Wall Art / Walmart … & Maqueque

25 July 2014 — Two quick moments from my week, very different from each other — and both very, very Toronto.

First up, another I-am-curious walk down an alley, this time just west of Bathurst St. from College down to Dundas West.

Take a consonant, add a consonant, & what have you got?

Wall Art / Walmart

Just an alley, at first, with some strong alley-scape images.

lane w. of Bathurst

Then, east side of the alley, a window with a point of view.

a bafk doorway in proposed Walmart site

It’s in the back of a long building that fronts onto Bathurst St., numbers 410-446 I later learn, until recently home to Kromer Radio.

back of proposed Walmart site on Bathurst St

More street art along the building …

back of proposed Walmart site on Bathurst

… and soon after, on the west side of the alley, a garage that brings us back on topic.

garage in alley west of proposed Walmart site

Dancing condoms?

Well … Imagery perhaps ambiguous, but no ambiguity at all about the message. That old Kromer Radio site is now the proposed site of a new Walmart. Real estate developer RioCan has one point of view; Friends of Kensington Market have another.

You already know how the alley artists line up.

side of same garage in alley behind proposed Walmart site

And that’s my hit of activist art for the week.

Yesterday evening, totally different. Nature, music, shared delight.


I’m back in the Toronto Botanical Garden with my Habanera-now-Canadian friend Mabel. We’re there for the latest in the TBG Gardens of Song free Thursday evening concerts.

Far cry from that west-end alley!

Trees, shrubs, luxuriant mid-summer growth, soft late-afternoon light, and people beginning to fill the chairs laid out on the flagstone patio in adjacent Edwards Gardens.

Edwards Gardens, site of Maqueque performance for TBG

We’re jazz enthusiasts, or Jane Bunnett enthusiasts, or Cuban music enthusiasts — or all three.  Jane Bunnett is a multiple Juno award winner & Grammy nominee, known for her skill with the soprano sax & flute and also for her decades-long championship of Cuban musicians & musical ties between our two countries.

So the fact she’s introducing another Cuban ensemble to Canada has people packing into the chairs, and unfolding their own portable chairs at the perimeter.

crowd shot, Gardens of Song Maqueque performance

Most of us have never heard of Maqueque. Doesn’t matter. We’re up for the experience.

Maqueque, we learn, is a word from old Afro-Cuban dialect, that very roughly translates as “spirit of a young girl’s energy.” Totally appropriate, since all the musicians are young women.

Maqueque performing, TBG Gardens of Song

(Jane, you will guess, is the blonde….)

It’s such a great evening. The setting, the pleasant warmth, the lingering light, the enveloping music, all that young energy.

I look around, and remember something an Afro-Canadian matriarch of jazz once said of a Calgary audience that, despite remaining politely in its seats, still showed great enthusasism for the music. She grinned and observed,  “They feet be still —  but they butts be groovin’.”

I’m shifting & swaying just like everyone else. Sometimes to the beat, and sometimes to adjust for the tall woman in front of me.

Jane Bunnet, L; vocalist Dayme Arceno, R

Afterwards, like half the audience, I line up to buy the CD.

Leave a comment


  1. bobgeor

     /  25 July 2014

    Great post! Walmart Wall Art, eh? I’ll have to check it out. Also, as the freakishly tall guy at concerts, I sympathize with you 🙂

  2. Great article and photos and I’m hoping the no on WalMart friends win out. Enough is enough of monster stores. I am feeling like you with the tall lady in front of you!

  3. Great to see the juxtaposition – interesting – glad it’s not just graffiti however colourful. Like your previous comment hope the Community wins the argument!

  4. Two great views of what makes Toronto such a vibrant place. Let’s hope the neighbourhood wins against Walmart and love your walmart/wallart play on words!

    • Thanks for your always thoughtful comments on what I see and write about. Thanks too for appreciating that bit of wordplay. It amused me too…

  5. Love all the graffiti , especially the writer sight .


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    "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"

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