Last year was my first experience working as an artist for StreetART Toronto’s Outside the Box program – a city-wide initiative to beautify the urban landscape (in the form of transformed traffic signal boxes) while safeguarding against random tagging/graffiti.
I was first assigned a location down on Front St. and Blue Jays Way. To my mind this was a positively iconic location as it was in plain view of the CN Tower and the Rogers Centre, both of which became incorporated into the eventual work, Jive Obelisk. The underlying concept was to take elements from the surrounding environment and fold them into the design with other items either imagined or somehow spontaneously arising during the creative process. Some suggestions were even taken from curious passersby stopping to chat.
Presenting a similar concept in my application to OtB this year, my design was accepted and I received a box down on Queen St. West and Dufferin, another fantastic site just minutes away from such groovy arts hubs as the Drake and Gladstone Hotels. Another looming and impressive feature of this area is the Dufferin Gate. As such, it featured prominently on my box and was the first thing I began to render.
The first day I worked was especially windy, so much so that I thought about packing it up…like, CRAZY windy! My brush was being blown around when I worked, affecting the direction of the lines. But confronting the elements is just one of those things about painting out of doors. In a way, there was a weird pleasure in it. I stuck it through and got the brunt of the work done that day.
The traffic was one of the most inspirational things about that street corner for me. I spent lots of time watching hordes of people waiting for and getting on and off of streetcars, so much so that the front of the box depicts just that – a bunch of people hanging around the TTC stop. And indeed, the name I eventually chose for the work, “BEEP!” derives from the painted word on the side of the box itself, signifying the area’s most prominent musical score.
You can check out the full range of process shots on my Facebook page, Paul Byron Art, here. A big thanks to all the OtB folks (notably including Vanessa Campisi, my main contact this year who swung by on her bike to visit my production on Day 2) for giving me another amazing opportunity to contribute a little colour to my beloved Toronto!