Public art sometimes has a way of fading into the background. After some time, it just becomes part of the city’s landscape. But some pieces stand out in passerbys’ memory but even then it’s not often we know the stories behind the sculptures. Read on to find out more about some of Toronto’s most unique statues.
THE PASTURE, FINANCIAL DISTRICT
(“Joe Fafard The Pasture” by Harvey K. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
This herd of 7 life-size cows designed by Canadian artist Joe Fafard in 1985 spend their days in their pasture in the heart of the financial district. It seems like an odd place for a herd of cows but hey, they’ve got the beauty of the country without the smell.
THE AUDIENCE, ROGERS CENTRE
(“The Audience by Michael Snow” by Mark O’Henly. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
The Audience is a collection of gold-painted, extremely animated, cheering fans that flanks the northeast and northwest entrances of the Rogers Centre. Michael Snow – a filmmaker, musician, and artist as well as a recipient of the Order of Canada – is the artist behind the sculpture. The Audience wasn’t very loved initially because of its overt pop-art sensibility but has become accepted for who they are over time.
REMEMBERED SUSTENANCE, METRO HALL
(“Cynthia Short ‘ Remembered Sustenance’, 1992, Toronto, Canada” by Hanneorla Hanneorla. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
Perhaps you’ve wondered what’s up with the bronze rabbit-dog-creatures on the lawn outside Metro Hall. Unlike many of the esoteric public art pieces in the city, this one was actually meant to be enjoyed by children. It represents the playfulness of childhood and it was the artist’s, Cynthia Short, hope that kids would play on the lawn with them.
(“Outdoor SculptureL Unfinished Sculpture” by enjoyontario. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
High Park is home to a number of sculptures but perhaps the most interesting is the Unfinished Sculpture near the Forest School. Yup, it may look like two rocks sitting side-by-side, because, well, that’s what it is. Toronto artist Irving Burman had two large pieces of granite brought to the site but he didn’t finish the piece, having suffered from a breakdown shortly after the material was delivered. The City did the current arrangement of the granite and to this day, no one knows what the artist intended to create.
UNIFORM MEASURE/STACK, RICHMOND AND SPADINA
(“Giant Thimble” by NickyJameson. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
At the corner of Richmond and Spadina sits a sculpture made of two concrete buttons and a bronze thimble fit for a giant, made by artist Stephen Cruise. It is a homage to the area’s history as part of the garment industry. The original art included a ruler carved into the pavement below, which was painted in bright colours years later – this was an unauthorized but not unwelcome addition. Recently the city scrubbed the paint off the ruler, sparking conversation about the distinction between commissioned and guerilla art in the city.
MONUMENT TO THE WAR OF 1812, BATHURST AND LAKESHORE
(“Toy Soldiers Monument to the War of 1812 ” by DianesDigitals. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
This one is a Douglas Coupland in memorial of the war of 1812. You may have noticed the two toy soldiers at the corner of Bathurst and Lakeshore. The standing soldier is painted gold and represents the 1813 Royal Newfoundland Regiment while the other is painted silver and depicts an American soldier. Coupland wanted the monument to stand as a testament to Canadians’ triumph over the U.S. O Canada!
(“Still Dancing by Dennis Oppenheim 2009 at night” by Harvey K. Licensed under Creative Commons via Flickr.)
Fittingly for the neighbourhood, this sculpture illustrates and represents the distilling process. The giant teardrop/whisk-like part is meant to symbolize the final liquid product. Its a giant ultra-modern looking spectacle that adds a weird contrast to the historic cobblestone district.