Posts Tagged ‘toronto

06
Sep
11

RIP Jack. The Struggle Continues

I went to Parliament Hill to file by Jack Layton’s coffin that Thursday, and it was the makeshift memorial full of cans of Orange Crush, letters of thanks and encouraging messages for the future that left me choked up and wiping tears off my cheeks. The idea of an Elmaks street art memorial piece crossed my mind and didn’t leave. It had to be done. Like most of my ideas, its birth came about in the form of two images. Layton’s mustache and NDP orange. I went looking for material and knew things were looking up when I stumbled upon a half-sheet of 1/2″ plywood behind the local trip mall. This would have to go from idea to finished product in 36 hours- my version of a no-huddle offense.

The most frustrating part of this was laying down Krylon indoor-outdoor gloss finish on top of Montana Black. The latter’s a proper artists’ paint and has a powdery finish, while the former’s gotten worse in terms of its consistency in recent years and sports a ‘tamper proof’ unremovable nozzle that sprays a blotchy wedge pattern which requires at least 2-3 coats even if you’re painting wicker furniture (Even though its cans are useless to proper street artists, Krylon’s cheap and that makes it a good friend of taggers). I laid down 3 coats of orange (10 minute drying time my ass…I spent 1 1/2 hours waiting for each coat to dry) before it hit me that Weld Bond glue could be used as an improvised primer.

Jack Layton wasn’t just a politician, he was an activist and an advocate. He was a tireless fighter for the rights of GLBT citizens, the homeless, immigrants, wounded soldiers and just about anyone else whose voice wasn’t being heard. He was an honest politician who sought to bring civility to Parliament. As his state funeral showed, he was a man who touched many lives.

He was also a powerful rallying figure for those who know that this country of ours is being steered in the wrong direction and want to turn the wheel sharply away from its present course. The enthusiasm of many who’ve vowed to carry on his tasks of activism and advocacy hasn’t quite hit me. It’s been patchy. But I’ve been also thrown into a bit of a worry-and-frustration-induced depression. Reality-induced funk, I guess.

It’s not just the slashing of Environment Canada jobs, the lack of whistleblower protection, the justification of $1 billion in expenses for the Toronto G8 summit and excusing of horrible police violence and unconstitutional mass arrests, the elimination of the Canadian Long Form Census, the blatant lie that crime rates are increasing being used to justify the construction of US-style megaprisons, the exorbitant expenditure on overpriced and untested single-engine fighter jets (I’ll say that what this country really needs in terms of home military equipment spending is a modernized Navy and Coast Guard), the “it’s the economy, stupid” claims of economic success in a petrostate with booming oil-prices (Canada’s economy has become a resource-extraction-based one), the refusal to answer media questions, “But That’s Simply Not True…”, the massive expansion of the tar sands and invite to foreign oil companies to make a mess they won’t ever have to clean up, the abyssmal conditions of Native reserves, the slashing of social spending, the falsifying of documents by a senior minister, or the Canadian Taliban-esque social conservatism that occasionally bursts through the background noise like a demented SETI signal broadcasting “Screw you all! We’re not only content with wrecking the environment but we’ll wreck all of your sinning, criminal lives to boot because that’s the way things were intended”

No, it’s not just that. It’s also the media’s cowardice in failing to press Harper even when he restricted them to five questions per day. It’s the chilling political climate this country’s taking on. It’s the rise of right-wing politicians who gut city and provincial treasuries like human locusts by slashing their tax base and handing out unscrutinized contracts to their friends.

It’s also the anger these politicans turn into a carefully directed hate and rise to power on, and it’s the fact that many among their electorate are cheering them on the entire time.

The other side never takes a day off from steering the reins in their direction. The struggle continues. We’ve got our work cut out for us. Thank you Jack. We lost a great fighter, rallier, inspiration and human being. Vires in Numeris. Let’s roll.

