Artist Stacey Kinder beside the traffic control box she painted in June.

By Kathryn Stocks

If you’ve been out and about this summer, you might have noticed the community has a new piece of street art. Outside the Port Union Community Centre at the corner of Lawrence and Charlottetown sits a traffic control box that has been transformed with a bright and cheerful scene. On one side there’s a single frog sitting alone on a lily pad and on the other side two frogs are locked in an embrace under the full moon. On the narrow sides, pink water lilies bloom.

The delightful art is the work of Stacey Kinder who painted the box in three days at the beginning of June. StreetARToronto, an organization that facilitates art in the city, put out the call for designs for the box and artists submitted their ideas during the winter. The artist is chosen based on their design and connection to the neighbourhood. Stacey said she was happy to do it because she grew up in this area.

“My career is painting murals,” she said. It’s full-time work from April to the end of September. She helped touch up our Passage to Port Union mural when the two large signs were removed and she also helped revitalize Highland Creek’s heritage mural. She likes doing the boxes because with those she’s painting something based on her own ideas rather than someone else’s.

“The boxes are really fun because they give you a chance to play and express your vision. It’s my time to shine,” she said. Stacey submitted her whimsical idea at the beginning of the year based on a painting she did for school.

She likes to paint animals and nature in Canada, especially local ecosystems and the environment. “I like to highlight our natural neighbours and remind everyone of other animals and creatures that live around us.” For her, frogs are a great childhood memory. “I just love frogs. They’re easy to animate,” she said. “Frogs have a cute little smiley mouth and eyes and hands that are sort of similar to people so it’s easy to put them in a position where they’re cuddling and hugging.”

Stacey said painting the box was a lot of fun. “I love the area and painting where I grew up. I moved away about eight years ago so it was super nostalgic for me.” She had lots of family members and community residents walking by and admiring it. “People loved passing every day and seeing the change and how it evolved.” She also enjoyed being outside and was lucky with the weather.

Stacey said it was well-paid work. “For the time and size it was great.” So far this year, she has submitted 30 applications and five have been brought to life. The 27-year-old artist graduated from Brock University in 2014 and is now living in Ajax.