Experience ‘You Were Here’ Public Art Installation in Riverside BIA

You Were Here’ is a new interactive light installation in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood that uses motion tracking to animate the hundreds of butterflies lit with LED lights by artist Meghan Cheng. This interactive public art can be found by passers-by at Korman & Co in #RiversideTO, 721 Queen E, just steps east of Broadview Ave.

The art is part STEPS Public Art’s I HeART Main Street and the Inspired Art program. Learn more about the art and the supporters below, and we encourage everyone to go check out this incredible installation this fall. STEPS and U of T Inspired Art Team is out gathering thoughts about the value of public art this week – pls share your thoughts via their survey!

About the Art:

‘You Were Here’ is an interactive light installation that uses motion tracking of people walking by to animate the lighted butterflies.

The installation alludes to the beauty found in loving something that is lost and aims to acknowledge a person’s presence, however brief it may be.

The installation is made of hundreds of individually lit butterflies. Each butterfly was 3D printed and individually shaped to create a unique creature. The hundreds of LED lights are controlled using the program, TouchDesigner.

It was made specifically for the site at 721 Queen St E.

More about Artist Meghan Cheng:

Meghan creates artwork in the form of light sculptures, projection mapping or screen-based work for live performances, galleries and public spaces. Her work is interactive and data based, in that she takes real world elements such as audio, motion and web and social media activity and uses that data to drive visual elements. Meghan makes digital content that feels tangible, relatable and natural through the use of hand drawn images, photography, acoustic instrumental music as well as generative forms. Meghan has a master’s in fine arts from York University (Toronto, ON) and a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA).

About I Heart Mainstreet and the Inspired Art Impact Program:

I HeART Main Street is presented in partnership with RBC Royal Bank, and generously supported by Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and funding provided by the Government of Ontario; Inspired Art Impact is made possible through a partnership with Toronto Metropolitan University. We would like to acknowledge the generous support of the City of Toronto, MITACS, RBC Royal Bank, the Government of Ontario, Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts. The City of Toronto’s Main Street Innovation Fund is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario); The CreateSpace Residency is supported by the City of Toronto as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of PuD Ready Commitment, Canada Council for the Arts, and Ontario Arts Council.

You Were Here art by Meghan Chen in Riverside BIA and photo credit Selina McCallum

Close up of ‘You Were Here’ art by Meghan Cheng in Riverside BIA and photo credit Selina McCallum

Close up of 'You Were Here' art by Meghan Chen in Riverside BIA and photo credit Selina McCallum

Artist installs ‘You Were Here’ – art by Meghan Cheng in Riverside BIA and photo credit Selina McCallum


Meet our #QueenEastEats 2022 Community Supporter: Outline Financial

We’re pleased  to thank Outline Financial, one of our Queen East Eats Community Supporters!

Jason Friesen, Managing Partner and Mortgage Agent at Outline Financial shared: “We’ve been in love with the Riverside and Leslieville neighbourhoods for many years now and have gotten to know many people who live and work here. We like to give back any way we can. Anything that brings more visitors into the area’s bars, pubs, restaurants and breweries benefits the community as a whole. I really like how this area has become a destination. The selection of options for food and drink are amazing.”⠀

Outline Financial have been focused on providing great mortgage and insurance solutions while giving back locally. They are pleased to again be a community supporter of Queen East Eats!

We were happy to take this opportunity to catch up with Jason and the outline team and help share their story

What do you love about Queen Street East’s Riverside and Leslieville areas -what do you feel makes this area unique?

Jason: I love the area because it has a lot of diversity and a great energy about it. The food and drink options are pretty outstanding, all within this tight knit community.

Throwback to 2018 when Jason supported the Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest!

Throwback to 2018 when Jason supported the Riverside Wine & Craft Beer Fest!

What’s your favourite thing about the work you do?

Jason: I love coming to work every day and helping my clients realize their dreams of home ownership. It’s a pretty rewarding feeling to be a big part of such an important decision. 

Big thanks to Jason Friesen and the whole team at Outline Financial for all their support in the business community!

What’s #QueenEastEats?⠀

Enjoy giveaways, our map of 50+ patios, TGIF patio features, colourful displays on the street and more to welcome everyone to Queen Street East’s al fresco dining experience this summer and fall. Stay tuned as we bring you something new every week! Learn more about it and check out our Patio Map to plan your experience at Queen East Eats’ many patios in #RiversideTO and #Leslieville

Big thanks to Community Supporters of ‘Queen East Eats’:

Hullmark, Outline Financial, and Wright Group

Thanks to the City of Toronto and our Councillor Paula Fletcher for their huge support of outdoor dining through the CafeTO program again this year.

