Every Tuesday, Todd Irvine of LEAF posts a stop from the Toronto Tree Tours, a collaborative project of LEAF and the Toronto Public Space Committee. The Toronto Tree Tours offers walking tours in neighbourhoods across the city as well as virtual tours on its web site. The aim is to introduce Torontonians to the individual trees in their neighbourhood while telling stories of our city’s ecological and cultural history.
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The Tree Tours are not all trees. This week’s stop is a profile of a creative beautification initiative.
Trinity Bellwoods and neighbourhood: Stop 13
Graffiti elicits mixed responses; some view it as an inconsiderate act of vandalism, while others see it as a grassroots art form that brings much needed colour and vibrancy to our city. Regardless of which side of this debate people are on, most would agree that the playfully painted flowers of purple, pink, and white that adorn the Bell phone box in front of 39 Halton Street are a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
The artwork is by a graffiti artist who goes by the street name Horus and was one of the first on the graffiti scene in the early 1990s. This beautiful mural was not illegally scrawled in the dark of night, but rather commissioned and paid for by Bell Canada, the owner of the box. The project was a joint initiative of the City of Toronto and Bell Canada and was spearheaded by Jason Laslo, an employee in the local Councillor’s office.
Since the boxes would likely end up covered in tags (signed names usually written in marker), the idea was to stop bad graffiti by doing good graffiti first. The partners contacted Style In Progress, a Toronto based graffiti artist collective. A total of fifteen artists agreed to take part in the project and together painted 60 phone boxes, getting paid for each box they completed. The project brought together people on opposite ends of a problem to find a solution that benefited everyone and beautified the city in the process.
Photograph by Liz Forsberg