Despite our power washer–wielding mayor’s stance against graffiti, last year, the city co-commissioned The Winds Are Changing, a large, intricate mural at Howard Park and Dundas West by San Francisco artist Andrew Schoultz. The busy piece continues to exist as a bold testament to the importance of street art in the city. Here, Schoultz talks us through how it all came together.
1. It took Schoultz 20 gallons of paint and five sweltering days last spring to complete the two-storey, 100-foot-long mural, though he did get some assistance from Toronto artist Jeff Blackburn. “I’ve learned over the years that it’s best to do these things quickly,” says Schoultz. “For the most part, people are usually happy to see something like this go up, but there are also the critics who are going to try to make your life hell the more time you give them.”
2. Colourful trees often make an appearance in Schoultz’s work. This one helps illustrate the winds of change, but there’s another meaning: “The tree has these hacked-off limbs, but it’s still growing, it’s still colourful, it’s still beautiful,” says Schoultz. “So it’s about the resilience of nature. I felt like in Toronto and, more generally, Canada, the nature up here just far surpasses what I’m used to seeing where I live.”
3. The fact that The Winds Are Changing was co-sponsored by the City of Toronto meant Schoultz had to jump through a few hoops. Luckily, the Toronto mural was based on something he did six months earlier in Miami, which was destroyed not long after completion. The new version is actually painted on the Toronto studio of producer Daniel Lanois, who reportedly loved the mural, giving Schoultz hope it’ll be around for the long run.
4. Schoultz used a single 1.5-inch-wide brush to paint the entire thing. “I like to work with a blank white surface and black paint, so it’s kind of like I’m drawing with a pen on a piece of paper,” he says. Only one part of the wall proved problematic: the area above the bus shelter. “We were working with a lift, but I just couldn’t reach above that shelter, so I had to duct tape my brush to a broomstick and complete the mural that way.”
5. Schoultz’s mural depicts an abstract landscape very much in motion. “I try to use icons and imagery in my paintings that, in a very vague sense, make note of what’s going on in the specific area I’m painting.” Gentrification is a topic that the artist often focuses on, and the blowing tree leaves and tornado flanking either sides of this piece are meant to reflect the changes that are taking place in nearby Roncesvalles.