MEDIA RELEASE: OddSide Arts & Riverside BIA Celebrate with Afraspektion on August 7th, 2022

With Afraspektion on August 7th, 2022, OddSide Arts and Riverside BIA Celebrate & Highlight the Contributions and Creativity of the Afrodiaspora during Emancipation Month, as part of Sundays @ Riverside Common Series

This August 2022 marks the second year of celebrating Emancipation Month in Ontario. OddSide Arts and Riverside Business Improvement Area (BIA) invite everyone to come together this August 7th from 11am-4pm at Riverside Common Park (657 Queen E, just west of Queen/Broadview) in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood for an opening ceremony and fun day of entertainment and activities.

Everyone is welcome to enjoy, free to the public:

  • 11am – Opening ceremony featuring Nenookaasi and libations by Rev. Kemba Byam, hosted by the ever-charismatic Levyi-Alexander J. Love, with words by local MP Julie Dabrusin and MPP Peter Tabuns, followed by: 
  • 11am-4pm – Curated Market focusing on local Afrodiaspora vendors including food and hand-made goods
  • 11am-4pm – Live music by amazing local artists: Steel pannist Trenyce Sweeney, singer song-writer Markus Aurelyus, and Afro-Caribbean drummer & dancer Emilie Jabouin. PLUS, fun giveaways, Kids/Family corner with activities like Superhero face-painting & more.

The first 25 visitors to the event will receive a $10 voucher to spend at the Market. This is a great opportunity to support local vendors and shop and eat at the 100+ local businesses in the Riverside area along Queen Street East.

For more information visit https://riverside-to.com/ or follow on Instagram @riverside_bia and @oddsidearts

More About Afraspektion:

August 1, 2021, was the first time that Canada officially (according to Parliamentary Motion) recognized Emancipation Day, when the Slavery Abolition Act was enacted in 1834 to free enslaved Africans and their descendants in colonies of the Caribbean, Africa, South America and Canada.

Afraspektion (https://riversidecommonevents-aug7th.eventbrite.ca/) is a way to celebrate and highlight the contributions and creativity of the Afrodiaspora, and honour the legacy of African Canadians. Afraspektion features family friendly entertainment, art, a curated market, music, and activities.

Afraspektion is curated by Queen Kukoyi and Nico Taylor of OddSide Arts and co-hosted by the Riverside BIA, thanks to support from our generous community supporters: Riverside BIA, Hullmark,Toronto’s Arts Council, Government of Ontario’s Reconnect Ontario programme, Government of Canada’s Supporting Black Canadians Communities Initiative, and The City of Toronto (Mainstreet Innovation Fund), Government of Canada and FedDev Ontario. The event is part of the Sundays @ The Common series hosted by the Riverside BIA.

For more information about Afraspektion, contact:

Nico Taylor – Executive Director of Communications, OddSide Arts – oddsidearts@gmail.com

More About Riverside BIA & 2022 Events @ Riverside Common Park:

The Riverside BIA, established in 1980, is one of Canada’s first BIAs, located along Queen Street East between the Queen Street Viaduct to just past De Grassi Street. Rich in history, green spaces and public art, the BIA includes over 100 unique eateries, retails shops, boutiques and a range of professional services. More at https://riverside-to.com/

Riverside Common Park is located at 657 Queen Street East and was officially opened in October 2021. The Riverside BIA and community collaborators are working together to bring in regular activations on Sundays to this new community space in 2022. It’s all part of welcoming everyone to enjoy what our local business district and neighbourhood has to offer! Check out the full schedule of Sundays at The Common this summer and fall https://riverside-to.com/riverside-common-events/

For more information about the Riverside BIA and/or Sundays @ Riverside Common contact:

Jennifer Lay – Executive Director, Riverside BIA – office@riverside-to.com, 416-466-8167

Meet our #QueenEastEats Community Supporter: Hullmark

We’re excited to thank Hullmark , one of our Queen East Eats Community Supporters!

