What I love most about Toronto is the variety, the diversity, the non basic. This extends to all the aspects of Toronto life I enjoy the most.
The street art in this city helps display the diversity of faces. Portraits and faces have been taking over the city art, while representing the very people who appreciate it at the same time. I have gathered a collection of some incredible “face” street art over the last few months and decided to bring them together to present the “Faces of Toronto” series.
The Anser Face
People of Toronto
Best face forward always, Toronto.
Pictures taken from above of feet on the ground has swept Instagram, and I am no stranger to this trend. Often my graffiti findings are on the ground, and adding your feet adds a strange element of humanity to the photo: capturing me, capturing the photo and exploring.
So in honour of this strange trend check out all my recent finds that include my 10 little toes. (Not a foot fetish thing, most pics my toes are not exposed)
Locke Street in Hamilton has provided me many opportunities for these feet pics. The entire street is lined in writing that tells a story, yet each piece tells its own individual story within the collective story.
I’ve noticed a funny similarity to a lot of these pieces of street art on the ground. They are all inspirational for people who might be “looking down”. People assume that when you are too grounded you don’t have imagination. Too much imagination means your head is in the clouds, the ground not even in sight. If your head is down, you’re walking staring at the ground, you’re told to look up. Interesting how these message play on that and with it. The idea that if you are down and sad your eyes are on the ground, and here is a nice sweet reminder made exactly for those who need it.
So, look up have a great day, but don’t forget to look down every now and then too. 🙂
(if you’re into dad jokes- like me- as you should be)
1. Complicated Anser or Simple AnserThe Anser Face has become a staple of the Toronto graffiti scene. Each find of one of these beautiful faces allows the onlooker to see a new person, so similar, yet different in their subtleties.
Here, someone saw the Anser face in all its complicated beauty, and mirrored it ironically, with the “simple Ansr” – the spelling error only adds to the irony and reflection of “real life”- go for the truth rather than the simple “Anser”. Okay, i’ll stop going deeper now before I ruin the chuckle of irony.
2. Danger due to…
Danger signs, posted near construction zones or worksites let us know of impending danger, and typically the reason, as logic follows, if a sign simply said “Danger do not enter” the whole cat and curiosity thing comes into play.
Our first sign here, was not filled out, allowing one cheeky passer-by to capitalize on one of our current apocalyptic obsessions- zombies!! No one seemed to be running for their lives though.
Our second sign probably goes to show how little we pay attention to these warnings, but for those who do… Stuff Fall’n- straight forward enough to me, regardless of what, I don’t want it fall’n on me!
3. The Steps of Evolution
›First let me say, I promise an entire post of this piece by Evolve and the steps eventually, I was rushed and wasn’t able to get them all at the time.‹
This piece takes the process of evolution on human scale, and not just any human scale, but a “nerdy”(?) one. Trace your favourite nerds from the beginning of time and onwards. From push-cart to silcon valley employee on his google-glass operated iSegway. 😉
4. Billy the HatebotIf you have been to Toronto, you know the now infamous (or irritatingly overdone) Lovebot. While Lovebot has an awesome theme, meaning and concept behind it, creator Del Degan may have gone a little overboard. You can’t seem to take two steps in this city without a stubbing your toe on a Lovebot. Photographing Lovebot work on its own would be two full time jobs. I guess for the record, he wasn’t kidding when he called it a #LovebotInvasion.
So, enter Billy, the nemesis of our Lovebot. The self proclaimed Hatebot, is everything Lovebot is not. While Lovebot promotes love between everyday people, friends and strangers, billy is one thing (quite literally), a straight up dick (see photo for proof).Since I’m talking Lovebot, might as well throw this one in, it does hit the marker of irony. Falling in love is (usually) a two way street- and this sign capitalizes on the street sign to add a heart and show how traffic is just like love, two way traffic, but mess up and risk being run over, or a head on collision.
5. Pathetic Slogan
Their slogan might be pathetic, but hey, it’s all theirs.
February 11th-28th 2016, the Hashtag Gallery on Dundas West hosted its second Anser Exhibit, title “Surface Salvaged”.
If you’re an avid Street Inspired follow, you’ll know that Anser is one of my favourite Toronto street artists. His beautiful and unique faces can be found around all around Toronto.
This exhibit showcases Anser’s work is focused on medium and impression. The show is focused on using objects and architectural surfaces repurposed from destroyed and dilapidated locations throughout Toronto, Anser incorporates their iconic, mysterious face into reclaimed relics of the city’s past.
Said of this show, “Lifted from the palimpsest of urban decay, the found materials of Surface Salvaged find new life under Anser’s notorious insignia, and serve as unanchored canvases that mimic and retain the immediacy of the artist’s street work. Each piece speaks to the contradictory state our cities inhabit, so permanent in material yet mutable and ephemeral in the process of urban evolution. A route that is mirrored within the nature of graffiti itself, here salvaged is not only of the materials used but preserving the impermanent markings Anser leaves on the walls of Toronto.”
I find these ideas incredibly fascinating, as this is something that has always drawn me so intensely to graffiti and street art, the idea that the art is put there, but then left to the city, to change, to evolve, to destroy, to morph into something else. I especially love this idea in the city of Toronto, the idea of the permanence of material yet ephemeral in the process, working along side the architecture of Toronto.