29
Jun
10

New Posterchild stencil, “Harper’s Army”

New piece by Toronto’s Posterchild, fresh for the G-20 summit where Toronto’s 41 and 42 Division were given the chance to run amok. Huge props to Posterchild. This is gorgeous.

And if you haven’t seen this yet, watch it. TOPD overreacts to peaceful protesters singing our national anthem

15
Mar
10

Street Art meets transportation planning

You’d think that something so formal as the urban planning process and something so simple, decentralized and informal as streetart wouldn’t mesh too well together, right? Well, one way in which streetart can integrate itself into the planning process is as a means of raising awareness of important societal issues. The long tradition of pranksterism lends itself well to social pressure, as the Yes Men and their many media stunts show.

Have you heard of the Urban Renewal Squad? They’re a Toronto-based group which uses streetart as a means of raising awareness of cycling issues and problems, and they’ve pulled off some impressive work in the last couple of months… such as a modifying of a City of Toronto logo to include a cyclist and pedestrian and a strategic pothole stencilling campaign.

Very interesting stuff that reminds me of the work of Roadsworth and creates a whole lot of potential for new street art campaigns. What do you think, my dear readers? Streetart and graf’s prankster roots offer a great position for social commentary without getting into the territory of excruciatingly in-your-face annoying political commentary that many of us, including me, hate. Writing a political slogan on a wall is so much easier than pulling off a clever, well-thought-out piece of graf or street art. And it’s a lot easier to call the general public a bunch of sheeple for not appreciating the truth of your ‘SMASH THE STATE” which you’ve scrawled on the side of a bank building than it is to actually get involved in existing community initiatives or give people something to think about and enjoy.

And don’t forget to use the widget located on the righthand side of the page. Using it raises money for To Write Love On Her Arms, which is a damn good nonprofit which could use a lot more donated time and money.

And as for a book update, the manuscript is almost complete. All which remains to do is to put together the front and back covers and scan/integrate the two blueprints which I’m about halfway finished drawing. Then it gets sent off to my editors and shipped off to a publisher. Once I hear from a publisher I can can have an idea of when it’ll be ready for purchase and start setting up the sale infrastructure.

18
Aug
09

Nuit Blanche coming up in Toronto…

Nuit Blanche, a one-night sunset-to-sunrise art festival featuring more than 500 artists, is coming up on October 3rd.

If you don’t know about Nuit Blanche, then I invite you to check out the link. I myself am looking forward to being part of Montreal’s Nuit Blanche in a couple of months… invited or not.

Nuit Blanche is an absolutely fascinating experience. For one night, urban spaces are magically transformed and thousands of people set about on art-finding odysseys and adventures. In a way it’s a little bit like the Swap Box Project writ large- it transforms spaces into places of discovery and brings together people who otherwise might never meet.

23
Jul
09

Street Art in Toronto

The blog Next American City has a great article on the politics of street art and the many opinions people hold about it titledToronto as a Canvas

From the article:
“Last March at the Artlab Gallery in Toronto, a show opened to great buzz – but not for any traditional artist. The gallery walls were filled with art from the city streets, ranging from graffiti to stenciling, from beer-can sculptures to life-size Val Kilmer cut-outs. Curious Torontonians packed the gallery to capacity early, eager to catch a glimpse of the artists who had been secretly altering the city’s streetscapes. Artlab gave legitimacy and artistic stature to what more conservative city groups had cast as examples of vandalism and property rights violations. Meanwhile, local government has been renewing its efforts to combat vandalism and street art, raising the question: who owns Toronto’s public spaces and should a city accept or even exalt street art?”

What are folks’ thoughts on this matter? If you ask me, streetart and graffiti are not going away. They are the world’s first truly international art movements and their DIY ethos has brought about a wide range of fascinating and beautiful mutations of the genre.

What graf and street art is going against are the forces of staticism. If you ask me, those who want to preserve a certain image or structure against all oncomers can be the most dangerous forces at play within any city.

Oh, and check out MaksWerks on Etsy for some awesome art on sale!





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