I love Toronto. It is home to an array of creative and intelligent individuals and a rich, vibrant community. We look at the population and places like Greektown, The Gay Village, and Little India and the cultural diversity is evident. However, with entire districts designated to fashion, theatre, entertainment and other art forms (not to mention the multitude of museums), we also see artistic diversity. Toronto truly embraces its art culture with enthusiasm.
Nowhere embodies this more than Graffiti Alley.
Spanning about 1 kilometer between Queen St and Richmond St in the Fashion District, Graffiti Alley is a must see for Toronto tourists. I stumbled upon this beautiful location while on a walk in the city with some friends last summer. We were walking through the Fashion District when I spotted a mural of a toddler playing on a cellphone.
Although finding it interesting, we didn’t think too much of it. Soon, we found ourselves surrounded by vibrant, intricate pieces in every direction. The alley is home to some exquisite and masterfully crafted artworks ranging from whimsical to political in their nature. That being said, there were a few pieces that stuck with me.
This piece by an unknown artist features a picture of a black woman with the words “It’s showtime baby girl, own it.” underneath. I really liked the uplifting nature of the quote and the simple but detailed portrait. Upon further research, I found that the quote was a lyric from the song “Waiting on It” by female rapper Rapsody (please be warned that the song does contain some explicit language). In the song, Rapsody talks about self-empowerment as well as the empowering of others. Another lyric featured in the song speaks of paving the way for other women who seek to be successful in her male-dominated industry.
“Breaking water that’s labour for all the daughters / I’ve been working so when they older everything’s back in order”
The next piece I really liked was a simple quote. The artist wrote “You’ve got to let love rule” amongst a small field of hearts, a philosophy by which I think everyone should live. Created by self-proclaimed love based activist, Alyssa Rushton (@heart_ _bomb), the piece embodies the simplicity of happiness. Although it likely took her no longer than 20 minutes to complete, her art bears a message that should be carried by its viewers for a lifetime.
CREATION OF ART
Unlike the last two pieces that displayed important messages, I like this piece purely due to its beauty and adept execution. An excerpt from Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam”, the artist masterfully recreates Michelangelo’s intricate artistic style. It’s talented creator is tattoo artist Willy Wales (@crwales66), a Toronto based Tattoo artist who specializes in portraits.
Graffiti Alley offers an authentic look into the minds of Torontonians and the culture of the community. With no admission fees and its safe location, Graffiti Alley is incredibly accessible to all those who wish to see it. Graffiti Alley attracts many photographers on a daily basis and has acted as the background to the “Rant” segment of CBC’s Rick Mercer Report for many years giving the area true Canadian cultural significance. I love it because every time I go, I find more and more beautiful pieces of work and learn more about my favourite city in the world.
If you would like to explore Graffiti Alley, you can pay it a visit in real life or in an interactive tour on Instagram @graffitialley.to. Support the artists by visiting their Instagram pages and drop a rating on Trip Advisor showcasing your favorite pieces!