Conversation Pieces: Little Houses
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Conversation Pieces: Little Houses

Illustration by Brian McLachlan/Torontoist.

Toronto is home to a cornucopia of public art. Some of the pieces acknowledge an individual’s greatness; others are installed when developers want to exceed standard density or circumvent other zoning regulations—the public art is a trade-off for being allowed a variance from the rules.
Often, we don’t pay this art nearly enough attention. Some pieces are out of the way, situated way up high or way down low, and some are so subdued—or so familiar—that they blend into the cityscape. In each installment of
Conversation Pieces we’ll look at several artworks devoted to the same theme, and talk about what makes public art succeed or fail.

NAME: Bird House Sculpture
ARTIST: Anne Roberts (Waterloo, Ontario)
Down on at the Spadina Quay Wetlands is a birdhouse that looks like the adorable mini-towns you find on mantelpieces at Christmas. The old style buildings make it a charming remembrance of our past. Toronto doesn’t have its own museum or an official historical district; pieces like this are nice reminder of the old days.
Also it’s pretty neat that a piece of art asks birds to live in it, instead of getting mad at them for pooping on it.

Photo courtesy of the Dittwald family.

NAME: Supernova
ARTIST: Douglas Coupland (Vancouver, B.C.)
You’ll find this exploding windmill of homes at the Shops at Don Mills. It heralds the 1950s Don Mills building boom while mimicking what is happening the city right now—we have more cranes than an origami class. It’s nostalgic for the past while at the same time making something for today. Like Toronto’s various official building plans, it has order and chaos to it. And just if you didn’t think it was timely enough, it’s also a clock tower.