Beware, in the Don Valley, there be monsters

New Evergreen art project animates the Lower Don Trail in time for Halloween


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Duane Linklater’s eerie scultpures animate the Don Valley just in time for Halloween

If you frequently walk or cycle through the Lower Don Trail at night, beware: you can now expect to find yourself face-to-face with a giant concrete monster. Monsters for Beauty, Permanence and Individuality, a collection of concrete gargoyles by artist Duane Linklater, is the first art installation in the new Don River Valley Park Art Program.

Located in a meadow just north of the Bloor Viaduct, the installation is meant to spark a conversation about Toronto’s history and how the natural environment of the Don Valley served as the basis for the city’s growth. Linklater created concrete replicas of gargoyles from historic buildings around the downtown core to evoke a sense of power, protection and authority and raise important questions about Indigenous culture and colonialism. 

Kari Cwynar, curator of Evergreen’s Don River Valley Art Program, said she and the artists in the program are looking forward to bridging the gap between visual art and the natural environment. 

“It’s a chance to bring together art and ecology, but it’s also a platform to evoke really important questions about public space and urban life,” she said. “It’s a really crucial moment and place to consider the original inhabitants of the land here and how the land has changed and continues to change. Duane’s project is a really important project for us in terms of those questions.”

Geoff Cape, CEO of Evergreen Brick Works, said the company created the new Don River Valley Art Program as a means of honouring the past and looking ahead to the future. He said Monsters for Beauty is in recognition of the First Nations communities who previously occupied the land.

“This is the largest urban ravine system in the world, and something that needs real attention, and so the art program here was a chance to provoke, powerfully and emotionally, questions and maybe even a few answers around what might be done with this system,” he said.

The installation is temporary, but Cwynar said it will be around for the next five to 10 years. 

Evergreen’s new public art program was scheduled to launch in the Don Valley Sept. 23.

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