“P” is for Paint

15 July 2014 — Last post, Pavement & Parks, I noted that a third “P” snuck into the outing. As in, P-for-Paint.

Here’s how it happened. We’ve left Lee Valley  Tools, we’re back on King St. West, and we turn north on Portland St. to make our way back home, route undecided. Then I glance down an alley and … boom … we follow this guy.

in alley east from Portland St. n of King West

Beyond him we can see a cross-alley, this one N/S parallel to Portland, and that looks promising, so on we go. With an admiring side-glance for the bamboo grove somebody has created on the side of his garage.

garage in alley east from Portland ST

Now heading north again, in an alley jumping with paint and life. There’s Green Goggle Guy…

alley parallel to Portland

… and a portrait by Jarus (sorry, his is the only name I’m sure of) …

Jarus portrait, in alley parallel to Portland

,,, and a cheerful hit of what I think (but don’t quote me) is called ‘wildstyle’ where all I can really decipher is “Toronto” and “Yo Crews” …

in alley parallel to Portland St

… and then a brand new category of garage art.

3D, thank you very much, built in layers, and continuing across the inside of the sleek roll-up garage door. Tucked into all this art work, an equally sleek Bimmer.

3D garage art, alley parallel to Portland St

Next,  a birthday greeting. Birthday greetings are fairly common — but so are in memoriams. Each makes me pause for a moment, though with very different emotions. This time it’s a happy moment.

birthday greetings, street-art style

The alley leads us across Richmond St. West where, just for about half a block, it reverts to P-for-Parks.

Taken a bit loosely, I grant you, since really we’re entering the Alex Wilson Community Garden. It is dedicated to someone who packed a lot into just 40 years of life (1953-93): writer, teacher, landscape designer & ecologist. Also beloved of many, or this organic community garden, with its 40 small allotments, would not have been named in his honour. The plaque quotes Wilson, the quotation begins…

We must build landscapes that heal, connect and empower, that make intelligible our relations with each other and the natural world…

The plaque also bears a short Ojibway quote, so I am not surprised to see a raven watching over the Garden.

Alex Wilson Community Garden, 522 Richmond St West

And now look, look toward the rear left of this next image of the garden. Look between Phyllis (magenta shirt) and the white garden chair, and just beyond them. See? See the patch of pink & turquoise framed by shrubs?

looking north, in Alex Wilson Community Garden

After we walk slowly, gently, through the Garden, we emerge into more P-for-Paint.

Oh, yes indeed!

into Graffiti Alley

And we laugh, because — though we hadn’t anticipated it — we know immediately where we are. Graffiti Alley!

Yes yes, Toronto’s renowned Graffiti Alley that runs between Portland & Spadina just south of Queen West; the alley I often call Rant Alley since CBC-TV’s Rick Mercer films his weekly rants in here; the alley I last visited in winter snow & ice. Here we are.

We follow the alley east toward Spadina, crossing Augusta St. where even rental cars get in on the act.

rental car, Graffiti Alley & Augusta

Last visit, slithering around on melt-slick ice hummocks; this time strolling along, admiring the gentle touch of blossom-heavy vines on every ledge …

summer in Graffiti Alley

Most of what’s here is familiar to me. I squeak with delight at some particular old faves, including this detail from a larger mural of nostalgic (or ironic) tributes.

detail, Graffiti Alley mural

And then we’re at Spadina, back on serious city pavement. Corner of Queen West, the elegant Victorian turret I admire anew every time I see it …

S/E corner, Spadina & Queen West

… curiously echoed by a contemporary turret we notice soon afterward, not on Queen West but visible from it.

towers seen from Queen W near Spadina

And one final delight on Queen St. West, a last hit of Paint.

I chortle at the sight. I fell in love with this guy’s style some 9 months ago, the minute I saw his Rainbow Horse in a line-up of garage art squeezed between Trinity Bellwoods Park & Dundas St. West. He was anonymous to me then, but now I know his street name.

a new Birdo, on Queen West nr Spadina

Ladies & gentlemen, meet Birdo. He of the exuberant paint-pot. I gave you a teaser of this creation in my previous post; here it is in full.

And on that high note, I prance on home.


Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Wonderful! I’ll look for this next time I’m in Toronto.

    • Good — put ’em on your list. And thanks for taking time to comment.

      • Turns out my daughter did a walking tour of the area last winter, as part of a study for a laneway housing project in her interior design program. What a cool part of the city!

      • If it interested her, she should revisit from time to time, things do change…

  2. Love the pictures . I have worked with jarus he is a great artist. Some iconic graffiti writers you have.

    • I’m so glad to hear from you& discover your blog. Can you name some of the other artists in my post? I like to give credit, but often can’t. I do know & recognize Jarus, JAH, ANSER, UBER, ELICSER, POSER… Not a very long list!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


    "Traveller, there is no path. Paths are made by walking" -- Antonio Machado (1875-1939)

    "The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes" -- Marcel Proust (1871-1922)

    "A city is a language, a repository of possibilities, and walking is the act of speaking that language, of selecting from those possibilities" -- Rebecca Solnit, "Wanderlust: A History of Walking"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 89,242 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,645 other followers

%d bloggers like this: