The Eighth Street Skatepark Mural Project is an ongoing project initiated in 2017, with the goal of enhancing the Etobicoke-Lakeshore community skatepark and showcasing the talents of local mural artists. The murals painted in summer 2020 added to the already-existing murals created since 2017.
Lakeshore Arts teamed up with a group of local artists to add a series of new murals to the Eighth Street Skatepark. From September 14th to 22nd, artists ‘Flips’, Ian Gabriel, Jieun Kim, Natalie King, Natalie Very B, and Rowell Soller painted new murals on sites across the skatepark.
This mural instalment differs from previous, with the new murals focused on female empowerment and inclusivity. Project Manager Tara Dorey said; “Skate culture has been very male-dominated. It’s all about female empowerment. We want non-male-identifying people to be welcome here, too,” in her interview with torontodotcom.
“It’s feminist vibes, for sure… It’s really exciting to see that in the community and in the skate community, as well. It’s great to see so many kids, boys and girls, having a good time.”Aysia Tse, artist assistant | via torontodotcom
Journalist Tamara Shephard covered the 8th Street Skakepark revtitalization with Torontodotcom. Interviewing the mural artists and the community members that utilize the park. Read the full article, here.
Meet the mural artists
Flips is a Toronto-based multimedia artist, life enthusiast and visual storyteller. Inspired by the blending of cultural forces seen in Toronto and his homeland of Bulgaria, Flips’ focus is on promoting and celebrating world cultures and connectivity amongst people. His motto is that art has the power to unite people and aims to create works that inspire and instill this message.
Flips is best known in the streets of Toronto for his signature Swirl Style, which reflects the philosophy of unity through art in the swirling of colour and line. Mirroring life, the Flips Swirl Clusters represent the state of flux that exists in life; a beautiful mess of movement and energy. At the heart of each swirl, cluster exists a circle that represents the individual soul, linked to others through infinite ties. A grouping of swirls signifies a strong presence of community, creativity, and care.
Rowell Soller is a 27-year-old Filipino-Canadian, multidisciplinary artist born and raised in Scarborough. His practice revolves around traditional painting on canvas, sculpture and murals. Through these practices, he has established a signature style of his own called, ‘Ancient Graffuturism’. In this, he combines elements of abstract art, Manga, international architecture, calligraphy, graffiti & ancient Filipino design inspired images & symbols. In his style, he likes to
capture the feeling of the present moment and use of movements based on nature such as water, fire & wind.
Being a Diaspora, Rowell likes to blend his Asian heritage into his work to feel more connected with himself & his roots. His paintings, sculptures & murals supply life force and uplifting imagery. He aims to strengthen spaces & communities through his art by awakening ways in which people can feel freedom in themselves and connect to their roots instinctively. Driven by the struggle of his traumas and poverty that he grew up with.
Overcoming these challenges, he has found a new self-inspired by the light and love to spread these elements through his work and daily living. Constantly evolving his inner self his work becomes affected and changes with him. Rowell has paintings and murals in private collectors homes and businesses from Los Angeles, Philippines, Alberta, Thailand, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Peru to China, Montreal & Toronto.
Flips & Rowell Soller painted the quarter pipe
Born in Parkdale and raised in Toronto and parts of the GTA, Ian has studied art and graphic illustrations, mostly self taught for 7 years, with a 1 year certificate in Media Foundations at Humber College. Ian considers himself to be an emerging artist or an artist that is trying to merge into the professional side of Art/Design and Street Mural culture.
He is multimedia, multifaceted artist specializing in lettering and character designs. His artwork is fun, friendly with a bit of an attitude and a couple of flowers. Ian has been skating at Eighth Street Skatepark since it opened and assisted Fatspatrol on her mural at the skatepark in 2018.
Ian painted the east side of the quarter pipe
“I really wanted to get a female in here. In the skateboard community, there’s a real uprising in female skaters, which is really awesome. I want them to feel more welcomed here. The dragon-wolf represents me and my girlfriend, who is from Japan. It’s a contrast of light and dark. It’s very Japanese folklore stuff. The focus of the piece is really for happiness.”Ian gabriel via torontodotcom article
Jieun June Kim
Jieun June Kim’s painting practise is founded on her love of the natural and urban environments around her and the folk art of Korea; the homeland where she was born and raised. Her paintings are imbued with the symbolic forms and language of Korean cultural heritage, re-imagined in response to the contemporary context of her lived experience.
Jieun June Kim has been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions in Canada and Korea. Solo exhibitions include In-Between Land, at North York Central Library, North York, ON (2019); Pillow House, Alternative Space NOON, Suwon, S. Korea (2016); and Dreamscape, uJung Art Center, Seoul, S. Korea (2013). Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto, ON (2019); Arts Etobicoke, Etobicoke, ON (2019); and Toronto Center for the Arts, North York, ON (2019) among others. In addition to her painting practice, Kim is an activist public muralist, and produces original prints, illustrations, and ceramics. She currently lives and works in Toronto, ON.
“I like to transform an area with bright colours. I like to paint tigers. They represent strength in Korean folk art. I love the meaning behind it and not a lot of people know about it. Peaches mean happiness and prosperity. Art really makes the skatepark inviting.”Jieun June Kim | torontodotcom
Natalie King is a queer Anishinaabekwe artist, facilitator and member of Timiskaming First Nation currently working and practicing in Tkaronto. King’s practice ranges from drawing, painting, and installation as well as community engagement and activism. Often involving portrayals of femme identities, King’s works are about embracing the ambiguity and multiplicities of identity within the indigenous queer femme experience.
King’s practice operates from a firmly critical, decolonizing, equity-oriented, non- oppressive, and future-bound perspective, capturing the realities of lived lives through frameworks of desire and survivance.
Natalie painted the “wedge”
Natalie Very B.
Natalie Very B. is a Polish Canadian illustrator, muralist and educator. She is passionate about facilitating art workshops with strong focus on the therapeutic aspect of creative expression. Her large scale murals depict modern female empowerment and can be found all across the city of Toronto. She makes art with the goal of changing preconceived notions of feminism and promoting self love and body positivity in the world.
Natalie painted the stairs/ramp
“I’m trying to make a statement about community and diversity. The biggest reaction has been from little boys. They’re fascinated by it. They say it’s ‘beautiful.’”Natalie very B | via torontodotcom
Check out our full photo gallery here
Special thank you to all the mural artists and their artist assistants Niloofar Elahi, Claire Browne, Aysia Tse. This project was managed by Tara Dorey and made possible through funding allocated by Councillor Grimes and through the City of Toronto’s StreetARToronto program.
Learn more about Eight Street Park mural project history.
“Art really makes the skatepark inviting”JIEUN JUNE KIM | via torontodotcom