The East Toronto Observer
September 30th, 2005 - Page 5
Red Rockets rule in east-end artist's work

Art lovers connect to Toronto landmarks

   There’s nothing that Stephen Murphy enjoys more than seeing people walk up to his street- car paintings and smile.
   Murphy had another chance to experience that feeling at the Queen Street Art Crawl on Sept. 18. The Riverdale artist was part of an outside exhibit at Trinity Bellwoods Park on Queen Street West. The show displayed the work of more than 500 artists, including Murphy’s watercolour collection of Toronto streetcars.
  ”Right now I am doing street- cars with Toronto landmarks in the background,” he said.   "These paintings have taken on a life of their own. I don't do any sketching. It is just palette to paper."
  One of Murphy’s Queen streetcars was chosen for the front of the Art Crawl brochure handed out at the event, giving him more exposure.   ”As an artist you’ve got to find that emotional connection with the viewer and with the street- cars it is done automatically,” Murphy said. ”People get on the streetcar to go to work and to come home. No matter where you go in Canada, you see a Red Rocket and you know it’s Toronto.”
   Murphy said his best clients are the ones who tell him what they want to see.
  ”I get a lot of people come up to me and say, ’You should do one of Chinatown’, or ’You should do one of St. Clair Avenue,’” Murphy said. ”People will tell me they take the Queen streetcar to work, or that their father works for the TTC.”
  Although Murphy said he likes to focus on one area at a time, he is careful not to be type- cast as a Toronto streetcar artist, which is why he is now moving onto paintings of hockey goalie masks.
  ”It is like anything you study over a period of time. You get better at it,” he said. ”That way I can be known for a particular subject matter for that season. I think with the love of hockey

we have in this country, especially in Toronto with the Leafs, hockey masks will be the next big thing for me,” he said.
   Murphy said his east-end neighbourhood and the culture coming from the area inspire him.
  While the east end of cities tend to be looked down upon as working class and the worst part of the city, Toronto is one important exception, he said.
  ”If you look at the east end of London, the east end of Hong Kong or New York, they tend to be the more down-trodden areas,” he said. ”But not Toronto’s east end, with the new development that is going to be by the water. Toronto’s east end is going to be incredible in the next 10 to 15 years.” ”When I come across the viaduct... I know I’m home. I went to high school there, I met my wife there, my kids go to school there now. For me, it’s my little world and you can’t beat the people of the east end,” he said. 
   Murphy is going to be displaying paintings inspired by his trip to New Orleans last spring. The work will be presented in February and he has decided to donate a percentage of the revenue to Ecole Bilingue, a school he remembers from his trip.
  ”While I was there, I was listening to those kids and their playful sounds and it’s just not happening anymore,” he said. ” I don’t know when they’ll be back, but it’s important for those children to know that as far as Canada, we are thinking of their education and their well-being,” he said.
  Murphy said his New Orleans collection will reflect the happier times in the city and celebrate the people and the culture. It will include jazz musicians, street scenes and signage, and will have a Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras feel to it.
  ”We all have to play some role,” he said. ”We’ve lost a city and that is the equivalent of a nuclear bomb hitting. We need to get them back up and running because there is so much coming out of New Orleans – food, music, art. It’s such a cultural place,” Murphy said. ”New Orleans inspires people.”




Inside Toronto
February 16th, 2006

Review Not Yet Published

Inside Toronto
February 2, 2006

Beach-South Riverdale
Town Crier, January 2006

The East Toronto Observer
September 30th, 2005

December 13th, 2004

The Observer
November 26th, 2004

Inside Toronto
November 26th, 2004

Town Crier
November 17th, 2004

Town Crier
October 16 th, 2003

Inside Toronto
June 20th, 2003

The Voice
June 5th, 2003

Inside Toronto
May 16th, 2003, February 27th, 2003


Biography Contact