Artist revives city-funded mural wiped in graffiti cleanup
What was once a city-commissioned mural intended to beautify Dupont Street near Lansdowne — before it was mistakenly erased during Mayor Rob Ford's crusade to clean up graffiti — has a new look.
Artist Joel Richardson on Sunday revealed his new spray-painting on the same wall which bore his original work in an underpass in the Junction. His first painting, which depicted businessmen lined up as part of a mathematical equation, fell victim to the mayor's anti-graffiti campaign over the summer.
The new painting took six weeks to complete. In the end, Richardson used 25 gallons of paint and 100 "jumbo" cans of spray-paint to revive the former motif — that of black-suited men wearing yellow halos.
He also received enough donations from local businesses to cover about $800 of expenses.
"But it's not about the money," he said. "I'm thrilled that they gave the space back to me."
The attention also gave Richardson international exposure in the media, with his art mentioned in The New York Times and The Washington Post.
"It ended up being a huge thrill and a good thing in the end because of the debate it spawned, and it got me in the papers," he said. "I just did this crazy trip in New York City where I did this group show on Wall Street, and sold a piece that got taken to the Chelsea Museum of Art."
Local businesses helped fund Richardson's original project. Richardson said he received $2,000 last year from the City of Toronto's Clean and Beautiful secretariat for that painting. City councillors later admitted graffiti clean-up crews had been too hasty in wiping it out.
The revelation that the city had whitewashed art it had requested in the first place ignited a debate over the city's take on graffiti and how it should treat publicly sanctioned art. City staff plan to create a database of authorized murals.