Oblivious. And Observant

5 October 2018 – These people are oblivious …

to the whole busy other world going right here next to them, all around Norman’s Fruit & Salad market .

They’re put to shame by these Plum Birds, who are so observant they’re practically falling off their wire.

See? It’s a world of activity, all stretched out, right beneath those bright beady eyes …

layer on layer.

All quite fanciful, too, with a certain ornithological flair.

That’s a cardinal on her head, I like to think, and on his finger, oh, let’s call it a cockatoo. (The rare crestless variant.)

Perhaps distracted by the wine, they are oblivious to the scrutiny from above.

Up there, an observant trio, who watch what’s happening below …

despite their own distractions of book, apples and, I’m willing to guess, a daffodil. (Clearly they are not the least bit distracted by untied shoe laces.)

Beside them, a second trio, the sleeping cat nicely counterbalanced by two watchful crows.

Beside them, yet another trio. A trio of trios! This time it’s a sad clown, a perhaps-concerned crow and, underneath, an I-have-my-own-problems sad civilian.

I confess. This is not where I began. Not what first switched me from oblivious to observant.

I was hiking right along at that street corner, when the young Joe Stalin caught my attention.

There he was, back from the dead to glower over a box of cabbages.

It took me a long while to notice the — what? Benedictine monk? — reading his breviary in the background.

What I noticed next was the bad-tempered cat, there at young Joe’s feet, giving that Plum Bird on the pole a hard time.

Or, perhaps, Joe & the cat are just ticked at whoever scrawled all over them.

Street artists should respect existing street art, right?

 

Hello, TDOT

28 February 2018 – I emerge onto Bloor St. West from the rapid transit link between the airport and downtown Toronto, and start to laugh. Right there on that busy sidewalk, with traffic whooping by in the railway underpass.

“Hello TDOT,” I say to myself, and take the photo.

A whole riot of street art, running through the underpass. Definitely Toronto. (And thank you Barb, for this bit of local slang: Toronto aka T.O.; i.e. tee-dot-oh-dot; thus TDOT.)

That’s yesterday.

Today I’m walking around a bit of Riverdale, mostly on Pape between The Danforth and Gerrard. And yessir, TDOT just keeps kicking up more street art.

A fish threatens to swallow a phone box …

and he might as well, having already swallowed the phone.

A car makes a coffee-brake, right over the Schmooz café …

which I extra-love, since I made that same coffee brake pun in a post last October.

A guy eats an ice-cream cone, and clearly doesn’t like the taste …

which is fair enough, since the owner of this now-closed corner store has pinned a furious handwritten note to his store door, making clear he really doesn’t like the graffito.

On the other hand, a very spiffy meat & deli shop just south of Danforth not only accepts the mural on its side wall …

but the owner probably commissioned it, since it bears his store name in bold block caps.

About face, I’m heading south again. Some homeowner loves poppies, right there on his front porch.

Maybe painted them himself? (Or herself, come to that.)

Monkeys on a utility box, beside the Lucky Coin Laundry …

and, under the laundry’s neon logo, a beautiful poem by 14h-c. Persian poet Shams-ud-din Muhammad Hafiz.

Forget washing your clothes! It’s dog-wash time at the Fur Factory …

and, if you get close to that vertical line of thumbnail images, cats are also acknowledged.

Another dog under the adjacent Atomic Age comix store, looking back in some amazement — as well he might — at the red techno-monster behind him. And robot dog.

It’s cat-and-dog time farther south as well.

Be sure to read both signs …

and if you think the second one says, “Beware of the dog,” read it again.

I know. I had to read it twice myself.

Your reward for close scrutiny is …

a flower.

Tacked to a utility pole that has clearly had many other things tacked to it in its time.

But none as pretty, I bet.

 

 

Cat Tales (& Tails)

14 April 2017 – It’s a bright afternoon.

Neighbourhood pussycats are lying in the warming earth of front yard gardens …

stretching their bodies — from toes to belly to ear-tips — to the sun.

I leave the groomed residential street, & tuck myself into a nearby scruffy commercial alley.

Unless something dire has happened, I am about to revisit one of my favourite pussycats.

And there he is.

“Live, Love, Paint”

There’s Elizabeth Gilbert, American author … and then there’s Spud1, Toronto street artist.

I don’t see his garage mural with this upper-left-corner mantra until later in my walk, but, belated or not, it perfectly sets my theme.

detail, spud1 garage mural nr Danforth & Pape

I’m walking east on Danforth, heading for Main St. or farther, but of course soon find myself wiggling around alleys just north of Danforth. Lively as the street always is, I am endlessly curious about what might be going on behind its store-fronts.

Lots is going on, is the answer. Even in this modest little stretch between Logan & Greenwood.

I’m attracted by this long line of colour blocking. No rambunctious alley art here, just pure hits of colour.

Red. Black. Turquoise. White.

nr Logan & Danforth

I reach the far side of the white building, look left, & start to laugh.

It’s time for rambunctious!

alley off Danforth

The fish in that right-hand garage is particularly splendid.

detail, right-hand garage

Next comes Spud1 — aka Spud, and, especially earlier, Spudbomb, when he was mostly known for his happy-face hand grenades. He’s been branching out in style more recently, and isn’t this a fine example? First I see a curled-up fox; later I see his name.spud1 garage mural

Mantra as promised, upper-left corner.

Some other Big Names in these alleys, including Cruz1art.

I’d like to call this a pink panther, with a bow to Inspector Clouseau, but suspect he’s more likely a tiger. Or something else. (I’m the one who called a baboon a lion in All Along the Milky Way & had to be gently corrected by DJ in a comment, so what do I know?)

Anyway, he’s pink, & he’s pretty certainly a Big Cat, let’s go with that.

cruz1art garage mural

Then there’s haunting lady with mattresses …

artist name covered, if there

Usually alley mattresses are grubby & potentially crawling with life you’d rather not meet. These are pristine, each tidily wrapped, per bed-bug bylaws. Another mystery of alley life.

A whole fence of drip art, over by Donlands.

Look at this, think how ugly the underlying fence really is, and join me in thanking whoever decided to make it, instead, a work of art.

nr Donlands & Danforth

Some sort of Big Cat earlier; three more cats to round out the tour.

I’m practically at Jones when I see The Jazz Cats. This is wonderful! I first saw this cheeky image several winters ago, and here he still is. A little battered — but what true alley cat is anything else?

high on a wall nr Jones

A much sketchier alley cat, but also quite gloriously battered.

guarding an alley intersection...

And, to close, my favourite cat of all.

He is alive-alive-o, sashaying down the alley like he’s channelled Mae West, passing one garage mural & another, and another, and another … and then he makes his choice.

He sits.

the cat that got the canary...

Of course he chooses the canary. (Oh that Uber 5000.)

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

    "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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