January 23, 2018

Bike Painting at Toronto Island

Until this past weekend, I never considered the idea of visiting Toronto Island during the winter. When Artscape Gibraltar Point organized a bicycle painting event called the Bike Island Mural Project, Helen and I felt we had to check it out. We set out on Saturday to Ward’s Island – the only destination open year-round – and were greeted by a vintage bus.



After a short bus ride, we arrived at Artscape Gibraltar Point which has a community garden and was the site of the former Toronto Island Public School and TDSB Natural Science School. Once inside, we found a kid’s bike, two adult trikes, and a wheelchair all with paint dispensers ready to go. A great way to make this activity accessible for all ages and abilities. :)
The painting activity marked my first ride on an adult trike. Despite the added rear stability, these trikes can be a bit unwieldy to steer at first with the front feeling heavy. In all fairness, I also found steering to be awkward when test riding a cargo trike during a past Open Streets event and it was a matter of getting used to the trike. The bikes eventually made their mark using red, orange, and yellow paint. After riding, I found out different colours would be used for the other two sessions that day after the paint dried. Participants were then provided some hot tea and coffee after making their mark.
Before leaving, Andrew Lochhead – Artscape Gibraltar Point’s Residency & Program Coordinator – gave us some information about the Winter Island 2018 series. Five artists were selected as residents for a one-month period with Jeff Nachtigall being the one responsible for the Bike Island Mural Project. Vancouver sound artist Stacey Ho will be the next resident artist with workshops and performances scheduled on the following dates:
  • February 10 (Deep Listening Workshop)
  • February 17 (Island Sound Walk – All Weather)
  • March 3 (Performance)
The other resident artists featured are Simon Pope (mid-February to mid-March), Shannon Gerard (March), and Sammy Rawal (April). The final Winter Island Exhibition will be shown at Artscape Youngplace (180 Shaw Street) from May 20 to June 7.
We then took our bikes around the Island before returning to the mainland. Without all the tourists during the summer months, the Toronto Island felt peaceful to a point it doesn’t feel like being next to a major city. The Toronto Island is worth visiting during the winter at least once; whether it be to check out Artscape for their accessible art programming or capture some unique photos. If you do decide to go, be sure to bring some snacks as the cafés are closed for the season.

Some more pictures of the Bike Island Mural Project can be found on Facebook and Instagram.

Paint away!

Rob Z (e-mail)

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