Community Art, Street Art, Public Art, Outdoor Art?

This week I’ve been walking around looking for artists who decorate the community. I don’t know these people personally but I smile when they’ve added something to the city, and I imagine others do the same.

I know where to find a few examples, and along the way, delightfully found a few more. Since embarking on my outdoor art finding mission, I have noticed dozens of examples throughout Toronto.

The first one I seek is a ribbon at the corner of Dundas West and Sheridan Avenue. Known as wheat paste bows, these ribbons cheerfully appear all over Toronto’s west end. I have no idea who makes them, and upon further research remain left in the dark. The ribbons come in bright colours of different shapes and sizes, stuck onto the sides of buildings more often garnished by tagging. I arrive at the bow, finding it half torn down. Maybe it fell off during a snowstorm?

Next on my journey is the corner of the street I used to live on, Gladstone Avenue and Cross Street. When I first moved into this apartment there were two light posts nearby brightly painted with various animals and creatures. Maybe local children, or an artist acting to beautify the short street decorated the poles? Two years later, I return to the site to now find 5 painted poles, and one newly primed ready to be decorated. I don’t know who did this work, but it seems they are still actively painting, and have taken it upon themselves to cheer up the stark concrete.

A parkette a few blocks away on Brock Avenue is the site of my next art sighting. A scarf (or sweater?) has been knitted around a post, and the artist has left a message for community members to add to the creation. The sweater seems to keep the pole warm, and I recognize the work excitedly knowing that guerilla knitters have an organized framework for their covert operations.

That night, en route to an art party near Queen Street I keep my camera in hand. Looking for art at night proves a bit more challenging (maybe that’s why a lot of these artists work when it’s dark), and upon arrival at my destination I happen upon a new subject: a pig sniffing garbage. Unless watchful eyes notice the pig, it is frequently trampled over.

This article could go on indefinitely, and my outdoor art finding mission has made me think a lot about what defines these pieces. Are they outdoor art? Street art? Public Art? Community art? Or all of the above?

While there is some formality to any of these definitions, I’d like to challenge classification and say that these artworks fit into all of the aforementioned categories. Public art and street art have a long history, something I will discuss further at a later date. If with no other goal, these artists have put a smile on my face, and gotten me thinking about art, my neighbourhood, and what the two are doing with each other.

Are there examples of this kind of work in your community?
Public/street/outdoor/community art sightings can be sent to


One thought on “Community Art, Street Art, Public Art, Outdoor Art?

  1. Pingback: Street Art or Graffiti? Banksy sightings in Toronto « Neighbourhood Arts

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