Eight Virtues of Underpass Art

27 April 2017 – T.E. Lawrence had his Seven Pillars of Wisdom; you & me, we have Eight Virtues of Underpass Art, courtesy of the railway underpass on Dufferin, just north of Dupont.

I am buoyant, as I approach Dupont. I have just spent a happy hour with my friend Sarah in the Sovereign Espresso Bar on Davenport, lingering over our lattes. There is the pain of my imminent departure from Toronto, but it is far outweighed by the warmth of all the friends wishing me well, promising to visit.

Now Sarah is off on her bicycle and I am off on foot. In an hour or so, I’ll be sitting down with other friends in Yorkville — but meanwhile, here I am in the warm, bright sunshine, prowling along, absorbing Toronto streetscape through every pore.

The underpass is shabby, the artwork peeling and visually incoherent: it has no apparent theme.

Until I see the neatly printed word “love,” block-printed red letters tucked around a curve of yellow paint.

Peeling paint; eternal virtue.

I walk even more slowly … and discover “truth.” Bold, as truth should be, despite its uncongenial background.

We have a theme after all.

Virtue by virtue, I work my way south through the underpass.

Sometimes the virtue is printed over a decorative border …

sometimes it is given visual dynamic by workmen one level above …

sometimes it is tucked between swirls of colour …

sometimes it borrows a parrot’s head …

or a human head, for that matter.

And, sometimes, it swells & diminishes, obeying its own secret rhythm.

The day carries on from there, better & better, serving up all the virtues of friendship as it goes.

And it ends, after a brief evening thunderstorm, with a glowing rainbow in the eastern sky.

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6 Comments

  1. What a beautifully constructed piece, from start to finish, very satisfying. I love the way you weave larger themes into everyday walks and sights.

    Reply
    • Thank you — often it’s only later, looking at the images, that patterns begin to emerge. Funny how it’s going on all around you, but you may not notice at the time.

      Reply
  2. A great farewell to Toronto. I wish you well as you make the transition today, and look forward to the delights of Vancouver. I hope the settling in is easy and joyful.

    Reply
  3. Beautiful piece–and photography! Virtue may be all around us, if we look, I suppose.Thanks for the reminder: to just look 🙂

    Reply
    • Yes. To take time to look — and then, to see. We can all quietly keep practising that, as long as w live.

      Reply
  4. Mary C

     /  11 July 2017

    I’ve always liked those words on the wall. Glad to see you captured them all (or at least most of them)

    Reply

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