Public + Art, in the Rain

4 January 2017 – We’re in public, contemplating art (both intended & by-accident), and definitely also in the rain. But it’s Tuesday, isn’t it? So on with the waterproof gear, and out & about for the Tuesday Walking Society.

Rain, we find, enhances art. It makes cheerful pieces even jauntier, and reflective ones all the more poignant. It adds dimension.

Not A Forest is a good example. Just another commissioned visual on a condo hoarding, Phyllis & I think at first as we squish our way along Wellesley Street East … but yes, the mist gives it depth. It does extend Paul Kane Parkette past its own small square of grass to an imagined forest, albeit one where cranes & towers jostle the trees.

"Not A Fordest," Darren Rigo, 58 Wellesley St. East

And it pays tribute to artist Paul Kane himself (1810-1871), who once lived at this address though he is known for his wilderness scenes. Plus, photographer/artist Darren Rigo is also local. So it is all nicely site-specific.

Only steps farther along, and more art. Modest, functional, underfoot, and perfectly suited to the drizzle.

Wellesley St. East

Thank you Toronto sewer system!

The next sewer lid is also a fish. The one after is plain old cross-hatch. So enjoy ’em when you can.

Corner of Wellesley & Queen’s Park, Phyllis does a double-take, freezes, then relaxes.

“Ohhhh,” she breathes, in relief. “It’s a sculpture. I thought it was a person.”

"Jesus the Homeless," Timothy Schmaltz, Wellesley E. & Queen's Park

Sculptor Timothy Schmaltz would be pleased; so would Regis College. The work is called Jesus the Homeless, and it is meant to further the educational mission of this Roman Catholic college of University of Toronto: it invites us “to reflect on our relationship with the homeless poor, the most vulnerable of the marginalized people living in our midst.”

We cut through Queen’s Park itself — and almost immediately see plastic sheeting strung among some fir trees, making a shelter for someone with no other home. I reach for my camera, put it back into my pocket. No-one is there, yet it seems unacceptable to me, to intrude.

Across Hoskin Avenue, into Philosopher’s Walk, we follow long-buried Taddle Creek north toward Bloor Street.

And stop at the grove of trees, the boulder, the sodden roses.

tribute to victims of the Ecole Polytechnique Massacre, in Philosopher's Walk

The plaque catches our hearts. It notes the 14 trees,

with sorrow planted in memory and in honour of fourteen sisters slain because of their gender in Montreal on December 6, 1989. … It is not enough to look back in pain, we must create a new future.

Of course: the École Polytechnique Massacre. These roses must mark a commemoration held this past December 6. I do not count, but assume they number fourteen.

A happier moment later on, while doubling back south on Spadina from Dupont. Think for a moment: what might we expect to see? (Oh go on, give it a try.)

No matter what you imagined — performing seals? 312 circus clowns spilling out of a tiny car? a pit bull tenderly guiding a baby kitten across the road? — I guarantee you did not imagine the Bayeux Tapestry.

Oh all right, fair enough, we did not in fact see the real thing. No 70 m. by 50 cm. stretch of embroidered cloth, dating from the 1070s, hung from a hydro pole.

But we did see this.

Bayeux Tapestry image, Spadina south of Dupont

I don’t know what possessed this home-owner to hang a replica of one panel on his front porch, but aren’t you glad he did? (Or she…)

And then we stopped to admire some raindrop-spangled fir cones …

somewhere on Spadina!

and then we contemplated how very raindrop-splangled we were ourselves, by now …

and then we retired to a Bloor West café for our customary latte/Americano warm-ups.







Previous Post
Leave a comment


  1. Really liked the bit about rain enhancing art, and adding dimension. ‘Not a forest’ is indeed captivating..

  2. As always, I love your way of writing, with humour and flair. I also love the variety you encounter on your walks: this was a particularly rich one. That 3D hoarding which you describe so wonderfully; the fish sewer marker (in Warsaw it’s a mermaid); the infinitely sad reminder of the massacre, and the homeless figure on a bench (good on you for not intruding on the shelter – I’m even wary of photographing dilapidation); and then your trademark – the surprise that turns out to be the Bayeux! Thanks again for a stroll full of interest.

  3. A great walk in the rain! I’m always interested in seeing what you discover, and there were some great things this time. I agree about the effect of rain, although it occasionally makes taking photos challenging. I also love to walk on very cloudy days because the colors seem much more vivid.

  4. Great post! Also a fan of Not A Forest! Thanks for all the info.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


    "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"

  • Recent Posts

  • Walk, Talk, Rock… B.C.-style

  • Post Categories

  • Archives

  • Blog Stats

    • 109,505 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

    Flag Counter
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,926 other followers

%d bloggers like this: