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This wall looked better with "graffiti"

Posted by Derek Flack / June 1, 2011

Graffiti Formula Junction TriangleTalk about bad timing. On the same night that City officials held a town hall meeting to engage the public in discussion of its graffiti eradication policy, news breaks that the City is alleged to have just painted over a public mural that it helped pay to create in the first place. Located on Dupont near Lansdowne Avenue, according to the creator of the piece, Joel Richardson, his near-finished mural "The Formula" was funded by a $2,000 commission from the Clean and Beautiful secretariat. Counter to this claim, a City spokesperson said that the mural was "unauthorized, uncommissioned, political and may have "referred to (Prime Minister) Stephen Harper."

Giambrone TwitterWe've yet to get official (re)confirmation either way, but based on Adam Giambrone's Twitter activity earlier today, it sure sounds like Richardson was wronged. Giambrone, who was area councillor when the piece would have been commissioned, indicated that Richardson was indeed paid to put up his work.

As for the political leanings of the piece, the artist told the Star that while the work was "subversive and anti-freewheeling capitalism," it "had nothing to do with Stephen Harper," and that the model for the anonymous business man was a friend of his. But, you know what, it doesn't even matter anyway. If the piece was commissioned, regardless of the subject matter, it's both ridiculous and sad that it's been destroyed.

Here's a look at the before and after pics, courtesy of Martin Reis.


Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle


Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle

Graffiti Formula Junction Triangle




mike in parkdale / June 1, 2011 at 12:12 pm
content of the original mural aside..... the 'cleanup' job really doesn't look very 'clean'.
Jamie / June 1, 2011 at 12:13 pm
Stark, uninspiring and typical. Toronto under the Ford brothers.
mike in parkdale / June 1, 2011 at 12:17 pm
this reminds me of something else:

(about the blotchy patches of gray)
Jonathan / June 1, 2011 at 12:20 pm
I agree. The content of the mural aside the cleanup is horrendous. However, when I first saw this mural I thought that it was way more thought provoking than a concrete wall. The scary thought for me is that this concrete wall symbolizes the legacy of Rob Ford the mayor.
Boo / June 1, 2011 at 12:22 pm
yeah, now it's primed for all the obnoxious tags that will surely begin popping up there...nice one losers
ALBGunner04 / June 1, 2011 at 12:23 pm
If it were some gang graffiti, I would have no problem with them removing that garbage, but that's not graffiti. Murals like that give regional areas in the city character. What do we have now? Some ugly patches on the walls trying to cover it up. This is shameful.
Adam replying to a comment from Jonathan / June 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm
So true. And very very scary!
Martin Reis replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / June 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Brilliant. That's spot on!
rmcw / June 1, 2011 at 12:28 pm
Yes, the cleanup looks terrible. But forget putting the content of the mural aside - I usually bike past this twice a day and I love it. I'm saddened to see it go.

Also, given that this is apparently a statement against Stephen Harper, I'd like to push the angle that the city administration is tacitly saying that all white guys in suits look the same.
Mike / June 1, 2011 at 12:36 pm
This is Toronto and we shouldn't be surprised.

Now we have something to match the ugly pot holes.
ira kates / June 1, 2011 at 12:38 pm
I would say the city owes us tax payers 2k...oh wait I don't think they can afford that anymore. Maybe we can sell off some land?
rob / June 1, 2011 at 12:42 pm
I think it looks better without the graffiti.

Why should we be forced to look at someones shit everyday?
TorontoBlows / June 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm
I despise graffiti.

This piece wasn't graffiti - it was a commissioned mural.

And the guy should paint it back up if he wants.

They're so incompetent they don't even know what was or wasn't commissioned ON THE F*CKING WALL THEY HAVE SET ASIDE FOR MURALS

This city is run by f*kcing morons.
Kieren / June 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm
This clearly shows Rob Ford's dislike for math.
Boo / June 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm
"Why should we be forced to look at someones shit everyday?" you mean like all the shitty advertisements and billboards plastered all over our public spaces - couldn't agree more!
Welshgrrl replying to a comment from rob / June 1, 2011 at 12:46 pm
If you can't tell the difference between a commissioned work of art and a bunch of ugly tags, then maybe you need to get your eyesight checked
Terry / June 1, 2011 at 12:54 pm
The way it looks now (grey blotches) is an abomination, compared to the great wall mural. I noticed it before and I thought it was interesting and thought-provoking. What a shame. The current City administration destroyed a work of art, blew $2,000 ++, and also defeated the purpose of preventing unwanted graffiti.
jason / June 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm
Awesome, now we have a blank canvas.

