Symbol City (T.O. Version)

11 April 2017 – I’ve given you one Symbol City already — an array of Vancouver images that, to my delighted visitor’s eye, stood for the Vancouver I was beginning to discover.

Now I’ll offer the Toronto version. A delighted, fresh eye here as well, partly because I am recently back from a 5-week absence — but much more because, in just a few weeks’ time, I shall move from Toronto to Vancouver.

So I am acutely aware of sights that are symbols of my own personal Toronto.

Here are a few.

Riverdale Park, straddling the Don River, with its 1840s Francy Barn attracting hordes of visitors this mild spring day …

William Lishman’s exuberant sculptures, cascading down the river-side face of Bridgepoint Health Care …

a random example of railway underpass street art, this bit on Logan south of Gerrard …

a silly sign!

Jimmy Chiale’s great, pulsing wall mural on Queen St. East, adding energy to the city all around it — from parked cars to streetcar stop, pedestrians, hydro poles trailing wires, vines about to bud on the brick wall …

a whole mural celebrating the city’s distinctive red streetcars …

and a real streetcar, pulled up next to yet another wall mural, this one by Elicser and proclaiming one of the city’s east-end neighbourhoods …

and of course a café!

An attraction in itself, but, really, also just one component of an entire downtown streetscape: patio, traffic sign, bicycle, parked car & all.

I go in, assuming I’ll order a latte. Don’t I always?

Except, this time, no I don’t. I am beguiled instead by an organic hot dog (I always eat a hot-dog in spring, it’s a ritual), smothered in mashed avocado & salsa. Soon my face follows suit, smothered in the generous dressings, ear to ear and nose to chin. The man next to me, knocking back his tortillas, observes the state of my face with some awe. “I’ll try that next time,” he decides.

I loop back west toward home, angle through a scruffy laneway just off Parliament & Queen.

I am here to pay homage to …

Golden Girl!

and to …

Famous Dog!

I don’t know why he is famous — but, come to think of it, he is famous with me.

I’m just happy both murals are still with us, they’ve been around for years & years, and they are part of my Toronto, yes they are.

Here’s lookin’ at you, dawg…

The Choice

2 April 2017 – I had a choice to make.

(A) Jump on that streetcar.

(B) Ignore that streetcar, & take a photo through the laundromat window instead.

I chose option (B).

I hope you approve.

(There was a young guy inside, carefully folding up his freshly-laundered knickers. He had obviously taken the sign to heart.)

 

Cat & Mouse

12 November 2016 – The cat …

detail, mural Brock & Dundas W

and the mouse …

detail, ural Brock & Dundas W

and the artists …

artists, mural Brock & Dundas W

and the whole glorious mural …

mural, west side Brock just south of Dundas West

right there on Brock just south of Dundas West.

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.

 

Family Portrait

23 June 2016 – Mummy, daddy, and …

DSCN9782

little baby bike.

Into the Market

18 April 2016 – On Sunday I had a terrific time being guided through a walk, instead of inventing one of my own. (Small tip of the hat here to Jackie, of Tour Guys.)

The day is gloriously warm & sunny, everyone in the group is silly with pleasure as we cluster at our meeting spot, Henry Moore’s Two Forms outside the AGO. But this is just the meeting spot, soon we’re in neighbouring Chinatown, and ultimately spend most of our time in …

at Augusta & College

Now you get the “Market” reference.

Factoid about these Ken Market elevated signs: each features two of only three symbols — a globe, a chair, a cat. I’ve often enjoyed the signs, never before noticed the pattern. See? Tours can be wonderful.

Now a quick back-up into a Chinatown alley. Jackie wants everyone in the group to see & appreciate graffiti, tags, throw-ups, street art & the rest of the terminology — and the corresponding realities, right here on walls & doors.

ANSER eyes on a Chinatown alley wall

ANSER eyes for sure, but not that mouth!

We spend a lot of time in … if not always exactly alleys, certainly very-very-very narrow-&-hidden little streets. Where sheer streetscape can itself be a form of street art.

