Art on Wheels Nourishes a Hungry City
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Art on Wheels Nourishes a Hungry City

A de-commissioned TTC bus gets re-wrapped by youth from Belka Enrichment Center.

We’re going in another direction. Toronto’s experiencing something of a regeneration, what with bold, new architectural shoots and plans for greener streetscapes threatening to upend our reputed preference for a staid, vanilla aesthetic. But these are stationary propositions—they will be built, rooted as a reef, and we will come. But what about the art of serendipity? Why not an accidental encounter with the sublime? Art on the Move is “a mobile community arts project,” the purpose of which is to add a few drops of public, urban design into a street—into a life—near you.

It is a new turn on “street art.” Financially supported by The Ontario Trillum Foundation and Arts in the Hood/To Live with Culture, AOTM—which we also wrote about in May—is planning to wrap a fleet of vehicles (fifteen in total, from the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors) in art instead of the advertising with which they’d commonly be festooned. The concept is to showcase more of the talents of the arts community and engage people in their own neighbourhoods.
Sponsored by Arts Etobicoke and Lakeshore Arts, the three-year initiative launched yesterday morning with the first three vehicles. The project was only an idea just a few short months ago, so, as opposed to the high-profile, grand-scale projects that often take years to realize, it’s encouraging to see something of such profound effect get off the ground so quickly. The art for each vehicle was created by a different non-profit organization, in a collaborative fashion led by a professional mural artist.
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The Belka Enrichment Center, located in the Jane-Finch area, got a decommissioned TTC bus to work with. The Center provides mentoring services, media and computer literacy, sports clinics, and is home to a homework club. A group of some nearly fifty kids, led by artists Patrick Thompson and Jenifer Rudski, put together a collage of photos and paintings, which were then manipulated in Photoshop. Fittingly, the Belka bus will eventually be outfitted as a mobile computer lab for youth.

White Knight Kitchens’ van. White Knight Kitchens designs and manufactures custom kitchen cabinetry.

A van provided by White Knight Kitchens, a local Etobicoke business, was the canvas for seniors from the Geriatric Unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH). The unit focuses on the reintegration into the community of seniors suffering acute psychiatric and behavioural disturbances. Freelance artist Amir Akbari led ten workshop sessions, helping to piece together sixty different works of art from a dozen participants.

The FoodShare collage, led by Beata Kruszynski. The faces represent the various artists.

Artist Beata Kruszynski worked with a team of young interns from non-profit FoodShare, teaching the basics of drawing, cell portraiture, and blending paint. FoodShare operates innovative grassroots projects that promote healthy eating, teach food preparation and cultivation, develop community capacity, and create non-market-based forms of food distribution. “It started out like going to an art class,” said FoodShare artist Jade Dunlop of the workshops, “but then it grew to a greater scale. I didn’t realize how big and beautiful it was going to be.”
In the next couple of years we can expect to see a full fleet and an acceleration of randomly appearing art all over the city. It’s pastiche to the metal now—Toronto’s on a roll.
All photos by H.C. Tinglin/Torontoist.