NWYN – Notice What You Notice

I’ve always thought that the 21st is the first day of Spring, but many people’s social media posts on Sunday told me it was, indeed, the first day of Spring 2016.  Before 9 am I was on my bike and out and about, which brought me down an alley I’d noticed before, but with a bit of time to be able to check out this mural in detail…


and the funny little creature beside the mural:


These two pieces of art get their own gorgeous view in the mornings:

20160320_081901-1-1I decided to venture down to the lake but was distracted by some writing down a set of stairs, so I hauled my bike down them and was treated to a very typical urban exploring adventure under the bridge at Bathurst and Fort York:

It was time to go down to the lake, where I was tempted to try to get into the closed off Ontario Place grounds, but settled with a shot of the waking Toronto skyline:


I was very very very cold, but I went as far as the bottom of Roncesvalles to one of my favourite lake access points:wp-1458515790695.jpg

Going back up into the core, along the VERY cold and shaded Queen Street, warmth came from the colours in this huge mural I’d never seen before!


There’s a new LCBO in Parkdale that is just screaming for art on the big bare wall of its parking lot, but for now this is one of two pieces of art visible:


Heading further East, I checked out a terrible new ‘courtyard’ in front of a series of ‘Art Condos’ and was feeling sad for the state of public space in these new densely populated places.

Luckily, behind the Theatre Art Centre there’s the frequently photographed alley that’s just filled with art:


Continuing on, I passed another, quieter and less colourful alley, but I noticed this at the end.


“Don’t be mean to strangers on the internet.”

It was SO worth venturing down this alley, because it was absolutely FILLED with art, mostly by birdO, but also peppered with LoveBOT, Smoky/ Shalak and one by Rakems, Dizoe, Spud, Philth.

At this point, I was really starting to shiver. My feet and fingers were starting to go numb and I knew it was time to head home. But one more birdO was ready to be (re)discovered, and it was as glorious from afar as it was the first time I came across it up close.


I KNEW birdO was prolific, but every time I come across his work I’m baffled by how much colour he’s brought to our city, and I’m sure I haven’t even scratched the surface.  It’s certain there is more to be found on another day.

What’d you get up to on the first day of Spring?


Toronto was so alive yesterday. (*Note, this post was from March 13th, though being published on March 21st.)

People were out in droves; wandering & meandering in the parks and on the streets. The predictable mixture of the underdressed, shivering in stylish garb and the overdressed, drooping their excess winter gear over arms and pyrse straps hung out in groups in front of cafes and brunch spots.

As I cycled thtough some favourite alleys and lanes, I came across photographers and models using the fresh paint or peeling murals as their spring fashion backgrounds.

I started my day with a ride towards this sparkling fabulousness.

I’m lucky to be able to see this mosaic mural multiple times in a week.

Next I came across this majestic lion, which I was surprised to not have noticed before, as it adorns the side of a Chinese Bakery on Dundas Street West that I visit on at least a twice-monthly basis.

The rest of these were new to me. They are mostly located behind the Hydro Building on Cecil Ave, with a few others peppered between the alleys between there and the entertainment district.


I have really been relishing in the more frequent opportunities I’ve had lately to indulge in some relaxed laneway-loving alley walks. When I’m not able to do so, this button is basically my mantra:


I’ve definitely gone through portions of this Toronto lane before, but last night was a special treat.image

I am nearly certain that this lane is named after the family of my old boss, the inimitable Judy Perly of Free Times Cafe. She was as colourful and eccentric as many of the murals I was lucky enough to come across in post dinner meander.

Before entering this lane I saw spots of colour and delight in a few approaching alleys.

