For nearly a month, Bloor West had its own Banksy.
Intricate pocket-sized paintings of Swansea intersections mysteriously began popping up on utility poles in the neighbourhood, but one thing was missing – a signature.
Sparking a mini whodunit, residents transformed into detectives and started posting snapshots of the works on Facebook and Twitter in attempt to find out who was behind the covert canvasses.
The Villager contacted Councillor Sarah Doucette last week to find out if she had the inside scoop on the art, but she was scratching her head as well.
“I have no idea who’s behind them, but they’re wonderful,” she said. “I’d love to know who the artist is so I could thank them for brightening my day.”
Since then, she has.
Jorge Molina, the west-end artist responsible for the renderings revealed himself on Facebook late Thursday after his wife saw one of Doucette’s Tweets saying the paintings made her smile.
Mission accomplished for Molina.
“I turned to my wife and said, ‘That’s exactly what I told you I wanted to happen, a simple smile on somebody’s face,’” he said. “For her to say that was pretty serendipitous.”
It turns out, the paintings are just the beginning of an impressive undertaking Molina has in the works. He’s getting ready to launch the 416 Project, where he will hang 416 petite paintings across 35 different Toronto neighborhoods. “I kind of wanted it to remain a mystery until I had a few more up, because my project is still in the early phases,” he said. “The three that are up now were just to test the waters and see if people would take them down or what would happen to them. But they’ve been staying up.”
The current three are hanging at the corners of Runnymede and Deforest roads, Beresford Avenue and Deforest Road and Windermere and Ostend avenues.
To make each still life, Molina starts with a photograph and transfers it to a canvas. He then uses acrylic paint and markers to bring the small squares to life.
When asked why he doesn’t include his John Hancock, he said he doesn’t think it’s important. “I’m just trying to make these pieces that people will look at and smile. It’s as simple as that.”
Molina was born in Barcelona, moved from Edmonton to Toronto in 1998 and has proudly called Swansea home since 2004. He works as both an artist and actor.
“I love creating art, and even more, I love to share it,” he said.
After a friend turned him on to Instagram, he started taking pictures of things around his neighbourhood like fire hydrants and trash cans while out walking his two dogs.
“Art is everywhere, but we’re so inundated with all this utilitarian stuff that we don’t even see it,” he said. “I’m hoping people are going to see that there is art in the mundane, in the basic things we take for granted every day. I want them to see what I see for just a moment.”
He plans on finishing all 416 paintings for his project by the end of spring.
“It’s daunting,” Molina said. “When I look at the whole thing, it’s scaring the crap out of me. I’m just going to take it one at a time.”
Torontonians will be able to follow Molina’s artistic journey at www.the416project.com.
He plans on launching the site in the coming weeks.