Who's up next?
Matt / June 1, 2011 at 12:59 pm
Anyone who thinks the cleanup is an improvement is objectively wrong. And now, the wall will quickly become a target for scrawls and tags. Awesome.
Alex replying to a comment from TorontoBlows / June 1, 2011 at 01:06 pm
Look...I think the cleanup job is crap...would rather it wasn't touched...but you can't commission artists to paint on walls you have no rights to paint.

Am certain you'd be pissed if you came home and I'd done your walls and my defense was "it was commissioned".
Josca / June 1, 2011 at 01:07 pm
This makes me really sad
rmcw replying to a comment from Alex / June 1, 2011 at 01:09 pm
So... the city can't commission a mural on city property?
natalie replying to a comment from Jonathan / June 1, 2011 at 01:12 pm
the *really* scary part is we are not even a year in!

TorontoBlows replying to a comment from Alex / June 1, 2011 at 01:13 pm

Uhhh, this was a commissioned piece.

The city hired the guy to paint it.

So I have no idea what you're blathering on about.
W / June 1, 2011 at 01:19 pm
Will somebody *please* do this?
Mark Dowling / June 1, 2011 at 01:20 pm
If the wall had been prepared with a base colour along its length, and a sign affixed, maybe it wouldn't have been seen as graffiti. Instead it just probably looked like a Banksy knock-off (sorry, homage) by a local with time on his/her hands. As for the figure's resemblance to Harper - a dull looking male with a bad haircut - yeah I can see where they were going with that.
TorontoBlows / June 1, 2011 at 01:26 pm
There should be a plaque attached to each commissioned mural:

PIECE # 78

Tracked and voted on online
Panel of artists evaluate the pieces on the site too
Popular artists get to the front of the line for the next opportunity
Annual coffee table book sold for charity of all commissioned murals in the city, interviews with artists, etc

Al replying to a comment from TorontoBlows / June 1, 2011 at 01:32 pm
There are two pieces. The first is on the North wall and it was commissioned and paid for by the city. This piece was on the South wall. Giambrone encouraged hime to apply for a commission for a mural on the South wall but the city says that it did not commission that piece. The commissioned piece on the North wall was left untouched.
joe replying to a comment from Al / June 1, 2011 at 01:45 pm
So Ford wants to save money buy paying people to paint commissioned murals rather than make the same mural for free? That makes lots of sense.
Derek replying to a comment from Al / June 1, 2011 at 01:52 pm
That's what the City spokesperson says. Giambrone and the artist, on the other hand, say that he received an additional allotment of funds to do the piece on the south side of the street.
Lora / June 1, 2011 at 02:02 pm
Just because Stephen Harper has sunken, soulless eyes doesn't mean every stencil of a man in a suit is about him. I'd say he's so vain, but I guess he has enough supporters that will be vain for him.
JB replying to a comment from Al / June 1, 2011 at 02:04 pm
Having talked to the artist, I can confirm that he in fact acquired the permits on his own for the north wall, at his own expense, and was invited by the councillor to do the south wall at the City's expense due the positive response to his work.
gr1 replying to a comment from W / June 1, 2011 at 02:06 pm
on it.
DirectEngagement / June 1, 2011 at 02:07 pm
Why should the public pay for someone's personal political rant?
Abby / June 1, 2011 at 02:24 pm
Mr. Palacio,

I live at the corner of Davenport and Lansdowne, and I greatly appreciate your work in our up and coming ward.

The dog park in Earlscourt Park is a wonderful addition to the area, and has created a real sense of community. I would have preferred a nice large green space rather than the proposed soccer pitch on the west side of the park, but we can’t win all our battles.

However, can you please explain to me how, in an area that is quickly becoming a hub for young artistic minded people, who are not only renting in the area, but also making long term investments in the area, this could have happened:

I pass (I supposed passed) this mural daily and am livid that it has been painted over. These murals are part of our urban landscape, and add to the attraction and diversity of the area. We are a walking culture, a biking culture, and we look to our surroundings to stimulate our imaginations. There is nothing inspiring about the white wash wall (underpass on Lansdowne north of Dupont). It is unsightly and bland.

Tagging should be covered, art should not, and art is often driven by political motives. Could you imagine if Banksy’s art, one of the UK’s most celebrated artists, whose canvas of choice is a brick wall, was covered because it has political undertones? Every single mural he has ever created would have to be painted over.

My toddler learned how to say both dog and bird at Caledonia and Davenport underpass. I sure hope they aren’t next on the white washing list.
mike in parkdale replying to a comment from DirectEngagement / June 1, 2011 at 02:28 pm
"Why should the public pay for someone's personal political rant? "

'Love Thy Neighbour' or 'Give Peace a Chance' could also be seen as a political rant.

