New wall mural series celebrates Toronto’s frontline workers, first responders and volunteers

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

A new series of wall murals painted by local street, mural and graffiti artists will celebrate Toronto’s frontline workers, first responders and volunteers as part of the StART Frontline Heroes Art Project.

“This timely and relevant StART project uses infrastructure in Toronto to create legacy artwork that will animate and celebrate our frontline workers, first responders and volunteers for years to come,” said Councillor James Pasternak, chair of the infrastructure and environment committee.

“Graffiti art positively affects our neighbourhoods and, even during these difficult times, we can count on our talented local artists to make our city even more liveable and vibrant.”

Earlier in the spring, StreetARToronto (StART) sent out an open call to local Toronto artists. A key part of the application included identifying frontline service providers from the local community including health care workers, first responders, volunteers, grocery and pharmacy workers, delivery services and neighbours who are actively working to keep our community safe from COVID-19 during the global pandemic as the inspiration for their art work. 

Murals are funded through a partnership via the City/StART using third-party private sector revenue.

The StART Frontline Heroes Art Project will be completed by 23 Toronto street, mural and graffiti artists featuring a series of 15 street art wall murals of diverse essential workers of all ages, genders, backgrounds and professions and reflecting the City’s motto Diversity Our Strength. 

Work is underway across the city, including six sites completed at 2265 Danforth Ave., 30 Maud St., 546 Richmond St. W. (in graffiti alley), 575 Queen St. W., 761 Jane St., 1230 Dundas St. W., and one soon to be completed at 165 Main St. The rest are scheduled to be finished by the end of July.

Murals will enhance Toronto’s Year of Public Art which will be a year-long celebration of art and community in 2021. It will highlight Toronto’s incredible collection of public art and the artists behind it, provide opportunities for artists to develop new public art projects, and encourage people to connect and engage with public art. More information is available at toronto.ca/explore-enjoy/history-art-culture/public-art/year-of-public-art/.

Initiated in 2012 as an integral part of the City’s Graffiti Management Plan, StART has reduced graffiti vandalism and replaced it with vibrant, colourful, community-engaged street art. StART programs encourage active transportation (walking and cycling), make streets more vibrant and safe, showcase local artists, mentor emerging talent and reduce overall infrastructure maintenance costs.

Learn more about StreetARToronto at toronto.ca/streetartoronto.

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