

July is still hot and still humid.  Not complaining though – it’s just part of my excuse as to why I haven’t posted much recently.  Yesterday morning I managed to get myself out the door around 7:30 so I could walk comfortably – without drowning in sweat.

below: Getting ready to walk.

looking out the window of a Starbucks, backwards writing on the window, a dog tied to a tree, a bike,

I followed the morning light but still trying to stay away from places that are too familiar.   The following pictures are in no particular order.

below: With hands on hips, in an alley near Queen & John.

a woman walks down an alley, away from the camera, metal fire escape staircase is above her, brick buildings beside her

below: Vincent Van Gogh has taken up a position on Dundas Street across from the AGO.  This 8′ x 8′ sculpture sits in front of the Mayberry Fine Art gallery.  It is the work of Saskatchewan artist Joe Fafard who recently had an exhibit at that gallery. Fafard has other works in the city – he is the artist that produced “The Pasture” which is the seven life-sized bronze cows outside TD Centre.  I don’t have a photo of the cows for this blog post, but if you don’t know the piece (or want to see it again), here is a link to an article about them.

large square blue and yellow artwork that looks like the face of Vincent Van Gogh in front of a building with pillars and front steps. A young woman is walking by

below: A large flower in an alley doorway.

painting of a large flower on a door in an alley

below: Beside the flower is a black and blue butterfly.

spray paint street art mural of a blue and black butterfly

below: A heart bursting with colour on Cayley Lane.

garage and garage door painted in mural with a red heart in the center, surrounded by pink, purple and blue triangles

below: Black face, white face. What emoji face are these?

graffiti on wall and on wood pole, both are faces with mouth and two round eyes

below: Harriet Boulton Smith is the ceremonial name for the section of John Street between Queen Street West and Stephanie Street.  Harriet Smith was the last owner of “The Grange” and Grange Park.  When she died in 1910, she left her home and seven acres of land to the Art Museum of Toronto (AMT).  The site is now the home of the Art Gallery of Ontario.  She also bequeathed the family art collection to the AMT.    This section of John Street was once the driveway to the Grange.

Toronto street sign for John Street, also called Harriet Boulton Smith Way

below: He lost his head in the lane.

a headless cardboard cut out of a Toronto Blue Jay baseball player, in a doorway, in a lane.

below: Taking the bathroom stall with him.  The toilet paper holder is empty though.

a man carries a metal divider from a bathroom, with toilet paper roll holder still attached, carrying it on his shoulder

below: One of my favorite windows.  Sunday was the day of the French vs Croatia soccer/football World Cup game and there was a group of France supporters gathering on Peter Street to watch the game.  Apparently the party after the game, celebrating France’s victory, spilled out onto the street afterwards but unfortunately I missed it.

the window of Nickys coffee shop, on red brick wall, with two women walking past, both are carrying French flags

below: Old rusty metal barrels and butterflies.

a tree grows behind old rusty metal barrels and a wall painted blue with little butterflies painted on it.

below: The ice cream “mane” is still there.  I frequently walk down an alley and wonder if I’ve ever been this way before… and then I spot an old friend and recognize where I am.  That was the case when I spotted the ice cream guy (mane?  why mane?).  I think he dates from 2014.

street art painting in a laneway of a man in white uniform and hat, holding popsicle in one hand and ice cream cone in the other, words say ice cream mane

below: Same alley as the ice cream man, perhaps the same vintage originally?  The white swirls and the ‘love’ came after I think.

old street art, paint fading, of a blue man's face, and the word love

below: 24 hour public parking on the large sign, private parking on the small pink one but no one’s parking there anyhow.

parking lot, white wall behind, parking lot attendant booth covered in signs, 24 hour public parking, private parking,

below: Pasteups on plywood hoardings.  A love love love lovebot and a blessed urban ninja squadron amongst others.

paste ups on plywood hoardings,

below: Reflections

reflections of City TV building in a puddle

below: Large mural behind Queen Street West (south side) featuring queens of different sorts – cards, chess and people at the minimum.  “Queen Street West” designed and painted by Christiano De Araujo near the end of 2017.

large mural on the side of a building in an alley, theme is Queen Street west, queen of hearts heart, musicians,

below: Looking south on Soho Street towards Queen.  On the right is the new Mountain Equipment Coop store under construction.

