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September 2021 Newsletter

Main Street Highlights Across Ontario!

Videography Credit: Selina McCallum and Néné Fortier 

We are winding down from summer but #MainStreetArtChallenge continues! Since June, the I HeART Main Street program presented in partnership with RBC Royal Bank and the City of Toronto has been supporting Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) across Ontario through placemaking services, creative coaching and collaborations with Canadian artists to create engaging public artwork to foster community through challenging times. From Toronto to Port Credit and Timmins in northern Ontario, check out some of the current and upcoming projects near you through the STEPS Public Art app!

Jocelyn Kearns painting a large outdoor mural depicting soft waters with people paddle boarding.

Artist: Jocelyn Kearns for Belle River – On the Lake BIA
Photo Credit: Leah Marie Photography

Did you know participating BIAs also have a chance to win monetary and in-kind support valued at $30,000? Selected by a committee of local cultural and business leaders, projects that demonstrate ingenuity and commitment to community engagement will be awarded prizes for future main street placemaking ideas.

Join Us for Mural Making & Arts Workshops in Rowntree Mills Park

From Weeds We Grow event poster for Community Gathering in Rowntree Mills Park

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum

From Weeds We Grow is an interdisciplinary public art program led by STEPS that explores Rowntree Mills Park in Toronto’s Rexdale community through artistic, Indigenous, multicultural, environmental and community-based approaches. Join us on September 25-26 for a weekend of free interactive activities and performances led by artists and community members! This event is part of the Arts in the Parks 2021 programming and is open to members of the North Etobicoke community and anyone interested in deepening their connections to our natural public spaces.

STEPS is also supporting Park People’s Rowntree Mills Ravine Mural project with From Weeds We Grow collaborator Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe. Register for the free mural painting session happening on Saturday during this community event to brighten the Rowntree Road ravine entrance! 

From Weeds We Grow: Beadwork Workshop

From Weeds We Grow Beading Workshop event social media graphic

Take part in an interdisciplinary workshop on October 2nd led by artist Lindsey Lickers, Mushkiiki Nibi Kwe (Medicine Water Woman) at Rowntree Mills Park to explore the significance of water and connections to the environment through beaded artworks. This workshop includes material kits, a light lunch, and an opportunity to connect with the artist and fellow participants. Final artwork will be exhibited at the Albion Toronto Public Library and showcased as an online exhibit on the STEPS website to share creative processes and learnings.

Love Park Hoarding Exhibit Coming Soon!

Artist Curtia Wright painting hoarding exhibit panels for Love Park

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum

In collaboration with artist Curtia Wright, BSAM Canada, Waterfront BIA and Waterfront Toronto, Love Park is an upcoming hoarding exhibit inspired by the vivid and rich textures of love and how it is understood as a symbol, thought and feeling. Earlier in the summer, a call for participation asked the community to submit written and audio love letter responses that will be incorporated into the artistic design surrounding the site in Toronto’s Queen’s Quay West. 

The Hope in Chinatown Mural Begins

Artist Wenting Li on a scissor lift and painting a mural on a large wall in Toronto's Chinatown

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum

In partnership with Toronto’s Chinatown BIA and STEPS, local artist Wenting Li’s largest mural production is in full swing! Located in the laneway parking lot entrance behind Dragon City Mall and Pho Pasteur, this site was selected to brighten a busy location with feelings of hope and courage during a time of struggle for local businesses and the community. 

As the Innovation Award Winner of last year’s I HeART Main Street, Chinatown BIA is putting their financial prize winnings and resources towards The Hope in Chinatown to continue their placemaking and COVID recovery initiatives. Learn more about our main street recovery services and contact us today to breathe life into communities!

Public Artist-in-Residence Amanda Lederle at Stackt Market

Amanda Lederle sitting on the ground and painting a colourful yellow and green ground mural at Stackt Market in Toronto

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum

Congratulations to CreateSpace artist-in-residence Amanda Lederle for completing their first ever ground mural series! Amanda is one of ten artists across Canada who are creating socially-engaged public artwork in their communities through the virtual CreateSpace Residency. Check out their work in Toronto’s Stackt Market.

Charmaine Lurch's performance props for I am Lucie, I am Thornton. There is an old wooden chair, a tin bucket, and a washboard and broom

Photo Credit: Selina McCallum

Fellow artist-in-residence Charmaine Lurch’s I am Lucie, I am Thornton banner installation and performance piece has begun. This project celebrates the life of the Blackburns and their activism, lived experience on the land, and contributions to Toronto. Attend the live performance on September 18th and October 2nd from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT at the historical site of the Blackburn Home at 19 Sackville St, Toronto.

Projects are also wrapping up in Halifax by artist Arjun Lal and in Thunder Bay by Shelby Gagnon! More project reveals and updates coming soon, including information about free public programming events resuming this fall.

Community-Engaged Art in Leslie Nymark

Finished live painting session with a large banner that says Leslie Nymark

Artist: Full Spectrum
Photo Credit:
Selina McCallum

STEPS is working with Toronto Community Housing, Tridel and artist Jessey (Phade) Pacho with a team of artist collaborators to facilitate a public art project in the Leslie Nymark community in North York. With Leslie Nymark in its final stages of revitalization, this project includes skill-building workshops, employment opportunities and collaboration with the artists for new and returning residents that will leave a lasting legacy for years to come. 

Two live outdoor painting events and an artist-led community photo walk were held this summer to engage with residents and jumpstart meaningful community activities as part of the upcoming mural production. Stay tuned for more news, including events and opportunities to get involved.

Exhibit Highlight: Shared Space

Hoarding exhibit by Danielle Cole with large panels with colourful illustrations of animals and parks.

Photo Credit: Sharon Mendonca

Shared Space is a new hoarding exhibit by collage artist Danielle Cole in collaboration with Crown Communities in Toronto’s Sheppard West neighbourhood. The artwork is inspired by the co-existence of local animals, public parks and greenspaces that surround the new community. Visit the exhibit at 847-871 Sheppard Ave West in the new Greenwich Village neighbourhood!

Did you know public art is being encouraged on construction sites in cities around the world? Learn more about our PATCH Hoarding Exhibit services to bring vibrancy to your community and follow @thePATCHproject for the latest exhibits near you!

External Opportunities

Supporting artists and arts workers, especially those who face barriers in accessing public art opportunities, is at the core of STEPS’ mandate. Below are some of the current opportunities on our radar.

Building Community During COVID

Thanks to contributions from community members like you, STEPS has supported over 130 public art initiatives and made over $350,000 in direct payments to Canadian artists and designers since the start of the pandemic, including $208,000 in 2021 alone.

Consider making a donation to support this important work! 

Special Thanks to Our Funders and Supporters

STEPS funder and sponsor logos for Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Arts Council, Government of Canada, Province of Ontario, City of Toronto, Ontario Trillium Foundation, RBC, TD, CIBC, TFVA and Partners in Art

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