Then it was time to enter Perly Family Lane.
The first was a subtle experience.
There’s something incredibly beautiful about a covered car or boat in a back alley. It’s almost poetic; a symbol of past joyrides, blanketed over to protect from temptation:


Then my partner warned me, I was about to have ~an experience~.
Sometimes… no, frequently, I experience new things with such vigour that this card by Russell Alton at, (Which I souvenired from Vancouver for some good friends who go on these journeys with me at times) perfectly captures what I look and sound like:


This happened multiple times in Perly Family Lane.
I’m sure many people who live in the Annex – Christie Pits area of Toronto have seen the front of the house of Albino Carreira or seen his van go by, completely encrusted with small toys and insects. Well he doesn’t stop at the front of the house.  Knick knacks and small cuts of wood completely adorn his garage too:


He even managed to decorate further an already rather ornate granite siding:


Metro News did a piece about uniquely decorated houses in Toronto and not surprisingly his place on Clinton makes the cut.
A more in depth article about Albino’s whole life, and why his eccentric decor style is an homage to the spinal cord is available here on Raw Vision.

Next we came across a garage door that is just screaming for some eyes:


Did you know that our tendency to see faces in nearly everything is a really natural and common phenomenon and has a name? Pareidolia, which in Greek means, in essence, “faulty image.” (Source: LiveScience)

Perly Family Lane has lots of different kinds of art adorning the garage doors, but there is definitely a monopoly on the creation by one artist in particular. I still need to seek out and find out who they are, but for now, enjoy a gallery showcasing both their play with colour and lines, and their sheer abundance.

Sometimes I find in back alleys, that it’s hard to figure out which back of the house matches the front of the house. (Unless of course it’s like the eccentric one above and it’s unquestionable).  But this door takes all the guessing away AND is striking:wpid-img_20150708_234019.jpg

I was also particularly drawn to this next stencil-made door and wonder who created it. Were they inspired by a real meadow stroll or woodland wander?


I, of course, also appreciate the visual impact of mild urban decay juxtaposed with growing over of foliage. There were plenty examples of this in this alley, but this one was particularly beautiful.


So, despite the mass exodus of many of my friends to the ‘Best Coast,’ I will definitely stick with my alley-filled town and ignore this tag with vigour.


Happy wandering, lovelies!

This is only a small chunk of the vibrancy of this lane.

I love Toronto alleyways SO. VERY. MUCH.







She, giggling, I thought, over a boxcar made from the remnants of Tim Horton’s Timbits combo, he knocks on the thick plastic window after he, begrudgingly, exits at his station. His eyes are wide and deer-eyed… filled up with excitement of a first kiss just plucked from her cautious lips. She doesn’t look up. He slinks as he turns away and the train pulls away and she giggles more. She is completely unaware of the melancholy she just delivered.

The furious fluster of her thumb tips tell me she is texting a friend. Likely regaling details of a date she’d thought had ended, but which he was still clinging to the end of. In my day this would have resulted in an all night ICQ session between the two.

What do the teens in love do now?


I haven’t quite learned yet that, even if it is physically a shorter distance, going through back alleys will almost certainly lead to a longer walk. What was supposed to be a forty-five minute journey, door-to-chore-to-door, doubled into an almost two hour excursion, where I found beautiful back alley urban decay, street art, shadows, and even accidentally went to an art show. There are no pictures of that because it was still in set up mode, but there are plenty of others:

I’d like to dedicate the second half of this post to the good folks at Blundstones on Queen, who not only got me set up with some sweet sheepskin inserts, some winter socks, and a full cleaning, conditioning and waterproofing of my leather babies, they also let me steal some power off them for a couple minutes. This meant I was able to capture this next set which is, at maximum, ten minutes of frantic frame-grabbing:

It was immediately after this one took that the phone vibrated to a close. There were at least four other stunning murals within view, and I hadn’t even taken photos of all of the ones in the row… just my favourites. It felt like I passed through some sort of intensely saturated streetart-alleywalk teleportation tunnel.  Despite my frequent strolls of this nature, this was something special.

I’m off tomorrow morning to go spend time deep in nature, where the alleys will be trees and the murals are made from the ways that the light plays with the bare branches and the snow mounds. I can’t wait!

Happy Weekend!


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