looking down street towards Queen Street West

below: Street art in the greenery

street art in an alley

below: Lines. Electrical lines.  Horizontal lines of the stairs.  Vertical lines of the buildings.

metal staircase on upper level, street lights, electrical wires,

below: The next two photos are of a large mural on the back of a new building.  The first picture shows the figures on the right hand side of the mural.  Figures in action.

below: The Umbra building is clad with vertical lines made from a material that takes on different colours depending on the light.

building, umbra store, vertical lines on exterior of a material that changes colour depending on the light

below: Who is she?

below: Bent metal bracket

bent metal bracket on a white (painted) wood utility pool

Today, Monday, the sky looks stormy.  Perhaps a good thunderstorm will take away the humidity.  Whatever the weather, I’ll be back soon!

I happened across this mural on Church Street the other day.

a long horizontal mural across the bottom of two buildings beside a parking lot in downtown Toronto, the Dream Chaser

It is called ‘The Dream Chaser’ and it was painted in 2016 as a Wallnoize project.

below: Be creative….

left side of dream chaser mural

middle section of dream chaser mural

one end of a colourful mural with many shapes and colours, with the title of the mural, The Dream Chaser

below: With a big thanks to…..

signatures and notes of thanks to all those who helped create the Dream Chaser mural as part of wallnoize project

If you stand with your back to the Dream Chaser mural, you can see this one on the other side of the parking lot.  It was also painted in 2016.  I think that the text/tag on the right is Vista but I am not sure about the one on the left.

a mural across the bottom of a red brick building, beside a parking lot, eyeball in the middle, a tag on either side, the one on the right is probably vista

big eyeball painted in the midlle of a mural

On Beatrice Street just south of College there is a small parking lot.  The walls of the buildings on the north and east sides have been painted with a large mural called ‘A Stroll by Garrison Creek’ .

below: On the east side of the parking lot is a painting that represents Emily Bickford and her two daughters, Beatrice and Grace.  The street that the parking lot is on was named for Beatrice Bickford.  The next street parallel to Beatrice is Grace, named for Grace Bickford.   You might recognize the name Bickford if you are familiar with the area – Bickford Park is just south of Christie Pits.  Emily Bickford was responsible for donating some of her family’s land to the city to be used for parkland.

mural on the side of a brick building. Large. Three woman walking through long grass and chasing butterflies. A Stroll along Garrison Creek. Representing Emily Bickford and her daughters Beatrice and Grace.

below: You may have spotted the words Spud Bomb in the picture below.  Also, you might recognize the shapes in the dress that she wears as being similar to shapes seen in a lot of street art in Toronto.  They are the work of Pascal Paquette.  Both Paquette and Spud1 collaborated on this mural along with artist Artchild.

part of a larger mural, a young woman with her back to the viewer, walking through long grass

below: A large chickadee dominates the mural on the north side of the parking lot.

large mural of a chickadee, flowers, and butterflies

This mural was a StreetARToronto (StART) project, with help from VIBE Arts and the Toronto Parking Authority.   It was completed a couple of months ago, September 2016.

 

a monarch butterfly in a mural along with many pink and purple flowers

part of a larger mural, geometric and abstract shapes in many colours.

 

Updated 2 September

The latest StreetARToronto (StART) summer project has just wrapped up.  Seven new murals around Broadview and Gerrard East, each one depicting a famous landmark, make up this project which is now called ‘Around the World in East Chinatown’.  Although it was largely funded and organized by StART, other partners include the Toronto Parking Authority, 55 Division police, and the Chinese Chamber of Commerce (East Toronto).

A crew of more than 20 artists headed by Mike Kennedy worked for about 2 weeks to complete the murals.  Each mural includes the ‘signature’ of the artists.  I am not very good are deciphering (or remembering) the graffiti writing but I’ve had some help identifying the artists.

below: Christ the Redeemer now watches over Gerrard East.  Painted by bacon.  This is the statue built high on a hill overlooking Rio de Janeiro.  If you watched any coverage of this summer’s Olympics you probably saw this statue from every possible angle.   The statue was designed by a Frenchman, Paul Landowski and built by a  Brazilian engineer, Heitor da Silva Costa, between 1922 and 1931.   Made of soapstone and reinforced concrete the statue stands 30m tall and has an arm span of 28m.  He stands on an 8m high pedestal.

