Monday, April 30, 2012

Rob Ford Mania

The last time Toronto had a mayor as controversial as Rob Ford was in the late 1990s/early 2000s, when Mel Lastman called in the army to remove our snow.  Rob Ford's "war on graffiti" has galvanized the local artists and resulted in a plethora of works that satirize both Ford's image as well as his stances on various divisive topics.  Not only can Rob Ford inspired graffiti be found scattered across Toronto, but recently there were not one but two art gallery exhibits devoted to our mayor.

The gallery Don't Tell Mama (great name!) at 108 Ossington St devoted an entire show to the graffiti artist Spud.   Spud has taken great joy in caricaturing Ford's face, drawing it on doors, street signs, plaques and posters.  Ford's features have been added to animate a variety of objects including paint cans, markers, octopus, clouds.  There was a single photo of Spud dressed incognito in shades and a hoodie.

After viewing this exhibit, we began to notice and recognize Spud's work on the streets.  I had an irrational feeling of "street cred" to know that I can identify the work of a graffiti artist's at twenty paces.

In Leslieville, the store Atomic Toybox held a show that they called "Ford Mania" and invited any interested artists to participate.  This led to a diverse range of contributions including paintings, drawings, cartoons, and even sculptures.  Topics ranged from Ford's deference to gas guzzling cars and antipathy towards public transit and bike lanes, to his search for gravy to cut, to his childish "My way or the highway" attitude.  Councillor Doug Ford was also a favoured target with references to his tiff with Margaret Atwood over libraries, and the monorail and Ferris wheel fiasco. 

Rob Ford was invited to visit both exhibits but did not accept the offers. Sense of humour has not been identified as one of his strong suits.   So far the Ford administration has led to some very interesting bursts of artistic expression.  We have 3 more years to go.. who knows what to expect next.

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