DYAN MARIE: VINE PEOPLE (at various locations in the west end) through Dyan Marie Projects (1444 Dupont, unit 41), ongoing. 416-539-8129, www.greenspots.info. Rating: NNNN
Have you noticed the silhouettes and stencils of vine-sprouting people cropping up in at-risk neighbourhoods, toxic redevelopment sites or on corners strewn with garbage?
The brainchild of Dyan Marie, artist and civic and environmental activist, Vine People (growing four indigenous plants: bittersweet, Virginia creeper, virgin's bower and poison ivy) are subtle and beautifying reminders of neglected zones. Marie calls them "ambassadors for green action."
Marie is o ne of the many contributing artists at Love/Hate, MOCCA's summer blockbuster tribute to the Toronto art scene, but her focus goes beyond gallery shows to on-site urban installations and activism. Since 2005 she's been working collaboratively with local artists out of her gallery, Dyan Marie Projects, on beautification and community initiatives that address a wide range of urban issues.
She's asked people to literally stand on the corner and imagine themselves as prostitutes, promoted walking in a neighbourhood devastated by the murder of a 10-year-old girl and led citizens and artists in several low-cost DIY beautification projects that involved cleaning up and replacing broken tiles, lights and fixtures.
These interventions aim to build the kind of community involvement that often erodes away in neighbourhoods affected by poverty and neglect. It's also an attempt to battle the shift toward the isolated condo and gated-community mentality that prevails with rampant redevelopment.
The response has been positive so far. Businesses have even asked for Vine People installations.
A tree walk along the Vine People route starts at Wallace-Emerson Park (Dufferin south of Dupont) on Sunday (July 1) from 1 to 2:30 pm. On July 5 from 1 to 8 pm, Marie and about 20 other artist/activists gather for a Splash Party to scrub down the sidewalks of the crack-blighted Bloor-Lansdowne area. Show up with friends, buckets and sponges and lend a hand. Meet at 1 pm on the corner of Margueretta and Bloor (two blocks east of Lansdowne).