New mural in Toronto’s ‘Little Manila’

Community News & Features Aug 24, 2018 at 4:10 pm
nother weird creature from the Philippines: the tarsier, a primate known for its super long tarsus bone (hence the name) which makes its legs twice as long as its body.   (Photo courtesy of Nick Sweetman)

Another weird creature from the Philippines: the tarsier, a primate known for its super long tarsus bone (hence the name) which makes its legs twice as long as its body.
(Photo courtesy of Nick Sweetman)

By Ysh Cabana
The Philippine Reporter

A purple crab, polar bears, bison and dozens of gigantic animals spruce up what is a dark underpass on Bathurst and Wilson bridge.

Nick Sweetman started splashing bright colours earlier in July as part of what would be a community-focused artwork to beautify and to create space that represents Filipinos among many diverse people.

“I tried to select images that could serve as metaphors for the Filipino, Jewish and Russian families who have gathered in this part of the city to live, work, play and grow,” said Sweetman in his concept paper.

Designs soon to come to life on the wall are images of various animals as “non-human representations” of these countries and Canada to pay respect to the native peoples as well.

Together with artists Vizsla Bacon and Willy Wales, Sweetman prime and prep in the 8.5 feet by 311 feet long (3.0 x 95.0 meters) east wall that will take up the end of summer to complete. While the west section is set to be installed in 2019.

Photo courtesy of Nick Sweetman

Photo courtesy of Nick Sweetman

The project is run by StreetArt Toronto (StART), a long-running Toronto public-arts and education non-profit that focuses on bringing vibrancy to the streets throughout the city. For this specific site, the intent was to depict natural scenery and to complement the existing green landscape mural on the north facing wall by acclaimed artist Ian Leventhal.

The mural made its way to Toronto’s unofficial ‘Little Manila’ in the intersection of Bathurst Street and Wilson Avenue. This was done through the initiative of James Pasternak in cooperation with Josh Colle, councillors in the adjacent wards 10 and 15 respectively. Renovations were done by the government first on the underpass known for its busy vehicle and foot traffic. The tunnel was in disrepair for many years, Pasternak said, but the city’s investments were managed well to put public art there, besides fixing the retaining walls and lights up.

Out of the hundreds of proposals, five were shortlisted for public consultation.

Carolyn Taylor, project lead of StART, facilitated the selection committee that included Teresa Torralba (Taste of Manila), Lila Karim (North York Arts), Claude Bitton (Owner, Aroma Cafe), artist Debbie Swartz and Victoria Novinskaya (Pasternak’s office) in the review of the submittals. Then, a survey was made available online for further consultation of the concepts.

Sweetman said it’s cool to be painting in the neighbourhood. “My hope is that the people who use this underpass will recognize the wildlife I have selected as being from their country and so the mural will make them feel proud,” he said.

 

Nick Sweetman (center) being recognized at Taste of Manila by Councillor James Pasternak.  (Photo: Ysh Cabana)

Nick Sweetman (center) being recognized at Taste of Manila by Councillor James Pasternak.
(Photo: Ysh Cabana)