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.

Signs of Fall

28 October 2016 – As established readers know, & the rest of you are about to learn, I am shameless about puns. Even when they are dead-obvious groaners. Case in point: the title & content of this post.

The Tuesday Walking Society is out in force, all two of us, starting south on Roncy (Roncesvalles, when it is trying to be dignified) & planning eventually to turn east on Queen St. West and then … just keep going.

I stop almost immediately to gurgle endearments at this cat. The surrounding parking-lot signs just add to his raffish charm.

Roncesvalles parking lot, s. of Dundas West

Stomp-stomp for a bit, and then Phyllis nudges me, chortling, “A huge pumpkin — on Garden Avenue!” I agree it is terrific, a true sign of fall, and on exactly the right street corner.

fake pumpkin, real fruit & veggies

Upon inspecting it up close, we realize it is fake!

We decide to roll with the punch. Just a bit of Hallowe’en decoration, we agree, and look — everything else this greengrocer has on display is absolutely real.

First sidewalk sign of the day.

in front of a Roncy bakery

We admire the word — it doesn’t exist, but ought to — yet resist the temptation. Too early in the walk for treats.

Next up, more fall fakery, but come on, admit that you love it.

bike on Queen West nr Roncy

An old geezer watches me take the photo, squints at the bike, rocks on his heels for a moment, and rasps, “Now, that’s really pretty.”

Striding down Queen St. West by now.  A coffee shop catches our attention, but not our patronage.

on Queen West

Still, if you happen to be addicted to both offerings … what bliss.

Bliss comes in many forms. Some have a hole in the centre.

more temptation

I stop mid-stride for this doorway alcove.

Why am I so enchanted? I think I’m still imprinted by that walk on Sherbourne (previous post), where I saw bird (etc.) forms everywhere. Here, I see a moose. Phyllis is not convinced.

moose, sort of

“Look,” I argue, waving my arms. “Left antler turquoise, right antler blue-striped, and he’s hugging Claret Guy With One Sad Eye.”

I’m still thinking about compassionate moose when I am again stopped mid-stride. By now we are in the heart of one of Toronto’s Little Tibets, and therefore awash in various meditative offerings …

Plus this.

in the Queen West Little Tibet

I love it. Take that, Tibet-stereotype!!

Now a Mysterious Gap in this account of our walk. Next post will fill it in, I promise.

Meanwhile, hop-hop, and on to Queen West & Dufferin, and the railway underpass that when constructed in the late 1890s was known as the “Queen St. Subway.” We know the date & the original name — plus the name of the mayor and city engineer — because all this information is chiselled in stone to commemorate what must have been, at the time, an epic next step in technology, transportation, city expansion and Progress in general.

underpass, Queen West & Dufferin

That’s not what I notice first, as we walk through the underpass. First I see that saucy 21st-c. mouse, only afterwards the stately civic pride of the 19th-c. stone signage below.

(You squint. You ask yourself if I intend this blur as an artistic effect. Don’t be silly. I was merely incompetent at taking the shot. But I do like the mouse, and his culture-contrast with the stonework below.)

Next, just a big old fun mural, complete with happy guy in cherry-red shades.

Until you read the tribute line above.

a Queen-West RIP tribute

Notice one RIP, and you start noticing more of them. Too many.

More Queen West kilometres under our heels, & more signs. Like this admonition …

Queen West nr Ossington


and then this riff (sort of) on an old Beatles song.

Queen West east of Ossington

Who could argue?

Meanwhile, Back on Sherbourne Street …

I have such helpful readers! Back yourselves up to my previous post (The Show on Sherbourne) and revisit the mural at Sherbourne & Queen St. East. Where I originally confessed I couldn’t decipher the artist credits, you will now see the three names nicely filled in. That bit of editing is thanks to reader filo21, whose comment on the post supplied the missing information.

My second thank-you is to Rick H., who commented quite perceptively on my breezy but lazy “certified Whatever” tag for the west end of the Birdo Tenso mural. Rick sees it as “a close relative of the Hornbill-esque bird” at the mural’s east end, and I think he is absolutely right.




12 June 2016 – If you want to immerse yourself in attitude, I always say, go walk down an urban alley.

Which is exactly what I did Saturday with my friend Cyndie, after we’d finished a very stimulating volunteer workshop at the AGO.

Enough about first-time visitors and (for that matter) Lawren Harris! we cry; let’s go stomp around Queen St. West and see what we find.

So we do, and we visit some nifty little art galleries (two on Tecumseth, just south of Queen), and then — as tends to happen, when I’m on the loose downtown — we fall into an alley.

And into serious attitude.

A whole lot of Lady-Attitude, albeit most of it as fantasized by male artists.

Red Lips Lady, for example, queen of the motorcycle …

alley nr Queen & Tecumseth

and Shy Girl (I betcha by the Buck Teeth Girls Club, though I can’t find a signature) …

nr Queen & Tecumseth; by Buck Teeth Girls Club?

and Turquoise Tantrum Lady …

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

and Blondie …

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

and Missy Pink Bubblegum.

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

Next up — just to prove girls don’t have all the fun, & to introduce a whole new attitude to the alley — a great big hit of love.

alley nr Queen W & Tecumseth

Yessir, a Lovebot, his little heart just radiating peace & warmth.

Soon after, a Birdo-bird, but a new-style Birdo. Look:

nr Queen W & Tecumseth

One painterly genre for the entire Blue Jay, and a very trim, very black, stencil-like signature for the artist.

By & by, Cyndie & I return to Queen West.

Now I’m checking out the sidewalk signs. Maybe I’ll find some cap-A Attitude here?

And yes. I would say this qualifies.

Queen St. W.

A puzzling attitude, perhaps, but who am I to argue? It’s their sign.

Still, we do not choose to test its accuracy.



    "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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