PUBLIC ART QUEEN WEST BIA & RIVERSIDE BIA (QUEEN EAST)

by Meg Marshall (Queen St. West BIA) & Jennifer Lay (Riverside BIA)

SELF-GUIDED WALK

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DETAILS

Language: English

Area: Downtown

Theme: Arts & Architecture, Indigenous Communities

Accessibility: Family-Friendly, Fast Paced

WALK DETAILS:

Explore Toronto’s Queen Street to uncover hidden and not so hidden public art. The Queen Street West Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Riverside BIA on Queen East have teamed up to bring you this walk highlighting ‘all local’ art by a variety of Canadian artists. Get to know the stories behind ‘Paint the City Black’ in Queen West’s world-famous Graffiti Alley and the iconic metal art atop the Queen Street Viaduct on Riverside’s Queen East, plus many more.

STOPS IN RIVERSIDE (QUEEN EAST)

 

STOP 1 IN RIVERSIDE: ALQUIMIA MURAL – 2019 AT 714 QUEEN STREET EAST

‘Alquimia’ (spanish for ‘alchemy’) is a mural in a semi-abstract style by Toronto-based artist and mental health advocate Jacquie Comrie. Paying homage to the Riverside neighbourhood, the mural is an interpretation of the quote “This river I step in is not the river I stand in” that speaks of the inevitable nature of all things: Alchemy and change.  Everything moves. Everything transforms into something else. It is a connection to the past while celebrating its future, progress and growth of the community. Through the use of vibrant colour palettes,  the aim is to inject light and energy, hoping to make everyone feel welcome and uplifted, while transforming the corner into a space of mental elevation for everyone. The mural was a project of the Riverside BIA, with support from Pizza Nova and the City of Toronto.

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Photo credits: Pawelec photo

STOP 2 IN RIVERSIDE:  RIVERSIDE SPORTS HERITAGE & LEGACY MURAL – 2014, 2015 AT 1 MUNRO STREET

The Riverside Sports Heritage & Legacy Mural was created by artist Monica Wickeler. The lower portion of the mural illustrates Riverside’s rich history in bicycling and curling associated with the Royal Canadian Bicycle and Curling Club, and also baseball, as Riverside was home to Toronto’s first baseball stadium, the Toronto Baseball Grounds (aka Sunlight Park). The upper portion of the mural, also by Monica, celebrates modern day sporting and was launched during the 2015 Pan Am Games with support from the City of Toronto.

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Photo credits: Riverside BIA

STOP 3 IN RIVERSIDE: WELCOME TO RIVERSIDE MURAL – 2013 AT 651 QUEEN STREET EAST

The mural design was by local artist Jessie Durham and painted on wooden panels by artist Melissa Luk. This mural art was originally installed on the wall of 742 Queen E in 2013, and moved to 651 Queen E in 2017. It was the Riverside BIA’s first mural as part of its efforts to re-introduce its modern identity and brand; after many years of branding as ‘Queen-Broadview Village’, the BIA re-branded to come back to its roots as ‘Riverside’ (the area’s namesake since the 1880s).

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Photo credits: Riverside BIA

STOP 4 IN RIVERSIDE: Tkaranto Past,TKARANTO FUTURE MURAL – 2017 AT  650 QUEEN STREET EAST

This mural by Indigenous artists OdinamaadChief Lady Bird, and Dave Monday Oguorie, Philip Cote, tells the story about Tkaranto being a meeting place for all people: first, for Indigenous nations for travel, trade, hunting and fishing, and in present day, for people who come here from around the globe to gather on the traditional territories of those who first occupied the land. The artists portray and share many of their traditional activities and stories, while giving a voice to Indigenous peoples, and a prayer toward the next generation of youth – the enduring strong Indigenous presence here in Tkaranto. The mural was a project of the Riverside BIA as part of the 2017 Canada 150 and Ontario 150 celebration initiatives with funding support from the Government of Canada, Ontario Government, and City of Toronto.

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Photo credits: Riverside BIA

STOP 5 IN RIVERSIDE:  QUEEN STREET VIADUCT ART (CLOSEST ADDRESS: 600 QUEEN STREET EAST) BY ARTISTS ELDON GARNET & REBECCA HOUSTON

The Queen Street Viaduct has always been an important passage to Toronto’s east. The bridge became a landmark in 1995 when, as part of the ‘Time. and a Clock’ series, artist Eldon Garnet, among others, added iconic art atop the bridge with the phrase ‘This River I Step In Is Not The River I Stand In’ as part of a commissioned project by the BIA and City of Toronto. In 2015, during the Pan Am Games, the Riverside BIA launched the Riverside Bridge Lighting Project, which illuminates the bridge and its art in vibrant colours each night, and includes swirling metal wayfinding banners and directional art at each side of the gateway by artist Rebecca Houston.

