back alleys and urban landscapes by Michael Cho
You could flip through Michael Cho’s new graphic title in just a few minutes and pronounce it ‘read.’ But you’d be missing the whole point of the book … because it’s undoubtedly one of the better, gently contemplative ‘stop-and-smell-the-roses’ reminders to take a little break from our overscheduled lives.
Go ahead – take a breather and join longtime Toronto resident Cho as he celebrates his surroundings with five years (2006-2011) of visual musings, presented “in all kinds of media; watercolour, gouache, ink, markers and coloured dyes to name a few.” What began as a means to “fix that apathy” towards drawing landscapes (“the human figure had more interesting lines and rhythms”), comes to fruition in a beautifully simple volume filled with “familiar places, quiet and often hidden in plain sight.”
As the title suggests, back alleys, especially, get loving billing: “… when you know a city, you know its back alleys. It’s like a house: the dining room is in the front to show to guests, while the real living goes on in the kitchen in the back.”
From night shots with morphing light and beckoning shadows, to changing graffiti (expletives to “I’m always thinking of you”), to “the backs of downtown homes [which] are such organic and constantly evolving places,” to once unbroken horizons now filled with condos, Cho’s Toronto is both a celebration of the comforts of the familiar, and testimony to the inevitability of developing urban change.
How many times have you walked the same streets, rushed past the same block, and never really taken the time to soak in the details? Guilty as charged! Take the time now to remedy that – welcome to back alleys and urban landscapes. See what you’ve been missing …