Wide-Eyed

31 July 2018 – I’m on Helmcken, almost at Granville, minding my own business. I see Very Feminine eyes on the wall. She is staring, wide-eyed.

Next to her, Very Masculine eyes. Also staring, and also wide-eyed (in a Very Masculine sort of way).

Chef Guy, however, is looking down.

 

But then, he is part of what the other two are staring at: the entrance to the alley smack opposite their wall, immediately west of Granville.

The least I can do is go take a look for myself. With my real, live human eyes. Wide open.

The first thing that catches my attention is the scruffy wall. The scurfy wall. All rust streaks and bubbling, peeling paint. Rust speaks of many ugly things — but it is a beautiful colour, is it not?

I don’t pay a lot of attention to Chef Guy. I’m more taken with the protruding edge of that fire escape to his right, yet another example of one of my favourite (imaginary) mathematical concepts: Geometry at Work.

On down the alley. Admire that fire escape.

I’d rather admire it, than have to use it.

And on down past that, to the mural.

I stand back far enough to see it as an urban art installation, framed by hydro poles and a delivery truck. Signed AA Crew (street artists Virus, Tar and Dedos), an important presence, I discover, at the city’s 2017 Muralfest. It’s a timely discovery, with Muralfest 2018 coming up August 6-11.

And then I’m out the other end of the block, back to Granville, on south to Drake.

My eye is still in for street art, planned or found, and I decide the repaint job for Wildlife Thrift Shop qualifies.

And I catch my bus for home.

 

 

Rising, and Risen

27 March 2016 – This little fox (I think he is) has nothing to do with my theme. But then, when I set out on this walk, I have no theme in mind. He just amuses me, with his two tails, stencilled onto an alley wall just off Berkeley & Queen St. East.

stencilled fox, Berkeley/Queen E. alley

I’m still innocent of any theme as I head south on Berkeley Street, even though I’m planning to get myself to St. James Cathedral by 4 p.m. for an organ recital. And even though this is, after all, Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate the day Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead.

No, it is this streetscape, just north of Adelaide, that sets my theme. I begin to muse about urban renewal, about the new buildings now rising up among, and almost always towering over, the old.

row housing Berkeley n. of Adelaide E.

This Victorian row housing has a whole new skyscape rising to the south.

I take another look from the corner of Berkeley and King St. East. Smack on the S/W corner, protected by Heritage designation, still sits the lovely brick building that, in 1891, housed the Reid Lumber Company.

view of S/W Berkeley & King E.

And there, just to the west & appropriating the whole skyline, rises the imposing new Globe and Mail Centre, a LEED Gold structure by Diamond Schmitt Architects, due to open this year.

East-downtown Toronto, once so scruffy, is changing fast!

In between those two shots, when just south of Adelaide, I lower my eyes long enough to admire yet again the Bell Box mural painted in 2013 by Natasha Kudashkina.

It is smack in front of the Alumnae Theatre, and suitably theatrical in motif. You’ll have to take my word for most of the front side, alas, since a car blocks almost all of it. Here is the one end panel on view …

Bell Box mural detail, 70 Berkeley St.

I squeeze behind the box, & find myself caught firmly against some shrubs and the theatre wall, No room to back up, so here is a necessarily partial view of the Comedia del Arte couple on this reverse side.

detail, reverse side

All happy with art & architecture, I now head west on King Street and, over by Sherbourne, find another example of — let’s call it — Architecture Rising. Here is one of a pair of pillars, guarding the arched doorway of an old building, now subject to restoration & expansion.

1 of matching doorway pillars, King E. nr Sherbourne

As is often now the case, the façade of the old building is being preserved, with its charming & human-scale presence on the street. But inside, it is being gutted for new purposes, and the new structure will rise far above the old building’s original height — though with a set-back that preserves street scale.

I lean toward the companion pillar, to capture a bit of what is happening behind the archway.

companion pillar, with view to construction behind

After that, a very happy stop for a latte & scone in the Rooster coffee house on King (sibling of the original, on Broadview Ave.), and then on to St. James Cathedral.

steeple, Cathedral Church of St. James

I plan to leave after the organ recital, but end up staying for the Sung Evensong that immediately follows. I am glad that I did.

 

  • 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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