Friday, November 29, 2013

Chinatown's other panda

On Monday, I posted about a panda-based artwork in Chinatown. However, there is another painted panda on a Chinatown storefront which has become iconic of Chinatown:

This is in the entryway of the vacant storefront that had previously been Manphat Grocery, at the corner of Somerset and Booth. Here's the rest of the window:

As with the other panda, this was done as part of the storefront mural project that runs throughout Chinatown.

The storefront of 800 Somerset Street West wasn't particularly attractive, even before the store closed down in 2008. The Booth Street wall was painted with a mural to brighten it up:

After the store closed, it was papered up from the inside. For a number of years it made the corner pretty dead, and it has only been used for storage for one of the nearby businesses. I've heard it speculated that this unsightly building contributed to the failure of the Chi Developments' 288 Booth condo project diagonally across the street, which was an attempt by an amateur developer to rebuild on the lot left vacant by a fire took in August 2007.

In early June, the mural was still in its early stages. White flowers on their own represent death, which—while perhaps reflective of the level of activity of this space—doesn't contribute to the goals of livening up the street with murals.

With a few blue and bright pink flowers as highlights, the mural has been a welcome splash of colour since it was finished (and retouched after a graffiti attack).

The flowers are just scenery; the real surprise is when you're walking down the sidewalk and the panda pops out at you!

I encourage you to head down to Chinatown to check out the artwork on the many doors, walls and storefronts on Somerset Street between Bay Street and Preston Street. Leigh and Karen from Highjinx have added seasonal decorations to many of the store windows, and the Somerset Chinatown BIA has installed red and white Christmas lights to many of the buildings.

A great place for a Christmas lunch or dinner for your office, family and friends!


  1. The large floral mural I s the work of artist Claudia Gutierrez who is the liaison between the school and the BIA. There will be news works in the late spring of 2014!!! More info at OSA

    1. Thanks for adding that information, Dawn. Sorry I took so long to publish your comment. I look forward to more! - Charles