What is the single biggest art installation in the world? Well, according to Guinness, the world’s longest mural painted by an individual is The Transcendental, and it was located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The installation stretched over 11,300 feet (that’s about three miles long), blocked traffic and got artist SinGh banned for life from participating in the town’s ArtPrize exhibit and competition in 2014.
Toronto doesn’t have an installation quite that big, but we do have a piece of work that stretches over the distance of 800 meters or 2,600 feet give or take. Created by artist Eldon Garnet, Time: and a clock is an art installation that exists in three parts. It stretches west along Queen Street from the Queen Street Viaduct, also known as The Riverside Bridge, across Broadview, and terminating at Jimmy Simpson Park near Empire Avenue.
You’re probably scratching your head a little at this. If you’ve guessed that I’m going to be talking about The Riverside Bridge, you are absolutely right. What most people don’t know is that the bridge is only part one of Eldon’s bigger vision exploring the substance and ambiguity of time. There are in fact two other installations that make up the whole of this massive work. Now, unless you stare at your feet, or look up at the sky as you make your way down Queen Street East, you may not have noticed these works. If you have spotted them, you may not have put two and two and two together to get six.
I’m going to leave you with the mystery of the other two installations for the moment and talk about the Riverside Bridge. Built in 1911 to replace the original wooden structure, The Riverside Bridge spans the Don River and the Don Valley Parkway to connect the east side of Toronto with the downtown core. In 1995-96, Garnett was commissioned to turn the bridge into a showcase for the neighbourhood as part of his greater work. To the bridge, he added the phrase: “THIS RIVER I STEP IN IS NOT THE RIVER I STAND IN”. The quote is attributed to Heraclitus and is inscribed at the top of the structure in 18-inch stainless steel letters. Much like the Don River, the text flows around the illuminated clock face at the center of the portal strut.
The title for this piece comes from the Simon and Garfunkle song ‘Hazy Shade of Winter’:
“Time, time, time
See what’s become of me
While I looked around for my possibilities
I was so hard to please.”