a mural of the famous Rio de Janeiro statue, Christ the Redeemer, high on a brick wall, with background in sky blue and yellow

below: Putting the finishing touches on The Great Wall of China, a collaborative effort by Nick Sweetman, Wuns, Rons, Tens, Braes and Wales.   The actual wall was built in sections over many centuries and includes walls, trenches and natural elements such as hills and rivers.  Parts of the wall are in better repair than others – around Beijing where more tourists visit, the wall has been fixed up and is well maintained.  Measurement of the wall varies but if all the branches of the wall are taken into consideration, the total length is about 21,000 km.

a yellow cart with cans of spray paint on it sits in front of a mural of the great wall of China

below: A hummingbird flies over Machu Picchu in the next mural.   Machu Picchu was built by the Incas in the 15th century in what is now Peru.  It is on a mountain ridge, 2430m above sea level.

full mural of Machu Picchu along he wall of a building at the edge of a parking lot, scene of Machu Picchu with a humming bird in the foreground.

below: Machu Picchu.  Painted by Bacon, Kwest, Kane and Rath.

a mural with a panoramic scene of Machu Picchu, with graffiti writing signatues below.

below: In the same parking lot as Machu Picchu but on the other side, is a very large mural centered around an image of the Taj Mahal.  Painted by Sight, Hone, Water, Equal and Tenser.

a laong horizontal mural featuring an image of the Taj Mahal.

below: Commissioned in 1632 by the Mogul Emperor, Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahal was built as a mausoleum for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal.  She was born Arjumand Banu Begum, a daughter of Persian nobility in Agra India.  In 1613, when she was 19, she married Prince Khurram (later he became Shah Jahan) as his 3rd or 4th wife.    She died in June of 1631 while giving birth to their 14th child.   If my math is correct, that’s 14 children in 18 years.   After the Shah died in 1666, he was buried here too.  Anyhow, many centuries later, the Taj Mahal is still standing in Agra India and it is visited by millions every year.

An image of the Taj Mahal in a mural in warm muted orange and brown tones, with a graffiti writing signature underneath it. On a wall in a parking lot.

below: Teeny tiny people dwarfed by the doors of Petra, Jordan.  Petra is an ancient city with immense buildings cut out of the sandstone cliffs and hills.  It was once a thriving trading center and the capital of the Nabataean empire between 400 B.C. and A.D. 106 when it was called Raqmu.  The Nabateans were a nomadic Arab tribe.  Their empire came to an end when they were conquered by the Romans and their land annexed into the Roman Empire.

mural showing entrance in the stone cliffs to Petra in Jordan, camel head in the bottom left corner, mural on the side of a store, brick wall,

below: The whole Petra mural on the walls of an alley tucked in between the Ka Ka Lucky Seafood BBQ Restaurant and Paradise Spa on Broadview Avenue.  This mural was painted by Hemps.

Chinese restaurant, Ka Ka Lucky Barbeue Restaurant, with an alley on one side. On the wall in the alley there is a mural showing the stone town of Petra Jordan.

below: The Roman Coliseum (Rome) is now on the corner of Broadview and Gerrard.  This is half of the mural and when the photo was taken it was incomplete.  It is now finished – a second visit for a photo is in my future!  The Coliseum (or Colosseum) is in Rome and it was built by 80 A.D, just before the Roman Empire swallowed up the Nabateans.   It was built as an amphitheatre and could hold at least 50,000 spectators – people who came to watch gladiator fights, enactments of classical dramas, or other forms of entertainment.

A mural showing the Coliseum in Rome painted on the side of Chino Locos Mexican restautant.

below: The right hand side of the mural with the graffiti writing signature of the artist. If I could only easily photoshop out that garbage bin.  Mural painted by Sewp, Poser and Frens.

graffiti writing signature on a wall, dripping blue paint, and a garbage bin in front of it.

below: Chichen Itza ruins in Yucatan Mexico and a jaguar on the side of the Sunshine Hair Studio, partially obscured by greenery.  Painted by Cruz, Rons, Sadar and  Rcade.  Chichen Itza was the largest Mayan city covering about 5 square km.  It flourished between 900 and 1050.   The mural depicts El Castillo, or the Temple of Kukulcan, the building at the center of Chichen Itza that dominates the site.

mural on the side of building on Gerrard East, a picture of an ancient stone temple, Chichen Itza in Yucatan Mexico.

