Snap-Happy on Queen

23 April 2017 – I’m still swooning around Toronto, noticing things with a keener eye now that I shall not be living here & therefore can no longer take them for granted.

During this walk along Queen St. West, for example — nothing capital-S Significant, but all quietly significant to me.

Garage art down Cayley Lane just south of Grange Park, for example …

the garage door bright & probably fairly recently painted, but just one component in a total “urban installation” that also includes a scrawled-upon fence, some older low-level brick attached homes, & a soaring new glass condo tower as well.

Back onto Queen, over to Peter St., and yes! that funny frieze of street art still decorates one top edge of the corner brick building that, at street level, has long housed the Peter Pan Bistro.

Another bit of familiar street art in this neighbourhood, over by Soho: the dead tree stump that Elicser turned into street-sculpture years ago, and still refreshes from time to time.

I always look for the latest version — and this time literally clap my hands in delight.  Construction is underway right next to the sidewalk, and each city tree is carefully boxed, to prevent damage.

So is Elicser’s “tree”!

I love it, I love it.

Eyes up, more high-level artwork, this one new to me.

Low-level now, and why do I show it to you?

It’s vandalized, dirty, & the relic of another technological time.

Well I don’t know, but it snags my attention even so, there’s something about a phone-shape sculpture to encase a phone, even if only the smallest fragments of the physical phone still exist.

Exuberance & jollity a bit farther west, over by Spadina. Not new, but always delightful.

It’s another mad exercise in geometry & spatial relationships, courtesy of Birdo.

I veer left (south, that is) into Rush Lane, aka Graffiti Alley; also aka Rant Alley, since this is where CBC-TV’s Rick Mercer famously films his rants. (South of Queen, parallel to Queen, roughly between Portland & Spadina, if you want to visit it yourself.)

Year over year, the artwork morphs & evolves, coming & going, some images untouched, others repainted, yet others palimpsest. I’ve been here lots, it is slightly different every time. And … or … what I happen to notice is slightly different every time.

I’ve seen this doorway Poser bunny before, of course, but today I take near-curatorial delight in its “installation”: neatly tucked into its own niche, framed all around by other murals, with a final visual/spatial punch from the indigo wheelies.

Queen St. again, and sidewalk signs. This one is out of date, but it startles me into hiccupping giggles, even so.

One more sign.

Not for a café, as you will immediately appreciate. It’s for a denim shop — what’s more, for the best denim shop in the city. Says the website. (Their Vancouver website makes the same claim.)

First, I pick up on the pun.

Then I pick up on the skinny jeans [sic] walking into frame, right on cue.

“Happy Tuesday”

9 November 2016 – The sign has no political import, you understand. It’s just doing its sidewalk job, drumming up business for the café inside — and very time-efficiently at that. Why write a whole new sign, when you can just edit one word?

repurposed café sidewalk sign

But the Tuesday Walking Society is out there on November 8. This is Election-Tuesday in the USA, a day that will make a lot of Americans very happy indeed.

Others, not so much.

In fact, enough others are unhappy enough to cause the Canadian Citizenship and Immigration website to crash the following day. More immigration inquiries than it could handle.

But on Tuesday itself, nobody knows any of this. It’s a warm, sunny morning in Toronto, and Phyllis & I are working our way west on Bloor Street to Christie Pits Park, located at — you guessed it — Christie Street.

A few blocks short of the park, we dive into an alley just north of Bloor. Look! Raccoons!

alley to the east of Christie St., n. of Bloor

Two surprises. First, they are painted on a garage door, not live on the ground. And, second, I find them delightful. (Not necessarily my attitude to their marauding live cousins.)

We have no particular reason to visit the park, except we haven’t done so in a while, and it’s as good a starting point as any for further exploration.

Fall colours have been muted this year, we agree, but the golds are still blazing throughout the park.

still brilliat trees, Christie Pits Park

We kick through the leaves underfoot, wrinkle happy noses at the distinctive aroma, cock our ears to the distinctive sound.

We see a big, blue canoe. Phyllis stops, so do I, but I also murmur, “It’s awfully scruffy…”

Community Canoe, in Christie Pits Park

“It’s meant to be,” she replies. (The world’s gentlest reprimand.)

“That’s what native species do, this time of year…” And she then explains Community Canoe, the network of pollinator-friendly canoe gardens, part of the Homegrown National Park Project.

