The Pape Poet Persists
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The Pape Poet Persists

In two months, an unassuming house on Pape Avenue, north of Danforth, has captivated the city’s (okay, mostly our) imagination. Photographer Rob Cruickshank first spotted a mysterious set of signs on February 16—one of them read, in part, “Blow up this house / you will get land / kill the witness of / 1949 of Changdu / & 1950 of Maurtisus.” Chengdu is a Chinese city that became Communist at the tail end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 (the Beijing Olympics website says that was the year it was “liberated”); Mauritius is an island off the coast of Africa with a history of Chinese immigration, immigration that dropped off drastically once China restricted policies after its civil war ended—which might begin to explain the house being (as the sign beside it said) the “first black house on Pape.”
But that first set would only be the first and most intelligible of many, and fellow photographer Ron Miyanishi has been tracing the signmaker’s oeuvre ever since. While we’ve covered the house twice before, new signs keep popping up, too fascinating to ignore—all the work of either a cuckolded husband, a Chinese emigré, a language teacher, a union organizer, a poet, an artist, or all or none of the above.
Miyanishi’s complete set of photos to this point are above.