This city is so full of the mixture and fusion of new and old. There are building in Toronto that are a part of our heritage that have been standing for generations, yet all over the city new condo’s and buildings are being erected and taking away these older buildings. However, this is not always the case, when a new building takes over an old building with history and meaning, something always remains. There are new buildings that are using the foundation of older ones and combining both together. This trend can be seen all over Toronto, from office buildings- there is one on St.Thomas street, using a row of old houses and creating, new glass office space behind the old facade. And one just like this idea on Prince Arthur. Old factories are being turned into lofts (think Chocolate Factory lofts), old churches converted into condos. The old Maple Leaf Gardens, the facade the same, yet the interior turned into a Loblaws.
These pieces of permanent material have new life breathed into them. Part of them still stands, a reminder, always there, but changed forever. The facade of these buildings still stands, you can feel and see the history of what they once were, now transformed into something new to suit the needs of today.
I love the combination of this idea with the basis of the Anser exhibit. Anser’s artwork has such a beauty to it, a contrast against the material. The material is salvaged, it’s old, worn in, full of history. The face is new, full of such beauty, but also mystery. It creates this unity and fusion of new and old, reflecting the way things can change, gain new life, and represent absolute beauty.
Here are images from the show, displaying the fusion of the salvaged material and the beautiful Anser faces added to the facade.
The streets of Toronto are now safer than ever as mythical creatures, movie characters, super heroes and action figures swoop in to protect our communities.
The hulk, agents Mulder and Scully, Spider Man and the likes have put aside any differences they may have to join together as the Neighbourhood Watch.
Communities all over the city have been assigned a character to protect the neighbourhood.
The brilliant signs were the idea of Toronto artist/ puppet maker Andrew Lamb. He drew inspiration from pop culture of the 80’s and 90’s to bring new and awesome life to the faded Neighbourhood Watch signs around Toronto.
Here is a collection of the signs I have captured so far. I will update as I add to the collection, as I have seen many other ones that I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of. You can also check out this VICE interview with Lamb and see collections of the photos.
Have you noticed these? Maybe captured a photo of one? Please share what you have found, or comment which is your favourite that you have seen!
I would love to hear which neighbourhood you would feel safest in!
Hopefully soon I’ll have pictures of them all!
Anser is one of my favourite street artists in Toronto. His work is incredibly niche- making it instantly recognizable. Anser creates beautiful faces out of seemingly simple lines.
Each and every face has a unique element that makes it stand out and differentiate from the others, like these piercing blue eyes and a beauty mark:
My most recent Anser find was near Avenue and St. Clair on a power box. The passing cars and night light made for some interesting shadows and depth on the simplistic, yet intricate fine lines that create the famous Anser Face:
It’s truly amazing how every face is so similar in its design, so similar you can instantly recognize it as Anser’s work and copy-cats or duplications are immediately obvious; yet every single Anser face I have ever seen looks different and unique.
Here’s another Anser face I spotted in Kensington recently:
And, of course, you can’t escape a Love Bot appearance:
There are so many unique Anser Faces in Toronto I have yet to photograph, so always be on the look out for new Anser Face posts.
Hopefully, some day soon, Toronto will be lucky enough to have another Anser Face gallery event, like this one a few years ago: Anser Gallery at Funktion Gallery or this major solo exhibit at #Hashtag Gallery the Crowded Kingdom
Underpass Park in Toronto, Canada is a public park space that made use of a underpass under the Don Valley Parkway. Usually areas like this site are barren, but the space was utilized beautifully to create a public park, skatepark, playground, basketball court and area filled with amazing art.
This old, forgotten and useless space was transformed into a usable, creative space. The park officially opened August 2nd 2012, by Mayor at the time, Rob Ford. The park is unique as it takes advantage of what once was useless space. Taking the underpass of a highway and turning it onto space where people can play basketball, skateboard and use the playground. Turning the columns into opportunities for artwork.
The waterfront hosted its first ever artist competition to create an installation for the park. The winner was Paul Raff. Paul Raff Studios created an installation that utilized mirrors and reflectivity to open up the space.
Waterfront Toronto says of the installation: “Mirage, by Paul Raff Studios, uses reflectivity to draw people into and through the space. Mirage engages the public through the playful use of reflection by bouncing light around the space in an interesting and sculptural way.”
The columns of underpass park, as previously mentioned have allowed the opportunity for some incredible artwork. This street art that adorns underpass park is, of course, my favourite part. The walls are adorned with artwork done by the best of Toronto’s street artists.
These columns feature art, by Canadian street artist Labrona. Check out his site for all his work. Many of the columns feature work by this Toronto artist, you can tell exactly which ones, as his depictions of people are very unique.
Elicser is well known for his work in Toronto, I have featured him many times on the blog, and always love his work. Like Labrona, his characters have a very unique look. Where Labrona’s are rigid and shapely, you can easily tell the difference with Elicser’s signature round faces.
Spud has been an name synonymous with Toronto Street art for a long time. His work and bomb’s have been all over the city for many years, and although his identity is unknown to most, his work hit a high note of fame during Rob Ford’s reign with many now-infamous Rob Ford graffiti pieces.
This incredible face (directly above) was created by local artist Gilda Monreal aka Fiya Bruxa. In the picture above this one, you can see the other side in the background, the woman’s face further back. It is meant to represent the struggle of violence against women, which is an issue that is extremely important to me. Monreal was quoted for Post City Magazine about the piece:
“It’s really to address violence against women,” explains Monreal. “There are two sides of the pillar that Nick (Sweetman) and I worked on. One side shows the strengths, the dignity and the survivorship of women, and the other side represents the indignation and the rage at the fact that this kind of violence still occurs every day.
Check out this video to see the whole park (in the early unfinished stages), hear the upcoming visions and of course, if you can- come check out Underpass Park!