Unless every mural is about picking up your litter, there will be political undertones to it. After all, most artists have political opinions.
Jerome / June 1, 2011 at 02:38 pm
Stephen Harper only wishes he could look as good as the now gone mural fellow.
ham / June 1, 2011 at 03:20 pm
Pay money for an artistic mural.
Pay money for someone to paint over it.

Taxpayers Y U SO SAD?
Ryan L. replying to a comment from Derek / June 1, 2011 at 03:40 pm
Not to mention that when there is something that is clearly a mural on the other side of the street on the underpass cement you think someone would say "hey, maybe this is a mural too!"
mario83 / June 1, 2011 at 03:41 pm
the city is so imcompentant under mayor chis farley (whoops rob ford) that they pay someone to paint a mural but decide to go after "graffti" and paint over work they paid for lol respect for the tacpayer my ass!
Huh / June 1, 2011 at 03:42 pm
Why does every right leaning moron start their moaning idiotic comments with, "as a taxpayer..."

I'm sorry, is there anyone who isn't a taxpayer?
the lemur replying to a comment from mike in parkdale / June 1, 2011 at 04:31 pm
How do you know it's political? And if it is, what is it saying? Is it not open to interpretation? How does that justify ONE person being able to get it removed because it sorta looks like Harper?
Al replying to a comment from Boo / June 1, 2011 at 04:34 pm
That is a bogus argument. Putting up a mural doesn't prevent taggers. The north mural is covered in tags and you can clearly see tags in two of the above pictures of the south mural, even before it was finished.
nippleholic replying to a comment from Huh / June 1, 2011 at 04:45 pm
Bugs / June 1, 2011 at 04:50 pm
Of course, you know this means war.
keven replying to a comment from Huh / June 1, 2011 at 05:21 pm
about 35% of our population, actually. Here, I'll even give you one, Anyone that doesn't pay income tax and doesn't own a home, like kids.
fred / June 1, 2011 at 05:24 pm
Graffiti is vandalism.Art is a picture of a realestate agent. Got it? Good.

The Todd / June 1, 2011 at 05:39 pm
"Could you imagine if Banksy’s art, one of the UK’s most celebrated artists, whose canvas of choice is a brick wall, was covered because it has political undertones?"

Aren't many (most?) of Bansky's commissioned artworks in London painted over and/or removed? I'm pretty sure most cities don't have a 'But It's Bansky!' exception. Although they probably should.
sean / June 1, 2011 at 05:58 pm
So the fact that it was "commissioned" makes it "both ridiculous and sad that it's been destroyed"? I think that makes it a waste of Gov. money. What's "ridiculous and sad" is that art is being destroyed, regardless of whether the artist was paid $2000 or did it out of their own desire to create.
justin / June 1, 2011 at 06:04 pm
As Torontonians, we should be pissed. That mural was awesome and every time I passed by, it reminded me why I love this city for a number of reasons I won't get into.

Now, it just looks like crap. At least half remains untouched (closer to the green storage company's property, their Art Starts mural remains). Still, it looks like crap. Fuck you, Rob Ford, you're an idiot.
Steven / June 1, 2011 at 06:34 pm
According to the Star, he spent 30 hours on it, and another 10 was required. Money aside, I would be pretty upset and angry if I had put that much time into something I cared about only to have it needlessly destroyed.
stupidford / June 1, 2011 at 07:13 pm
the 'graffiti' on the wall before was artistic. looks terrible now, like the rest of concrete city. toronto is actually a fucking dump. forget any sort of creativity going into the city
1cent replying to a comment from The Todd / June 1, 2011 at 07:14 pm
actually, a lot of collectors have bought the walls or buildings that banksy has done and had them removed and replaced!
Huh / June 1, 2011 at 07:23 pm
But aren't you a taxpaper if you buy stuff? Please correct me if I'm wrong. And that's not sarcasm.

Tyler / June 1, 2011 at 08:10 pm
Jesus the city never ceases to amaze me with their ridiculous bullshit. Grow up Ford!! murals make our concrete jungle beautiful and interesting and only boost communities and tourism. poorly primed cement is fascist and BORING!!!

wanna talk about stopping the gravy train - Stop erasing commissioned murals.
W. K. Lis / June 1, 2011 at 09:14 pm
Ford brothers favourite colours: grey and gray.
Ryan / June 1, 2011 at 11:16 pm
There is only one way to go about this:

Every talented graffiti artist in the city must get out, and put their art back on the walls of Toronto!

I'm not an artist, I don't care about graffiti, but I'm much more proud of MY city with some sort of flair and colour than drab patched concrete.

Fight the fight, graffiti soldiers!
gristle / June 1, 2011 at 11:32 pm
That bridge now just looks ghetto.

