As guerrilla takeovers of public space go, the one on the grassy median on Shaw last week - beat-up chairs lashed together like benches around trees - has to rate among the more curious.
An invitation to a neighbourhood game of musical chairs? No one seems to know, but the nuke symbol spraypainted in green on the chairs suggests those behind the effort are trying to make a statement about our reliance on nuke energy. Perhaps they want us to sit down and contemplate a nuke future without trees?
"It seems to be a warm and fuzzy way of raising awareness about nuclear energy," says local Barb Kelly.
Others suspect it's part of an ongoing lobbying effort to convert a nearby abandoned Givins/Shaw Public School into an arts-based consortium similar to the Wychwood Car Barns project. Artscape and the Toronto District School Board are to begin discussions on a long-term lease on the space.
Says parent council chair Debbie Rix, "We don't want it to turn into another set of condos."
Could the appearance of the chairs have anything to do with the Stellar Living art show being presented by the Mercer Union at Givins/Shaw? The display showcases how art can make urban living easier, and one piece in particular includes chairs. Mercer Union co-director Natalie De Vito says there's no connection.
But not all residents appreciate the show. "The street looks like a jungle," says local Carrie Gelleny.
Area councillor Joe Pantalone thinks "it's somebody's idea of a joke" and sent the forestry service to investigate on Monday, May 1, but by the time they got there all but two chairs were gone. "It requires a city permit to use the city boulevard," says Pantalone. "There are safety issues, too. Children are tempted to run back and forth across the road."
Dave Meslin of the Public Space Committee, on the other hand, is heartened by the display.
"Anonymous art that sprouts from the sidewalk is what really defines a local culture. As long as people are willing to sneak out at night and create art without a permit, we know the city is alive."