Pavement artwork pays tribute to Brick Works’ history

Evergreen Brick Works is paying homage to its history with the addition of a new art installation adorning a portion of its parking lot. Toronto artists Dan Bergeron and Paul Aloisi painted the piece, dubbed Underground Kiln, on the parking lot’s surface, serving as a reminder of the Brick Works original purpose as a place where some 40 million bricks were produced each year. The piece shows a birds-eye view outline of one of the old brick firing kilns that once adorned the site. “There used to be four chimneys (at the Brick Works) and now there’s only one,” said Evergreen Brick Works spokesperson Anthony Westenberg. “People can now stand right where the chimney was and look straight up to see where it would have been.” A portion of the parking lot was closed off throughout much of November to allow Bergeron and Aloisi to paint the piece. It fits along with some of the other artwork on display at Evergreen, including images of some of the site’s former brickmakers adorning the walls. “It’s a way of giving a cultural and industrial nod through an artistic lens,” Westenberg said. “It’s a nice way of reminding people this place was here long before (Evergreen was) here.” The painting was made possible with funding from StreetARToronto (StART), a public/private grant program that aims to support and promote street art throughout the city. StART has also funded some of the other art on the site, and the Brick Works will hold graffiti tours in addition to its usual sustainability tours and art tours in the spring. “Based upon archeological plans of the excavated site, we painted a bird’s eye view of the kiln and its surroundings on the parking lot that now covers the physical foundation still underground,” Bergeron said. “This rendition allowed us to highlight how the technology of the past intersects with how the site is used today, and helps visualize the layers of interconnected human marks left on this historic site.” Painting on the parking lot surface was labour-intensive, with the artists having to completely clean and dry the surface and apply a protective resin on top to ensure the art does not get worn away quickly through normal wear and tear from cars and pedestrians. While the piece has already attracted attention from Evergreen visitors, there is still work to be done to ensure it gains the attention it deserves in terms of educating people about the Brick Works’ history. “We still need to put up interpretive signs so people know what they’re looking at,” Westenberg said. “It’s a great addition, but we want people to appreciate it for what it is.”;