Art is at our doorstep all around Toronto – and in my case, just down the street. I live in the Land of Os.
Bloor and Ossington is a microcosm of our city, a spicy mix of cultures: Portuguese, Chinese, Italian, Ethiopian, Spanish, Jamaican, Vietnamese and more. You can smell and taste the flavours at our food joints. You see it on the streets, not just in the faces, but the art on the walls.
Hop off at Ossington, walk up to street level and right next door, at Network Child Care Services, the walls and play enclosures are covered with artist Doris Risso’s tribute to the daycare kids.
Walk the back alley behind the child care and there are equally playful images of birds and dinosaurs on the fences. Judging by scale, King Kong wouldn’t stand a chance against these prehistoric lizards.
A few blocks west on Bloor, at Dovercourt, murals adorn the walls of local businesses like Nova Era bakery (don’t pass up their pasteis de nata, Portuguese egg tarts) and Top Taste (for Jamaican patty fans).
Walk down the alley beside Top Taste to take in the masterful mural of a man chopping coconut as colourful birds take flight. You’ll end up at Westmoreland Avenue Parkette. The little park was recently overhauled to be more kid-friendly, with swings and climbing ropes.
There are xylophones there to encourage music making. I’ve tried them out. They sound like wind chimes, which is just as well for the people that live next door and may not want to hear improvisational tunes at 2 a.m.
It’s drawing in parents and kids. And they’re drawing, like this chalk-art dragon that showed up on the path through the park.
Some people worry about kids getting overstimulated. But the kind of creative stimulation all around my neighbourhood is clearly a good thing.