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Wall wanted: Mural dreams crumble for Nunavut and Toronto teens

Seven youths desperate to find a new wall to paint in downtown Toronto after building owner pulls out, putting art project in jeopardy.

Project organizers desperate to find Toronto wall to paint after building owner pulls out

CBC's Deana Sumanac-Johnson with why their art collaboration hit a wall 2:12

The organizers of a mural featuring young artists from Nunavut and Ontario are hoping someone will come forward with a wall after an unexpected change in plans.

Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson, of Embassy of Imagination, are hesitant but happy after a Hostelling International location at Church and Adelaide has come forward with a wall to be painted as part of a youth art project. (Lien Yeung/CBC)
Patrick Thompson and Alexa Hatanaka, the facilitators of the mural and leaders of a youth arts initiative The Embassy of Imagination, are flying in four high school students from the remote northern community of Cape Dorset to Toronto next week to collaborate with three young local artists. 

On Sunday, the organizers were told they needed to look for a new wall for their mural. 

Project hits a wall

The building they were counting on at King Street East and Jarvis Street was not available. 

One of print pieces created by Cape Dorset artist Parr Etidloie. The mural will be based on an image he sketched of his grandfather carrying a snowmobile. (Lien Yeung/CBC)
"At the last minute it was called off," said Thompson, who has been going to the North to work on visual arts projects for nearly ten years.

Thompson says they raised $60,000 in federal and provincial grants to bring the group of seven young artists together for, what he called, a "cultural handshake".

They believed the owner of the downtown Toronto building was fine with the mural going ahead.

But, that was not the case.

Joseph Favaro, who was liaising with the two organizers, told CBC News in an email that after the owner considered the possibility of a mural on the side of her building, she decided she did not want to have any artwork on her property.

Art on the line

Thompson and Hatanaka are now desperate to find a new location as soon as possible. The space should be visible, outdoor, public, and as flat as possible. Ideally, it would also measure about 10 by 14 metres.

Moises Frank, a Toronto graffiti artist, is one of seven young artists who will be working on the mural. (CBC)

If they fail in their search, it's young artists like Parr Etidloie from Cape Dorset who stands to lose the most. The mural is based on one of the sixteen year old's sketches.

"I heard some stories about my grandfather carrying a snowmobile and they told me to draw it," said the teenager. "And it worked out."

Toronto's Moises Frank will also be a part of the project. He is optimistic that someone else will come through with a wall.

As a graffiti artist, he wants the visiting teens to experience the creation of highly visible art.

"Just giving them the value and the worth of their own art, seeing it so big is pretty empowering," said Frank.

More information about the project can be found through the The Embassy of Imagination website.

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