Flying in formation
A migratory bird with little time for Toronto is what inspired North York artist Stephen Cruise, and what anchored his vision for his latest commission.
Last week, Concord Adex Developments unveiled Concord Park Place, a 42-acre, $2-billion condo project along Sheppard Avenue East between Bessarion and Leslie. A project as large as Park Place is bound to get noticed by its neighbours, some of whom, the developer hopes, might one day be new residents; the company has undertaken a number of initiatives designed to make friends with the residents of Bayview Village.
Among them was an art project led by Cruise and involving local Grade 2 students. “Where this development is, it used to be the old community of Oriole,” he says. “The only vestige today is the name of the GO station. I thought of Oriole and that made me think of the bird, which we see around here for about two weeks as they pass through, and thought, ‘OK, let’s draw a bird.’ “
Cruise’s plan, one that he felt needed to express each student’s sense of individuality and community, was to take a sheet of paper, fold it in three and have a different student fill in a third of a bird (or a tree or a house). With the idea in place, all that was needed were some students.
“The corporation contacted the board and then the board contacted me,” says Patricia Broderick, principal at nearby Elkhorn Public School. “I thought it was a wonderful opportunity for my students.”
And for Concord Adex. “We want to engage them for the reasons of wanting to connect as a community and for reasons of marketing,” says Alan Vihant, the company’s vice-president of development. The Park Place development will include a community centre, daycare facilities, retail shops and an eight-acre park. Like the company’s CityPlace development downtown, it is designed to be an instant neighbourhood. Now all it needs are people.
After working with the Grade 2 class last week, Cruise’s task now is to figure out how to incorporate all the interesting pieces from the students into a larger mosaic, the details of which are still being finalized. It will probably be displayed a the new community centre.
Premier Dalton McGuinty recently took a field trip to Elkhorn to steal a peek at the students’ artwork. “Many of my students are new Canadians, and it was a high for them,” Broderick says. “It was the highlight of their year.”
The highlight for Cruise, he says, was in watching what the kids of Elkhorn created. “I sort of acted more as just a co-ordinator or facilitator because it’s their project, not mine.”
National Post Saturday, May 26, 2007 Page: TO4 Section: Toronto: The City Byline: Philip Alves Column: Neighbourhoods: Bayview Village