Giant photographic mural in the works for Toronto’s waterfront area

August 26, 2014News Releases

The City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto (StART) program announced today that it has been selected by Partners In Art – the volunteer-based not-for-profit group of Toronto contemporary art supporters – to receive funding support to help create the city’s first monumental photographic mural. It will be located near Toronto’s waterfront.

Working with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, this joint partnership will provide a rare opportunity to commission a site-specific photographic artwork for the enjoyment of Toronto residents and visitors.

Thanks to a $50,000 donation by Partners In Art (PIA), the StART program, in association with Contact, will commission Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson to create a large-scale, site-specific photographic image for the west-facing wall of the Westin Harbour Castle Convention Centre at 11 Bay St. This site was selected due to its busy location and unique characteristics. The block-long building at the foot of Bay Street offers a unique wall surface that is suitable for a massive mural.

The site is located in a prominent, lively neighbourhood that includes popular tourist destinations such as the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal, Harbourfront Centre and what will be the heart of the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games. The City is grateful to the Westin Harbour Castle for granting permission to use the 12-metre-tall by 44-metre-wide wall for this commissioned artwork.

Construction of the mural is scheduled to be completed by May 1, 2015 — in time for the opening of the Contact festival and the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games.

Launched in 2012, StART is an innovative, public-private partnership designed to develop, support, promote and increase awareness of street art and its ability to beautify the city’s visual landscape. “StART is a City program about place-making. Thanks to PIA’s generous donation, this iconic project will transform, help activate and beautify one of Toronto’s busiest streets,” said Elyse Parker, Director of the Public Realm Section, Transportation Services.

Over the years, PIA has demonstrated a keen interest in the impact of art in public space. “PIA believes it’s important that contemporary art be accessible to everyone,” said Joanne Thring, President of PIA. “We’re especially pleased to be collaborating on this new StreetARToronto project and to be a part of the first-ever photographic mural located in a busy area of Toronto’s waterfront.”

“Contact is grateful for this exceptional opportunity to commission a massive photographic image by the acclaimed Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson, who’s innovative and arresting works reflect her personal perspective on environmental issues and engage people from all walks of life,” said Bonnie Rubenstein, Artistic Director of Contact. “Beginning with Lake Ontario and Toronto Island as her subject, Johnson’s site-specific new work will transform this grey city block into a magical place”.

Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
Since 1997, CONTACT has presented an annual festival in May with a vital focus on photography throughout Toronto. This city-wide celebration provides exposure and recognition for Canadian and international artists while fostering greater knowledge of photo-based practices and enduring interest in the arts. Beginning in 2003, CONTACT has produced close to 100 installations of photographs in public spaces through the Greater Toronto Area. The project will be the largest photographic image CONTACT has installed. It also marks the first time the festival will have a year-round presence in the
city’s core. The mural will remain on location for a minimum of two years.

About Partners in Art
Founded in 2002, Partners in Art is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit corporation of Toronto art supporters with an interest in promoting the visual arts in Canada in two ways: first, by partnering with established arts organizations on collaborative fund-raising projects, and second, by furthering members’ understanding and knowledge of the visual arts through an active education program. The group cultivates alliances among artists, curators, educators, businesses, and the public to develop vital and exciting contemporary art projects that raise the awareness of Canadian art and artists
nationally and internationally. In the past 10 years, PIA has raised more than $1.2 million in sponsorship dollars. The group solicits sponsors to fund its activities, organizes fundraising events and accepts donations from the public.

Toronto is Canada’s largest city, the fourth largest in North America, and home to a diverse population of about 2.8 million people. It is a global centre for business, finance, arts and culture and is consistently ranked one of the world’s most livable cities. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. For information on non-emergency City services and programs, Toronto residents, businesses and visitors can visit, call 311, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or follow us @TorontoComms.

Valerie Cassells
Strategic Communications