October 23, 2021 marked the first Art Route ever organized by the City of Toronto. The objective of the Art Route is to encourage people to use public spaces to display their creativity. The Art Route program is comprised of a series of art events and activities taking place in the Greater Toronto Area. The activities are planned and coordinated by the City of Toronto in coordination with the Art Gallery of Canada and the Toronto Public Library. This effort will foster awareness of art while encouraging people to use their creative sides and contribute to the growing economy of the GTC.
The Toronto Art Trail has been designed as a nine-mile walking path along the city’s major streets, beginning at Yonge Street downtown and ending at Yonge and Sheppard. The goal is to create a unique walking experience that showcases the diversity of Toronto’s creative communities. As well as being a remarkable and innovative public art display, the Art route provides a unique opportunity for the promotion of the growth and vibrancy of the downtown Toronto market. A painted path means that users are exposed to a diverse range of artistic expressions.
The Art route is divided into two segments: the Sheppard and Yonge segment. The Sheppard art route begins at Yonge and Sheppard station. This walking route includes three intersections; Yonge and Dufferin (between Sheppard and Finch), Yonge and Avenue (between Yonge and Church) and Yonge and Steeles (across from Steeles). The Yonge and Sheppard segments feature beautiful monuments, bridges, street furniture, storefronts and lighting, as well as several clay pots. Clay pots represent various mediums, such as aluminum, wood, acrylic, ceramic, porcelain and glass. Each pot represents a different colour combination, with the colours usually relating to the seasons.
The second part of the Art route is the area surrounding the Theatre Building and greater Des moines area. The most noticeable changes are located at Yonge and Sheppard, where an elevated pedestrian walkway is installed along with a second set of stairs and a new mural. The pedestrian pathway includes one-way cycles, turning lanes and an exclusive shopping arcade. At Sheppard, a new covered green light rail is being constructed that will reduce traffic, while a covered pedestrian tunnel is being constructed under the Theatre building.
The downtown des Ontario region has a very unique culture, including a thriving entertainment district along Yonge Street, the Theatre District and the iconic laneway that runs between Yonge and Bloor. The Art route incorporates a series of unique public art installations, ranging from spectacularly bold street art murals to dramatic wax sculptures at certain intersections. In addition to the traditional urban context of busy intersections, there are other less familiar places to visit in the downtown by-way’s, such as the laneway at Yonge and Adelaide streets, a quiet sidewalk on the Gardiner’s road corner or the laneway at Dufferin and Yonge streets, just south of the Theatre District. One of the most interesting features of the Art route is the large number of artistic bridges. There are at least seven to mark the various segments of the downtown streets.
The final part of the Art route involves stops along the way that offer travellers a chance to purchase handcrafted projects made by local craftspeople. Some of these include handmade pottery at Bloomsbury Market, a selection of handcrafted paper and wool products at the Looe Street Arts Centre and a selection of beautiful coloured clay pots at the Melrose Market. It is possible to buy handmade jewellery from some of the artists as well. This colourful public realm is made even more special by the numerous performers that appear throughout the summer season. The performers include the juggling group Pet Shop Boys, The Royal Warblers, The Natives, The Baby suits, and The Rottweiler. While this sounds like an eclectic list it is actually representative of the wide variety of artistic expressions possible along the Art route.