And then I turned the corner …

5 November 2016 – I was trying to find something else.

I found this instead.

nr Pape & Queen East

I think it is by Jarus – it has that look about it, and there is a signed Jarus portrait nearby.



The Tease. Transformed

9 September 2016 – And how does one transform an idea into reality? A concept into 800 square feet of community/volunteer-driven, LCBO parking lot mural?

I’m so glad you asked.

On 28 August, I showed you the concept as a tease:

LCBO Mural design

The project began with these two people, who have guided it to the reality that will be unveiled, with great hoop-la, during tomorrow’s Cabbagetown Festival celebrations.

Michael Cavanaugh & Poonam Sharma

Meet Michael Cavanaugh, the retired Lakehead University fine arts professor who is the core driving force behind the Bell Box Mural Program. And meet Poonam Sharma, a local artist who helps others discover their talents while developing her own.

This project came to them. The Cabbagetown BIA (Business Improvement Association) commissioned a mural to honour the 40th anniversary of the Cabbagetown Festival; the Parliament Street LCBO outlet offered a wall; Michael & Poonam posted 4 possible mural designs online for a community vote; and then drummed up volunteer help to turn the winner, with its Victorian heritage theme, into reality.

My AGO volunteer colleague, Chloe, and I turn up on one of the early days, to help with the base coat. Chloe takes the selfie. (Hmm, what’s the plural of ‘selfie’?)

Penny with Chloe (R)

We’re both resplendent in the safety vests worn by all helpers — the more visible we are to drivers in the narrow parking lot, the better. I am also, if I may say so, resplendent in my vintage Cabbagetown Festival T-shirt, the work of graphic artist & musician San Murata.

Michael & Poonam have already projected the design onto the wall; now we all take basic instruction and start laying on the paint. “Don’t worry about pretty edges!” cries Michael. “Just stay within the lines as best you can and, above all, cover the wall!” He’s right, there is a whole lot of white space up there, waiting to be transformed.

We slap on the paint.

base-coat volunteers, Chloe at front

When Chloe & I leave, that Friday evening, you can already see the mural taking shape.

Sept. 2 stage of mural

I come back on Sunday, just as they are setting up again, to admire progress & see what happens next. Progress, indeed.

Sunday 4 Sept, as they start

“The base coat is pretty well in place,” says Poonam. “Now for the detailing, and the shading.”

First step: tape off the wall-front work area. It cuts motorist access in half, but fortunately everyone is too pleased (or simply bemused) to argue.

Poonam tapes off the work area

They settle in for an afternoon of second-stage work. A dozen or so volunteers have helped power that base coat into place, but detailing & shading requires a steadier hand. Someone — to be blunt about it — with training & skill.

Michael, for one …

Michael Cavanaugh, detailling the mural

and Poonam, for another.

Poonam shading the borders

Friends, supporters and the just plain curious all stop for a look and a natter. Poonam is brilliant at welcoming and engaging everybody, while somehow getting her work done as well.

Poonam with admirers...

A long day, deliberately so.

They wait for nightfall so they can project the mural’s banner text onto the wall. It involves a laptop with the text image …

text for the mural

and a projector on top of the ladder, to throw that image upon the wall.

laptop (lower right) connected to projector, to throw the image on the wall

Poonam is up on the scaffolding, carefully tracing the projected lettering into place.

Poonam traces text onto the wall


A couple of days later, I go by again.

almost, almost final

There it is!

Tomorrow, the grand unveiling. I’ll be there, you betcha.

Mutant Fish, Identified

You remember “mutant fish,” in my post Down Down the Don? Sure you do.

detail, fish mural along the Lower Don Trail

I whined at the time that I couldn’t find any artist ID. Thanks to a posted comment by filc21, I can now tell you that the fish is the work of two artists, jarus and kwest.

How nice to know, and give credit where credit is due.



A Saint, Some Artists Old & New … & That Nice Mr. Bach

29 May 2016 – Oh come on, you are saying, hands perhaps on hips, how does all that come together?

I will tell you.

It comes together when Toronto decides to hold its 17th annual Doors Open and its first annual Bach Festival on the same weekend — and I decide to participate in both.

