Willowdale BIA Unveils Inaugural Wall Installation | New

Peru Dyer Jalea’s first graffiti project was a family affair. Her father helped build the family home in Lima, Peru, but was unwilling to pay the municipality to register the house number, which was assumed to be 143.

“We couldn’t (officially) put numbers on the wall, so we would do it with a marker and pencil,” Dyer Jalea said. “Within a few months it would fade and we had to do it again, and we did that for 15 years.”

Dyer Jalea added that when his father sold the house he had to register it.

“And it turns out (the house number) was 141,” he said, noting “I imagine (the family project) was the first step to becoming a graffiti artist and then a muralist.”

Dyer Jalea, aka PERU143, is now an internationally renowned Montreal-based muralist who has been painting graffiti for nearly three decades.

His latest mural, located on the exterior wall of the MeNami Udon & Sake Bar at 5469 Yonge Street, was produced with assistant artist Leyland Adams and was unveiled August 10.

The project was initiated by the Willowdale Business Improvement Area (BIA) with support from the City of Toronto and STEPS Public Art’s I HeART Main Street program.

The theme for the “love yourself” mural was suggested by MeNami owner Hyun Joo Chae, who is also a Willowdale BIA board member. “If you love yourself, you are capable of caring for others,” Chae said, noting that restaurant owners are still struggling to weather the pandemic and that the mural offers “something positive” for the region.

Dyer Jalea said the mural’s theme also aligned with his mission as an artist, adding that he aimed to “spread joy and lift people’s spirits” and “inspire people to make art themselves.” same”.

Dyer Jalea said public murals are becoming increasingly popular, noting that many people appreciate the arts more after staying at home for so long during the pandemic.

He added that the murals also made places safer.

“If you have something organized and colorful and beautiful, it tends to give a sense of security,” he said. “As far as beautification goes, it has a very positive effect on the whole community as people start to take on more clean spaces and they clean up and then it creates a domino effect… It’s an interesting psychological experience that occurs when public art is placed in a community.

Willowdale BIA executive director Laura Burnham described the mural as a “dynamic addition” to the community.

“We hope this will inspire the business community to become more involved in wanting to host murals on their premises,” she said. “Art is a key element of any downtown. It’s something that we hope will welcome the community, but can also set more of the mood for the area as we move forward.

The artwork, Burnham said, also helps deter unwanted graffiti and “encourages people to get outside, which adds to the sense of security.”

Burnham declined to disclose the cost of the mural project, which also received funding through a city grant.

“I hope we will have one mural per year for our small and medium sized mural program. We also hope to find locations for larger works of art,” she said.

The BIA, which was formed in 2021, represents approximately 1,800 businesses along Yonge Street between Highway 401 and Bishop Avenue. Much of the area is in downtown North York.

Ichraq Bouzidi, head of cultural planning for STEPS Public Art, said the public murals could last up to 20 years and have an anti-graffiti coating.

“Projects such as (the) Willowdale Mural demonstrate (the) great impact that public art can have in promoting safe and welcoming spaces in communities, building community by connecting people to the public space through shared cultural experiences (and) amplifying the voices of equity deserving artists,” she said, adding that these initiatives also bring “pedestrian traffic and interest to the area.”

STORY BEHIND THE STORY: When journalist Andrew Palamarchuk learned of the unveiling of a public mural in Willowdale, he wanted to know more about the project and the impact of public art on communities like Willowdale.

About Irene J. O'Donnell

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