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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Art that’s up my alley

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Spacing editor Todd Harrison took in the annual Alley Jaunt art walk this weekend.

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Alley Jaunt is my kind of art walk. I go out of my way to explore Toronto’s alleyways, so I’d say an event that brings innovative installations to garages in laneways around Trinity Bellwoods Park is a good thing wrapped in a great thing — a veritable art/alley money cake, if you will. Beyond that, stepping out of the alleys and into people’s garages (with occasional bonus views into their backyards) nicely satiated my inborn domestic voyeurism tendencies; eat your peeking-through-the-
neighbours’-curtains heart out, Mom.

More than two dozen artists, collectives, musicians and hellraisers took part in this year’s Alley Jaunt. Maps were available at all the installations, as were “passports” that you could hand to the presenters for them to sign, stamp, or otherwise mark for posterity. The kids — and there were a lot of them at Alley Jaunt — loved this aspect, and so did I.

The creations displayed enroute felt playful to me, though maybe that’s because I found the setting so perfect. For that reason, too, my favourite installations were the ones that referenced the alleys directly — including the nicely presented and meticulously catalogued Collect my Junk project by League of Tangents; Tin Can Alley (live music broadcast through strings and soup cans) from The Left Hand Players; and a live video piece by Steve Lyons that put passersby in a posterized reflection of the laneway.

There’s an art walk for every Toronto neighbourhood these days, but Alley Jaunt is something different. Its repurposing of public and private space is a liberating and slightly subversive concept — one that surely annoyed the driver of the subwoofer’d sportscar who interrupted me as I listened to some old-timey French music at a Tin Can Alley installation. With any luck, I thought, one of these years that guy will decide to get out of his car and into his alley, where there’s all kinds of cool stuff waiting for him to find.

photos by Virginia Dimoglou


One comment

  1. The alley in the top picture was remarkable, not just for art, but also because it seemed to have been colonized by sunflowers – they were everywhere, some of them clearly wild, others perhaps spread by people who liked their look. They made the alley much nicer.