June 13, 2014 2:13 pm

Street artists to transform Toronto alleyways for NXNE

Toronto artist Jeff Blackburn's mural for Women's College Hospital is pictured on June 2, 2013. The building has since been demolished to make way for the second phase of the new hospital.

Heather Loney, Global News

TORONTO – Street artists will transform Toronto’s “lost space” with murals and installations in the city’s alleyways as part of the NXNE festival.

From June 16 to 22, NXNE Art will recreate Toronto’s iconic Graffiti Alley between Niagara St. and Tecumseth St. with murals by Toronto and Detroit-based artists.

Festival organizers said using art to transform the public realm is an “integral” part of NXNE Art.

“We’re transforming the pedestrian experience, revitalizing lost space, bringing life to alleyways, and bringing forward public engagement rooted in art through a series of mural and projection-based urban interventions.”

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Throughout the festival, a number of artists will take over parts of the city.

Montreal’s En Masse, a multi-artist collaborative drawing project featuring illustrators, comic book artists and graffiti artists, will create a large-scale black and white mural in an alleyway on June 18.

Street artist Birdo will take over a downtown alleyway on June 20, bringing his multi-coloured animals to NXNE’s extended graffiti alley.

On Sat. June 21, festival attendees can watch the artists at work.

READ MORE: Architect Paul Raff to create 1.6 km art fence in Toronto’s Don Valley

NXNE’s graffiti project is supported by StreetARToronto (StART), a City of Toronto program that aims to promote street art and its role in transforming neighbourhoods, while preventing vandalism.

StART runs a number of programs in Toronto, including a partnership program that funds projects hoping to revitalize communities through street art, a program that transforms traffic signal boxes into works of art, and a program to make the city’s underpasses safe and beautiful.

Graffiti Alley is a stretch of alleyway beginning at 1 Rush Lane. Although not everyone in the city knows exactly where Graffiti Alley is, many recognize it as the backdrop used for television personality Rick Mercer’s beloved “Rick’s Rant.”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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