Toronto Public Library Pilgrimage of 100 Branches

Art-Friendly Mount Dennis Library (Weston Road and Eglinton Avenue West)

A striking mural stopped me in my tracks as I walked through a side passageway to the entrance of Mount Dennis Library. I saw a man and a woman facing each other in the middle of a green field. A community of daffodils gathered in the foreground, and two trees framed the scene, transforming actual pillars into brown trunks. Painted wooden creatures had been riveted to the surface of the mural, creating a bulky applique effect. The riveted animals included a seagull, a cardinal, a raccoon looking at a ladybug, a wolfish dog, a bee hive on a branch, and a chipmunk (also on a branch). Brightly painted bees, ladybugs, and a butterfly added even more character to the picture.

After I passed through one of the entrance doorways, I noticed a curious detail on the vertical jamb between the two doors. Someone had painted a giraffe’s head near the top of the jamb, its ears and horns jutting into the lintel. Yellow and orange dots cascaded down the length of the jamb, suggesting a long neck. I really liked how the artist had seen a giraffe in the shape of an ordinary door jamb because it reminded me to look for whimsy in the day-to-day.

The main floor of Mount Dennis branch was one long rectangle in soft cream, demure yellow, and brown. With wide aisles and plenty of open space, the interior was restful if empty-looking in places. High windows facing Weston Road provided a sunlit view of a wooden trellis that called out for grape vines (and a paint job) on the sidewalk. I also noticed that the interior paint was peeling in a few spots and that water damage had taken out a chunk of the ceiling near the checkout desk. However, the main level was still a pleasant place to study in English, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, or Vietnamese.

The basement level contained the children’s section and a series of giant wooden jigsaw pieces on the east wall. My favourite puzzle piece had a dark red background and was decorated with a diverse circle of children’s faces surrounded by painty handprints in green, purple, black, yellow, and blue. Lining the walls of a narrow corridor outside the children’s room was an art display called the “100 Dreams Project” which perfectly complemented the jigsaw piece. Kindergarten artists such as Adesh, Ashanti, Caleb, Demetri, Issacher, Jenny, Jah-Shy, Lotus, Megan, Marcus, Nawall, Shivani, Stephany, Yasmin, and Zipporah had painted kites, monsters, ice-cream cones, volcanoes, babies, guinea pigs, and a purple ball on small square canvases.

Mount Dennis Library was a congenial host for this exuberant exhibit by students from Dennis Avenue Community School. I hope it inspires all of us patrons to colour our walls with dreams!

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