Keeping an eye on the Blackhurst Calypso mural project

By Stephen Weir

From left Tara Gonsalez, Stephen Weir, Ossie Gurley Itah Sadu and Roger Gibbs in discussion

While you are mixing some outdoor paint, turn on the Calypso music real loud and then throw it against a blank wall. If luck is with you, you might have created Toronto’s next downtown mural, which will make Itah Sadu very very happy.

The Caribbean Camera has been following how her Blackhurst Cultural Centre, formally named A Different Booklist Cultural Centre to lead a project which will create a large outdoor mural devoted to calypso in the City of Toronto.  The proposed outdoor wall mural will be in the new Mirvish Village currently under construction where the iconic Ed’s Warehouse once stood at Bloor and Bathurst St.  Sadu’s bookstore and culture centre is directly across the street from where the mural will be installed.

Earlier this week, this reporter Weir brought along some photographs of both Toronto and Bogota, Columbia, murals to a steering committee meeting at the Blackhurst Cultural Centre. Bogota is considered the epicenter of urban art of South America and has become a mural destination for outdoor art tourists!

Sadu has put together a small think tank team comprising art and calypso experts. Recording artist Roger Gibb, singer Tara Gonzalez, musician and composer Ozzie Gurley and urban art photographer Herman Silochan mulled over a growing list of famous Toronto Calypsonians that should be featured on the wall art. The Honourable David Rudder, Pan Man Pat, Macromere Fee, Suzanne G, Elsworth James, the late Dick Lochan and Drew Gonsalves are just a few people whose faces might make it onto the wall.

Calypso music of the Eastern Caribbean has made a significant contribution to Toronto’s entertainment scene since the late 1950s. Its spin-off, Soca, is the driving sound of the internationally renowned Toronto Caribbean Carnival. 

There are several murals in Toronto that feature Caribbean performers ranging from Bob Marley to Salome Bay. However, there are no murals that feature Calypsonians … yet.

“Blackhurst Cultural Centre and our collaborators seek to create what will become an iconic feature in the revitalized Bathurst and Bloor area and make a lasting statement in recognition of the contributions of the city’s Black and Caribbean community,” explained bookstore owner Itah Sadu. “We will be moving into one of the 24 heritage buildings in the new Mirvish Village. The expansion will provide a permanent gathering place for learning, sharing, and celebrating the stories of African and Caribbean Canadians.

In other Blackhurst Cultural Centre news, the BCC’s community search for a logo for the new building is nearly completed. As of yesterday, they are down to the top 3 finalists in the logo project. They have opened up for community voting on the BCC website at https://blackhurstcc.org/aboutus/. The selection contest ends at noon on November 1st.