With prayer flags, for example …

inside Kensington Market

or an ode to means of transportation.

in a Kin Market back street

Oh, go ahead, start counting. One canoe, with wheels; several bicycles; one wagon; one bright red come-along. And I may have missed something. (Surely not all needed to transport Chinese herbs from hither to yon?)

Then again, sometimes the alley/street is not about streetscape at all. It’s total street art, in every direction.

Like this.

in a Kin Market back alley

Multiple works of art, and multiple mail boxes too!

Around another corner, and the unmistakable work of one of the city’s most unmistakable artists: Birdo.

wall mural by Birdo, In Ken Market

This one looks curiously like a muzzled dog.

The next Birdo creation, around a few more corners, gets me thinking instead about lobsters & parrots. Then I shake my head & just let it be whatever it wants to be.

by Birdo, in an alley N/W of Queen & Bathurst

By now our tour is finished, I’m just N/W of Queen & Bathurst, and I nip through an alley onto Bathurst itself.

Where I see an old fave.

on Bathurst, just n. of Queen West

I hope you get a kick out of it …

 

Coffee: all the way to Perfect

10 April 2016 – Signs about coffee promise a lot, have you noticed? Whether on a sign inside the café, or on the sidewalk sandwich board outside its front door.

Sometimes, though, there is no promise — just a warning about the dangers that await you, should you be foolish enough to ignore the coffee option.

oppoiste OCAD, on McCaul

This one spotted & photographed by my great friend & fellow WordPress blogger, Rio (Seriously Clowning Around). We’d just gone through the Outsider show at the AGO, by the time I’d reached home she had emailed me this discovery just opposite OCAD, down the street from the AGO.

“Use it,” she said, bless her generous heart. So I am.

It also made me riffle through some photos, to see what other coffee-related signs had amused me.

This one I first saw (& photographed) a couple of years ago in  Victoria, B.C., but spotted again last week in a new local favourite cafê of mine, The Flying Pony.

downtown Victoria; also in The Flying Pony

Then there’s Merchants of Green Coffee, another longtime haunt, chalking up its priorities for all to see.

Merchants of Green Coffee

Or, or, consider this medical advice being dispensed at the Rapido Café.

Ignore this symptom at your peril!

Rapido cafe

I lured you into this post with the promise of “perfect.”

Never let it be said I’m a bait-&-switch kinda gal.

The Atlas Espresso Bar tackles the eternal mystery of perfection … and solves it.

Atlas Espresso Bar

See? No need for existential dread.

Real & perfect is within reach.

 

No Fun, Snow Fun

5 April 2016 – Here in Toronto, opinion is not even slightly divided about snow & sub-zero temps on April 5. We are not happy. No Fun, is the verdict.

Rather, that is the human verdict.

Opinion is more mixed once you broaden your field of inquiry.

These baby daffodils? That thrust through the warmed ground & turned their little faces to the sun so trustingly, just a few days ago?

surprised baby daffs, on Gerrard St. E.

They agree with the humans. No Fun.

But then there’s the Snow Fun contingent.

This flower, for example …

Greenwood, edge of Greenwood Park

and this whole flock of flamingos.

on Kingston Rd.

For all they care, the snow cover could be froth on Lake Naivasha.

Balcony Boy seems perfectly contented as well …

Gerrard East

and the moose smiles happily — perhaps because he knows that he and his cute little shoes are safe on the Flying Pony washroom wall.

Flying Pony café, Gerrard E. at Rhodes

The school crossing guard isn’t currently sitting in his/her chair, so has no opinion …

on Kingston Rd.

except, maybe, to be grateful in absentia that — per the plea on the chair seat — nobody has stolen the chair.

And this guy?

studio window

The one whose crutch is propped in the window of this kickboxing studio?

Perhaps he has other things on his mind.

Snow, & the Promise of Lots More

1 March 2016 – The first flurries drift down, just before I leave home.

They shroud the windshield of a parked van …

van on Dundas E., near the Don River

tuck in behind the fox’s ear, in Joel Weeks Park …

one of 3 sculptures in Joel Weeks Park

and veil a would-be solar panel in the latest Regent Park construction zone.

Dundas E., Regent Park area

March, it seems, will come in like a lion.

We must wait to see if it departs like a lamb!

  • 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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