I found Toronto street art, much like Detroit, to showcase a great array of talent for wildstyle graffiti. If you’re you’re not familiar with the term, stay tuned and I’ll explain in a minute. Like all of the Art on the Street series, this post doesn’t just cover street art, but also public art installations and murals of which Toronto has some fabulous pieces to show off. From “The Audience”, a sculptural ode to Blue Jays fans at the Rogers Centre, to the whimsical dog fountain in Berczy Park.
The Audience is a sculpture that hangs high on the northwest corner of the Rogers Centre, home to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball team. The Michael Snow creation depicts fans at the game and greets spectators from above as they enter the stadium.
The Gooderham Building is also known as the “Flatiron” of Toronto, although it pre-dates its New York cousin. The Romanesque Revival and French Gothic building was completed in 1892 and has appeared on many an Instagram feed. The commercial buildings which once adjoined the rear of the Gooderham were torn down a long time ago and in the 80’s the space was a carpark. It has since been revitalised as a public space named Berczy Park. The rear of the Gooderham Building is adorned by a mural by Canadian artist Derek Besant. Painted in 1998, the artwork reflects the facade of the Perkins Building opposite, and has a 3-dimensional look due to the trompe lóeil effect Besant employed.
This playful puppy fountain features 27 cast-iron pups shooting water longingly towards a golden bone centerpiece. Among the represented breeds are Fox Terrior, Jack Russel, Dalmation, Beagle, Giant Schnauzer, Golden Retriever, St Bernard and Pug. This fountain is too fun to miss and is located in Breczy Park, right behind the Gooderham Building so you can kill two birds.
I like to think of wildstyle as both the calligraphy and secret code of street art. It is a highly complicated form of typography that is often unreadable to those who don’t create it. Wildstyle got its name from a Bronx-based graffiti crew in the 1980’s called Wild Style. The graffiti involves the distortion of letters, adding embellishments such as arrows, along with overlapping and interweaving their forms to create a complex piece. Sometimes additional effects such as layering and shadows are used to create the illusion of three dimensions.
You will find Lovebot hiding all over Toronto. Creator Matthew Del Degan set out to “lovingly disrupt the robotic routines of humans, and remind them that there is love in their cities and kindness around every corner.”
Where to find Toronto street art
Finding art on the streets of Toronto requires no more than going for a walk and keeping your eyes peeled. However, if you’re time pressured and want some more specific direction, check these out:
- Rush Lane aka “Graffiti Lane” and adjoining McDougall Lane are the most central hot spot for graffiti.
- Kensington Market is a neighbourhood with a creative, bohemian vibe where you’ll find plenty of colourful wall adornments.
- Further west of Kensington Market is Ossington Laneway, which was the setting for a 2012 “beautification project” by 20 artists.
- Milky Way in the Parkdale area is another street of art, that gets a mention by locals.
- On the eastern side of town, find plenty of street art in Cabbagetown.
- Also in the east, seek out laneways in the Pape and Danforth areas. Look for painted traffic boxes and mailboxes.
- The aforementioned Berczy Park is the place to see the Gooderham Mural and Dog Fountain
- The Distillery District is filled with sculptures including the Love Locks featured above