You know that big, storefront mural near Queen and Ossington of a man eating a fish? Check out what one of its creators is up to now.
Toronto is rife with public art, both municipally sanctioned, and otherwise. Installations, sculptures, murals, and graffiti grace the streets and back alleys of the city from Roncesvalles to the Beach—but rarely do our public artists act as cultural exports.
Through the Cape Dorset Nunavut Mural Project, however, two Toronto artists are getting a chance to help make an Inuit hamlet on the southern tip of Baffin Island a bit more colourful. Starting in mid-April, Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson (Hatanaka is perhaps best known for the bright, stylized man-and-fish painting on a dilapidated West Queen West storefront she made with Logan Miller and Kellen Hatanaka), are heading to Cape Dorset to help create a large mural on the town’s co-op building.
Having accepted an invite from Bill Ritchie, manager of Cape Dorset’s Kinngait studio, the pair will spend two months holding youth workshops, and will work with local artists on different projects, including helping 10 Inuit youth paint eight wildlife-proof garbage bins. “This town is the hub of Inuit art, but they are having difficulty encouraging the next generation of artists,” says Hatanaka. “We have done many murals and youth workshops in the north, but now we have the opportunity to make a greater impact because we will be there for two months, where usually, due to high expense, we can only spend 10 days.”
What the art team needs now is help funding the trip. While they’ve already obtained some support through Ontario Arts Council, First Air, and Well and Good, additional funding is needed to cover material costs, cargo shipments, the high price of food, and honorariums for local artists. Hatanaka and Thompson have set up an Indiegogo page and are offering postcards and prints to help make the trip a reality. “The town is in a deficit, so it couldn’t contribute funding, but it feels good to organize the whole project and fund it on our end,” says Hatanaka. “This is a troubled town with lots of social problems, which makes it all the more important to do positive and creative projects.”
The crowd-funding initiative is about halfway to its $14,500 goal. Donations will be accepted until March 31, though Hatanaka has confirmed they’ll be heading northward regardless of whether or not the goal is met.