2 of 42 New Public Artworks Underway Across the City of Toronto Will Be Activated in The Bazaar
20 ‘Business Improvement Areas’ including the ‘Gerrard India Bazaar BIA’ are currently participating in The Steps Initiative ‘The Main Street Art Challenge’ – with a chance to win prizes to scale their ideas over the pandemic recovery period.
These 42 new artworks have been brought to life in collaboration with The STEPS Initiative and 25 local creatives; many of whom identify as emerging or BIPOC artists.
As small businesses open their doors during these unprecedented times, The BIA is dedicated to ensuring that our members continue to receive much-needed resources and support.
“We believe that placemaking initiatives have the power to help revitalize our main streets, and can play a vital role as part of any local economic recovery plan.”
We are thrilled to be participating in the STEPS Initiative Main Street Art Challenge Program, which offers us access to expertise, as well as a generous $1000 grant to help offset our costs.
Our project launched with the idea of a psychogeographic map, which helps guide visitors to the landmarks, mainstays, attractions and unique experiences of a select regional area. Psychogeography is an exploration of urban environments that emphasizes playfulness – The art of “drifitng” without feeling lost.
This inital concept inspired Rosena Fung (Toronto-based illustrator and comic) to create this whimsical and exuberant collage, which spotlights our dynamic, exuberant, and colourful neighbourhood and celebrates our diverse South Asian history and culture.
The piece includes an homage to the Naaz Theatre, where it all started: a small theatre showcasing Bollywood films that eventually led to the proliferation of local businesses, and ultimately the BIA we see today.
This activation offers a warm welcome to a neighbourhood bursting with life and a vibrant local economy. Here you will find music, films, dancing, specialty grocers, wares, spiritual items, books, art, fashion, and some of the best South Asian cuisine in the city.
In consideration of community health and wellness. one of our first ideas was to commission sidewalk decals that could visibly promote social distancing throughout the area, in collaboration with a local BIPOC artist.
Roshni Wijayasinha’s ‘Modern Mandala’ sidewalk decals can be experienced as a kaleidoscope of bright patterns and colours in 4 variations, with over 100 decals installed across the Bazaar.
Roshni was the natural choice. We had the opportunity to witness her at work, when she stepped up to participate in a volunteer community painting project last year. Her vibrant work can be spotted on a planter-box on Gerrard East.
The majority of Roshni’s work is abstract painting, inspired by nature and its energy. Using acrylic and mixed media, most of her pieces glow under UV light.
The spiritual meaning of mandalas’, which symbolize constant change, multiple reflections, and beauty are evoked through this activation. During this time of healing and recovery, the ‘Modern Mandala’ is intended to invoke transition, energy and resilience. Wijayasinha’s use of abstract patterns reflect the vibrant colour and energy found along Gerrard Street East.
We hope that both of these local activations will help to inspire a sense of togetherness and resiliency throughout our neighbourhood and across the city, during a period of uncertainty and insecurity.
Activation Locations + Dates
This activation will be on display at vacant shops along the street. This activation will breathe life back into spaces that are temporarily empty, and ultimately help to promote the unique cultural experience of Little India Toronto.
📍 Our discovery walk signage can be found at 1415, 1424, and 1447 Gerrard Street East
📍 Approximately 100 pieces are being printed and placed throughout the entire Bazaar. Look for 4 variations of style, with unique colours and designs.
Tasneem Gandhi Bandukwala
Alexis Kane Speer
Photo and video credit: Anna Zissou (@_annazissou) for Gerrard India Bazaar BIA (@gerrardindiabaz)
This project is supported by STEPS Initiative (@STEPSInitiative) as part of their Main Street Art Challenge