J’Adore the Doors

13 August 2014 — Tuesday’s walk is not supposed to be about doors.

It is supposed to be about following the Garrison Creek Discovery Walk — truly a discovery every time, since the creek has been channelled underground since the late 19th c., and trail signage & route maps are both a bit catch-as-catch-can. But as Tuesday Walking Society partner Phyllis observes, “We’re out for a walk. Who cares if we get lost?”

The route, theoretically, leads us south from Bloor St. just west of Bathurst, practically to the lakefront. It weaves through a succession of parks, starting with Bickford Park on the south side of Bloor, and we are cheered to find a route marker almost immediately.

Garrison Creek Discovery Walk sign in Bickford Park

Then things get very, very unexpected.

We look to the right, where the park is bordered by the garages behind Montrose Av. homes — and good grief, virtually every door is covered in street art. I don’t mean stupid scrawls and tagging, I mean ART.

South far as the eye can see, the garages prettily set off by tree that adds nature’s own chiaroscuro.

line of garages behind Montrose Av., facing Bickford Park

We walk down the line. As usual, I only recognize a few artists, but see one of those almost immediately. Once you’ve seen an ELICSER (Jabari Elliott) face, you always know them.


Then a very dapper Mr. Yellow Face (with equally dapper facial adornments) …

garage facing Bickford Park

… and another face, very different mood and style.

The elements to the right of the face put me very slightly in mind of Haida (West Coast) visual vocabulary, but I’m certainly not suggesting it was the artist’s intent. It’s just what jumps up in my own mind.

garage facing Bickford Park

The only untreated wooden door in the line-up, but boasting as fully-developed a work of art as any of the others …

garage facing Bickford Park

… and then the only door obscured by a car.

I heave a great sigh of annoyance but, come to think of it, it, it’s kind of a neat effect — sea monster about to swallow car.

garage facing Bickford Park

From fish to cat, and what a cat, the work of Chilean-Canadian visual artist Shalak.

garage door facing Bickford Park, by Shalak


Back to sea-monster fish, and a pretty scary human-monster face to go with it.

garage door facing Bickford Park

And then, and I am so delighted it is still here, the original example of garage art in the whole group.

It is dated 2009, but I first noticed and photographed it in early 2012, when I was training for the Iceland trek. It was easy to notice, since it was the only garage decorated with anything but tags.

the original painted door, dated  2009

I wonder if it was the inspiration for the rest? It sure looks as if the Montrose Av. home-owners issued a collective invitation for artists to create works on their garage doors — but who knows whether they did so out of real love for the art form, or in pragmatic recognition that murals were their best defence against ugly scrawls.

(One home-owner apparently didn’t buy in. His garage is heavily tagged, and also bears, in large black block letters, the word BONEHEAD.)

Now we find ourselves at the end of the garage gallery, and also at Harbord St., the south end of Bickford Park. For a while Phyllis and I are on a quiet residential street, not expecting any visual jolts at all.

Wrong-o. We blink, then roar with laughter.

Speaking of street art … !

2 separate stickers!

This takes some serious decoding. We thought we’d heard every accusation possible against Toronto’s mayor, but … eating animals? That’s a new one.

Then we realize we are in fact looking at two — no, make that three — admonitions.

  1.  STOP (says the Traffic Act)
  2.  STOP Rob Ford! (says visual artist YYZILLA, his signature running neatly up the exclamation mark)
  3. STOP Eating Animals (says Planet Vegan, with a sticker that I suspect was in place before YYZILLA came along to play his own little joke)

After all this, the walk settles down, and we get on with nature and parks and canoes full of flowers and a lost-but-remembered underground creek. Not to mention a a bridge across that creek, now deep underground as well. And yes, there is a final flourish of street art, by a Name Brand artist, followed by a Trinidad/Toronto kind of lunch.

You’ll see. In my next post.













Leave a comment


  1. Thank you once again! Interesting that there is so much ‘street art’. They obviously take some time to create these and no one moves them along. This art certainly brightens otherwise sad places.

    • You’re right, the tip-off is the complexity of the work, showing nobody was moving them on. Hence my assumption they were invited. A street artist I know, who only does legal (commissioned) murals, told me that was the clue.

  2. DJ

     /  14 August 2014

    J’adore the doors, too! But the yellow door, my walking friend, is inspired by Lego people – but who knows whether the Lego creators might’ve been inspired by a Haida design?

    • Right! I thought Yellow Face might be a Lego reference, but wasn’t sure enough to mention it. My Haida-ish reference isn’t to that face, it’s to the next one, quite an aboriginal face with decorative elements to either side

  3. Reblogged this on Seriously Clowning Around and commented:
    Once again, Iceland Penny, you have delighted me to re-blogging ecstasy! I love the lego head but also the houses…

  4. What a little treasure trove of artistic doors – thanks for sharing.

  1. The People Behind the Paint | WALKING WOMAN

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

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