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East York people, places, events & insights

Ribbon cutting for laneway mosaic adds colour and identity to EY streetscape

With the formal snip of a ribbon by a disparate group of community stakeholders today, the rear wall of the “Green P” parking lot on Danforth Ave. near Coxwell Ave. and its adjacent laneway now add a lot of colour and identity to the East York streetscape.

Cutting the ribbon: Cindy Rozeboom, Lito Romano, Cristina Delago, Marie Casista & Janet Davis. -GARY W-P

Cutting the ribbon: Cindy Rozeboom, Lito Romano, Cristina Delago, Marie Casista & Janet Davis. -GARY W-P

Representatives of the East End Arts non-profit organization, the Toronto Transit Commission and the Toronto Parking Authority joined lead artist Cristina Delago and Ward 31 Councillor Janet Davis along with a throng of dozens of volunteers and well-wishes in the parking lot adjacent to Shopper’s Drug Mart just east of Coxwell for the ceremony officially opening the mosaic mural.

Cristina Delago with some of the mosaic project team members and volunteers. -GARY W-P

Cristina Delago with some of the mosaic project team members and volunteers. -GARY W-P

The finished art work runs in three sections along the laneway next to the TTC station from Strathmore Blvd. south to the parking lot behind the station and along the wall that forms the border between the station and the public lot.

Created during the month of August by dozens of participants after a community fund-raising campaign, the mosaic mural —actually a collection of several mosaics created by volunteers and an artistic team working under Ms. Delago’s direction— represents varying aspects of East York’s present, past and future, she told the crowd.

The project had its genesis three years ago, EEA’s managing director Cindy Roseboom told the group, when she and Delago “had a coffee right next door” at the defunct Bus Terminal Restaurant and talked about how the artist might imagine doing something to make the laneway and parking lot more appealing.  From there Ms. Davis took up the cause to get the ball rolling, recruiting participation by the city organizations.

East End Arts managing director Cindy Rozeboom talks about genesis of mural. -GARY W-P

East End Arts managing director Cindy Rozeboom talks about genesis of mural. -GARY W-P

In addition to representing the various eras of East York’s existence, Delago told the assembly, the finished 3-dimensional mural, called “Ports Through Time”, also incorporates various symbols of the former borough’s identity such as a beaver, a bulldog and a white rose along the top strip of the sections.

In the main section are found many depictions of various aspects of EY daily life over the years, such as trolley buses and streetcars, stables, the former Toronto East General Hospital (now Michael Garron Hospital) and many more.  The individual mosaics incorporate a variety of materials ranging from pieces of tile and mirrors to bits of plastic, metal and stone to create a series of distinctive pieces that each have their own identity yet are linked to the overall concept.

Since a “bumper” would have to be installed between the wall and the parking lot anyways, Delago said, the team decided to incorporate it into the project by building one and adorning it with two quotes from revered EY historical personage Agnes Macphail.

Mosaic mural wall, 'Ports Through Time' -GARY W-P

Mosaic mural wall, ‘Ports Through Time’ -GARY W-P

“Equal rights for all, special privileges for none,” says one section, while the other quote is “We meet all of life’s greatest challenges alone.”

The gathering, which enjoyed pizza and a celebrational cake after the ceremony, also heard remarks from the TTC’s senior community liaison officer Lito Romano and the TPA’s vice-president of real estate Marie Casista, who were also instrumental in bringing the project to fruition.

-Gary Webb-Proctor

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