Art & a Latte

10 November 2015 – Phyllis has a meeting today, so the Tuesday Walking Society is down to one member, namely me. Except I’m not really alone: “Mary C” is with me, in spirit if not physical fact.

Two recent posts on her As I Walk Toronto blog send me east to Gerrard Street’s Little India. First, to revisit Craven Rd., with its history of artwork hanging on its long wooden fence, and, second, to visit the murals Mary has discovered on the back walls of Gerrard St. shops between Craven & neighbouring Rhodes Av.

Before I even get to the art-gallery block of Craven Rd. (Dundas to Gerrard), I’m stopped by a work of art.

Pig Rubens.

yard ornament, Craven Rd south of Dundas

Well, Rubenesque. Well, what a contemporary & seriously kitschy Rubens might create, if he were partial to farm animals — all pink & curvy & unabashed & naked.

There’s not as much art on the fence now as during my own visits in 2013 & March of this year, but the array does include a few new pieces along with veteran works that just keep hangin’ in. I salute old favourites, including the cats showcased in Mary’s post, “Craven Road Gallery.”

Then I near Gerrard, & start looking for the new murals. The one on the west side is familiar to me — very Little India in motif, and a landmark on that S/W corner for years.

mural, S/W corner Craven Rd & Gerrard E

Ah, but look east instead!

behind Gerrard E, between Craven & Rhodes

This is the new work, documented by Mary in “Udlaakut, good morning” (that’s Inuktitut, in case you wondered).

Visit her post to see the full gallery — here are just a few of the details that caught my eye, each creating its own mood.

The exhaustion of cold, weary men huddled around a camp fire …

detail, behind Gerrard E

the exuberance of flowers, rioting their way up a staircase …

detail, behind Gerrard E

the charm of a koala bear, eager to open the door for you, his paw already wrapped around the handle …

detail, behind Gerrard E

and the serendipity of great big painted teeth, apparently about to chomp down on some very real Hallowe’en pumpkin remains.

Hallowe'en meets mural behind Gerrard E

I round the corner onto Rhodes.

I am about to enter what these pooches can only stare at with yearning eyes, hoping that sheer longing will pull their owners back outside.

Rhodes & Gerrard E

My target? The place where those owners are happily ensconced. The Flying Pony Coffee House & Art Gallery.

sign for The Flying Pony

As you might guess, from the big red winged horse (and the multitude of city critters below, promising coffee & art & baked goods).

Oh, I do like The Flying Pony! For its involvement in the mural project. For its excellent lattes. For its friendly welcome (some indie cafés equate newcomers with interlopers & freeze ’em out). For its artwork. For its take-one-leave-one pile of books. (Forewarned, I’ve brought a book & make a trade.)

Very satisfactory interlude, thank you Flying Pony, & then I start west along Gerrard, homeward-bound. I meet The Great Canadian Mosaic all along the way — Little India (with its Happy Diwali signs) blends into Little Pakistan, both spiced with other cultures (Athens Villa here, Celtic Computers there); later on I’m in Chinatown East, with its Scottish pub, Italian restaurant, and the soon-to-open Loaded Pierogi.

And, in between Little Pakistan & Chinatown East — at Gerrard & Redwood, to be precise — another terrific coffee house, the Sideshow Café. Only I’m still full of the Flying Pony’s latte, so instead I’m drawn to Sideshow’s side wall.

Redwood Av & Gerrard E

Old faded advertising is such a treat. This particular display continues north the full extent of the wall, covered in places by Sideshow’s own smart black décor.

rest of wall at Redwood & Gerrard

I have never, in fact, had coffee here — but I have been gob-smacked by the café’s next-door affiliate, Zero Gravity Circus. Phyllis & I once stumbled into one of their rehearsals, and were allowed to stay. I’ve never forgotten.

Today, I am gob-smacked by something else: this ad in Sideshow’s window for artisan chocolate available inside.

Chocosol ad, inSideshow Cafê window

I thought I knew the badstuff-free list, but “electricity-free” is a new one.

(Dare I confess that my final stretch home is not electricity-free? That it involves a streetcar?)



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  1. bobgeor

     /  10 November 2015

    Oooh, I gotta get out to this alley again! Sweet art. And I love that ghost sign too.

  2. Mary C

     /  10 November 2015

    I love the pig! Thanks for the shout out. I’ll have to try the electricity-free chocolate one day – the sign piqued my curiosity. I hope you didn’t get too wet!

  3. As long as it’s not chocolate-free. That would be a deal-breaker for me!


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

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