And that concludes the seven new murals – Christ the Redeemer statue, The Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, Taj Mahal, Petra, the Roman Coliseum, and Chichen Itza.

This mural project follows the success of last year’s Project Picasso in the same area.   Graffiti from some of the lanes was cleaned up and a Chinese themed mural was painted on the brick wall at the back of the parking lot on Gerrard Street East, just west of Broadview Avenue.  Riverdale Collegiate students helped with the graffiti clean up and contributed ideas for the mural.

below: Chinatown East mural by ACK crew, bacon, wunder, tensoe 2, and cruz1

large mural across the side of a building at the back of a parking lot, Chinese characters and icons, panda bear, tiger, bamboo forest, lucky cat, chinese lantern, dragon

below: Chinese icons painted in the mural – a resting tiger, cherry blossoms,  red Chinese lanterns floating by, a lucky cat with its paws up,  and a panda munching on a piece of bamboo.

 

part of a mural in Chinatown East, pink cherry blossoms, red chinese lantern, panda chewing on bamboo, tiger, lucky cat

below: A red dragon beside some Chinese characters.  Does anyone know what it says?

part of a mural in Chinatown East, chinese characters and a red dragon

 

 

Well, not really Camden Street, but an alley that runs perpendicular to the street….  If the lane has a name I don’t know what it is.  Google maps doesn’t even include it.  It’s a very short alley that runs both north and south from Camden street and it doesn’t go anywhere.  Both sections were painted with murals 9 or 10 years ago.   Amazingly, they have survived.

Let’s start with the south side of Camden Street.

below: Mural Project, “The walls won’t know what hit them”.  The mural was painted in 2006 youth from the   Harbourfront and Cecil Community Centres as part of the City of Toronto’s Graffiti Transformation Project.

part of a mural in an alley, yellow background, blue pistol with the word mural in large red capital letters, flag at the end of the barrel that says , white hand holding the grip with finger on the trigger.
below: The mural is painted in a quasi cartoon style.

blog_art_or_vandalism_mural

below: She’s upset and she’s expressing her hurt and anger with spray paint seems to be the start of the story.

part of a mural in an alley, a woman with bright yellow hair is spray paint out of a can with a word bubble that says "He crossed me first"

below: My knowledge of slang is limited, and this is 10 years old but this sheezy is cool.  It’s probably as simple as “this sure is cool”, i.e. spray painting graffiti is cool.

This seezy is off the heezy are the words in a word bubble coming out of the mouth of a man painted in a mural, short black hair, wearing a red shirt, and spraying a can of pink spray paint,

below: Oh no! I always laugh when I hear this expression these days… is there anywhere in Toronto where property values are going down? Okay, okay, so it’s part of the story – she’s complaining that someone has sprayed graffiti somewhere nearby, the vandalism part of the story.   The angry young woman or the “sheezy heezy” guy above have been busy in her neighbourhood.

street art, picture of woman with orange hair, wearing white gloves, hands on sides of head, words saying "On no, my property value went down"

below:  As you can see, a couple of things were in the way as I was taking pictures.   I am not sure exactly how the plot of the mural progresses from here because I couldn’t see the whole thing.  There are gaps in the story line.   A few missing pages so to speak.

looking down one wall of an alley, a mural is painted on it, in the foreground is a woman in profile (she's looking down the lane), very yellow hair. Two cars are parked in front of the mural

below: Flesh tones as dots in the face of woman who plays an unknown role in this story – the mystery woman?

part of a woman's face, painted in dots, bright red lipstick, brown hair, looking at the viewer

below:  I suspect that this is the “We’ve got to get rid of the graffiti” part of the story.  Is it improper to make comments about Rob Ford and his anti-graffiti program here?  I don’t want to insult the mural or the project behind it because I think that the Graffiti Transformation Project is an excellent program.

scene in a mural, a football helmet wearing head, with words I wish my school had an art program, also two men talking about how it's time to take out the trash

below:  If there was a mural on the other side of the alley, it’s long gone.

a red car is backed into an alley, and is parked there, along the wall beside the car is a lot of graffiti spray painted and written on the wall. There is a stair case in the back part of the wall.

