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I Love You Toronto, Inside Toronto Interview

Lovesick graffiti artist inspires photographer

by Carrie Brunet

All around the Annex, ‘I love you’ is whispered in blue spray paint.

A graffiti artist has sprayed the proclamation across various surfaces in the community, and a local woman has documented more than 100 sites where the common expression can be spotted.

“I was walking along Harbord Street one day when I saw it painted on a wall,” said High Park resident Sharon Harris who has recorded all of the different sites in a graphic display of photographs currently exhibited at Dooney’s Café (511 Bloor St. W.). “There were thirteen of them.”

Little did she know that when she returned with her camera, she would find dozens more.

A writer, Harris said she has written many love poems that she thought were “horrible.”

“I wanted to do something that wasn’t sentimental,” she said. “I wanted to do something with love that was fresh.”

A project she started back in 2001, Harris has photographed more than one hundred ‘I love you’ sites in the Annex.

After gathering the pictures of the different sites, which are mapped on her website, she proceeded to put together a display of colour, black and white, and digitally altered pictures. Harris has attempted to find the person responsible for the words that moved her, but with no luck.

“I had a few leads,” she said. “But they ran dry.”

Somehow though, maybe it’s better this way.

“Maybe it’s fine as a universal message,” she said. “The world needs more love.”

Harris, also an activist, was drawn to the warm sentiment.

A mother of two, she thinks everyone could share ‘I love you’s’ and not just with their significant other.

“There’s so much negativity,” she said. “We treat the symptoms, but never the whole.”

She was so inspired by the random displays of affection that she wanted to share them with the rest of the city.

“That’s my mission,” said Harris. “To send the I love you’s further.”

It also embodies her love for Toronto.

“I love this city,” she said.

Her photos of the graffiti can be purchased at the exhibit which started this week. The show will be on display until February.