The joy of community-based outdoor art

As an artist, nothing brightens my day like going into a community and discovering new pieces of street art in the sprawling urban gallery that is the Scarborough landscape.

Street art is any form of art, particularly visual art that has been made for public spaces. It can be on the road, the walls or the sidewalks — as long as it is in the public.

The art that is seen in a space often gives the viewer an indication of the flavour and personality of the community. Being able to “see” through the eyes of the artists is very important to me. It brings an understanding to the artistic journey.

Graffiti art is a legal and acceptable form of street art.

Although graffiti can be viewed as creative expression it should not be mistaken for “tagging.” This usually contains one or more letters, symbols, etchings, scratches, stains or other markings — but is used more like a “screen name.” A deliberate mark placed on a space for the purpose of claiming ownership. It is usually associated with the act of vandalism.

Incidentally, City Hall makes a clear distinction between graffiti art and graffiti vandalism, and expects the community to assist in keeping the community beautiful.

What I love about street art is its effects in counteracting graffiti vandalism while uplifting the community.

Mural Routes, (MA) is a member-based not-for-profit arts service dedicated to supporting and promoting the increasing awareness of street or public wall art.

It has been instrumental in a number of works around Scarborough.

In the way of progress, 2835 Kingston Rd., Scarborough, near the corner of Eastville Avenue, is part of the Heritage Trail series. It features several modes of transportation, from a cow to a streetcar — progress.

Seeing The bluffs as viewed by Elizabeth Simcoe c. 1793 at 2384 Kingston Rd., west of Midland Avenue, was equally breathtaking.

But these are some of the older works and there are quite a few.

Designs done today still reflect the changing times and usually have the input of community artists.

More often than not, young people in the community work with MA as facilitators to produce the street art. Sometimes their friends would walk by and give constructive criticism. I think this lessens the probability of the work being vandalized and allows for others, like me, to enjoy the beauty of the art.

There is much to explore and I look forward to more discoveries as I explore the communities of Scarborough.