A short walk across Camden Street to the other half of the alley….

below: You can see the taller buildings on Richmond Street West but you can’t get there from here.
And like most downtown alleys, garbage bins are a dominant feature.

looking down a dead end alley, lots of blue rubbish bins that are slightly overflowing, tall buildings on either side. The back of a two stroey building straight ahead with taller buildings behind

below: At the entrance to the alley.  There are words under the window by the sunflowers that say that this painting is also the work of the Harbourfront/Cecil Community Centre’s Graffiti Transformation Project, 2007.

wall of an alley with a long window with worn painting around it of flowers and sunflowers

below: A very low window with green arrows

a low window, close to the ground, with a green arrow painted around it.

orange geometric street art, with the words 'stay alive' written in orange beside it

two old windows with rusted and bent metal grille on the windows, a street art painting of a woman in profile with eyes closed is between the windows, White hair

below: And last, I’ll end with a weather comment because we’ve all been talking (complaining?) about it these days – someone’s a bit overdressed for this August weather although it doesn’t seem to bother him.  Maybe he knows something we don’t.   Or maybe it’s just wishful thinking.

street art on a grey brick wall, head of a young man in a fur lined hood of a parka

Stay cool!

This is another post about an exhibit from the CONTACT Photography Festival.   I know that it’s now June and CONTACT was in May, but I wanted to post these photos.  I actually took them early in May as you can probably tell by how many clothes the people in the pictures are wearing.  They’re certainly not dressed for the warmer weather we’ve been having lately.  I have had trouble deciding what to write in this post.

There is a parking lot at the NE corner of Front and Spadina with some billboards in it.   Maybe you saw them as you drove or walked past but maybe you passed by and missed them.   There are so many things on the street vying for our attention and a billboard is just another piece of street ‘furniture’.

For the month of May, an installation titled ‘What it Means to be Beautiful’  by Mickalene Thomas occupied a number of billboard spaces at the above mentioned corner.   All the images are portraits of women and are “shown within the context of street advertising, where women are constantly bombarded with narrow notions of female beauty.”   A sample of the billboards:

 

part of an art installation, portrait of a black woman in profile, with a shaved head, on a billboard, by Mickalene Thomas, in a parking lot in downtown Toronto

part of an art installation, portrait of a black woman wearing a blue hat on a billboard, by Mickalene Thomas, in a parking lot in downtown Toronto. A woman stands on the corner talking on her phone. Another, large, billboard is in the background.

Two women walk past part of an art installation, portrait of a black woman on a billboard, by Mickalene Thomas, in a parking lot in downtown Toronto

Two portraits of black women, in a billboard space in a parking lot, with people waiting for a streetcar in glass bus shelters in the background.

part of an art installation, portrait of a black woman on a billboard, by Mickalene Thomas, in a parking lot in downtown Toronto, A group of people wait for a green light at the intersection in the background, tall condos too.

Part of the reason that I hesitated to write this post was the fact that the iphone 6 ad campaign was on at the same time.  It was a campaign that used photos taken with the phone and the ads were very visual and used very few words. In my opinion, they are more eye catching and visually appealing than Thomas’s work. I found a few of them to show here (below).  I know that there were many more but unless I was consciously looking for ads, I didn’t notice them as billboards are one of the things that I block out as I walk.  That led to a few thoughts about what catches a viewer’s attention on the street –   Faces?  Colours?  Contrast?

There is more going on in Thomas’s photos and collages than just visual appeal but I still question the validity of asking the viewer to look at them in the context of street advertising.   Is it fair to compare her images to ads produced by, and in aid of, a large corporation?   Would it have been better to  exhibit her work in different form or a different place?  I don’t have the answers for those questions.  Do you?

 

iphone ad on a bus stop wall showing a woman in a field

iphone 6 ad on a bus stop wall of a woman lying in a field of pumpkins. Her head is surrounded by pumpkins.

an iphone ad on a bus stop wall of a man lying on the ground. He is upside down in the picture

And now I will go back to ignoring billboards as I walk.

Toronto’s newest street sign

A blue and white Toronto street sign that says Reggae Lane. Some stores and a tree are in the background.

