A STEPS COMMUNITY ART ENGAGEMENT PROJECT
In collaboration with DUKE Heights BIA with the talents of 7 artists (including an artist collective and youth from The Neighbourhood Group), vacant storefronts were animated to bring community art engagement with vibrant energy to the North York community as part of the City of Toronto’s NoVacancy and StrollTO initiative to encourage residents to explore their neighbourhoods.
PROJECT AT A GLANCE
Location: 999 Finch Ave W, 1275 Finch Ave W (Unit 101 and 104-105), 1280 Finch Ave W (Unit 111) in North York, Ontario
youth group engaged
illustrated vinyl window murals
painted window mural
multimedia light installation
NoVacancy as part of the City of Toronto’s StrollTO initiative supports one-time artistic activations of vacant storefronts by working alongside local community art engagement and arts organizations like STEPS to create artistic opportunities for artists, support local neighbourhoods and businesses, and provide critical financial support to BIPOC and youth artists during the pandemic.
In partnership with DUKE Heights BIA and inspired by the BIA’s slogan “Move here. Work here. Build here. Grow here”, a group of multidisciplinary artists cultivate new energy in underutilized spaces located at one of the highest points in the city along Finch Ave West in North York, Ontario. From murals and vibrant illustrations to mixed media and artwork that engaged local youth groups, it was a collaborative effort to spark the community’s imagination and reach new heights through creative placemaking and public art.
NoVacancy is also part of STEPS’ I HeART Main Street, a program supporting Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) by providing artist fee subsidies and other in-kind support to bring more public art to main streets across Ontario as part of pandemic recovery strategies.
Video Credit: May Shi
“It was a joy to work on this project with STEPS! Thank you and each artist for making NoVacancy come to fruition over such a short stretch of time!”
– Laura Ipsas, DUKE Heights BIA
KEEP GOING, MOVE FORWARD
Artists Kseniya Tsoy and Yuliya Tsoy engaged with youth from The Neighbourhood Group to produce a colourful mural that explores what inspires and motivates us to keep going and move forward. This window activation can be found creating community art engagement on the newly tenanted community space at 1280 Finch Ave W, Unit 111, North York.
“Thank you for including us, our youth were mesmerized by the final results. It was a really wonderful process.”
– Amelia, Arts Leader, The Neighbourhood Group
Photo Credit: The Neighbourhood Group
Absence and Presence
Artist Whyishnave Suthagar created a light spectacle that illuminates the storefront when the sun sets. This piece showcases the duality of absence and presence as an indivisible whole by creating one visual effect of neon lines in space (and when the sun rises, the black lights turn off and the suspended threads are revealed in their original colours and hues). This activation can be found at 999 Finch Ave W, North York.
Artist group Moonlight Murals Collective (formed by Ghazaleh Rastgar, Melika Saeeda and Yasaman Mehrsa) transformed an empty storefront into a bright and happy scene representing the DUKE Heights BIA’s slogan, “Move here, Grow here, Build here.” The scenes depicted in the murals tell a story of a community being formed by new people moving, building and growing together. Visit this NoVacancy project at 1275 Finch Ave W, Unit 101, North York.
Artist Thomarya “Tee” Fergus created artwork that envisions a sustainable city where urban life and plant life can co-exist. Convergence asks the community to imagine how our cities can be a place to grow, heal and transition, not only as an individual, but as a collective community member. Find this one-of-a-kind installation at 1275 Finch Ave W, Unit 104-105, North York.
About the Artists
Kseniya Tsoy and Yuliya Tsoy
Keep Going, Move Forward
Absence and Presence
Whyishnave Suthagar is an installation artist from the GTA. Her practice focuses on creating site specific installations using projection, light design, thread based weavings and original soundscapes. Her works play with light, space and sound to create immersive meditative experiences.
Moonlight Murals Collective
Moonlight Murals Collective formed in April 2021. Ghazaleh Rastgar, Melika Saeeda and Yasaman Mehrsa form the trio of Iranian-born, female artists who have been creating colourful and whimsical murals and street art individually for the past 4 years. Their work focuses on storytelling, representation and living life to the fullest while caring about each other and the natural world.
Thomarya “Tee” Fergus is a multi-dimensional artist currently based in Toronto, ON. Tee uses painting & illustrations, tattoo artistry, photography and fashion to communicate with global audiences. She incorporates a range of mediums in her creative practice including large and small-scale canvas, textiles, and digital and analog photography.
NoVacancy is part of the City of Toronto’s StrollTO initiative with DUKE Heights BIA to encourage residents to get outside and get to know their neighbourhoods by visiting storefronts that have been transformed into art activations—created in partnership with local businesses and arts and cultural organizations.
NoVacancy is also part of the I HeART Main Street program generously supported by Canada Healthy Communities Initiative funded by the Government of Canada, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and funding provided by the Government of Ontario.