A guy in a duck costume is winning over hearts in Toronto
Move over giant rubber ducky, there's a new duck in town and Toronto is loving it.
The new mallard-about-town is green-headed, with big blue eyes, and a pair of colourful Chucks that have been spotted nonchelantly marching down the sidewalks of Toronto's busiest neighbourhoods.
Behind that wide-eyed facade, is a multi-disciplinary artist known as Lewis Mallard.
If that name seems a bit too punny to be real, you're right. Lewis wants to keep his identity a mystery and let his alter-ego do the quacking.
"Part of the reason I created the project the way it is, is to bring some mystery back," he told blogTO, "The kind of mystery I had in my childhood that I didn’t even realize I liked until I got older and didn’t have it anymore."
"We get to know everything about everybody now – even if you don’t want to know it – and so there's very little left to discover."
The whole thing began when Lewis, who was based in Toronto, moved out to Hamilton a few years ago to take care of his father who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
A year and a half later, his father had passed away and he was considering how to best get back to his art practice. One afternoon, on a psychedelic mushroom trip in Hamilton's Gage Park, he saw the idea take shape before him.
Next thing he knew, he had fashioned the costume out of paper-maché and chicken wire (with a 'duck call' built in!) and was headed out onto the streets of Steeltown.
He quickly became a beloved local celebrity, especially during the pandemic when his appearance offered some levity and smiles to passersby.
Over the last month though, it seems this duck has flown East and Lewis has begun popping up on the streets of Toronto.
@blogto uhhhhhh… just another day in Toronto 🦆 #toronto #ontario #canada #duck #mallard #tiktoktoronto #torontotiktok #wth #spotted #icymi ♬ original sound - lilkungpaochicken
A few blogTO readers have spotted him on Dundas west, while folks on Reddit were excited to catch him prancing along in Kensington Market and out for a stroll downtown in the morning.
Good morning Toronto! Quack quack!
by u/missindependent4 in toronto
This isn't just a casual visit though.
Lewis the duck is building a nest here for the foreseeable future.
On Instagram, Lewis shared this hilarious mock-up of a City of Toronto development notice that confirms that he's here and ready "to confuse and delight the residents of Toronto."
He told me he's moved back to be closer to his wife, an opera singer, who works in the city, and to grow his practice in a bigger city.
Aside from the recent appearances, he's also planned other interventions like, "Take it or Theive it," a scavenger hunt coming up on this Victoria Day long weekend.
Participants are being challenged to check the riddles he posts that day and see if they can find the four corresponding paintings he's hidden in the city.
"I write riddles about where they’re located and I invite people to steal them if they want," explains Lewis, "I don’t make it super easy. Usually you have to bring tools and do something maybe a little bit outside of your comfort zone to get it. I like to get people to go on their own little adventures."
He says that people in Toronto have been generally kind and curious thus far. I asked if folks just expect that he's selling something or giving away samples and he laughed and replied, "People ask me all the time, ‘What is this for’? I don’t talk in the costume, so I just quack and walk away."
Lewis believes there's so much more that street art can be than just posters or graffiti so he wants to bring his unique brand of intervention to the city and see if we're willing to get on board.
With all the bad news circulating recently in the city, I think we're ready for a few smiles and some community fun courtesy of a psychedelic folk artist dressed as a duck.
Expect to see him pop up more and more this summer in all kinds of weird and mysterious ways.
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