Remember that Dupont Street mural Rob Ford had painted over as part of his war on graffiti? Artist Joel Richardson will strike back with this new design.
Joel Richardson called having his Junction mural erased a humbling experience.
The painter and filmmaker said he’d been paid $2000 by the city to paint a mural on the underpass on the south side of Dupont Street west of Lansdowne. The “suit stencil” featured haloed business people turned into equations. Under Mayor Rob Ford’s anti-graffiti crusade, the entire mural was blotted out this past spring.
Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport) explained what happened: Richardson had been given the green light by former Davenport councillor Adam Giambrone, but when the City received recent complaints about the piece and the mural didn’t have the proper documentation and permits, it was painted over.
But Richardson will be returning to the south side of the underpass to paint a new mural. Last Thursday evening at St. Luigi Catholic School on Ruskin Avenue, Councillor Bailão led a meeting on Richardson’s new designs and asked the community for their thoughts on his work.
Despite the humidity, Richardson was clad in a full suit (like many of his supporters at the meeting) and explained his new designs.
“When I was invited to paint the wall again, I thought of repainting the same equation that was there before.”
“But I remembered something my son said about the equation. He said, ‘Daddy, nobody stops to figure it out.’ And in many ways I think he was right.”
The new mural will still have mathematical equations, but will focus on a meditating figure surrounded by rows of “financial prophets.” Calling the new design a “fusion of street art and fine art,” Richardson worked closely on the design with the streetwriter AMOS. “We literally drew on top of each other’s ideas,” he says.
Residents were asked to fill out forms with their thoughts on the design, or email the councillor directly.
Councillor Bailão pointed out that the mural meeting was happening during a transition phase. Toronto had adopted a graffiti management strategy recently, but the bylaw governing street art, murals and graffiti won’t come into effect until January 2012 when a panel will be formed to approve new art on public property.
For Richardson’s new designs, city staff will have the final say though they are asking for community input.
“Is this something we want to see in our community? Is this something we want to see on Dupont?” asked Councillor Bailão.
Someone in the audience shouted, “Yes!” which was followed by an “Amen, brother” and ringing applause.
The meeting didn’t seem to focus too much on whether people liked Richardson’s new designs — they were generally supportive of the new drafts though some admitted liking the original mural better. The discussion veered mostly to the new bylaw, what the City considers “illegal graffiti” and whether the new management plan will cramp artists’ style.
Many locals seemed bothered by the fact that the new panel will be made entirely up of city staff: no artists or community representatives.
But some found consolation in the management plan’s promise of keeping better inventory of Toronto’s street art. And that could prevent other misfires in the City’s war on graffiti.
To get glimpse of the new mural design, check out the gallery below.