found inside the abandoned tower automotive building.
check out my ADORE category for more of his work
not only was this the most beautiful thing i photographed inside the tower automotive building, it is among some of the greatest pieces i have photographed EVER.
i literally could not stop photographing it. there’s a whole stash of photos exactly like this, i just kept snapping and snapping. maybe it’s the OCD in me coming out. i just had to make sure i got it, not even from different angles, just the same shot over and over.
basically, i pressed down on the shutter every time the piece moved me in some way. which was every few seconds.
there’s a rivalry between people who practice “graffiti” and people who practice “street art.” if you’re on the outside, you might not even realize that there’s a difference between the two. while there is much cross-over, from a classic, purist (read: elitist/snobby) point of view, there is a difference. from my own observations, here’s what i’ve gathered are the marked distinctions:
- true to the methodology used in the 70s when it emerged, “graffiti” only uses spray-paint (and sometimes marker pens). “street art” is allowed a more varied methodology that can include stencils, wheatpastes, sculpture, waxed crayons, and brush paints.
-”graffiti” is woven tightly with calligraphy, and most graff murals depict creative lettering. people who practice only lettering are called “graffiti writers.” the calligraphy emerged as a way to communicate amongst or between crews, and the more obtuse and indecipherable the letters, the better the graff writer. while graffiti does often depict people, places, or things, they must be done with free-hand spray-paint.
-”street art” can involve calligraphy as well, but the lettering will usually play second-fiddle to the imagery accompanying it. or, if the lettering is just as important, it illuminates the meaning and significance of the imagery (or vice versa).
-”graffiti” is a way of getting your street name or your crew’s name out there. like tagging, it is boastful and aggrandizes the talents of the graffitist by enlarging their name with vibrant (often fluorescent) colours. unless commissioned, graffiti rarely operates within a unilateral theme.
-”street art,” while also boastful, predominantly operates amongst many themes that historically were tackled amongst conventional “artists” who emerged from institutions of higher education … such themes include Politics (which is the tantamount theme), Sex and Relationships, Religion, Culture & Ethnicity, War, Gender, Pop Culture & Media, Music, Health & Addictions, etc ….
-in addition, “street art” is allowed to be humorous, highly-ironic, tongue-in-cheek, satirical, and can lampoon any and/or all of the themes mentioned above. Political figures and notable personalities are the usual targets.
-”culture jamming” is a sort of hybrid form of graffiti and street art, which calls upon the viewer to re-think and re-contextualize state-run messages, advertisements, and cultural-norms by altering public spaces and billboards (with either the tools of graffiti or street art), usually from ever-so slight tweaks to the pre-existing message in order to create a new and thusly more provocative message.
-”graffiti” is usually hailed as the purest form of the medium that emerged from the street and was free of institutionalization or canonization. “street art” is considered by these purists to be a bastardization of graffiti, used simply as a publicity stunt in order to propel the artist into a conventional gallery-setting, therefore motivated purely by old-fashioned, material greed.
- but “street art” has a bigger, more inclusive audience than graffiti. it is more readily accepted by governing bodies and authorities as ‘art’ worthy of protection, and is less associated with gang culture and criminal activity than graffiti. it is considered to be democratic, liveable, ephemeral, and a truer form of expression. it is infused with greater potency and meaning.
but the main reason that street art has overtaken and superceded graffiti as the real urban art is:
it annoys idiots.
“wtf i’ve bin waiting an hour ‘n the elevator still isn’t here yet “
with just a lead pencil, you too can have your way with those pesky ‘no smoking’ signs!
(parenthetical irony: i know a few fellas who really need to heed this advice.)
ok that’s not Commander Keen up on the roof of Tower Automotive, but that lil computer game from the early 90s was the ONLY computer game i ever used to play as a pre-pubescent. ipso facto – it’s the only computer/video game that i know of. i never owned a nintendo or sega as an adolescent, and to this day i don’t have an xbox or any other nonsense.
so i’m just going to call this huge purple pixelated dude Commander Keen.
i don’t know which graff artists is responsible for it, but HE MADE HIS MURAL PIXELATED.
on the top floor of the Tower Automotive Building, you’ll find this mural
looks the the business-suit-beast is sucking in the man
then you walk through this door…
and on the other side of the same wall, you’ll find this mural.
the two-headed monster, bonging-high, is eating what looks to be a screaming seal.
