Spirit Stories under Old Mill

In Toronto, subway tracks cross above the Humber River at Old Mill station. The concrete pillars that support the subway bridge have been covered with many watery blue First Nations themed murals.

Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar
Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar

below: The artist, Philip Cote, described the story behind this image on the ArtworxTO website (see link); like all cultures, the Anishinaabe have an origin story.  In the beginning there was just Spirit. “And that spirit decided to send signals out into the universe and waited for a response. And when no response happened that spirit called the signals back and said, “As you come back to me, create light in the universe”. And at that moment they had light and dark in the universe. And that is the beginning of the Anishinaabe cosmology. Everything for Anishinaabe is made of light and dark. Everything we look at has a spirit, everything, the ground, the rocks, the sand, the trees, the birds, the plants, everything is… and even our sun and our Mother Earth and the moon, they all have a spirit.”     

Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar
connecting with the thousands of galaxies of the universe

The blues of the water, the Humber River, were painted by Kwest. Water is the Underworld in Ahishinaabe cosmology and the Guardians of this Underworld are the fish. Another artist, Jarus aka (Emmanuel Jarus), painted the fish.

Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar, large grouper fish in the water surrounding the central medallion

Most of the paintings have a well defined circle. This is the boundary between water and earth, between the spirit world and the physical world. But there are connections between the two worlds – all living things are connected and we are all connected to the Spirit World.

Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar, a mountain of ice in the background
Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar, a male and a female figure
Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar, an otter swimming in the water, looking below the surface
Philip Cote Anishinaabe mural of water and spirits on concrete pillar, a turtle shaped animal with a bear head with open mouth trying to catch fish

O Positive Plus

O+ Festival is the name of an annual art, music, and wellness festival in Kingston New York that began in 2010. Most of the murals in this post were painted as part of that festival. But not all of the murals in Kingston are included – my apologies to those left out – but I will be back!

a bright and colorful mural in an alley, large cursive word Kingston with smaller pictures around the letters, two faces in the mural as well

Bright and bold Kingston, but down an alley where it’s hard to see all at once.

the lefthand end of a bright and colorful mural in an alley, large cursive word Kingston with smaller pictures around the letters, only the first 3 letters are visible in this photo, K I and N
large pink female face at the end of a mural in an alley, face ends at the sidewalk of Broadway Ave in Kingston New York, shops and other buildings in the background
street art paintings around the entrance to a business, southwestern theme, cactii

below: This mural was painted by Jess Snow and Jia Sung and is titled “Oh Wind, Take Me to my Country”. It is a portrait of Sudanese poet Safia Elhillo and was inspired by one of her poems.

mural by Jess Snow and Jia Sung in Kingston New York, portrait of a woman with long flowing black hair, a small sailboat in her hair, all on background of watery blues

below: “Late Summer Kill Swim” by Samantha French and Aaron Hauck. Apparently the word ‘kill’ is a reference to the local Hudson Valley swimming holes.

below: “LIfted” by Lindsey Wolkowicz and Dillon Paul, 2018. Women and girls girls working together to lift each other up.

mural on the end of a building showing girls and women of different coloured races helping each other

below: Thorneater Comics painted this sturgeon in 2015.

large mural of a fish, outdoors, in shades of grey

below: “Pretty Nose and Dakota Unity Riders” by LMNOPI  (aka Lopi LaRoe).  Pretty Nose was an Arapaho woman war chief who participated in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.  It is said that she lived to be 101 years old.

mural, center is first nations portrait surrounded by circles of triangles looking like the rays of the sun, silhouettes of people on horseback on either side

below: “Native Americans Discover Columbus” by Lady Pink

day of the dead themed mural, girl with painted white face and decorations, a baltimore oriole beside her, she has long flowing hair

below: “Shadow Guide/Shadow Self” by Dina Kravtsov and Matthew Schulze, 2018

mural of two people on a bicycle built for two, a tandem bike

below: On one of the exterior walls of Keegan Ales is a mural painted by John Breiner in 2016. “From the Ground Up” has faded a bit over the past few years but there is a photo of it in its former glory on the artist’s website.

mural on an exterior of Keegan Ales, with window and reflections in the middle of the picture, mural painted by

below: Another mural on Keegan Ale buildings – this one was painted by Jack Dishel and Vor138 in 2014.

mural on Keegan Ale exterior, cartoon like characters and items, skull, skunk, dart board,

below: Letting the imagination run wild as boys and girls read books in “Fishbone” by Eugene Stetz Jr., 2016

mural of two children, a boy and a girl, reading, with a cloud of objects from their imaginations joining them together.  A mural on St. James Street in Kingston New York by Eugene Stetz Junior.
part of a mural, visualizing the imagination of a boy as he reads, planets, a baseball, an apple, a bone, and other items

below: “Sun/Moon” by Enz.

A two storey exterior wall, Keegan Ales, in Kingston NY with street art on it, a large mural across the top, a text piece on the lower level.

below: “Shadows of our Ancestors” by La Morena (aka Lucinda Yrene Hinojos) , with help from Cesar Castaneda, 2018.   The mural depicts the artist’s grandmother, daughter, and niece participating in a healing ceremony while the hummingbirds represent her spirit animal.

a mural on Downs Street in Kingston New York

below: “Flight Sequence”, an owl in flight, by Justin Suarez, 2017

a horizontal mural showing three stages of an owl in flight

below: A tribute mural by Jalani Lion and Donny Mapes; In memory of Adam (Jeff) McQueen, Kaireem Meeks Jr,  Dante Crump, Jonte Clark, and Jeffrey D’Aguilar, painted in 2015.

A tribute mural, showing portraits of young black men, by Jalani Lion and Donny Mapes; In memory of Adam (Jeff) McQueen, Kaireem Meeks Jr,  Dante Crump, Jonte Clark, and Jeffrey D'Aguilar, painted in 2015.

More Kingston NY murals
Photos taken July 2022