Bloorcourt Banner Project

Banners Brighten Up Bloorcourt

If Toronto was a high school, Bloorcourt would be the kid whose name no one remembers.

To ensure its spot in the metaphoric yearbook, the forgettable neighbourhood on Bloor Street West (from Montrose to Dufferin) is getting a makeover. It started in 2008 with the annual Big on Bloor street festival and the inauguration of the experimental Storefront project, a social networking space (both physical and virtual) that seeks to unite the various elements of the community.

Now Bloorcourt is putting itself on the map as something of an outdoor gallery with intriguing pieces of art in the form of six foot banners hoisted on hydro poles.

Many neighbourhoods in the city have banners that designate their district, but the Bloorcourt BIA wanted to do a little bit more with its project, and thereby enlisted the help of the community at large.

"The area lacked any kind of identity," says Ghazaleh Etezal, the local BIA administrator and coordinator of the banner project. "There wasn't anything that said you were here in Bloorcourt...Now people can walk through the district and appreciate public art."

Unlike the uniform banners in other neighbourhoods, each of Bloorcourt's 39 poles features a different design by area locals. Etezal sent a call out a few months ago for community submissions. The only restriction other than size was that each piece somehow represent the area.

There are both abstract and literal representations of the community. One of my favourites is the piercing photograph of Santa. He's a neighbourhood fixture who stands outside the liquor store on Bloor and Ossington throughout the year wearing his red toque and carrying a "broken sleigh" sign to solicit change.

It's fitting that each poster is different. It mirrors the diversity of the neighbourhood. But, perhaps it's this very diversity that makes the neighbourhood hard to remember. It doesn't cater to a central community like Chinatown does for the Chinese or Yorkville for the rich. And yet, as one artist wrote in her submission, there is a definite beauty in the area's variety.

You can peep a further glimpse of the banners on Bloorcourt's website, complete with with descriptions of the illustrations and where to find them flapping in the wind.

Images courtesy of Bloorcourt's website.


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