A neglected strip of Oakwood between Rogers and Vaughan got a colourful boost Saturday, September 22, when Art Starts unveiled Demolition Art House, a project that turned one of the oldest houses on the block into a huge mural.
Instead of boarded-up windows, cartoon panda bears and a giant purple octopus grace the front of the 1926 structure. The idea, says program coordinator Sarah Bothwell, is to create a conversation piece and help change the vibe of an swath of old York that's so far been ignored by developers because of its perceived crime problems.
"The way the house engages the corner makes the vibe change entirely," says Bothwell.
The ultimate plan, says Jeremy Vidal, owner of 458 Oakwood, is to raze the house and replace it with a three-storey live-work artists' studio building. He's still waiting for the city to approve his building permit.
"We just want to bring new people to the area," he says.
The working-class 'hood has a long way to go before some locals realize their dream of turning it into an arts district similar to Queen West.
But last fall, city council approved rezoning in the area to include art galleries and artists' lofts. Says local Councillor Howard Moscoe, "We're nurturing the area along."
Not fast enough for some at the Demolition Art House launch, who say they can't wait to "let yuppie scum build here."