Artist Dereck Revington, above, got a taste of the reaction to his newest public art work last week during testing of BlueGold Variations in the Windermere Avenue underpass.
“It was amazing to see the exuberance and enthusiasm,” says Revington. “People were jumping out of their cars, taking photographs, cyclists dismounting, a driver called to me from the other side of the road to say, ‘Let’s see the blue again.’ ”
BlueGold Variations has been a long time coming. Revington has doggedly shepherded the project through seven years of approvals from an array of City departments and agencies.
As the artist notes: “Every conceivable stakeholder had to be involved. Transportation, Public Works, Emergency Services, Hydro, you name it. It’s a right of way so there are concerns about safety: Will the colours affect driving habits? Is it going to cause accidents? We had to get approval from one agency after another, we had to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that what we were doing would not affect anyone adversely. That was a very, very long process.”
More than 100 Toronto Public Library ambassadors paraded from Toronto Reference Library to City Hall this afternoon to celebrate the opening of TPL’s 100th branch at Scarborough Civic Centre and 100 Reasons to love the world’s biggest and busiest library system. Mayor John Tory was Reason #32 (“One Card. Unlimited Access”).
It was a big day for central Scarborough Wednesday when the Toronto Public Library opened its 100th branch at Scarborough Civic Centre. And what a beauty it is! Designed by LGA Architectural Partners and Phillip H. Carter Architects, the sweeping, modern structure features lots of wood and glass and tons of natural light. The building was actually designed around a 50-year old maple tree that shades an accessible reading garden tucked into a central courtyard.
“This one of the best libraries in all of Toronto,” declared Ward 38 Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (third from left, beside Councillors Paul Ainslie [Ward 43] and Sarah Doucette [Ward 13]).
“So much goes on at the library,” noted Mayor John Tory in a video message, “classes and events to do with employment and language training, things for kids and families. Now, Scarborough residents will have access to those things in a brand new, beautiful building. It’s going to be the very best that we have to offer available to Scarborough residents in a great location.”
On Tuesday (May 26) a parade of 100 library ambassadors marches from the Toronto Reference Library to the City Hall branch, each trumpeting one of the 100 reasons to use and enjoy the world’s biggest and busiest library system (march leaves TRL at 12:30 pm).
“This 100th branch milestone got us thinking about celebrating everything that the library does,” said City Librarian Vickery Bowles (left) on Wednesday, “not just our spaces or our books or our staff, but the 100 ways, and more, that the library serves our communities.”
In an interview Bowles confirmed that the 100th branch will be the library’s last: “We did a branch-planning study a few years ago and we identified areas where there was unmet library demand: the two areas we identified were Fort York (opened May 2014) and here in Scarborough. So that’s it, no more children,” she laughed.
Join the 100 Reasons celebration at City Hall May 26 at 2 pm.
It’s fitting that Dan Bergeron, left, won the public art competition for the entry plaza to the revitalized Regent Park, because it was the artist’s larger-than-life portraits of community residents that helped put him on the local art map back in 2008.
Regent Park Portraits celebrated the faces of a community and so does Bergeron’s new Faces of Regent Park (pictured), a series of large-scale portraits sandwiched inside 2.5 inches of laminated glass. The six glass panels form the backs of cement benches on each side of the plaza and feature portraits of six social housing residents and six condo owners in the now mixed-income neighbourhood.
One portrait covers both bases: Joanne Warner was born and raised in Regent Park social housing and she is now the proud owner of a home in the revitalized community.
“In the Regent Park I knew as a child there was really no place to play,” recalls Warner. “Today, there’s space for children to play where their parents can watch them. Now, it’s so open and bright, you can see all the way down from one street to the next.”
The 2015 Cultural Hotspot got off to a great start Saturday with a terrific launch party at Assembly Hall featuring the Wesley Allen Trio and Rexdale’s Dhol Players from Punjabi Virsa Arts & Cultural Academy, above. A full house came out to help cheer on the Hotspot which runs from May through October with a series of signature projects including a mobile art trailer, a seniors’ contemporary dance project, murals on TTC vehicles, local festivals and more.
Ward 6 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) Councillor Mark Grimes took the opportunity to remind the full-house that “there are many cultural and culinary bright spots outside the downtown core and I’d like to thank all the artists who participated here today and all the Cultural Hotspot partners and sponsors, thanks for your support.”
MP Bernard Trottier (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) added, “It’s a real honour for Etobicoke to be selected as a Cultural Hotspot, it confirms what we already know, that Etobicoke is full of talented artists, creative energy, innovative businesses and beautiful parks. We’re here to celebrate our thriving culture here in Etobicoke; now we need to let the rest of the city know that Etobicoke is the place to be.”
Check out the Cultural Hotspot website for a full calendar of events.
Photo of Rexdale’s Dhol Players by Ann Brokelman