Toronto Public Arts

Toronto isn’t really that kind of city you can compare to Florence or Rome or New York City where public arts are ubiquitous in almost every corner. However, we do have some here in this city that we take for granted or we’re just not interested at all. There’s nothing in Toronto’s public arts that scream enough to get our attention. They’re just simply there for the purpose of it–we may not know.

A public art tells stories not just about the artist but also about the city or the environment around it. It’s not there to distract us but to add a bit of stimulating flavor in our mundane, everyday routine. That, of course, if you pause for a moment and take a look around it and find some meaning out from it. If you can’t figure out what a piece of art is trying to tell you—just admire its shape, its curves, its smoothness or ruggedness, its form, its material and maybe, its position. If you are used to seeing it everyday on your way to work, you’ll learn to appreciate its existence day by day. And hopefully, you’ll discover the beauty and purpose of such craftsmanship on why it’s there!

Here are some of the public arts in Toronto which I think are interesting to discover.

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Read: Public Arts in Chicago


Toronto Public Art Hockey Players

Toronto Public Arts – OUR GAME by Edie Parker

Without any need for introduction, this public art is, perhaps, the most recognizable of all. There’s no need to whack your brain and think what is it about. Anyone, including children would easily identify these people immortalized in a 17-foot bronze statue. Obviously, these are excited, young hockey players climbing on the board, ready for the game or maybe, just being happy another teammate made a goal!

Where to find it: Just outside the Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum, right at the corner of Front and Yonge Streets.

Toronto Public Art Flat Iron Building

Toronto Public Arts – FLAT IRON BUILDING MURAL by Derek Besant

Few steps from the OUR GAME statue (the first pic above), lies a mural at the back of the flat iron building. However, this is not, definitely not, your typical mural where it’s painted on walls. This is not one of those. This draped curtain-like cloth with windows is painted on a steel armature and attached to the building’s boring back walls, perhaps, to bring life to its back view.

Fact: Toronto’s flat iron building is 10 years older than that of New York’s.

Where to find it: Back of the flat iron building on the intersections of Jarvis, Front and Wellington Streets.

Toronto Public Arts Axis

Toronto Public Arts – Axis

I have no idea what this huge sculpture is but it looks like two axis(es?) spheres connected together. The bigger one is placed on an elevated platform while the smaller one is on the street level. I swear, it took me a long time to find its description/information but to no avail. The people who saw me sniffing it like a dog must have thought I was on a mission to decipher every detail of this iron piece of artwork. If you know what this is, let me know.

Where to find it: At the very end of Yonge Street, North America’s longest street.

(Updated, June 12, 2013: My reader Conrad pointed out that this sculpture is “Between the Eyes” by Richard Deacon, 1990.)

IMMIGRANT FAMILY by Tom Otterness Toronto Public Art -

Toronto Public Arts – IMMIGRANT FAMILY by Tom Otterness

North of the axis-like public art above is this bronze sculpture of young immigrant family with their newly-born baby. Even without reading the description, you can easily decipher what the sculpture is all about. Those two heavy pieces of luggage say it all.

Where to find it: It’s on 18th Yonge Street.

Toronto Public Arts Mountain Anish Kapoor

Toronto Public Arts – UNTITLED (MOUNTAIN) by Anish Kapoor

I was actually surprised to know that Anish Kapoor, who designed Chicago’s The Bean, has made something for Toronto. Though untitled, people began referring it as Mountain. You might think it’s made of some concrete or cement but actually not. It’s made of aluminum and cut with high-tech water jets. If you stand few steps away from it, this Gothic-like steeples is just plain, simple piece of something. But, if you go around it, you will be dwarfed by it and you have the sense of respecting it by looking up all the way to the sky. Though the sculpture’s height is nothing compared to the skyscrapers around the area, it has its own charm enough to turn commuters’ heads.

Where to find it: At Simcoe Park on Simcoe and Front Streets. You can’t miss it.

Toronto Public Arts The Builder

Toronto Public Arts – THE WORKER

This is a statue of a construction worker at work–to honor those who literally built this city into a concrete jungle of steel and glass.

