Riverside Pollinator Mural Launched with Community, Cake and Selfies

Riverside launched its newest mural, the Riverside Pollinator Mural, on September 10th, 2016!

The west-facing wall of Elbers Antiques at 777 Queen Street East, a long a neglected spot targeted by graffiti, has been revitalized, thanks to a City of Toronto mural grant, the amazing work of mural artist Nick Sweetman, and project management by the Riverside BIA.

The community celebrated with cake, selfies and talk, including local politicians, guests of honour the Edelstein Family, BIA members and staff, and community residents.
About the Mural

The mural’s ‘Bees and Urban Pollinators’ theme recognizes Riverside’s hidden green spaces that maintain wildflowers and local hives, as well as the area’s growing bee-keeping culture in the east-end. Pollinators are essential for food production and the health of a city’s ecosystem.

The mural’s ‘Time and Clocks’ theme is an homage to Albert Edelstein, a long-time clockmaker and jeweller in Riverside who was integral to founding the Riverside Business Improvement Area (BIA) in the 1980s. Edelstein is also a personification of ‘The Pollinator’:  someone working hard on tiny things with thousands of moving parts, but the whole of the fruits of their work has an enormous impact. In the same vein, the ‘Gears’ in the mural represent small things working together to make big things happen – like bees in a hive, or a community in a neighbourhood. Like clockmakers, pollinators are important members of society and their toils must be given proper respect, as they play an essential role in allowing people to thrive and exist.

The ‘Time’ theme also continues in line with Riverside’s architectural and artistic history, referencing Eldon Garnet’s ‘Time & A Clock’ public art series that has been iconic in Riverside since 1996. The ‘Clock’ in the mural also mirrors the Ralph Thornton Centre’s iconic clock tower just west across the street, designed by famed Toronto architect E.J. Lennox. Meanwhile, the mural’s colours and style portray Riverside’s ebbs and flows through time and its vibrancy today.


About the Mural Artist

Nick Sweetman is an independent, multidisciplinary artist living in Riverside. He holds an MFA from OCAD University, and has led and contributed to numerous mural projects around the city, collaborating with many of Toronto’s best artists. His studio practice is based in painting, but over the years his work has explored photography, video, installation, and mixed media. He is interested in drawing attention to physical and conceptual sites of fracture and intersection between natural forces and human-designed objects and spaces. By this he hopes to encourage consideration of our relationship with the planet and its non-human inhabitants.

Thanks to Community Partners

A special thanks to property owner Ron Elbers, who provided the wall space, and Vivienne Grace Ziner from Urban Quest for access to her property to complete the mural. The Ralph Thornton Centre and the Toronto Public Library Queen/Saulter Branch were instrumental in engaging the community in the mural’s design. The STEPS Initiative and Wipeout Specialty Cleaning donated mural materials and time. Thank you to the City of Toronto for funding this project.

About Riverside BIA   

The Riverside Business Improvement Area, established in 1980, is one of the first BIA’s in Canada.  The BIA’s mandate is to improve, beautify and promote Riverside as a business and shopping district through marketing, public programming and streetscape improvements, and this mural is a shining example of that. You can find out more about the Riverside BIA at: www.riverside-to.com