Small Park, Big Art

15 February 2015 – I like urban parkettes, they punch ‘way above their weight. Small space, lots of radiating benefit. Even so, I’m not paying any attention to Columbus Parkette as I continue the walk that began in High Park.

By now I’m on Dundas St. West, near Sorauren Av., striding along. My eye only half-registers the patch of (currently snow-white) ground & play equipment on the south side of the street.

But both eyes fully register this Uber 5000 canary!

Uber 5000 canary detail, Columbus Parkette

And the rest of the mural, all along the side of the variety store on the parkette’s eastern edge.

shop wall, east end, Columbus Parkette

I swivel, properly looking around by now, and see more street art on the shop wall at the park’s west end.

detail on shop wall, west end Columbus Parkette

And more again, this time all over the little building (washrooms I think) within the park itself. I don’t need the signature to tell me it’s a Jeff Blackburn bear — that loopy bear face is as good as a tag.

Blackburn bear, Columbus Parkette

Somebody else, or perhaps multi-others, created the even loopier subway car on the building’s end wall. (At least, I think so.)

south wall, Columbus Parkette building

I start looking beyond the park, past the play equipment into the criss-cross of lanes to the south. I squint against the sun.

Columbus Parkette, 1985 Dundas STt. West

Oh, this is promising. Garage art in all directions. Tromp-tromp. In I go. The first one I approach, right at the east end, is a double pleasure.

signed Li-Hill, Columbus Parkette

First, the pleasure of its artistic quality. Second, the pleasure of seeing a Li-Hill signature out on the street. He does some street art under this, his real name, but you see a lot more work in his distinctive street style, linked to his street name.

I can’t identify the artists for most of what I see in these lanes. I just walk around, and enjoy myself.

lane behind Columbus Parkette

Ah, next up comes an expansive mural, spread across several buildings, in a style I can identify & link with an artist. This is by Elicser.

Elicser, in lane behind Columbus Parkette

Tucked high in the left corner, not visible in the shot, the legend: “I was on cloud nine for a long time.”

You’ll have noticed I tend to photograph representational work more than ones that are instead strongly graphic. Here’s an exception. Sorry, I can’t tell you if the “CBS” is the artist’s tag or something else, or nothing at all. (Help-help, anyone who knows.)

lane south of Columbus Parkette

I come to a laneway T-juntion, turn south, and stop to admire what I’m pretty sure is a home-grown garage door mural. It’s endearing. I’m glad it’s here.

lane by west end, Columbus Parkette

A woman out walking her dog stops to enjoy it as well. Dog catches up. He’s very small, very furry, wearing a resplendent winter coat but no boots. “Bailey hates slush, but won’t wear boots,” mourns his owner. She gives a philosophic shrug.

We part ways at the bird house …

lane junction south of Columbus Parkette

… agreeing that an inquisitive dog, or just an obsession with walking, introduces you to a lot of back lanes. Which is a good thing.

I look north again, start doubling my way back up to Dundas Street, now in the lane on the parkette’s west side. Far end, a big red “construction danger” banner smacks the eye, apparently draped over an interesting bit of mural work on that building’s side wall.

lane bordering west side, Columbus Parkette

I walk up the lane, planning to yoick aside that banner, if I can, see what’s hidden beneath.

And then … the joke is on me. The banner is part of the mural. (I should have guessed.)

banner-mural, near Dundas at Columbus Parkette

So, with thanks to all the artists who have created this network of open-air galleries, I finally rejoin Dundas Street and my interrupted east-bound walk.

Cannot resist including one more shot. It is totally unrelated to everything else in this post, but it too is very stylish.

Picture a sports pub, down by Dufferin Street. Picture the usual mixed retail/entertainment/residential neighbourhood. Picture patrons piling out of said sports pub, late in the evening. Add the sound track.

Now read the sign.

The Derby, 1516 Dundas St. West

We Canadians are so polite.


Leave a comment


  1. Lovely post. Beautiful photos. I was on cloud 9 for a long time! Especailly liked the raw art mural. Thanks.

  2. You always seem to find the best murals – what a lot of talent which goes without recognition

  3. Reblogged this on Seriously Clowning Around and commented:
    We may not braving the -20C weather but
    the intrepid Walking Woman has offered up a view to warm our hearts!

  4. Another great collection – how is it possible that you keep finding more? I too found the home grown art on the garage door very sweet.


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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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