Where to find it: On the southeast corner of Simcoe park where you can see Anish Kapoor’s, Mountain (see pic above).

CAMPSITE FOUNDING by  Brad Golden, Lynne Eichenberg Toronto Public Arts -

Toronto Public Arts – CAMPSITE FOUNDING by Brad Golden, Lynne Eichenberg

This monument is erected to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the founding of the City of Toronto.

Where to find it: Right next to Anish Kapoor’s, Mountain (see pic above).

Toronto Public Arts Multiculturalism Statue

Toronto Public Arts – MONUMENT TO MULTICULTURALISM by Francesco Perilli

More than half of the population of Toronto is born outside of Canada. So, imagine how this city is moved by immigrants and foreign workers. No doubt, this could be the world’s most multi-cultural city, unless, of course, New York City could prove to claim that title. The statue is erected by the Italian immigrants of this city. It’s a statue of a naked male figure building a world  by connecting its pieces to make a whole.

Where to see it: Outside Union Station on Front Street.

Toronto Public Arts - THE AUDIENCE by Michael Snow

Toronto Public Arts – THE AUDIENCE by Michael Snow

The facial expressions of these bronze statues are hard to ignore–they’re all emotions sports audience make when watching sports that define this city. There are two sets of these statues placed in both ends of the Skydome.

Where to find them: Aptly, these statues adorned the northwest and southwest end of Roger Center, where big sports events are held. It’s right next to the CN Tower.

Toronto Public Arts - TEMBO, MOTHER OF ELEPHANTS by Derrick Stephan Hudson

Toronto Public Arts – TEMBO, MOTHER OF ELEPHANTS by Derrick Stephan Hudson

She’s a mammoth mama and they’re wee baby elephants following their mother to go somewhere–perhaps, into an urban jungle named Toronto. Well, there’s a fountain in front of them, so, they’ll probably quench their thirst for water.

Where to see them: At the back of the CIBC Bank building on King and Bay Streets.

Toronto Public Arts - REMEMBERED SUSTENANCE by Cynthia Short

Toronto Public Arts – REMEMBERED SUSTENANCE by Cynthia Short

 These generic, four-legged critters migrated from somewhere, passing a curtain-like statue in the middle.

Where to see them: At the grass-covered corner of Wellington and John

Toronto Public Arts - THE POET, THE FEVER HOSPITAL by Bernie Miller

Toronto Public Arts – THE POET, THE FEVER HOSPITAL by Bernie Miller

Ok, I’d be honest, I didn’t quietly get it. There are various shapes in it and made of various materials, too. It’s confusing. I think that’s the point, maybe?

Where to find it: Metro Square (David Picault Square), right next to Roy Thompson Hall on King and York Streets.

Toronto Public Arts - Toronto Public Arts Moore Sculpture

Toronto Public Arts – Three Way Piece No. 2 (The Archer) by Henry Moore

Read what Henry Moore said about this piece HERE.

Where to find it: In front of the City Hall at Nathan Philipps Square.

Toronto Public Arts - METROPOLIS by David Partridge

Toronto Public Arts – METROPOLIS by David Partridge

Inside the City Hall lobby is a nail mural that will blow your mind away. 100,000 common nails made up this 9-panel mural into a masterpiece. The circle in the center of the artwork is made of copper nails that represent the heart or center of any city in the world, not just Toronto.

Where to find it: Lobby of City Hall at Queen and Bay Streets.


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3 Responses to “Toronto Public Arts”

  1. Konrad Chan
    June 13, 2013 at 12:12 AM #

    The sculpture at Yonge & Queens Quay West is called “Between the Eyes” by Richard Deacon, 1990

    • TheSojourner
      June 13, 2013 at 12:45 AM #

      Thanks, Conrad. Appreciate it.

  2. Chantal M.
    September 7, 2013 at 10:24 AM #

    Couldn´t agree more with your attitude towards the public art! The only problem is people tend to get quite judgmental once they realize they cannot comprehend something. I would say it is rather rare for a piece of public art in modern cities like Toronto to be appreciated, even loved, instead of being hated or a subject of controversy. Maybe with the exception of Immigrant family, this one was just deliberately made to be loveable:)

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