Two months ago, graffiti artists Kyle Howard and Max Sawka began working on one of their biggest projects ever. The goal was to paint murals throughout the Ashbridges Skate Park at the corner of Lakeshore Boulevard and Coxwell Avenue.
On Dec. 16, they were both recognized for their outstanding work and presented with appreciation letters from the Toronto Police Services and from the Canadian government through 55 Division Superintendent Frank Bergen and Beaches/East York MP Matthew Kellway respectively.
Howard and Sawka were enlisted by 55 Division’s Constable Aggrey Kech to design and paint the murals in an effort to discourage illegal graffiti.
The month and a half task wasn’t easy for the duo who often found themselves working on cold and raining days. But being able to legally do graffiti was enough motivation for them to see the project through.
“We had some days when we really didn’t want to be here. But now seeing this, we’re so excited by it,” said 55 Division Sergeant Dale Corra in a release. He also hinted at a future skateboarding competition taking place at the Ashbridges Skate Park.
“Growing up, I wish there was a way for police and graffiti to co-exist as it does now,” said Sawka, who admits to doing graffiti illegally at a younger age.
The various designs represent not only certain aspects of the community, but also reflect their own artistic tastes. A concrete blast is the “centre-piece” of their work at the park and they admit to it being a selfish design. At the east end of the park a Canadian Flag honours the troops.
One of their favourites is the Toronto skyline mural.
“It’s really cool to have skateboarders jump right over the Toronto skyline,” said Howard.
Along with Bergen and Kellway were Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, City of Toronto Parks and Recreation representatives, and a few skateboarders.
“By designing and painting the murals, you provided a huge service to the community,” said Bergen.
Sawka and Howard are looking forward to phase two of the project, slated to begin in two to three months. “We’re hoping to see more community involvement in the next phase and look forward to having more kids join us,” said Sawka.