So much for "cleaning up". More like 'botched'
Zach / June 2, 2011 at 01:26 am
You can have your city anyway you want as long as it's drab, dull, and boring.

It's a shame this was removed. I hope something replaces it and can avoid the Ford's dislike of art and anything they can't understand.
Kevo replying to a comment from Alex / June 2, 2011 at 09:02 am
The walls are owned by the City of Toronto, that's why they paid someone do paint them (mentioned in TorStar article)...
gj / June 2, 2011 at 10:09 am
This mural must come back. It was amazing. Ford is dead weight on this city, reworking what works in Toronto in the image of the 905 wasteland.
Chilly Willie / June 2, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Wow, such "talent" it must take to cut out a crappy stencil, and spray paint onto city property.

As for the $2,000 how about Giamboner "donates" the $3,500 he still owes the city for overspending on his TTC budget.

More crap graffitti gone, and another win for Toronto taxpayers!
dubs / June 2, 2011 at 12:16 pm
This strategy is pretty typical o the Ford Bros approach. They tend to ignore reality while assuming a bull-headed, 'force the issue' approach will work because, in their minds they are right and everyone else can go to hell.

However, the reality they are ignoring is that the most effective, although not fool-proof, plan to prevent unsightly graffiti is through the development of public art that people enjoy. As much as I wouldn't be surprised, I doubt it is Doug Ford's intention to be anti-art, as opposed to anti-graf. Theyve effectively created a blank canvas for the "gang" graffiti writetrs in Toronto that will be hit up within days, I have no doubt. (The graf writers throughout downtown are not in gangs, thats just a notion that's been carried over from the American origins of graffiti in NY and LA).

The bottom line is that the Ford administration is punctuated regularly with a (willing) lack of understanding of issues they are attempting to address. Well see how far they get with that approach.
Presslunch / June 2, 2011 at 12:52 pm
KPS DMC LSD POO POO MAGEE HIT THAT ASAP, this is wonderful now the papers are giving directions to freshly buffed walls! how great is that for the REAL writers in this city.

Weston McDonalds at 1am, if you want to talk to rob or doug about this in person.

In all honesty though did this area of town really need to look anymore depressing than it already did? But I do understand why the Fords would want it removed I mean we can't have lower income families reading into "subversive" art now can we.
lll / June 2, 2011 at 02:27 pm
inclusion of higher art/culture...
neu pictures, new city
Ill / June 2, 2011 at 06:53 pm
OK two things.

Firstly, the original piece was made in the graffiti style, and I personally thought it WAS graffiti for that reason.

Secondly, it's a freakin' STENCIL. How long could it possibly take to fix it ?

Don't get angry at the city worker, he can't tell the difference between graffiti and graffiti-styled art. I certainly can't. Basically, a simple mistake is being overblown.
Junction / June 2, 2011 at 07:15 pm
Yes, the war on walls is over!
Dang De Lion replying to a comment from Ill / June 2, 2011 at 09:48 pm
III wrote "Firstly, the original piece was made in the graffiti style, and I personally thought it WAS graffiti for that reason. Secondly, it's a freakin' STENCIL. How long could it possibly take to fix it ?" My thoughts exactly ! The first time I looked at this thing, I thought, "What's the big deal ? Cut out a piece of bristol board, buy some black spray paint, and there you go." Even as graffiti, it realy wasn't very good to begin with.

scott d / June 3, 2011 at 12:13 pm
This whole thing was a mistake from all sides.

Joel THOUGHT he had permission but didnt. Honest mistake.

The city cleaned it without doing a double check with the Councillors office. Mistake.

The money came from the city but not officially directed/permitted in that location. Mistake that led to confusion.

It may be ard to believe in this "its always somebodys fault or agenda" world we now live in but in this case it was a series of mistakes that compounded each other.
Milos Vasic / June 3, 2011 at 03:26 pm
I've written a blog entry on these murals. Check it out:
Duke replying to a comment from rob / June 3, 2011 at 09:15 pm
Suck it rob, it's not anyones fault but your own if you can't appreciate art.Good job you've just given me something to write about... On that very wall of course!
Tim / July 10, 2011 at 03:28 pm
Today someone told me that upon receiving a notice to have their graffiti removed, a person/business has a certain amount of time to do so before the city will send a company to go remove it and then present that person/business with a bill. I was also told that the company used is owned by Doug Ford. However, I don't know if this is true, or simply a rumour. Does anyone know if there is anything to this accusation? I'd be very disappointed if it were true, given that would seem to be very hypocritical of the government.
angel / September 3, 2011 at 05:05 am
Esta variante no me conviene.

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