Leaving the park, I turn back for a moment to watch four ladies practise their morning tai chi. Sure, peaceful movements, in a warm, peaceful dip in the ground.

tai chi i Christie Pits Park

Distinct change of mood as we begin exploring neighbouring streets & alleys!

More urban wildlife in an alley off Ossington, once again painted not live.

alley nr Ossington n. of Bloor

Pigeons.

As with the raccoons, I find the painted variety delightful, the live variety somewhat less so. (In fact, when it comes to pigeons, I tend to agree with Tom Lehrer.)

More alleys in the general area, some with very fine murals, others that owe their impact more to Mother Nature than to any local artist.

another Ossington area alley

A bit farther north in the alley, though, some happy murals.

A giddy flower …

Ossington-area alley

and smiling faces in an Elicser mural. (The very first smiles I have seen on any work by this artist.)

same alley, farther north

We walk a lot more — up to Dupont, as far west as Lansdowne, south to Dundas and then head east again.

The loop eventually brings us to Trinity Bellwoods Park. I drag Phyllis to a vaguely remembered stretch of pavement, a place where various pathways intersect near the north-east corner of the park.

I want to know if “Sun slant low…” is still visible on the pavement, or if time has scuffed it away.

It is faint, but still there. I am so pleased.

in the N/E corner of Trinity Bellwoods Park

I had to come home & look up old records to see when I first noticed, first photographed, this extraordinary love poem to the sun’s yearly trajectory.

There! 20 December, 2014. (Click: you’ll be rewarded with the full text.)

And when better to honour the poem, than as we approach the winter solstice?

 

Love & Bubble Gum

16 September 2016 – Love & bubble gum? Incompatible in my books but to some, as you’ll see later, a match made in heaven.

I left you (Stalking the White Elephant) closing in on Dovercourt Road, with the elephant duly “captured” but so much more to see.

And the next hit is right here, at Dovercourt & Hallam. In Dovercourt Village. (Want proof? Read the box.)

detail, Elicser mural at Dovercourt & Hallam

It’s one detail of an engaging long-wall mural by one of the city’s higher-profile street artists, Elicser. Here’s the rest.

Elicser mural, Dovercourt & Hallam

His work is always good, always powerful, always distinctive. And the faces … always doleful. (I’d say “Lighten up,” except that would brand me such a philistine.)

Soon after, perhaps still on Hallam, some front-yard prayer flags. Well, not exactly. Typical of prayer flags in size, colouring & the way they are casually looped around the yard, but lacking the prayer calligraphy.

Instead …

front yard flags, probably on Hallam w. of Dovercourt

I don’t know what they represent. (Ideas welcome.) I like them anyway. I am a firm convert to the view that you don’t have to “understand” visuals in order to enjoy them.

We duck down another alley, Mary C. & I, off Hallam & still east of Dufferin.

It does not reward our interest in any of the usual ways. It is, in almost every respect, a candidate for World’s Most Boring Alley. But all that grey & white sterility has one unexpected, and therefore redeeming, feature:

alley off Hallam, e. of Duffferin

Solar panels!

All that eco-virtue, and a crisp zigzag against the sky as well.

We’re at Dufferin St. now, a major north-south artery, and we court death to cross it mid-block. All because of the words either side of a narrow gap between two dreary buildings.

w. side of Dufferin, nr Shanly

I know: if you follow Mary’s blog, you’ve already seen this shot. But for everyone else, it’s new. And worth a laugh. Mary & I are laughing — though I must admit that Guy In Chair, ‘way at the back, is unamused.

And on into yet another alley, this one off Wallace near Brock, and full of delights.

A cheerful, I’m pretty sure home-made, garage door, for example …

alley off Wallace nr Brock

and the world’s simplest pussycat sketch …

alley off Wallace nr Brock

and proof that rust alone can create a city skyline, if you’re willing to see it that way.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

I become quite mesmerized by this, transported to some eastern city of miranets & towers.

Then I clear my head, and stop for a more prosaic 3-storey back wall, albeit one with visuals on every level.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

We identify the next garage mural from a good distance away. No missing this artist. “Spudbomb!” we shout.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

From hand grenades (albeit happy ones) to sweet self-affirmation …

alley off Wallace nr Brock

 

even if you hail from a distant planet.

off Wallace nr Brock

And finally — and not a moment too soon, either, for fans of Love & Bubble Gum — this garage door.

alley off Wallace nr Brock

There! Wasn’t she worth the wait?

Now I leave you cooling your heels in mid-alley yet again. Next post will complete the walk, and bag the second of our two targets for the day.

 

  • 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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