"Love or Love" is a community mural created by youth from Lawrence Heights under the mentorship of public artists Sean Martindale and Joshua Barndt.
"This mural is the first major physical transformation in the Lawrence Heights revitalization process," says ArtStarts Project Coordinator Joshua Barndt. "We hope it can inspire both community pride and critical reflection about this strong community as it undergoes a major transformation."
The new mural is a concrete example of how local residents are engaged with developing a vision for the Lawrence Heights revitalization. Over the past four years, Lawrence Heights residents have been putting forward a vision of what they want to see for their community, and have taken a lead role in moving the project forward through major milestones.
"We were excited to partner with ArtStarts because they have great success connecting and working with youth," says Carmen Smith, Toronto Community Housing Community Revitalization Consultant. "Projects like this mural are so important to the tenant engagement process because it has given a space and a visual method for youth to explore and express their hopes, worries and fears for the future."
The mural mentorship program provided the youth involved with employment, training, and an opportunity to learning more about the revitalization process.
"Since we painted the first side of the mural, all my friends have been telling me how it looks good and how it's a great improvement for the community," says youth muralist and resident Rocco Ursino. "I'm proud of it because it's something I can leave behind. Everyone is saying it's awesome and beautiful, and I know I helped make it happen."
This project was made possible with funds and support from Street ART Toronto, Councillor Josh Colle, Lowes Hardware, Fortinos, Canadian Tire and Toronto Community Housing.
The mural's theme, "Love or Love", is a popular local expression and communicates a shared sentiment of compassion, hopefulness and determination as residents of Lawrence Heights prepare for revitalization. The other side of the mural, with the word "HOME," reflects the community's ongoing relationships with place, family and belonging.
Before developing the mural content, the youth mural team spent three weeks learning about what revitalization could mean for them and their community. They interviewed neighbours, met with members of the Lawrence Heights revitalization team, attended official City of Toronto planning meetings, and held public consultations of their own. The imagery on the walls of the Ranee Underpass is the imaginative culmination of their reflections through this process.
The mural can be viewed as you enter and exit the underpass travelling west towards Dufferin and east towards Bathurst or if you exit Yorkdale Subway station at the south end of the platform.