Illustration/ Aliya Bhatia
Illustration/ Aliya Bhatia

So you’re here: you’ve made it to U of T. Congratulations! Now before you get stuck in a perpetual library slump, it is time to capitalize on the nice weather and check out the vibrant city. Toronto, with its multitude of bistros, boutiques, museums, and parks also boasts several public art installations.

The first piece commissioned by the City of Toronto was The Canadian Volunteers Memorial in 1870, making Toronto’s ever-growing collection of public art also one of the oldest in North America.

Toronto is packed with visual delights that range from permanent installations that have become part of the locale’s architecture like the Eaton Centre’s Flightstop by Michael Snow, to global artists who have paved their own way in the city like Anish Kapoor’s Mountain at Simcoe Place Park. For the contemporary viewing pleasure of our readers, here is a guide to make a day out of seeing some of the newspaper’s top picks!

1. Walk south to Nathan Phillip’s Square and catch Toronto’s newest public art installations called Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads by Chinese artist/activist/badboy Ai Weiwei. The travelling installation closes September 22—Toronto is its only Canadian stop, so capitalize on the lack of first-week readings and check it out.

Location: Nathan Phillips Square.

2. After NPS, head eastward to the Eaton Centre and see Flightstop, a gaggle of Canada’s finest geese suspended from the mall’s ceiling. The installation has become an iconic part of the mall and was created by Canadian artist Michael Snow; it is likely a favourite among Torontonian Art History professors. The installation has been involved in several controversies, including one between Snow and the Eaton Centre in which Snow fought against the Christmas bows used to make his geese appear festive.

Location: Toronto Eaton Centre, Queen Street W entrance.

3. Next, walk south toward Front Street to catch Edie Parker’s Our Game, a bronze celebration of Canadian’s favourite hobby: hockey.

Location: 30 Yonge Street

4. Amble across to Union Station where Francesco Perilli’s Monument to Multiculturalism greets commuters and reminds them of Toronto’s diversity. This installment is one of five identical Perilli works scattered around the globe. The others are situated in Australia, Bosnia, China, and South Africa.

Location: 65 Front Street W

5. After a day of walking, grab a Bixi bike and ride your way to Simcoe Park (in an attempt to avoid the dreaded “Freshman 15”), and cool down under Mountain—a sculpture by the Britain-based, Indian-influenced artist Anish Kapoor.

Location: Front Street W just west of Simcoe Street

6. After a break, bike southwest towards Fort York at Bathurst Street and Lakeshore W, to catch Douglas Coupland’s “creeping revisionism” of the War of 1812.

Location: Fleet Street and Bathurst Street

7. Finish your day in style by visiting the Shangri-La hotel to see Rising by Zhang Huan, an enormous stainless steel sculpture that reportedly cost more than $5 million. Unveiled in May 2012, Huan, deemed as one of China’s most influential contemporary artists, aimed to use this piece to advocate the protection of ecology and imply the need for a harmonious coexistence between humans and nature.

Location: 188 University Avenue

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