Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Venturing into a dark alley

Art Attack
London, ON
December 2018
This photo originally shared on Instagram
I needed some alone time in the middle of the day yesterday, so I put on my woolies and took a walk downtown. The steel-grey sky was streaked with fast-moving, low clouds, and the cold wind cut through my coat, the dampness reminding me that winter hasn't even officially begun here, and it only gets worse with each passing day.

I hadn't been here in a while. I've always been comfortable downtown, and I know the streets well. But in the few short years since I last worked in this part of town, much has changed. Construction has redrawn parts of the landscape, while the cruel realities of the economy have wiped away some familiar stores and people. I was due for a catch-up.

The core is crisscrossed by countless alleyways, and I'm of two minds when I pass by. On the one hand, they can be frightening spaces, with discarded needles never more than a footstep away. They're a stubborn example of the rotting underbelly of this city, the part many of us wish we could forget, but can't. You enter these spaces at your peril, and you keep your eyes and ears wide open when you do.

On the other hand, they're threatening to us only if we allow them to be. And artists have been increasingly reclaiming them, with extensive murals that tell stories that need to be told. If only we choose to venture down those dark laneways and take them in.

On this cold afternoon, I overcame my admittedly overblown fears and took that walk. I'm glad I did, because whether or not this aligns with our collective beliefs in what a city should look like, it's integrally connected to our life here. We ignore it our peril.

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Tabor said...

That camera angle reflects the mood of this post.

Chris said...

I love street art! Wish we had some in my area

Shammickite said...

Sort of Rick Mercerish neighbourhood. I like the idea of artists reclaiming the alleys by adding their colourful, but sometimes scary, graffiti.