Add adventure to your family walks with a little appreciation for street art


Dan Anzil and his daughter, Kate, 16, have weathered the pandemic by finding ways to add adventure to their walks around Toronto’s neighborhoods.

This includes hunting for cool street art.

“There are beautiful murals all over our area,” said Anzil, who lives in Etobicoke. “On Dundas between Kipling and even in the junction, there are a number of beautiful murals painted on the sides of buildings which represent the historical significance of the area.

“There’s one in particular, where it’s a school photo but the school photo spans about 50, 60 years, if not longer. It’s quite interesting, and you get lost in things like that.

With public health guidelines to stick to our home bubbles and only venture out for essential groceries and exercise, the frequent walks that many families established at the start of the pandemic are about everything. what remains for us to do. Layering a new emphasis on public art and street art is a good way to keep it interesting.

Since the start of the pandemic, children’s author Vikki VanSickle’s city walks have taken on new meaning.

In addition to traditional street art, she found herself looking for the unusual, the whimsical or the beautiful: the art hidden on the walls of the alleys; statues of sleeping dragons in the gardens; sidewalk galleries; and notes of love set in cement.

“I’ve been (in Toronto) since 2007, and one of the things I’ve always loved about the city has been public art and street art. It adds so much vibrancy to city life. And so I’ve always been interested in that and the graffiti and both the political statements that they can sometimes make and also the way they can just spark a little fun.

With the pandemic making these walks something of a lifeline, VanSickle said she has become more observant on her walks around town. “I noticed a few weird little things at the start. So, for example, people had written messages on the sidewalks, and I started taking pictures of them on my walks.

Someone had written “You are beautiful today” on the sidewalk, and in another case, someone had drawn frames and left chalk for others to contribute to a living gallery.

This was all particularly fitting given the theme of his latest picture book, “Anonymouse,” which approaches street art from the perspective of the animals we share the city with. Released this month, the premise is that animal-friendly street art is popping up all over town Banksy-style – specific pieces for birds, ants, dogs and raccoons – signed only “Anonymouse “.

In "Anonymous," written by Vikki Vansickle and illustrated by Anna Pirolli, an anonymous artist creates Banksy-style street art around town.

The garbage can where raccoons dine, for example, is transformed through graffiti art into an elegant restaurant; a fire hydrant where dogs pee is adorned with a target.

The book, illustrated by Anna Pirolli, the Italian artist behind “I Hate My Cats”, is a great introduction to street art for children.

VanSickle is working on a virtual school presentation where she talks about the different things to see on an art walk around their neighborhood, and ideas for you to contribute by putting something on your lawn or in your front window for them to see. passers-by see.

As for how to get a little more visual arts appreciation in your own pandemic walks with the kids, VanSickle suggests checking out some of her favorites, such as the November Pyramid Sculpture in High Park or the murals commissioned along the railroad. You can also just Google “street art” and your neighborhood for ideas of what to see near you.

Wherever you are, little children may enjoy hunting for objects of a particular color or searching for places where animals have been immortalized by tracing through fresh concrete before it dries, she said. Older children may enjoy photographing everything from garden gnomes to eye-catching graffiti.

It’s small outings like these that Anzil is grateful for, despite the hardships caused by the pandemic.

“If I dare say it, I’m kind of grateful for COVID because it changed our routines, from ‘Um, let’s just watch TV’ or for a bunch of friends to say, ‘let’s just go in. a bar. I obviously spend more time with my daughter doing things. This is how we create more memories, more precious time together. There is no screen time or anything like that. it’s just the two of us walking around saying, “Look, there’s a bird in a tree” or “Look how old and beautiful this building is.”


Brandie Weikle is a freelance columnist for the Star’s Life section, writing on parenting issues. She is the host of The New Family Podcast and editor of Follow her on Twitter: @bweikle



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