With, of course, some walking in between. Even if it is 30C. (Which it is.)

First up, St. Anne’s Anglican Church on Gladstone Avenue in west-end Toronto. It doesn’t look like any other Anglican church in Canada, either inside — my priority — or out.

Byzantine Revival style, St. Anne's Anglican Church, Gladstone Av.

Pure Byzantine Revival style, built in 1907-08 and, upon completion, with a “brownish concrete colour” interior. So it remained until 1923, when J.E.H. MacDonald, one of the founders of the Group of Seven, was commissioned to design and complete its interior decoration.  He recruited other artists, including Group of Seven members F.H. Varley and Franklin Carmichael, and noted sculptors Frances Loring & Florence Wyle (a member of Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group).

Inspired by the style of the building itself, the artists developed their sketches, agreed on the colour palette, and completed their individual assignments in their own studios. By 1924, the works had all been installed and the church re-opened.

the Chancel, St. Anne's Anglican

Today, St. Anne’s is both a thriving parish church and, because of its artistic treasures, a national and provincial Heritage Site. Walk around, look up, immerse yourself.

The Nativity, by F.H. Varley …

Nativity, F.H. Varley, St. Anne's

or, a little farther into the Chancel, the Transfiguration (left) and Calming the Tempest (right), both by J.E.H. MacDonald …

L, the Transfiguration; R, The Tempest; by J.E.H. MacDonald

and more, and more, the entire story spelled out, all around the church.

I oooh and aaah like everybody else, and then sit a long time surrounded by this glorious beauty, surrounded also by organ music — being played by a young, T-shirted organist of fine musicality and considerable endurance as well. He is non-stop.

But, finally, I do walk on.

South on Gladstone, I decide, my next destination being south & west of St. Anne’s for a Bach Festival concert on the baroque organ in the Oratorio of St. Philip Neri on King St. West.

I am still mesmerized by St. Anne’s as I walk, still seeing & hearing all that calm, radiant beauty.

Until I sidetrack myself down an alley just north of the Gladstone Hotel at Queen St. West, and meet …

attitude in an alley, n. of Queen e. from Gladstone

Glower Girl! The verb “to glower” — don’t you agree? — spelled out in visual black & white.

So now I’m back into street art, hello, let’s look around. I zig west on Queen to Dufferin, and zag south on Dufferin. Just half a block, I swear, and ka-boom, another alley, more street art.

Persue, L; Jarus, R; alley w. from Dufferin s. of Queen

Toronto street artist Jarus, of course, on the right, his fine portraiture always distinctive. But whose bunny-rabbit on the left? I automatically think Poser, but no, can immediately see that’s not quite right — and anyway, the work is signed “persue.” A definite clue!

I am no wiser until I arrive home, catch up on some of the blogs I follow, click on Richrd Schulte’s Cool San Diego Sights! — and there’s my man Persue.  He’s a San Diego artist. I love the way these guys (of both genders) get around, and work with each other as they go.

Eventually I’m down on King West, have a little time to kill before the concert, so explore for a while.

And meet a whole different kind of painted Bell box, next to the Close Av. Parkette.

I’ve shown you lots in the past, the utility boxes covered in commissioned, one-off murals (which not only look good but help deter scrawls & scribbles). Now meet a beautiful painted Bell call box, a pair of them in fact, both in working order and both tagging-free.

Also offering free calls, for a variety of social services.

free Bell calls, King W. & Close Av.

I like this a lot. It gives 24/7 access to a whole range of sources of help, from Kids Help Phone, to Telehealth Ontario, to numbers for seniors’ safety, domestic violence, emergency shelters, and general mental health. I haven’t seen this in other neighbourhoods, but hope it is a growing feature.

So it is with considerable cheer in my heart — if a wilted shirt on my back — that I finally make my way to Holy Family Church, with its oratory, and its Gober-Kney baroque organ.

Gobwr-Kney baroque organ, Holy Family Church, King St. West

Isn’t that a beauty? And oh, if you could have heard it. A virtuoso concert by Philip Fournier, opening with Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, closing an hour later with his Passacaglia & Fugue in C Minor, and magic throughout.

What a day to be in this city! I am so grateful.


    "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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