Bread & Bunnies & a Red-Jawed Alien

8 January 2014 — There’s always more, but let’s start with the bread. Which itself has a whole lot more to it than I thought.

I thought it was just a very colourful, very unexpected, quite loony wall with graffiti leaping about and a demure bread company logo in the middle of it all. Quite sufficiently interesting and odd, all by itself.

Ontario Bread Company back wall

Then I searched online and discovered the back-story. The company was founded in 1933 by Polish immigrants, was the largest Polish bakery in all Canada, ran very happily from its little lane off Ossington (south of Dundas) and then… went out of business. Except it was purchased by Jaswoj Bakery, also of Polish origins, which has now incorporated the Ontario Bread name into its own. There are some wonderful other online tributes to its history, including a video, and I give the links in CLICK!! below.

So here I am again, just north of the garage-art alley I wrote about as the Humbert-Queen Art Collection, discovering that had I kept exploring that other snowy day, I could have fallen into yet another tangle of alleys and images.

Just around the corner from that first photo, along another side of the same building, more and more art.

Ontario Bread Co wall, No Dumping!

Don’t you love it? I don’t just mean the artwork, I also mean the “No Dumping” sign — which, please note, is being scrupulously respected. Not one scrap of litter. Good thing there’s no “No Graffiti” sign!

I realize I’m beginning to look at the streetscapes as much as I do at the art. That same mural, for example, ends on the right in a highly stylized candle and butterfly. I enjoy them — but mostly I enjoy their juxtaposition with the cross-alley and garage beyond. It’s a kind of visual call-&-response.

detail, Ontario Bread Co wall mural

Opposite that wall,  more graffiti, this time signed “Manitoba’s Finest.” Well, that’s the part of the signature, the tag, that I can read. Most of it I don’t know how to decipher. Anyway, hello to Manitoba.

I am so happy when this little bird pops into view, even though he’s on a battered piece of board. I call him my Picasso Bird, for his simple flowing lines.

"Picasso Bird"

I first saw this design on a rusty-orange metal wall near the Gladstone Hotel on Queen St. West. I loved it. The white lines of the bird stood out so beautifully on the metal, I thought somebody should excise the rectangle and hang it in a gallery. Somebody else clearly disagreed with my opinion — when next I looked, the bird had been very roughly scratched off. Boo! (As I write this, I smile at my photo of that original Queen St. image.)

So thank you, Picasso Bird. I’m glad you’re back.

Up onto Dundas West, start heading eastward a bit… and another favourite image reappears.

ANSER faces on Dundas W, between Ossington & Bathurst

The unmistakable ANSER face, this time twined into two faces. Unlike Picasso Bird, this image is frequently on view. But I always like to see it again. (Here, I quite like the grey and green wheelies, as counterpoint.)

I wander into another tangle of alleys, just S/E of Bathurst and College, and have myself three surprises in a row.

First, nobody expects a pink elephant — I mean, not literally. Not when you’ve only had coffee. But there he is.

alley off College & Bathurst

Any more than you’d expect great jagged graffiti script with a lace curtain for backstop. But there it is.

alley off Bathurst & College

I dodge around the corner into the cross-alley, and totally do not expect, could not possibly have expected, this face. But there she is.

alley off College & Bathurst

Quite, quite marvellous. Haunting. What a focal point for that whole alley streetscape!

Next up, the promised bunnies. I’m back on College, just a wee bit east of Bathurst, north side. I see bunnies! Hard to miss, you will think quietly to yourself, as you glance downward at the photo.

Ah, but here’s the you-might-miss-it challenge: spot the door and count the mailboxes.

Croft St. at College, work by POSER

These bunnies get around, let me tell you, and whenever I see them, I remember my first sighting. I was practising for the Iceland trek, and decided to practice scree-climbing by manoeuvring my way up the steep incline of loose rocks around a railway bridge trestle.

My reward (apart from not slipping and breaking my neck) was one of these loopy bunnies, which I saw painted on the metalwork when I finally got up to the trestle itself. I have therefore always called these guys “Scree Bunny,” but I now know they are the work of an artist whose street name is POSER.

After I count the mailboxes, I suddenly think that this is a familiar little lane. In fact, street. Croft Street. I spin around, and yes, I’m right. Smack opposite, the mural work I first saw over a year ago — long before these bunnies hopped into view.

The street gained this name in tribute to John Croft, the fireman who was the sole casualty in the great Toronto fire of April 1904. He was attempting to defuse a carelessly set explosive, when it blew up and killed him.

