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NEWS: New mural for Major (Dec. 2019)

December 9th, 2019 · No Comments

Parkette location chosen to celebrate Bloor’s rich offerings

Initial concept of mural design by Daniela Rocha for the Major Street parkette (rear, east-face of Sleep Country location) pending for May of 2020.

By Khyrsten Mieras

The Bloor Annex BIA is expanding its Bloor Street Revitalization Project with the addition of a new mural to showcase the neighbourhood’s rich offering of culture and diversity.

In August, the BIA sent a request looking for mural proposals from local artists to design and paint a mural on the façade at 459 Bloor St. W. in the Major Street parkette. They chose Daniela Rocha, an OCAD graduate and muralist who lives in the Annex, to undertake the project.

“The Annex is one of the most popular neighbourhoods in the city, so to me it’s a really great honour to paint it,” said Rocha. “I just feel very excited about it because it’s going to be a very cool mural and I think it’s very different from what the murals are here in the city.”

Rocha’s mural captures many of the distinct landmarks and characteristics in the Bloor Annex community. Her design includes Trinity St. Paul’s United Church, bike lanes on Bloor, a totem pole for the Native Canadian Centre, Lee’s Palace, and a camera to represent Hot Docs Cinema. It also combines images of flying books from BMV, artists’ materials from Midoco, tools from Wiener’s Home Hardware, drinks from local bars, cuisine from the area, neighbourhood animals, and plants and trees to portray the nature of the Annex.

“I was inspired by the Annex in general, mostly the stores or just the restaurants that have been there for a long time,” said Rocha. “I’m originally from Colombia and came to Toronto back in 2007 and the Annex has been the neighbourhood that I’ve always been to, so I wanted to just portray the things that I’ve seen since then.”

Artists needed their ideas to meet four criteria in order to be considered for the project: they needed to take inspiration from cultural establishments, entertainment venues, and art in Bloor Annex; they needed to incorporate the community’s future, contain colourful and positive imagery, and not be overly intricate or simplistic.

Rocha’s piece highlighted all of these aspects with an emphasis on colour. 

“I wanted to have a very colourful piece because for me colour is really important. I think that, especially right now during winter, everything becomes really grey and there’s not much sun, so my work is very distinctive because of the colour.”

Twenty-one local artists submitted their designs for the competition. The jury, made up of representatives from the BIA’s board and business members as well as cultural centres in the neighbourhood, chose the winning mural by rating each submission and narrowing them down to five. The group reviewed those five together before coming to a final decision.

Ellie Hayden, the previous project administrator for the Bloor Annex Revitalization project, helped to organize the contest and submissions. 

“I’ve orchestrated mural projects for other BIAs and this was by far the biggest response I’ve seen,” Hayden wrote in an email to the Gleaner. “What was even cooler was how many of the artists had connections to the Annex neighbourhood. I think it speaks to the creative nature of this community and how invested people are in making it a welcoming place.”

The mural is expected to be completed next spring with the help of funding from the City of Toronto that was extended until the end of May 2020.


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