There’s Hope left 4 Toronto Yet

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Toronto Street Art, a set on Flickr.

Greetings fellow Ecstaticans. It’s been a while! Actually, I wanted to do a Christmas special but then that blasted ice storm came along and ruined Internet access. Since then, my life has been moving at warp speed. As ravers mature, other things in life take precedence over partying, but it’s no less exciting. Heck, I’m still aiming for Ibiza before I kick the proverbial bucket. And when I do, I hope it spills champagne all over the floor, leaving a big ol mess for would-be killjoys to clean up.

In my last article, I mentioned that there’s one hope left for salvaging what remains of Toronto’s underground culture. In my humble opinion, it’s art. Not the overpriced bull often found in your typical gallery but the gritty expressions of sublime artistry birthed onto edifices, random newsboxes, even delivery vans. As “urban art” gains more acceptance in the mainstream through fashion and media, it’s paving more opportunities for those involved to not only express themselves openly but also earn a living from it. Back in 2005, I recall Toronto’s graffiti scene evolving into a more sophisticated form (I’ve even got some photos lying around somewhere). Case in point: local Toronto artist EGR placed a bodacious chocolate sista high up on a Queen West building around this period. It was a strategically sited location, visible from street level and quite impressive. Now she (or could be he, I don’t know, but I suspect most likely female) conducts an aerosol art workshop at the AGO. Her ionic soul sista now graces the shutter of Poetry Café in Kensington Market. Twenty years ago, gigs like this would have been impossible; a jail sentence would have been far more likely. Fortunately, times are changing; the scene is a hustle, with artisans doing things their way by forming collectives and promoting themselves through social media. Art in Toronto has never looked more exciting and although still a tough sell, the independent market breathes new life into an otherwise staid, slightly snooty establishment.

To a great extent, the direction of urban art in Toronto has taken cues from Europe’s burgeoning scene. During my time abroad, I saw how evolved graffiti had become. From Brighton to Bristol and Brick Lane, elaborate murals executed with pristine finesse left their mark on public consciousness. Many shop owners had no qualms about having their storefronts decked out in constructively utilized spraypaint. Festivals abounded, pop-up shops were the rage and Banksy was a star. Even drum and bass legend Goldie had an urban art show in Soho for crying out loud. Sadly, nothing of this magnitude was happening in Toronto when I left in 2007. Upon my return, I was pleased to see elements of this renaissance emerging in the city. Toronto was catching up to her counterparts on the other side of the pond, slowly but surely. As evidenced from these delectables snapped last summer, it’s pretty cool stuff. The only drawback is if you’re used to driving around town, you’ll miss most of these beauties. Ditch the automobile for a day and bike or stroll around town. Explore those hidden back alleyways south of Bloor, west of Dufferin and you might find some juicy treasures, such as the Harbourfront Centre Mural Project featured here. Trust your instinct and follow your footsies where they want to go. Either way, your heart (and soul) will thank you for it. Just think of all those extra calories you’re gonna burn! A word of caution: you might want to wait for that ice to melt first.

Copyright © 2014 Frankie Diamond. All rights reserved. Excerpts of less than 200 words may be published to another site, including a link back to the original article. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety and posted to another site without the express permission of the author.Via Flickr:Murals and urban art in downtown Toronto.

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