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Public Art: What Do You Think of the New Toronto Sign?

Article and photography by Mike Simpson / Photography by Kanchan Kumar and Mustafa Alqaisy / Part of a fall feature series sponsored by ego ride share

UPDATE: The City of Toronto replied to our emails with information about the process to select the artist for the new wrap. They write: “The media release says that the plan is for the artwork on the sign to change every 12 months. The department that led the initiative was the City’s Confronting Anti-Black Racism Unit and they did a call for artwork back in October 2019.” 

The Toronto sign is a highly photographed landmark and cultural touchstone. In September 2020 the People of African descent-themed wrap arrived. Most people seem to like it – but we wonder: what comes next? We look at the history of the sign and provide you with our thoughts.

In mid September, the City of Toronto put in a new sign, replacing the sign originally installed in July 2015 for the Toronto 2015 Pan American / Parapan American Games. The wrap was designed by Toronto artist Danilo Deluxo McCallum, to honour the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent. According to the city “The artwork is part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021.”

How do we all feel about this art and signage? I have mixed feeling about it, mostly because I though I like the art I am not sure I like “art on my Toronto sign.” And it is my sign. And yours. It’s all of ours really. Does this sign need art on it?

When it comes to public art it is a good idea to consider with a critical eye. Consider questions about the purpose of the art and how it fits the greater context.

Going forward we ask important questions: Will our sign always have a wrap? What will the next theme be?

Some suggest other cultural groups should be represented while others say a tribute to front like workers makes sense. Here’s a thought: Maybe the sides of the sign would look better “unwrapped?” Let us know your thoughts by commenting on our post at Instagram.

Read more of our critique at our new arts and culture website, Tdot.com



Writing and production by @mikesimpson.ms

Photography by @toronto_explored_by_me

Photography by @mw_city_photography

Visit our series sponsor ego ride share!


Black Live Matter was a theme in Toronto during summer 2020 / Photo by Mustafa Alqaisy

New wrap on the Toronto Sign for 2020! / Photo by Kanchan Kumar

Please take a moment to comment on our Instagram post – we’d love to know what you think!

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