In February 2020, I installed 30+ of my Subversive Signs throughout the Gladstone Hotel as part of their 17th annual Come Up to My Room event. I also installed a few outside on Queen St. and Gladstone Ave. They looked so great in their “native habitat” I decided to leave them.
Fast forward to October — in the wake of yet more state-sanctioned murders and violence by police south of the border, the spotlight was also trained on all-too-similar systemic racist violence and inequality here. Some clever street artist put up a Black Lives Matter sign on Queen Street near Dunn. Karen Longwell wrote a post for Blog TO about that, and included both my Freedom and Kindness signs in her piece. While I definitely wish I had come up with that BLM sign! — it was a nice feeling that my signs were seen to be making a similar contribution.
Many friends drew my attention to the Blog TO post, urging me to take credit for my signs. For quite a while I resisted – knowing guerrilla street art is at best grudgingly tolerated, and when it looks like official street signage, not doubt even less so! Ultimately though, I decided it was better to own up to it than have someone else claim it. So yes, those two are my work! (I’ve recently written to BlogTO to belatedly claim responsibility.)
Ultimately, this experience made it clear to me that – while they can look good in a gallery – the street is the best place for artist street signs! So stay tuned for more street deployments later this year…