If you are looking for bang for your street art exploring buck, you can’t do much better than Dundas Street between Beverley Street and Spadina Avenue. On a stretch of road measuring approximately 245 meters, you will five StART murals and some graffiti writing. That is a piece of artwork for every 50 meters. You can’t beat that.
To say that the Chinatown BIA has taken advantage of the City of Toronto’s StreetART program would be an understatement. These works combine images of the Chinese countryside, myth, art, and culture with contemporary street art styles. The result is simply stunning and well worth a visit. I am hard pressed to pick favourite.
If I were pushed to make a choice, I would go with the Chinatown Mural, located at 397 Dundas St West. Created in 2011 through a collaboration between Alexa Hatanaka and Li-Hill, the piece stretches over the 35-foot length of the building. The mural combines everyday moments seen in this part of the city with a reverence for the very old and the very young that is common in Chinese culture. Broken into three parts, the images share playful interactions as the elders watch over the children at play. It’s a fun piece to view because it doesn’t feel static. There is a sense of flow, as though you’re moving through time and nothing is set in stone. Highly ironic considering this is a brick wall.
The other thing that I like about this work is that there are no hard borders. If you look, the painting, the edges blend into the masonry so that it feels very organic within the canvas that it is painted on. The colours are bright and cheery, adding to the sense of movement, joy, and reverence.
The title for this article comes from the W. Hodding Carter II quote: “There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One of these is roots; the other, wings.”