Friday, June 26, 2015

TOMITHEOS

Artist, Tomitheos' journey to the end of the Rainbow Tunnel is as broad and colourful as the piece of street art which sits placidly beside one of Canada's busiest highways, the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto.

Born in Chicago to a drummer musician and inspired by the music at a very young age, he often sketched the musicians and performers who would go on stage he recalls this was the first time he began to draw.

A Greek, Tomitheos' father never performed in his home country. After touring with his band all around the States, he decided to move the family moved to Greece where he might perform. The dream of achieving the same success he had in North America, did not pan out, so the family moved again after three years, this time to Montreal.

Montreal was a fun place to grow up as a teenager. He loved those years. "When it came to working, I spoke French, I was very English sounding, I was having difficulty finding the right fit," he says of trying to find work in French speaking Quebec. " I knew if I moved to an English city, I had the French and that would be more of an asset, where in Montreal, it's kind of common to speak English. In Toronto I had three job offers as soon as I came here," Tomitheos recalls of his arrival in Toronto.

Before drawing on computers, Tomitheos was hand drawing structures for civil engineering firms. It was very technical and helped him refine his drawing skills. He also worked for Osler Hoskin, a law firm in corporate Toronto almost seven days a week and getting as much overtime as possible so that he could afford to finally take the plunge and become a full-time artist.

In 2003, leaving the corporate life behind, he has never looked back and is busy. His painting work, photography and mural work began to flourish and lead him to the Rainbow Tunnel project for the city of Toronto. Though never confirmed, it is said that the original rainbow painted at the tunnel entrance was painted about 40 years ago by a man who lost a dear friend. The painting would represent a smile as his friend looked down from heaven.

Tomitheos and other volunteers worked with the city to scrape, prep the concrete, prime and finally repaint the tunnel, inside and out. Since it has been cheerfully painted and the area tended to, joggers, children and families use this space whereas before it was run down, neglected and considered unsafe.

TUNNEL FUN FACT: Since the south end of the tunnel entrance is visible to northbound drivers, many called the police, reporting that people were vandalizing and defacing the tunnel. Not long after, Toronto Police raced to the location with a huge show of bravado and force – only to find that this was City of Toronto-approved work and that permits were granted, colours approved and restoration was underway!

TOMITHEOS FUN FACT: "Robots! I like vintage robots! I'm always looking for them on eBay!" He says laughing of his fascination. "They have to be functional and they have to be in good condition, and I like having the box if it's available." Tomitheos' favourite robot is the one from the 1960's television show, Lost In Space. Tomitheos ends his revery with the classic line from the robot that e everyone of a certain age remembers, "Danger, Will Robinson"!


PHOTO: SPENCER WYNN

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