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There's little doubt that by the time Rob Ford leaves office, he'll have left his mark on Toronto. But just in case, one local street artist is leaving Ford's mark for him.
For months a graffiti artist who goes by the name of Spud has been spray painting walls, street signs, and rooftops with images of our mayor, none of them flattering, all of them skillfully done. Thursday Spud took his Ford-themed work off the streets and into an Ossington Ave. gallery for an exhibition he's calling Censored.
According to Spud, both his street work and the canvas paintings, which portray Ford alternately as a grotesque worm, a smog cloud, and a human "gravy train," are a reaction to the mayor's crackdown on graffiti.
"When Rob Ford was elected to office, Spud noticed a change in our city," read the artist statement posted to the wall of the Don't Tell Mama Gallery. "Slowly, all of the valuable street art and murals began disappearing from our city walls, and with it, our city's Street Art Revolutionary History."
The exhibition may have been inspired by Ford's efforts to "clean up the streets," but the over-capacity crowd that spilled out onto Ossington Thursday night indicates Spud's over-the-top portrayals of the mayor have struck a chord with more people than just street artists.
In the 15 months he's held the top job at City Hall, Ford has gone from polarizing local politician to a folk villain of out-sized proportions.
There's something about our mayor that means even politicians like Stephen Harper, who is also deeply unpopular around these parts, could never hope to provoke comparably colourful reactions.
"Ford is so easy to make fun of. You can't take him seriously at all," said Celina Laurette, a high school student at Jarvis Collegiate who came to see the exhibition. "It would be harder to do this to a respectable politician. He makes the city a circus."
Others find a measure of catharsis in Spud's work.
"It's like Spud's taken the darkest dreams of Toronto's progressive left and put them up on the canvas," said Corey Caplan, another gallery-goer and self-described left-leaning Torontonian. "It's a bit surreal."
Censored runs until the end of the month.
(Don't Tell Mama, 108 Ossington Ave.)