Art explosion takes over East End bricks and concrete

A detail of 'Bee Haven,' a new mural painted by artists Elie Saad, Sarah Van Duesen, and Curtia Wright together with youth from Community Centre 55: Ben Owens, Conor Belot, Sarah Buckner, and Shy-Anne Lights. With support from StreetARToronto, the mural at the back of Danforth Avenue's Dixon Hall is part of a local couple's project to turn the alley between Danforth and Coleman into an Alleyway of Dreams.
A detail of ‘Bee Haven,’ a new mural painted by artists Elie Saad, Sarah Van Duesen, and Curtia Wright together with youth from Community Centre 55: Ben Owens, Conor Belot, Sarah Buckner, and Shy-Anne Lights. With support from StreetARToronto, the mural at the back of Danforth Avenue’s Dixon Hall is part of a local couple’s project to turn the alley between Danforth and Coleman into an Alleyway of Dreams.

Grey is going out of style on Beach-area walls and wading pools.

Under the rail bridge at Gerrard and Woodbine, artist Evond Blake, aka Mediah, is spray-painting a landmark on big blank walls.

Down an alley behind Danforth Avenue’s Dixon Hall, a huge new mural called Bee Haven is cross-pollinating with one couple’s Alleyway of Dreams.

Even the kids in local wading pools got some colour this summer, with a blue tsunami rising off the cement pool at Norwood Park.

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Removing his spray mask to chat about his epic new mural at Woodbine, local aerosols artist and animator Evond Blake said he had been eyeing the empty walls for a while.

“This bridge wasn’t on the radar,” said Blake. “I’ve been looking at it for almost a year, being like, ‘This thing needs to get dealt with – full scale, completely-detailed-on-both-sides dealt with.”

Sponsored by StreetARToronto, Blake’s designs for the two bridge murals and a matching piece for a nearby utility box got a thumbs-up from the Beach Hill Neighbourhood Association. Everyone liked the sandy yellows and lake blues, he said, though he wasn’t thinking of the beach.

“Some parts of my art work have easier personalities,” he said, pointing to an area where he was cautiously spraying sharp lines in black.

“Whatever I’m building right here is difficult – it’s a little bit like a stray teenager. It’s hard to reason with, and figure out what it wants in order to be balanced.”

“But it’s coming together now, starting to grow up a bit.”

Painting almost entirely freehand, Blake aims to finish both walls by October.

“If you’re walking under the bridge, the opposite side is for you,” he says.

A short walk east of Main Street subway station and Coleman Park, another StreetARToronto mural was just finished.

Painted by artists Elie Saad, Sarah Van Duesen, and Curtia Wright with help from young Community Centre 55 muralists Ben Owens, Conor Belot, Sarah Buckner and Shy-Anne Lights, Bee Haven shows honeybees at work in the centre’s largest mural to date.

Program director Evonne Hossack called it a “wonderful idea” that came about thanks to Sarosh Anwar and Mark Kerwin, a couple who have organized other murals in the same alley, including a rendition of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, under a project they call the Alleyway of Dreams.

“We decided we’re going to be stewards of this place,” Anwar told the group Citizens in Action this spring. “We’ll fill in the gaps between those little glimmers of art right now to create one long, continuous, critical mass of art.”

To find more local street art, check Mural Routes’ murals map for East Toronto.

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