One of the joys of living in a city like Toronto is the wonderful discoveries that you make during your daily routine. One of these discoveries was the walkable planets projects, an art installation in the Christie Pitts area. One of the sadder parts to living in Toronto is that the artist has taken the project down at the request of the city.
Artist Jode Roberts (more here) created a series of signs and installed them along Grace Street and Gore Vale Avenue. The signs were similar stylistically to typical street parking signs in an attempt to fly-under-the-radar with city hall because no permit was obtained. There was one sign for each planet in the solar system (except poor old Pluto who was bumped off the stellar list) and they imparted a quirky factoid about the relative sizes of the planet versus the sun.
The project spanned a two kilometre stretch of street scape with each sign’s distance from the next in proportion to the actual distances the planets are apart from one another. Clearly, I found and photographed these last summer.
Read more about the project in the Toronto Star here.
To continue on the things that make a big city charming vein I present Toronto’s tiniest house. The little house was built in 1912 by Arthur Weeden who lived in it for twenty years with his wife before she died. It has since changed hands a number of times and it is now available to rent on Airbnb. The house even has its own website thelittlehouse.ca where you can see interior photos and a floor plan.
What are Neighbourhood Watch signs supposed to do? The ubiquitous big-brother eyes are meant to warn bad guys that this is a place where we watch out for one another, we take care of our own and will foil any wrong-doing by our amateur sleuthing and curtain-twitching.
There is a small town homespun cosiness to the watch program and that’s why an installation project in central west Toronto has hit such a pitch-perfect note. As many as seventy Neighbourhood Watch signs have had their red and black stylized watchful eye images carefully overlaid with an image of either a super-hero or pop culture character. The original message “this neighbourhood protected by” image “neighbourhood watch”is still intact but updated to be noticeable and relevant. The original signs are so commonplace they have become background noise and cease to function as they were originally intended so these additions refresh the message in an entertaining way.
Artist Andrew Lamb has carefully altered the signs with a colour image that he glues onto the signs in broad daylight. Is it vandalism? Well yes, in the strictest sense of the word but the mixture of childhood whimsy, nostalgia and wit on display is delightful.
The Hulk, Wonder Woman, Mr Rogers, Nancy Drew, Spider-Man or in this case (pictured above) the Goonies… who wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing they were all on-guard outside your door?