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Photo credits: Thurston Olsen Real Estate Group - RE/MAX Hallmark

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Photo credits: Riverside BIA

STOPS IN QUEEN WEST 

 

STOP 6 IN QW: TORONTO AUTHOR RECOGNITION AWARDS IN SIDEWALK- NEAR 370 QUEEN ST W INLAID IN THE SIDEWALK 

Toronto City Council established the Toronto Author Recognition Awards in 1973 to honour authors of books of literary excellence that are evocative of Toronto. The Word on the Street annual Book and Magazine Festival initiated this Authors Walk of Fame in 1993. The sidewalk near 379 Queen Street West between Spadina and Soho features the names of the winning authors inlaid on the sidewalk.

 

Reference: As seen on the sidewalk recognition plaque

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Photo credits: Google maps

STOP 7 IN QW: SIDEWALK ART - 408 QUEEN ST W (SLIGHTLY NORTH ON THE SIDEWALK) 

Toronto-based sidewalk artist Victor Fraser brought a little extra colour to Queen Street West by painting the sidewalk near 408 Queen Street with the message “Long Live Queen West”. . One of Toronto’s longest standing and most prolific sidewalk artists, Fraser started out busking at the corners of Yonge and Dundas and Bloor and Yonge streets. His pieces are intended for the beautification of the city and his sidewalk art along Queen Street piece was executed in 2019 to represent hope and show the resilient spirit of local business in the Queen West area. Fraser is also known for his “guerilla” art project: Alphabet on The Danforth where he painted colourful letters of the alphabet along a 2.5-kilometre long stretch of Danforth Avenue. One of his other very popular and loved outdoor art pieces is the galactic hopscotch in one of Kensington Market’s laneways.

 

Reference:

https://www.toronto.com/news-story/5808664-colourful-sidewalk-art-brightens-up-danforth-avenue/

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Photo credits: @whatsviktorupto

STOP 8 IN QW: PAINT THE CITY BLACK : BEGINS IN THE REAR LANEWAY OF 537 QUEEN ST W

One of the most mesmerizing art galleries in the world is not a gallery at all, but an alleyway that has become famous for its eye-popping and culturally significant street art. Queen West's iconic Graffiti Alley – a three-block, one-kilometre continuous concrete canvas along Rush Lane from Spadina to Portland – is not only one of the city's most celebrated and colourful attractions, but is also widely regarded as one of the best street art destinations in the world.

On Saturday, June 6, 2020, as thousands of people marched through downtown Toronto protesting anti-black racism, more than 40 artists from across Canada came to Graffiti Alley in a show of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The event, dubbed Paint the City Black, was organized as a peaceful protest, with artists lining the famous one-kilometre alleyway and creating art featuring such prominent black figures as Martin Luther King, Jr. and George Floyd, the unarmed black man whose death beneath the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer on May 2 ignited protests across the globe.

 

Reference:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BpfsIVJvOE0GyVSDhYgXEtNG4hgmEJOm/view?usp=sharing

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Photo credits: @blazeworks/ Instagram

STOP 9 IN QW: JIM BRAVO MURAL - SIDE OF THE BUILDING 488 QUEEN ST W

Located on the northwest corner of Queen West and Denison, is a birch forest mural painted by Jim Bravo, a Toronto based, award-winning multi-disciplinary artist with a diverse portfolio of mural and public art, painting, and illustrations. Named "Isn't it good to be lost in the woods", this mural shows a path through birch trees in autumn that glows at night to add a whimsical beauty to the Queen West neighbourhood. The mural received the 2019 TABIA mural award. 

 

References:

https://mcfcrandall.blog/2019/10/30/queen-west-at-denison/

https://jimbravopaintings.weebly.com/murals--public-art.html

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Photo credits: Richie Dos Santos

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Photo credits: Richie Dos Santos

STOP 10 IN QW: BIKE RINGS WITH OCAD

In Toronto, our bike racks have been taking new shapes. In November 2010, the Queen Street West Business Improvement Area unveiled 14 new stands between Simcoe and Bathurst streets in an artsy bike rack project that featured whimsical yet functional bicycle racks. 

The Queen Street racks — which look like speech and thought bubbles filled with punctuation marks, or elegant, circular rings embedded into the sidewalk — were designed by students at the Ontario College of Art & Design University.“I’ve ridden my bike down to Queen Street for more than 30 years, before it was the obvious thing to do,” Marc Glassman, former BIA director, says. “I love the idea of having artist bike racks that are functional.”

 

The new “Speech Bubble” racks were designed by industrial design students Evi K. Hui and Olivier Mayrand who used regular stands as technical guides. Commenting on her creation, Hui said “ “Culture is an expression of the people and the community. The bubbles are symbolic of expression and it plays on pop culture because Queen Street is post-modern.”

The BIA also chose as Michael Pham’s “Halo” design to create simplistic racks embedded into the sidewalk. 

 

References:

https://torontoist.com/2010/11/new_queen_street_west_bike_stands/

https://nationalpost.com/posted-toronto/queen-wests-artsy-bike-rack-project-got-its-kick-from-ocadu-students/

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Photo credits: @canadiankas/ Instagram