Reggae Lane is a small lane on the south side of Eglinton West, between Marlee and Oakwood.
It is home to a new mural that celebrates the many reggae musicians from Toronto.

below: A Heritage Toronto plaque marks the spot.  It tells the story of Jamaican immigration and the reggae music they brought to Canada with them.   A transcription of the plaque appears at the bottom of this post.

plaque with the title "Toronto's Reggae Roots" with three photos as well as a story of Jamaican immigrants to Toronto and the story of reggae music in Toronto

 

The mural was painted over the course of three weeks by Adrian Hayles with the help of some young painters.

below:  Appearing in the mural: Reggae musicians from Toronto – Pluggy Satchmo, Bernie Pitters, Leroy Sibbles, Lord Tanamo, Jay Douglas, Stranger Cole, Johnny Osbourne, Jojo Bennett, Nana McLean, Jackie Mittoo, Leroy Brown, Otis Gayle, Joe Isaacs, and Carol Brown.   Bob Marley is also in the mural as are the Skatalites, one of the groups that started it all; they began recording ska music in the mid 1960s.

View of a 1200 square foot mural by Adrian Hayles that depicts many different reggae musicians. This photo was taken from the second floor of the building next door so the camera is looking down across the parking lot towards the mural. Eglinton Avenue is seen behind the mural.

below: “Reggae, The King’s Music” is a reference to Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia (1930-1974) who was born Tafari Makonnen.   Before becoming emperor, he was known as Ras Tafari where Ras means Duke or Prince (depending on the translation).  Hence the name Rastafari.   The Rastafari movement began in Jamaica after the coronation of Haile Selassie.  To them, Selassie was not just a black king, he was the messiah.

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians -

Although it didn’t become a musical genre until the 1960s, reggae also has it’s roots in Jamaica. Reggae and Rasta have become closely linked.   Reggae has spread the Rasta message and Rastafari musicians like Bob Marley have popularized reggae music.

below: The radio station CFRB once had a Sunday evening reggae program.

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians - A large hand with a finger pointing to the right with the letters C F R B above it. Two musicians are also in the picture.

below: The Lion of Juda is a Rastafarian symbol.  It comes from the fact that as Emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Sealssie’s full title was “King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the tribe of Judah”.  The lion also appears in the middle of the Ethiopian flag.

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians - a black man in a green hat, a lion's face and the words, Adrian Hayles production

Part of a very colourful mural depicting various reggae musicians - A man wearing headphones and a baseball cap is playing a guitar.

plaque: “Toronto’s Reggae Roots

In the 1970s and 1980s, an estimated 100,000 Jamaicans immigrated to Canada. Many settled in Toronto on Eglinton Avenue West, between Oakwood Avenue and Allen Road, in “Little Jamaica”, which became the centre of one of the largest Jamaican expatriate communities in the world.
Among these immigrants were popular reggae artists who brought their music to Toronto. Reggae record stores and recording studios began opening up in this neighbourhood. Leroy Sibbles (the influential bass guitar player and lead vocalist of The Heptones), Jackie Mittoo, The Cougars, Ernie Smith, Johnny Osborne, and Stranger Cole all performed and recorded in Toronto during this period. Despite the rich talent in and around Little Jamaica, early Canadian reggae struggled to find mass appeal. However, later generations of Toronto reggae artists achieved mainstream success, including Juno Award winners Lillian Allen, Messenjah, and the Sattalites.”

 

The project was funded by the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program, with support from Metrolinx, Councillor Josh Colle’s office, the Macaulay Centre for Child and Youth Development, the Toronto Parking Authority and the York-Eglinton BIA.  It was also supported by the STEPS Initiative.

Piliriqatigiingniq

This mural is on the south wall of Hosteling International on Church St.,
and in a parking lot on Court St.,
just north of King St. East and across from St. James Cathedral.

Painted July 2015

The beginnings of the mural on Court St. in Toronto.  The picture is drawn in blue on the wall, and the bottom part is painted.  Scaffolding is in place but no one is there at that moment.

This project was a collaboration between Mural Routes and the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association.  Artists were youth from Cape Dorset as well as graduates from Toronto’s Oasis Skateboard Factory: Latch Akesuk, Audi Qinnuayuaq, Cie Taqiasuq, Parr Etidloie, Julieta Arias and Moises Frank.

Two people sitting on scaffolding while they paint a mural

A man wearing a hard hat who is sitting on scaffolding and painting a mural on the side of a building.

Completed mural of stylized and symbolic bird and snimal shapes in many bright colours.  It is at least two storeys high.
Close up picture of the mural's bottom center part showing a man in winter clothing with a snowmobile strapped to his back.  He is hunched over as he walks.  On the snowmobile of a very large bird shaped crature with faces covering its body.