In August, several talented young people were seen painting a stylized thunderbird along the abutment wall of the Lawrence Avenue bridge over the Humber. Here is the finished product in panoramic view so that it can be seen fully.
Painting of the mural was arranged by Urban Arts, who specialize in beautifying vertical spaces. The team worked under the direction of Cree Metis artist Jason Baerg who came up with the indigenous people theme. Team members were: Devlyn Mar, Tyson Simms-Campbell, Jerlie Thorpe, Aryana Singh, Carlos Guevara, Italia Santoyo and Taye Harding. This same team completed a sweetgrass themed mural in the underpass carrying the Pan Am Trail under Scarlett Road.
Another link officially opened today in a major step towards completion of the much anticipated Pan Am Path. This 84km path is being created by linking existing shorter trails and will eventually allow pedestrians and cyclists to move from Brampton to Pickering without encountering motor vehicles. After the ceremony, a Jane’s Walk took pedestrians along the path and a group of cyclists followed later. Bike Share Toronto (formerly Bixi) had bikes for those wishing to try the new link. Dynamic youth support organization UrbanArts provided music and an art activity for the celebration.
One of the more distasteful aspects of these events is the unseemly scramble for credit. Political representatives from all three levels of government were jockeying for position. Freshly re-elected MPP Laura Albanese announced a $400,000 grant from the Trillium Foundation to be spent on projects covering the length of the trail (strangely the Trillium Foundation site has no trace of this in their list of grants). Councillor Frances Nunziata announced (again) the $48,000 worth of exercise equipment to be installed in Cruickshank Park (well before the Council election in October no doubt). This money was extracted from several developers in exchange for Council concessions. Another guest speaker, Etobicoke Centre Tory MP Ted Opitz prattled on about his support for the path despite the Federal Government contribution of precisely zero to this project. It takes some nerve to remove protection from the Humber River (as the Tories have done) and then bask in the glory of others’ work. Then again, there will be a federal election by October 2015 at the latest. Right leaning mayoral hopeful Karen Stintz was in attendance but mercifully kept a low profile (until the ribbon cutting). Incredibly, our own MP Mike Sullivan told me he was not invited and therefore didn’t get to speak. Organizers from Friends of the Pan Am Path claimed there had been an oversight.
A large and respectful crowd was on hand at Urban Arts on John Street Thursday evening for the inauguration of the Youth Gallery Project. Excellent artworks were on display featuring the talents of students from Weston Collegiate and Archbishop Romero High School. While the poetry slam had few entries the audience was appreciative. A guest appearance by talented Mississauga performer John River ended the evening.
While the poetry slam entries were low in number, organizer Ify Chiwetelu was confident of more participation in the next event.
If you drive along Lawrence at Weston Road, you might notice some murals being added to the large one completed last year outside the York West Seniors Centre. This latest set of three are based on historical photos of Weston over the years. They will be taking shape quickly over the next day or two so if you’re passing by on foot, be sure to talk to the talented group of university students working under the capable guidance of Urban Arts Youth Mentor Jim Bravo. Urban Arts completes murals every year as a way of providing summer employment and to discourage the tagging of blank wall space.
The process of transferring an old photograph to a wall involves some digital simplification in Photoshop and the basic outline is transferred at night using a projector. From that point the skills of the team are put to good use in bringing the images to life and interpreting which colours to use.
As a postscript, If you’re not already on Facebook, there’s a very good reason to join. Weston Historical Society has a page and is constantly publishing large numbers of photographs showing Weston and its people over the past century and a half.
UrbanArts is having a busy week. On Thursday, from 2–5 pm, they will be unveiling their newest mural; it’s at the corner of Weston and Lawrence. On Friday, they will be starting CultureShock, a two-day festival of art, dance and music.
The mural is part of an annual project that puts young people from the community to work to abate graffiti in Weston and Mt Dennis. They paint an average of two murals a year, and have done so since 1999. This year, they celebrate Weston as the “Home of the Bicycle”. A second piece will soon be installed in Mount Dennis.
On Friday and Saturday, UrbanArts will host the annual CultureShock Festival at Weston Collegiate.
Wes “Maestro” Williams (formerly Maestro Fresh Wes) will be headlining. Cabbie Richards, from TSN, and Canadian hip-hop pioneer Michie Mee will be MCing.
The festival starts Friday at 6, and resumes on Saturday at 1 pm.