Hullmark is a real estate and investment development team which is heavily involved in supporting community. Owner Jeff Hull has carried on Hullmark as the family business that started with his grandfather, investing in the same neighbourhoods the family first lived in.⠀

“We are pleased to be part of Queen Eats Eats again in 2022! The programme is helping shine a spotlight in support of so many incredible food and hospitality businesses through this summer and fall, including White Lily Diner and other beloved Hullmark tenants. Our Queen Street Eats eateries and bars have so many unique local flavours and so much personality that makes up the character of their neighbourhoods – we’re glad to see everyone getting out on the patios in support of local businesses.”~Jamie Zeldin, Director of Asset Management at Hullmark.

What’s #QueenEastEats?

Enjoy giveaways, our map of 50+ patios, TGIF patio features, colourful displays on the street and more to welcome everyone to Queen Street East’s al fresco dining experience this summer and fall. Stay tuned as we bring you something new every week! Learn more about it at our Links in Bio and check out our Patio Map to plan your experience at Queen East Eats’ many patios in #RiversideTO and #Leslieville! ⠀

Jamie Zeldin of Hullmark enjoying food and drink on White Lily diner patio

Jamie Zeldin of Hullmark, and 2022 Queen East Eats community supporter, enjoying food and drink on White Lily diner patio

Hullmark has been a strong community member within Riverside for many years, as a supporter of the Riverside Gateway Bridge Project and past events such as Wine & Craft Beer Fest, and the Eats & Beats Streetfest.

Beyond being just a real estate investment and development team, Hullmark is a city builder committed to shaping a vibrant urban Toronto, with their involvement in Queen East Eats certainly being no exception to this!

Big thanks to ALL our Community Supporters of ‘Queen East Eats’:

Hullmark, Outline Financial, and The Wright Group

Join us June 19th for Kemetic Yoga & Stay Tuned for Videos & Journaling Resources

Join us for a morning of Kemetic Yoga in Riverside Common Park on Juneteenth (June 19) with Vonnette Forde from Higher Love Yoga.

Participants will be introduced to the significance of Juneteenth and what it means for many Afrodiasporic communities, and how it relates to us in Canada. This special in-person yoga flow will be based on the Water session from the Earthseeds: Space of the Living – Kemetic Yoga Series. It will elaborate on the significance of water–the role water played in the middle passage, the role it plays in reconciliation with the hurts of the past, and in our healing journeys.

The session will include:

  • Opening with libations
  • Introduction and poetry performance to speak about water and its connection
  • 30min Yoga session
  • 5-minute meditation to settle the mind
  • Affirmation journaling

Register for this complimentary session to reserve your spot

This yoga session is limited to the first 30 registrants.

This Kemetic Yoga Session in Recognition of Juneteenth is facilitated by Vonnette Forde from Higher Love Yoga, hosted in Riverside Common Park by Riverside BIA with support from the City of Toronto.

This event is based on the Kemetic Yoga Series from the Earthseeds: Space of the Living project created by Nico Taylor & Queen Kukoyi and supported by Waterfront Toronto and Waterfront BIA through the Waterfont Toronto Artist Residency (2020-2021).

What is Kemetic Yoga:

Kemetic Yoga is found on the writing of the temple walls in Ancient Egypt. This writing commonly known as hieroglyphs, is referred to as “MDR NTR” (Me-du Ne-ter) which translates to the words of God. These instructions and postures are a fundamental aspect of ancient Egyptian spiritual science, which is identical across Africa, and serves to connect with the spirits of our ancestors through meditation, prayer and ritual.

Kemetic Yoga Videos and Journaling

The following videos and journaling resources will be released leading up to June 19th and will be available here until June 27th to help facilitate your Kemetic Yoga journey:

    • Description: The Kemetic Yoga Fire Session will teach you rapid breathing, a way to help center and ground yourself. Fire is considered to be the first element that was born when the universe was created. It is both warmth to enable life, and a destructive force that can burn and destroy. Among other things, fire symbolizes energy, activity, creativity, passion and freedom.
    • Link to Fire Journal: Coming Soon
  • Spirit: Coming Soon
    • Description: Spirit is the holding place for character, your emotions and elements that make you who you are. Your spirit is your essence, and it is important that it is cared for on a daily basis and uplifted through times of strife. The Kemetic Yoga Spirit Session features a full body experience, aligning you to Spirit to unlock your full potential. 
    • Link to Spirit Journal: Coming Soon
  • Earth: Coming Soon
    • Description: Earth is one of the four key elements of creation. The element of Earth is representative of solid matter and the structure of the universe. In the Kemetic Yoga Earth Session, you’ll learn techniques to ready you for the grounding yoga flow sequence such as building energy with trees and Earthing.
    • Link to Journal: Coming Soon