Regent Park (Dundas and River)
Uplifting, but unlike its edgier counterparts in the U.S., city-sanctioned wall art in our disadvantaged neighbourhoods too often emphasizes the positive, not the social ills that confront people living in subsizided housing.
Bleecker Street Co-op (85 Bleecker, at Dundas)
While city-run concrete monstrosities crumble around them, Bleecker Co-op artists are volunteering their skills to raise community consciousness.
The Brick Works (Brick Works site at 550 Bayview, south of Pottery)
Murals are supposed to tell stories. And this forgotten gem recounts a worthwhile one -- T.O.'s emergence as an industrial city.
The Flatiron Building (49 Wellington East)
This 1980s ode to the theatre district has one thing going for it that other big-biz-sponsored art in the city usually doesn't: subtlety.
Bathurst and Wilson Park (401 overpass at Bathurst and Wilson)
Brightens up a long-neglected green space, but these local biz-backed pastorals too often look like they've been painted by a high school student.
Jimmie Simpson Community Centre (870 Queen East, at McGee)
A mural with a concept -- what a concept.
All Saints Church (315 Dundas East, at Parliament)
Not exactly the ancient murals of Mexico, but this mosaic illustrates how messing with the medium can have inspiring results.
Beaches (Queen and Lee)
Like too many BIA-sponsored pieces, this montage in the Beach appeals to the most surperficial of tastes.
What the critics say...
I like the notion of decorating the city; there are a lot of spaces that need it. But the aesthetic that's normally applied barely goes beyond graffiti tagging. It's hard to get important painters to do the work. The selection process, which is the problem with public art in general, has become much more corporate. Criticality is ruled out. What we're creating is the illusion of art.
I always say better a bad piece of public art than none at all. And that's what we're getting with some of these murals.
Eldon Garnet , professor of public art, Ontario College of Art and Design
I'm a fan of Toronto's murals. We have some excellent examples on commercial buildings like the Silver Snail and Cameron House on Queen West. Our bridges have a good mix of illegal graffiti, city-sanctioned murals and community-oriented pieces that can come across as hokey but can also convey so much more than just artistic merit. Wall murals don't have to be the domain of great airbrush artists or professionals or those seeking to make a graffiti name for themselves.
Matt Blackett , creative director, Spacing magazine
Our tendency has been to ask public art to reference place. The idea of making something relative to place is a very good one as long as that importance isn't overemphasized and the artwork doesn't become merely illustration. Maybe we're being asked to tell too many stories; some public art seems too didactic. I'm not sure a lot of it has the complexity that could make it be called art any more. But it satisfies the funding bodies [developers and the city] who are not looking for controversy.
Rina Greer , public art consultant