So long Jimi, hello Liona

Leslieville tea shop replaces area landmark with new work of art

Shut down the local convenience store and residents will grunt and walk to the nearest gas station. Renovate a favourite dry cleaning haunt and annoyed customers will roll their eyes and find another in close proximity.

But take down a beloved mural that’s been in the neighbourhood for several years, and you’ll hear a community’s wrath.

Residents in the Queen St. East and Leslie Street area were saddened in late November to see a painting of Jimi Hendrix removed from the brick wall of a former guitar shop. The image of the late guitarist had been on the store — now a teashop — for nearly a decade.

“It’s sad to see Jimi go,” commented a passerby as construction workers were being elevated in lift equipment to put up a new painting in late November.

But Brad Daniels, co-owner of the teashop, Steeped and Infused, has softened the blow with a community project.

In the summer, Daniels held a competition among Sheridan College students to submit a painting idea for the wall.

The submissions were displayed in a show at the Pentimento Gallery on Queen (near Jones) for two weeks in late September.

The public was then able to vote for the one they thought was best, and the winning one would replace Jimi Hendrix.

“I could’ve left (Hendrix) there forever but I thought, ‘Why not have some fun with it?

“Play around with it and do something that gets the community involved,’” he said. “I’m not choosing at the end of the day what goes up.”

Daniels requested that the paintings be somewhat reflective of the theme of musicians/guitarists or the overall Queen and Leslie vicinity in keeping with the original theme.

And the winning 10 foot by 16 foot artwork of local musician Liona Boyd had just that.

The image was created by Michelle Chicoski, a Sheridan College student, who created the image as a 10-inch by 17-inch watercolour.

The image was then digitally expanded into the huge banner.

The first sight of the banner affixed to the wall was surreal, Chicoski said

“It was really exciting to see my work so big,” she said.

What some in the area may not know is that Daniels had in fact built over the original mural of Hendrix just over a year ago.

“(The painting) was painted on the brick wall and then I put stone over top of it, which meant the mural was gone because the paint was on the brick. I couldn’t save it.”

Instead, Daniels took a photograph of the Hendrix mural image and affixed a vinyl photograph to the wall.

“So people were really happy to see it go back up again.”

With the overwhelming response to the competition, Daniels has decided to make the poster contest an annual event. It will remain open to the public.

“I’m not aware of anywhere else where I’ve even heard of anything like this,” he said.

“There’s all sorts of competitions where people vote, but something that becomes part of a public installation for the community every year — never heard of it.”

About this article:

By: Sharon Ko
Posted: Jan 18 2011 3:06 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto