How Street Artists in Toronto and Vancouver Reacting To Life with COVID-19: Part 2 – Rachel Levin, Art Lecturer

Rachel Levin, a popular art lecturer who often lectures at the Bernard Betel Centre for our weekly Tuesday Lifelong Learning Lectures, has provided a lovely write-up for the Bernard Betel Centre community on how street artists in Toronto and Vancouver are reacting to life with COVID-19. Enjoy!

Throughout the pandemic, Canadian street artists have painted murals on buildings across Toronto and Vancouver with hopeful messages. Some business boarded up their storefronts to protect properties, and those became new fresh canvases for muralists.

Bareket Kezwer (Bareket means emerald in Hebrew) is an Israeli–Canadian muralist from Toronto. She is a community engaged artist, curator, cultural producer, creative director and graphic designer, and declares herself as an eternal optimist. Her work is motivated by a desire to spread joy, cultivate gratitude and support the growth of inclusive and connected communities. She programs and facilitates projects that empower people through creative engagement and increases representation of Toronto’s diverse population.

Bareket Kezwer painted heart on the sidewalk to indicate social distancing as people wait to get in the store. The geometrical shapes on the wall spell Together.

Colourful murals carrying messages of love and support are popping up on local businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic across Toronto. Toronto-based artists have partnered with a local marketing firm to help raise people’s spirits across the city. Some of the murals feature motivational messages like Hang in There and In This Together.

Emily May Rose is Toronto award-winning artist and illustrator. Emily’s work features a cast of recurring characters most notably raccoons. She depicts humorous situations based on her own experience living in the city and trying to survive in an urban environment.

Emily’s work can be found in many formats including murals, editorial illustration, apparel design, installations, and gallery settings. Her murals can be found all over the world where during her various travels.

 Thank you is a mural by Artist Christina Mazzulla on boarded storefront along the Yonge Street corridor in Toronto. The artwork alongside Thank You is a mural by artist @ShinobiStudios, and is part of a series of images on boards that protect closed stores and restaurants. The work is coordinated by the Yonge Downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) and arts collective.

Stay Safe is by Urban Ninja Squadron a Toronto street artist. It shows ninjas hanging-out in front of Trinity Bellwood’s Park on Queen St West in Toronto.

The ‘Hotel Europe’ in Vancouver is a six-story heritage building located at 43 Powell Street in the Gastown area. The building was commissioned by hotelier Angelo Calori and built in 1908 – 1909 by Parr and Fee Architects. Situated on a triangular lot, the building is designed in the flatiron style.

In a collaboration between Gastown and Vancouver artists, the boarded-up businesses of the city’s oldest neighbourhood feature local artists’ murals of hope and appreciation for front-line workers. Businesses that have been interrupted due to shutdowns hope to spread some ‘good vibes’ in what Gastown is calling a “virtual gallery,” with unique creations and tributes, on Robson and Granville Streets.

Breece Austin painted a portrait of Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s public health officer who is the forefronts face of COVID-19. The work was done on-site in Gastown, on 41 Powell Street, in Vancouver.

Sydney Alleyne’s mural is a reminder to the neighborhood to “get out and bang those pots tonight”. His mural shows the love for our healthcare workers and for the city of Vancouver.

The mural Thanks for Not Eggsitting Your Homes on 41 Powell Street in Vancouver is by artist Cat Doxford who is a designer and illustrator.

With the mural Separate but Together, Vancouver artist Adi says social distancing does not mean social isolation. Connect with family and friends, spread love and check in on those vulnerable folks in our lives.

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