Croft St. mural tribute to fire of 1904

This fire is still the greatest that Toronto has ever experienced. Only one life lost (which is already one too many), but 104 buildings were destroyed. The blaze led to much tighter fire-code regulations for construction in the city.

Some final amusement as I head down Augusta Avenue toward Dundas. I see an anti-Walmart poster, tacked to a telephone pole at Baldwin St. Nothing too unusual about that, you might say (yawn, you might say) — but this is Kensington Market, and we’re not talking about some tatty little piece of paper, no sir.

Wal-Mart protest, in metal, August & Baldwin

Metal! The protest is carefully hand-scratched into a sheet of metal!

I’m still enjoying that when I reach Wales St. and stop to admire some Aliens and Gods. Their creator is Moses Kofi, who is good enough to put his website address on the lawn along with the sculptures, which is how I can later discover what they’re called.

bio-hybrid example of Aliens and Gods, by Moses Kofi

Each is catalogued on the website, and described. Lord Red-Jaws here belongs to the tribe of “true bio hybrids, engineered with wheels, they are designed for hunter-killer missions in urban centres … efficient deadly and non-discriminatory.”

Well. That’s all right, then! As long as they’re non-discriminatory.

CLICK!!

Leave a comment

17 Comments

  1. I’m just in awe of all you’re able to see while walking! You have great shots – although I’m still dizzy trying to count the mailboxes! We’re so spread out here, it’s mostly using a vehicle for me trying to spot great wall art. Thanks for another great art walk, literally! ~SueBee

    Reply
  2. Forest So Green

     /  9 January 2014

    Amazing wall art, are these all located in the same city? Annie

    Reply
    • Hi, and thanks. Yes, unless I say otherwise, every post is here in Toronto. A post typically, with words & images, brings readers an account of what I have seen and thought about while on one of my regular (2-3 times weekly) and fairly long (8-14 km) walks around the city. So all those photos are from the same walk, which is this case was localised in the west end of Toronto from around Queen St W & Ossington north to Dundas, east a bit on Dundas then north again to College, east again and south on Augusta to Dundas and eastwards back home.

      Reply
  3. Forest So Green

     /  9 January 2014

    Thanks for the info 🙂

    Reply
  4. Very enjoyable – it seems that the more they close galleries the more people resort to the open street gallery

    Reply
    • What an interesting observation. And what a great expression: “street galleries.” I think that concept is gaining strength, and “street gallery” is an excellent name for it.

      Reply
  5. It’s quite hot here in Melbourne today. People have been complaining that summer had not come but it is here now. Your photos made me feel cool just for a moment. I love your tours and I’m constantly amazed by all the talented people who exist in your world.
    Terry

    Reply
    • Thanks for the comment, Terry. That’s very generous of you, & I’m glad I could provide a bit of a psychological cool-down. Is there much street art in Melbourne? I didn’t get to M. when in Australia and regret it, though realize you can’t do everything. (It would be like trying to “do” Canada all in one go!) Enjoy your summer, may it be hot enough and cool enough, at all the right times.

      Reply
      • Melbourne has become a bit of a centre for street art, which beats the usual tagging, I guess.
        I’m not a summer person but I will do my best.
        My country is huge but I think yours is even larger. It would take a bit of time to see it all……… thank you for the glimpse.
        Terry

  6. What an amazing collection of art on display – and so democratically available to everyone. Thanks again for sharing a much needed colourful tour …great relief from this brutal winter.

    Reply
    • Thank you, and I guess we should all be thanking these artists. You’re the second person (see dianaed2013 in comments below) to position street art as a special but valuable form of public art — she talked about ‘the street gallery’ and you point out it’s art democratically available to everyone. All this adds another nuance to the vandalism vs art debate…

      Reply
  7. Your post makes me miss walking in Toronto so much. might have to bundle up an explore that great city one more time.

    Reply
  8. Mike

     /  25 February 2014

    Great location Penny, Ive wandered it more than once myself 😉 Im not sure if youve heard but Anser has his first gallery show in 6 years beginning this Thursday (February 27, 2014) at a place called Hashtag Gallery here in Toronto, be sure to look into if you havent already, their website is easy to find. That really cool piece in your post with the candle at the end says ‘Sight’…a Canadian artist who has been doing graffiti for 20 years!

    Reply

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  • WALKING… & SEEING

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