More Grey, More Colour

8 December 2014 — It is again grey, and I do find more colour, but this time the colour is all in the streets even though I’d planned to hit at least one gallery. (Thank you friend & fellow WP blogger Rio the Clown, for the tip.) Doesn’t matter I get there too early for the opening, the address still gives me a focus for my walk: TTC out to Dundas West & Dufferin, and take it from there.

First amusement, the side wall of the Hen House bar. No surprise, the mural theme is hens, roosters, feathers; all vivid & fun.

But, quick: how much of this segment is mural?

Hen House side wall, 1352 Dundas West

Bravo if you squint your eyes & decide that the window is real, not painted, & Missy Bathing Beauty is an equally real statuette inside. It takes me a moment to work it out, and I ‘m standing right there.

The next alleyscape, just a bit west of Dufferin, also plays games with paint & reality. It’s a whopping huge scene, bursting with colour & detail, top to bottom side to side, a gorilla up here and an eagle back there, and I expect the signatures before I see them: Shalak & Smoky (“Clandestinos”).

What I take a moment to disentangle is the BBQ equipment in front of the eagle.

Shalak/Smoky mural, 1608 Dundas W.

Quick look, and you could imagine them painted in, a joke-touch of Toronto reality for this jungle extravaganza. But, no, they are real. Not even found-art props. Just real.

I spend some time prowling the length of the mural, impressed (as always with their work) by the level of detail. You might expect something so large to be broad strokes only, but no, not at all.

Here’s the big, bold gorilla …

segment, Shalak/Smoky mural

… and just look at the intricate shading in his muzzle.

gorilla muzzle

I stop in a few handcraft shops along Dundas. They’re getting into the holiday season, but in the nicest way — free coffee & shortbread cookies at one, with credit to the café & bakery opposite, and a pancake breakfast downstairs at another. (With tarot-card readings, I am told. I demur. She cajoles. I turn just the tiniest bit firm in my demurral. We agree to disagree.)

After some more poking around west of Dufferin, I turn back east. I drop south from Dundas near Gladstone, for reasons I now forget, and find myself on a terrific little one-block street called Collahie.

row houses, Collahie St

Clearly making its way back up-market, “trending,” as the saying goes, but I’m charmed not irritated. These places are being stabilized & restored, the mood of the street is homey not décor-mag, and I’m all in favour.

Even though — despite my search for colour on grey days — I usually prefer old brick buildings to be left their natural brick, not painted. Never mind. I’m swept along in the general exuberance.

And there is lots of colour, both sides of the street.

north side, Collahie St.

Hard to believe, but it’s not the giddy pink that first catches my eye. It’s that very real, full-size bicycle anchored to the wall. (Next I notice the vintage highway sign serving as door number for Bike Man’s immediate neighbour.)

Speaking of bikes… and of art …

Dundas W at Lisgar

Most bike racks here are plain circles, end-on. Very practical, but very plain. This design is more attractive, and seems just as practical.

Into a tangle of alleys next, also just south of Dundas West. I notice the purple face first, how could you not, but realize what I really like is the scene as a whole, not Nektar’s contribution.

alley S/E Dundas & Beaconsfield

I can’t quite work out which bits of which building belong to which of the surrounding streets. I walk to the end, hoping to figure it out. I fail, utterly, but I’m rewarded for my effort with a cheerful alligator.

on greenish house rt rear of alley

Or, perhaps, crocodile. As the case may be.

Back on Dundas West, still heading east, I pass a lounge that is — or is not — still in business. The signage is there, but so is a For Lease sign.

But the twin lamp standards are still in place, the exotic creatures intact & the bulbs glowing.

Remix Lounge? Mojo Lounge? 1305 Dundas West

A little detour down Dovercourt for a few blocks, where I see again a property that I first gawped at during an outing with Phyllis (she of the soon-to-be-relaunched Tuesday Walking Society). The place is very large, very ornate, very down-at-the-heels, and … this part is new … for sale.

Oh, my friends. It would be a major project.

Meanwhile, the front path statue stands guard, a slight — perhaps rueful — smile upon his lips. (And a prudent chain upon his wrist.)

Dovercourt, south of Dundas

I see another Guardian a little later on, this one down an alley where young 20-Somethings are swelling a growing line-up, waiting patiently in the raw, chilly air for …  Well, I don’t know what for. For something not advertised to my age group, but known to theirs & worth the wait.

Eyes flick my way as I walk down the alley myself — not unfriendly, just puzzled. I almost feel the need to explain: I’m here for the art. See? Right over there?

lineup in alley nr Grace St.

And there’s the Guardian I mentioned, looking considerably more supercilious than Mr.-Deity-Statue back on Dovercourt. As if the dog thinks all these Queue Kids are, well, pardon the expression …

Barking mad.



Leave a comment


  1. agree a giddy pink…high vibration…you do find so much…always impressed Penny…compose a happy day.

  2. What fun things you always find on these streets…but then again I think you look harder than most of us.

  3. Rosa de los Vientos

     /  9 December 2014

    You always make me happy.


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

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