“It’s the Lego guy!,” my son exclaimed when my family ran into local street artist Martin Reis outside the grocery store. Last year, my partner B.F. Dawes and I spotted his work at Dufferin and Bloor. After tracking down the marvellous maker, we created Lego art together on the CAMH wall for a profile of his work. Reis suggests we make Lego magic again at a “friendly locale” near Sam James coffee on Harbord Street. Dissidence in its happiest form.
Dispatch work, often done in Europe, uses Lego bricks to patch up broken walls or structures, but mostly to augment the city with light, colour and joy. Reis uses his art to deliver happiness to the dreary streets of Toronto and beyond. His multi-media work veers into the world of activism, too. On this day, however, it’s simply to enrich the lives of the passersby at this otherwise bleak spot on the sidewalk. Everyone who walks by smiles, laughs, takes photos and, often, shares a personal story about Lego — the brick that is universal in its language and spans every building style.
Artist Sean Martindale joined in on this build, which reaches up to 42 levels. With aims to go higher, our cold hands were not as seasoned as Reis’, tapping out at 36 levels. He finished off the tower with a fitting certificate of achievement denoting the finale of this little bit of colour and joy.
So if you are near the Sam James on Harbord near Grace, have a look and see if it’s still there. And, maybe consider where else this city needs a bit of TLC and artistic verve, and where people really need something to smile about.