Akin is proud to announce the launch of three new outdoor murals by our talented studio artists Althea Balmes, Atanas Bozdarov & Sarvenaz Rayati of Akin Lansdowne, and Billy Franklin of Akin Dupont.
The murals will be created as a part of BIG on Bloor Festival’s offsite pop-up series ‘BIG Xplorations’ on July 22 and 23 and remain in place for the duration of the summer for the public to enjoy. The works will be created on-site at 1319 Bloor St W in the Value Village parking lot, and along the West Toronto Railpath. These murals will represent the diversity of Akin Collective studio artists and our neighbourhood and community.
About the murals and the artists:
‘What’s in Your Fridge?’ by Althea Balmes & Atanas Bozdarov
What’s in your fridge? Althea and Atanas will answer the question by transforming their BIG on Bloor mural structure into a fridge—exposing its inside and revealing the yummy contents through fun and colourful illustrations.
Althea and Atanas will collaborate with the community to illustrate the food and drink ideas that they provide. They will be collecting this information prior to the event, and during the live painting, taking suggestions on site. This work is intended to create a conversation about food and culture, and also engage the community allowing them to become active participants.
Althea Balmes is an artist-educator rooted in community work. She uses her strong connection to her culture and her place as a diasporic Canadian woman of colour to inspire her work and as a way to connect to others. She teaches visual storytelling workshops throughout the city. She has won the 2012 Women in Film and Television-Toronto (WIFT-T) Award for her film, “Suman Ladies”. She received The Min Sook Lee Award for her on-going community based comic book project about the real lives of Filipino live-in Caregivers, “Kwentong Bayan: Labour of Love” in 2014. Althea is currently doing her Master of Information in User Experience Design at University of Toronto. www.altheabalmes.com
Atanas Bozdarov is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who focuses on deconstructing the ways in which we read and interpret systems and structures. From quoting fragments of architectural blueprints or game sequences, to generating musical motifs from non-musical sources, he constructs incomplete and surprising structures in order to question our understanding of the working systems around us. www.atanasbozdarov.com
‘An Artist at Work’ by Sarvenaz Rayati
An artist at work. A woman who has done a painting in a nature setting seems restless and is still looking for something. Featuring a persian poem on love.
Sarvenaz is an Iranian visual artist now based in Toronto. She received her BA in Painting and Visual Communication from Art University in Tehran. She has exhibited her work internationally and has recently participated in group exhibitions at Urban Space and Evergreen Brick Works in Toronto. Since moving to the city, she has focused on her drawing and painting practice and has immersed herself in the community arts world. She visits schools, leads painting workshops, and participates in community arts and mural projects, including the Coxwell Laneway Mosaic Mural. This summer, Sarvenaz is leading People & Trees, a community art project that will culminate with an installation in East York's Dentonia Park as part of City of Toronto Cultural Hotspot’s SPARK Projects.
“Storytelling has always been my main motivation to create art. Heritage, the self, paths, nature, the act of seeking—these are all recurrent themes in my work. I’m inspired by Persian miniatures, comics, found photographs and life around me.”
‘Bloordale Freestyle’ by Billy Franklin
After many years of keeping design and graffiti separate, artist Billy Franklin has combined the better parts of both worlds by staying true to the DIY ethos. Franklin works in mostly analog techniques, but also has formal training in graphic design. He quickly developed an awareness for a brush and can using self-taught techniques. With a great respect for both methods of practice, his work is carefully thought out with keen attention to detail. Focusing on hard lines, bold colours and clean typography, Billy’s work is easily recognizable. He is influenced by late 90’s skateboard graphics and cartoons from his childhood. Franklin’s work is humorous and witty, sure to draw in his audience with his clever perspective.
Working from his head, Billy will create a freestyle mural that will represent Bloordale and the Akin Community. Things that may be included in the final production: pineapples, cool shoes, coffee cups, bikes, fun patterns, bright colours, puppers, other cool fruits; maybe a classic Billy F portrait partying with a pupper while eating a pineapple and riding a bike in cool shoes thinking about coffee! No matter the final design, you can count on a super fun piece!
About the festival:
The BIG on Bloor Festival is a car-free street festival along Bloor Street from Dufferin to Lansdowne. It attracts 100,000 visitors and this year is celebrating 10 years of community building, culturally significant events, activities, displays and exhibitions. This year, greater focus will be given to defining areas for exhibiting artists and spaces to showcase contemporary performances to the general public.
BIG Xplorations is a special pop-up series of live painting, sculpture installations, spot garden releases and events in various venues from West of Lansdowne to the Toronto Railpath. This portion of the street will not be car-free, instead locations will be promoted in a crawl style for visitors to explore. BIG Xplorations will feature over 20 local artists, showcasing works in sculpture, art exhibitions in shipping containers, live painting on mural structures, contemporary performances and other activities which can engage guests. These locations will be featured during the festival and will also survive after the festival dates allowing for guests to visit sites for months after.
Akin is a Toronto-based arts organization that provides affordable studio space as well as arts-based programming through it's sister non-profit organization, Akin Projects. Our studios provide a working environment that maintains a friendly and inspiring atmosphere where people can work on creative endeavors and entrepreneurial undertakings of all kinds. Akin builds community through monthly art critiques, workshops, open studio events, gallery tours, exhibitions, as well as various other art projects. www.akincollective.com
Interested in supporting Akin and our community programs? Learn more here or get in touch! Email firstname.lastname@example.org