Underpass art unveiled

Oct 20, 2013

Dee Anne Lamirande and other artists pose in front of the Warden underpass mural

The transformation of the Warden underpass from concrete eyesore to a work of art celebrating our community’s history is complete.

A ceremony was held Sunday in the parkette at Warden and Hollis to officially unveil the 360 square metre mural which depicts local history and includes a sweeping vista of the Scarborough Bluffs.

Tearful artist thanks community

The day belonged to lead artist De Anne Lamirande who has become a familiar sight to Birch Cliff residents over the last year as she and her team painstaking reconstructed the community’s past for public enjoyment.

With tears streaming down her face, Lamirande acknowledged her team and local residents who offered their thanks and encouragement from the day she started on Oct. 25, 2012.

Dee Anne Lamirande, centre, dressed in period costume for the official unveiling along with her fellow artists, Emanuel Ciobanica on the left and Emilie Jajus on the right.

“So many people love it. The entire year I’ve been out here I only heard one negative comment.  Everybody has been so wonderful and inspirational.  And the people that pass by are part of the art.  This is a live art piece.”

Lamirande described the mural as “her passion” and few would disagree, especially those who spotted her painting touch-ups in the middle of the night on Friday to be ready for today’s ceremony.

 

Councillor Berardinetti secured funding

The mural was the brainchild of Ward 35 Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who secured funding for the project through the City of Toronto’s anti-grafitti program.

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, centre, Karin Eaton of Mural Routes, right, and Councillor Gary Crawford

Berardinetti worked in consultation with Karin Eaton of Mural Routes, and sang the praises of the local arts group with an international reputation.

“They’re phenomenal,” said Berardinetti.  “They’re right here in Scarborough.  People don’t realize how much of a meaningful organization that they are and how impactful they are and they’re right here homegrown in Scarborough.”

Bridging communities

The mural, painted on both sides of the bridge as well as the pillars in the middle, was designed to unify Berardinetti’s Ward 35 with Ward 36, represented by Councillor Gary Crawford.

In addition to the Bluffs, it includes a portrait of Elizabeth Simcoe, credited with naming Scarborough, Bell’s Estate which was erected in 1830, as well as the horse-drawn wagon of Mitchell’s store, an early landmark in Birch Cliff.

Birch trees to the south, oak trees to the north

If you look closely, you can see that birch trees adorn the southern centre pillars to represent Birch Cliff, while the northern centre pillars depict oak trees to represent Oakridge.

The tree in the middle is a maple tree, which of course unifies us all.

“I thought it was great you could unify Ward 35 and Ward 36 through artistic expression,” Berardinetti told Lamirande before she helped cut the ribbon.

Neighbourhood building

Ward 36’s Crawford, an artist by profession who has emerged as Council’s leading proponent of the arts, said the arts can play an important role in building vibrant neighbourhoods.

“Putting in murals and art and creativity is so much a part of building a community,” said Crawford.  When you look at the addition of this and not only that but when you look at  Mural Routes along Kingston Road and all across the city they really add a vibrant aspect of what a community can be.”

Lovely community event

A good-sized crowd attended the official unveiling of the mural and, with coffee and cake, it turned into a lovely community celebration.

“I think it’s beautiful,” said Marie Belanger, organizer of the Birch Cliff’s first ever Jane’s Walk last spring.  “I think its a grand depiction of old Scarborough blended with new Scarborough. And I think it really brings the community together because everyone who looks at the mural…will have a different memory of what Scarborough means to them.”

 

Long time Birch Cliff activist Barb Brown praised Lamirande and the other artists for transforming a “dreary and drab and at times grafitti-defaced bridge” with something that can be appreciated by the entire community.

“I think it’s a beautiful mural and I like that way that it incorporates history with the artistic design, particularly here where we’re  joining two neighbourhoods. That’s very significant, I think, the way they’ve joined Oakridge and the Danforth with Birch Cliff Village.

A promise: Community gives back

Perhaps the most touching comment of the afternoon came from Shymal Bhattacharjee, who lives on Clonmore two doors down from the bridge and said the mural brightens his day every time he walks past.

Bhattacharjee has promised to keep watch over the mural now that it’s finished.

“I told the artist that I will be your caretaker.  I will clean the floor.  I will cut the jungle.  I will take care of this one.  And I love to do that and I will do that.

~~~

Please scroll down for more photos of the Warden underpass mural.

This is what the Warden underpass looked like before the mural

Scarborough Bluffs, as depicted on the west wall of the Warden underpass

Portrait of Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of the first Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada, John Graves Simcoe. Elizabeth Simcoe is credited with naming Scarborough after writing in August 1793 that the Bluffs reminded her of the limestone cliffs in Scarborough, England.

Bell’s Estate, a beautiful fieldstone house erected in 1830 at Warden Ave. south of St. Clair, has been designated a heritage property and still stands today.

Early 1800’s Scarborough dairy farm

From left to right, Barb Zulis (Crossroads BIA), Dee Anne Lamirande (Lead artist), Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35 Councillor), Emanuel Ciobanica (artist), Gary Crawford (Ward 36 Councillor) , Karin Eaton (Mural Routes), Emilia Jajus (Key artist)

Twin daughters of key artist Emilia Jajus are depicted in the mural and attended the unveiling in period costume. One of them was happier than the other.

The wide shot

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. It was a great pleasure working on this mural. I really hope there will be more projects like this in the city!

  2. I loved designing and creating this mural with my artistic team, I look forward to this being the first of several mural for myself and my team. See you on the next wall.

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