'Pouring out happiness': Massive colourful mural on Toronto patio celebrates pandemic reopening

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45,000 square feet of colour has been splashed onto a downtown Toronto parking lot turned patio to welcome people back into the core after months of lockdown. 

RendezViews, located at 229 Richmond Street West is a social gathering space inside an extra-large mural. It pays homage to the pandemic’s reopening — aimed at tapping into our collective hope, joy, rebirth.

It been weeks of work for visual artists and parents Bruno Smoky and Shalak Attack — designing and painting their piece called Reflections.

“Even to accept it, we were like, ‘Can we call you later? We’re going to have to brainstorm here,” said visual artist Bruno Smoky. “It was incredible.”

“We wanted to celebrate the coming out, the re-entering into the world,” said visual artist Shalak Attack. “There’s been so much happening in the last two years both with COVID and politically and socially. We just wanted to bring colour. The things that inspire us and the way that we see ourselves so an inner reflection and a reflection of the community.”

Eighty-four painted picnic tables invite people to enjoy a drink, food and a Euro Cup game. A project created out of a community spirit.

Collective Arts Brewing curated the mural. 

The two entertainment businesses on either side of the patio, The Fifth and Ballroom are sharing the space to serve customers.

“Certain parts of the economy, like the hospitality industry have been absolutely decimated and so this past winter I was thinking more and more about how can I elevate this space and do something really special. How can we help bring back the vibrancy of downtown toronto which has obviously been gutted with all off our office towers not being occupied,” said The Fifth owner Oliver Geddes.

“The space is beautiful. We wanted something that brings back life in Toronto, brings back to life the entertainment district.” said Ballroom managing partner Barry Taylor.

“We’re all about creativity and collaboration and just great times and just after a long 18-months and being outside socially distanced, having a great time. There’s nothing better,” said Matt Johnston, co-founder and CEO of Collective Arts Brewing. 

The art-filled patio is also possible thanks to the City of Toronto purchasing the land in January 2020 for $100,000,000. The site is part of a planned development which set is to turn the surface lot into a park.

The city told CTV News Toronto a below-grade parking facility, to be operated and funded by the Toronto Parking Authority, will also be included in the block plan.

Relishing the experience — people on the patio. After months of hibernation, it’s a chance to connect in person surrounded by vivid views.

“I love the colour and I love that everyone comes together for the football game. It’s amazing. I’m really happy I’m here,” said customer Veronique Pilote. 

“I’ll I can say is thank you Toronto. It was a long journey. And we did it,” said customer Abraham Saidylaigh 

“It’s just mind blogging,” he said referencing the mural. “It’s makes me want to go back to school and be an artist. It’s just amazing.”

Spreading happiness and togetherness, a win-win for people soaking it in and those behind the project. 

“For me it’s a pleasure and a huge gratitude. I’m super thankful to be able to do something like this. Planting little seeds around it does cause an impact. Once you plant a whole garden like this, it really is a pleasure seeing it come together,” said Smoky.

Artists Smoky and Attack explained the mural includes their daughter Violetta and Smoky’s friend, Joey who died of COVID-19 his native country of Brazil. 

“It’s actually very empowering to be in this space. It’s a very positive bubble. I think when you’re here you feel wrapped in colour and I think people are really feeling that. I think there’s a euphoric feeling not only because of the colours and the space, because of the timing. People are so happy. And it’s just so great to see everybody coming together and people are pouring out happiness because they haven’t see anybody.”

The patio is open for reservations 48 hours prior to game day and walk-ins are also being accepted.