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 Punch of Colour”

11 February 2016 – I use that phrase a lot, to introduce an image with a vivid focal point. Never more accurately than right now. It greets us high on Roncesvalles, early in this week’s outing by the Tuesday Walking Society.

advertising a boxing club, high on Roncesvalles

A knockout, eh?

(It’s OK to groan.)

The joke is, I don’t take the image for the visual pun. I want to capture the anti-pigeon spikes atop the glove. And fail.

Moving right along!

As we do — south on Roncy, to where it stops short at a cliff-edge overlooking the lake and both King and Queen streets spring off to the east. We choose Queen, for no particular reason, and then rubber-neck our way past one nifty little store-front after another, many of them antique/vintage/junque shops.

We enter one of them, poke among the usual stuff, chat briefly with the agreeable owners — and are invited to meet Tom Dooley.

He is indeed hanging down his head, per the old North Carolina folk song, but not in contemplation of being executed for murder. No. TD is sound asleep, in his favourite chair.

I rustle around with my camera, and he wakes up.

"Tom Dooley" in a Queen West antiques shop

Corner of Sorauren & Queen West, and I come across a favourite mural. This happens a lot — I love them, indeed show them to you on this blog, but then forget where they are. So each rediscovery is another happy surprise.

Kwest (etc?) mural at Queen W & Sorauren

It’s the work of Kwest, and I think a few others, but his is the only name I am secure about.

I particularly like the final guy in this rather Chagall-esque line of figures, peering so quizzically at the vehicles below.

detail, mural at Queen W & Sorauren

Later on — back north/east to Dundas West near Brock St. —  we see a short alley covered in art. The work is unfamiliar, but we know the names, this trio often paints together.

We’re drawn in by these brilliant birds, the work of Fiya Bruxa …

alley s. from Dundas W e of Brock

slide on next to man & dog, by Bruno Smoky …

alley s. from Dundas W e. of Brock

and turn to the Big Cat on the opposite wall, by Shalak Attack.

alley s from Dundas W e. of Brock

One more spin of the heel, to check out the fish back on the west wall.

alley s. from Dundas W., e. of Brock

I don’t know this artist, Nick Sweetman, but obviously I should!

More walking, then the usual coffee break — with the world’s most spectacular singing bird somehow etched into the foam on my latte — and we continue east on Dundas West.

Big laugh at the brightest image in this shop window near Ossington:

a food shop, Dundas W & Ossington

Is that not the best possible image with which to close a post?


    "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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