then you go up to the roof, and the man has become a tangled snake.
free kisses to whoever can guess where this posts’ title comes from (no googling!).
a few months ago, i blogged about these sprayed balloons found on a plethora of toronto walls.
upon entering the tower automotive building, i realized this mysterious graffitist clearly had a field day there before it was sealed up.
i’ve seen this decapitated eagle head spraypainted around toronto before, accompanied by the tag “SEM,” but i never knew what it stood for until i entered the Tower Automotive building….
before the building was sealed up and abandoned, Soaring Eagle Man had his way with those empty walls….
before even entering the Tower Automotive building yesterday, i found a new piece on the outside of the abandoned relic.
it mixes both paint, and wax crayon colours to create this little red-garbed girl
i’m pretty sure those are song lyrics, but i’m not sure by whom.
i stared at this piece for a while before we entered the building, knowing that i had seen a piece by the same artist before….. in fact, the DAY before.
i had been going for one of my daily jogs along my fav haunt, the rail path, when i came across this new piece below:
if i’m not mistaken, both of these pieces are by toronto artist Troy Lovegates.
same style, same wax crayons, same aesthetic…. there’s no song lyrics, but there was this little paste-up right above it:
hahahah, trainspotting gone wild.
Yesterday, I went where so many people have tried to go before, but have ultimately been denied!
The infamous abandoned Tower Automotive Building on Sterling Avenue in Toronto’s west end has long been an obsession of mine. I’ve hopped that fence so many times and photographed the graff and street art on the outside of the building, but access to the inside has been locked up and fenced off for years. The building was apparently built in the early 20th century, but when industry moved out of the area, the building was abandoned. It used to be a haven for squatters and for graff artists, but after someone jumped to their death from one of the windows, they boarded and padlocked it up.
Luckily, friend-of-this-blog and photographer-cum-laude Vic Gedris knows a guy who knows a guy….. (as you do), and so yesterday, we unlocked those gates and entered the graffiti time capsule that is Tower Automotive!
Probably the next gazillion few posts will be dedicated to the 200 photos I snapped whilst sneaking up and down the haunted stairwells, freezing my tender-tootsies off on the roof (strewn with shattered glass), and admiring some of the most beautiful graff from years past left untouched.
For now, enjoy some photos of the building itself. It is a photographer’s wet dream, believe you me.
Rob took these photos of me, all geared up, camera in one hand, flashlight in the other:)
Expect a graffitgasm for the next little while!
“…was looking through info on that abandoned building on sterling and i cam across your site. awesome blog. got stuck for half an hour loosing myself on through your pages.
your cool i like you. lol that was straight forward. but did you end up going in the building i really want to go but im worried i might get caught by some guard or something.
ps cool mix. im armenian/lebanese + greek. dont know how tht happened dont ask lol
chat soon i hope.”
fanks bruv. to answer your question, i didn’t end up going into the building because it’s sealed up tighter than a snare drum, but i’m working on organizing an official entry soon with other graff photographers. i did, however, hop the fence to take some photos. don’t worry, there are no guards around, it’s pretty abandoned.
ps you have good taste. i am wicked cool, it’s true.
< /conceit >
yesterday i was jogging along the rail path when i paid careful consideration to the abandoned Tower Automotive building located on Sterling, which is clearly visible from the path. you can see that it has graffiti and street art all over it, so after i was done my 75 minute jog, i grabbed my camera and decided to explore it.
unfortch, it was already past dusk, and i was a female wandering around an abandoned building all by myself in the unlit darkness. i didn’t feel particularly safe, so i didn’t stay long or do as much exploring as i wanted to. i hopped the chain fence to photograph the graff on the outside of the building (ME! HARDCORE!), but didn’t go so far as to actually enter the building.
it was so dark and creepy, and i didn’t have a flashlight or anything.
does someone wanna explore this with me next time?
anyhoo, i quickly explored the exterior and found some gems (before hopping the fence again and running away like a scaredy cat).
someone wheatpasted a photograph of albert ayler onto the exterior. i wonder why, it’s such an interesting choice.
joel, you be errrr-where.
ri rove rou ralph
it’s the Listen Bird! I’ve followed this bird all over the city and in Montreal! Who is behind this, I love this!
“night of the wild dogs” indeed.
next step: bring bolt-cutters, enter building, photograph artistic genius, not get caught, run like hell.