For the past few weeks, the biggest graffiti mural in Canadian history has been taking shape on a concrete sound barrier in the west end. Between Joe Shuster Way and the GO train tracks running through Liberty Village, more than 65 artists from Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Vancouver, and Ottawa are in the process of painting the words “Parkdale,” “West Queen West,” “Liberty Village,” and “Toronto.”
“The Reclamation Project” is a city-endorsed effort to revamp 300 metres of the city’s most vandalized expanses of property. It was launched as a joint project with artists, Metrolinx, and property developer UrbanCorp.
“We tried to create one common theme,” said José Gabriel, who coordinated the project with partner Will Gaydos. “But individually, artists can do whatever they want, as long as it’s not offensive”—i.e., no glorification of guns or violence.
The project isn’t totally controversy-free—some of the artists who were invited to participate declined, due to graffiti-world infighting. (Some artists had beefs with others. Some also felt bad painting over the wall’s existing graffiti.)
But overall, the mural seems to be popular. “It’s rare for a whole city’s artists to come together and work on one project,” said 18-year graffiti veteran Rock—whose contribution depicts a melting cityscape, and with the words “ugly nasty city.”