This is a project I initiated in 2017 with the idea of painting a series of murals on the rail bridges in the Carlaw-Dundas area as part of the Carlaw Dundas Community Initiative.
The Carlaw-Dundas area is a former industrial area that has transformed into a hub of cultural and creative businesses and residents. As part of the larger initiative, a suite of public space improvement projects are being undertaken.
The Underpass Project has now grown to include all nine rail bridges in Toronto-Danforth from Eastern Ave to Coxwell Ave. This will also be the only project of its kind in the City which will be rolled out over a number of years.
In collaboration with StreetARToronto (StART), we are inviting community input to develop a unifying theme and an integrated approach for each mural installation. The first two underpasses have been installed at Gerrard St. East and Jones Ave.
The Coxwell Underpass is the fourth underpass in this series to receive a mural. In the beginning of 2020, artists who identify as Indigenous persons were invited to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to participate in the Coxwell Underpass Street Art Project. The goal of this project is to beautify and animate the underpass with a mural representative of the local, historical indigenous perspective. This Expression of Interest was facilitated by Denise B. McLeod. Denise is Anishinaabe (Ojibway) who’s home territory is Sagamok Anishinabek First Nation on the north shores of Lake Huron.
Two short-listed design concepts are now being considered by the Local Advisory Committee. You can review the designs and respond to the survey online. This survey is open until 11:45 pm on January 10, 2021.
You can also watch videos from the artists themselves to learn more about their work and their design concepts for the underpass.
Keitha Keeshig-Tobias (AKA Biizindam) / Paintbrush Carriers:
Feedback will be shared with the Advisory Committee and will be one of several aspects that will help inform their selection. The design concept selected by the Advisory Committee will be painted by the artist and their mentees on the underpass as a highlight of Toronto’s 2021 Year of Public Art.
The third mural in this series was installed on the east and west sides of the underpass on Carlaw Avenue at Gerrard Street East, as well as the wall facing into the parkette that connects the Carlaw Underpass and to the Gerrard Street underpass.
In February 2020, four proposed design concepts for art on the Carlaw underpass were considered by a local Advisory Committee. A community engagement drop-in event with the shortlisted artists took place in March and an online survey to collect feedback was also circulated to the community.
Artist Ryan Smeeton was selected and he began working on the underpass in July 2020. Ryan and the collaborating artists completed the mural in August 2020.
In 2018 public consultation meetings were held and artists were selected for the first two of nine underpasses. Kirsten McCrae was selected to create artwork on the underpass on Gerrard Street East at Carlaw Avenue, and Jason Pinney was selected to create artwork on the Jones Avenue underpass which is between Gerrard Street East and Boultbee Avenue.
The Gerrard St. East mural was completed in July 2019 and an official ribbon-cutting and celebration was held on July 30th.
The Jones mural was completed in September 2019. Repairs are being made in 2020 by artist Jason Pinney and will be complete in June 2020.
Locations of Railway Underpasses in Ward 14