Toronto street artists paint murals thanking frontline workers on boarded storefronts

May 13 2020, 6:41 am

Along Yonge Street, Toronto street artists have painted murals on boarded-up storefronts,  paying homage to the frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Downtown Yonge Businesses Improvement Area (BIA) has partnered with Kadence World to create “positive community artwork” on boarded-up retail stores in the downtown strip, which is usually bustling with activity.

“These talented artists are turning gloomy wooden boards into upbeat message boards,” said Mark Garner, Downtown Yonge’s chief operating officer and executive director. “Instead of the hoarding reminding us of COVID-19 hardship, we are using that space as a thank-you to Toronto’s frontline essential workers and a nod to the city’s resilience.”

Some of the city’s top street artists – including Emily May Rose, Shinobi, Haenahhh, and Christina Mazzulla – have been commissioned to create visual messages on boarded storefronts along the Yonge Street corridor.

Murals are now on display at the Elgin Winter Garden Theatre at 189 Yonge, Lids at 10 Dundas Street East, and Pizza Pizza at 471 Yonge.

The murals depict frontline works standing in a physically-distanced line, animals holding placards with thank-you messages to front line workers and words of appreciation bringing positivity in a time of adversity for so many.

“So much love and gratitude to all front-line workers risking their lives for our communities. We see you all and appreciate all you are doing for us,” the Downtown Yonge BIA said.

And, another message was given to nurses on Tuesday, for their dedication during this time.

“A huge thank you to all nurses on #InternationalNursesDay and every day for their hard work and dedication to keep our communities safe and healthy, especially during these difficult times.”

On Monday, retail stores with street access reopened to provide curbside pickup and delivery.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that “more good news” will be coming on Thursday for businesses in the province, as part of Phase 1 of the framework to reopen the economy.

And last week, Mayor John Tory said the City has recommendations for businesses as they reopen, putting together a comprehensive guide in a short period of time.

The city provided examples of how business owners can help keep employees and customers safe, such as managing the flow of costumers into stores by placing employees, signage, and visual cues like cones or tape.

But, as businesses gradually begin to reopen, pedestrians can still catch a glimpse of the colourful murals along Yonge Street.