Age & Art, Rocks & Rust

15 January 2017 – We’ll start with the rocks, not that I was particularly looking for them. It’s just that rocks, like glimpses of colour down alleys, attract my attention.

I’m north of Davenport, just east of Christie, in the highly regarded neighbourhood of Wychwood, and I am slightly bored. Everything here is expensively arranged with muted good taste, and I am slightly bored. Then I see this little stack of rocks by someone’s front steps, and I am suddenly very, very happy.

doorstep decoration, Wychwood neighbourhood

I suppose they still fall within the category of “muted good taste” that so far has been annoying me, but now — observing these natural objects, artfully placed to complement each other — I am not at all annoyed. I enjoy their beauty. And their peacefulness. Rocks just are. They quietly, calmly, transcend time.

Around the corner onto Christie Street, and bang! a long stretch of art that must live a more dynamic relationship with the passage of time.

The retaining wall along the east side of the street is covered with a long mural dedicated to Jane Jacobs, the American-born writer & activist who moved to Toronto in 1968. She went on to have profound, lasting influence on our, and the world’s, understanding of urban issues — ethics, governance, culture, the lot.

Her thoughts have stood the test of time; the mural could do with a little help.

JJ mural, Christie St north of Davenport

Though, somehow, I find myself moved by the decrepitude. Can’t explain it, it’s just my response as I walk on south, down the hill.

detail, JJ mural, Christie St.

Each bit battered; each bit still bright, compelling. A survivor.

steps partway down the JJ mural

The mural is interrupted halfway by some side steps, then on & on, down the slope.

detail JJ mural, toward south end

Yet another “face” as I near the southern end …

detail JJ Mural

and finally the face that matters: the impish face of Jane Jacobs herself.

Jane Jacobs, at north end of the quote that anchors south end of the mural

Followed by a short quote, which in very few words manages to demonstrate the many dimensions of her core interest: our cities, and how we live in them.

Cities have the capacity of providing something for everybody,

only because, and only when, they are created by everyone.

This is not an entirely aimless walk, I do have a destination: the mid-afternoon Hot Docs showing near Bathurst & Bloor, so there is a south-east general direction to my meandering. For the moment, it is still south.

On down Christie, now approaching the railway underpass just north of Dupont, where I am again struck by an example of art + age. With the Jane Jacobs mural, age took its toll in what it removed: chips & chunks of the wall itself.

Here at the underpass, age is an addition.

north end, east side, RR underpass at Dupont


And again, as with the long mural, I am quite moved by the combination. It is still art … just with the added dimension of time. A commentary.

East on Dupont now, thinking it perhaps time to pick up my pace. Pause briefly at this bit of plywood. Behind it, something has been knocked down, victim of age if you like; something else will be erected in its place. And here on the plywood, a very temporary moment of art.

on south side Dupont between Christie & Bathurst

It will not withstand any test of time. But meanwhile, it’s loopy, and it’s fun.

To the corner, right turn, south on Bathurst. Shop windows now, and various amuse me, none more than this one:

1050 Bathurst, laundromat

There! We have answered George Carlin’s 1985 riff (“Losing Things”) on the ultimate destination of lost socks. As of 2015 at least, they go to the laundromat at 1050 Bathurst St.  Which is also home, so some online chatter later tells me, to various shows & pop-up shops.


Then I notice the time, right there on the Lost Sock wall. Going on 3 o’clock! And me due to meet my friends at 3:15!

I hustle on down the street; we meet, slap-bang on time; and settle down to enjoy Bird on a Wire, the re-discovered documentary of Leonard Cohen’s 1972 European tour.



Leave a comment


  1. Mary C

     /  15 January 2017

    I love the fact that you’re bored by “muted good taste”! Also, the Lost Sock is a great name for a laundromat!

  2. We’re partial to lovely rocks as well. What is it about the designs and colors that seem so intriguing? Thanks for the nice wall for Jane Jacobs, too. That’s inspiring.

  3. How fun! I always love to see things through your eyes. I really like the murals – so many get painted over in NYC before they get to this point, but there’s something about how they weather that is interesting.

  4. Is the supply of murals in your vicinity inexhaustible? Thanks so much for introducing me to Jane Jacobs. I love the idea of someone powerful coming from outside the academy and taking it on, along with all sorts of other power structures and powerful people. I checked her out in Wikipedia and was intrigued by the implications of her claim that we need to “respect – in the deepest sense – strips of chaos that have a weird wisdom of their own not yet encompassed in our concept of urban order.” Have you been on a Jane’s Walk?

    I too love the artfulness and nature in the rocks, and I like the plywood portrait too, as well as the theme that runs through the post of time, temporary and lasting.

    • No I haven’t been on a Jane’s Walk, but the experience is on my to-do list. I’m glad to have introduced you to her; she is one of many fine citizens we acquired when theVietnam War motivated some Americans to move north. (And who knows, there may now be another influx…)


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

    • 108,081 hits
  • Since 14 August 2014

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

    Join 1,919 other followers

%d bloggers like this: