I LOVE YOU TORONTO
In 2001, an artist who wishes to remain a Toronto mystery painted three little words that made Torontonians smile. His work inspired the creation of an art show, a book of poetry, a blog, a cultural study about love, and this website.

 
 

I Love You 2-1
 

I Love You 2-2
 

I Love You 2-3
 

I Love You 2-4
 




I Love You 2-5
 

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I Love You 2-7
 

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I Love You 2-9
 

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I Love You 2-12




I LOVE YOU TORONTO
An anonymous graffiti artist spray painted "I Love You" over one hundred times across Toronto. Most of the sites are in The Annex community—on main throughfares like Bloor Street, Bathurst Street, and Harbord Street, but are also hidden in the back alleys.

From 2001 to 2006, Sharon Harris photographed and mapped these messages of love. An exhibition of the photographs was exhibited at Dooney's Cafe, a longstanding fixture in the neighbourhood.







 






I LOVE YOU TORONTO MAP


Please click an I Love You to see its graffito.

You may need to temporarily disable popup blockers to view the photographs.









FAQ
WHAT MOTIVATED THE ARTIST TO PAINT "I LOVE YOU" SO MANY TIMES?

It's a Toronto mystery—we don't know the identity of the artist, so we can only guess intention. Is the artist stalking an estranged lover? Affirming an existing romance? Expressing a universal, altruistic message? Was s/he despondent, obsessive compulsive, angry, in love ... or all/none of the above?


WHERE CAN I FIND THE GRAFFITI?

For graffiti, the I Love You tags enjoyed exceptionally long lives. Most of the graffiti on Harbord St. stayed fresh until someone responded to them by scrawling "I HATE YOU" (complete with skull and crossbones) in bright red. Then they were swiftly removed. At this writing, most of the sites have faded, been covered with paint or sandblasted. The best places to see the remaining I Love You's are the laneways north of College St. between Borden St. and Brunswick Ave: these are the newer green ILY's that appeared in 2005.


WHY SHOW THE PHOTOS AT DOONEY'S?

It felt right to physically show the photographs in the neighbourhood where the I Love You's were painted. One I Love You site was across the street from Dooney's at Japan Electronics; three more were found in the adjacent alley. Architectual elements of the area seen in the photos are also visible in the interior and exterior of Dooney's. For example, one image hanging on an orange coloured brick wall at the cafe was shot nearby at a Bloor St. coffee shop constructed with exactly the same type of orange brick. Also, Dooney's was the heart of The Annex and a Toronto landmark. I wanted the images to exist in a mental sphere where people hang out, talk, and meet friends and lovers. Dooney's is missed!










This wonderful video, "Three Little Words," features Toronto's I Love You graffiti and was created by Kimberly Orton and Ron Bock in 2002. Its makers shot footage on a Canada Day weekend in the city. The beautiful song is written and performed by Ron and Dave O'Sullivan. Please enjoy.





 












I LOVE YOU TORONTO FAST FACTS

  • Twenty-seven I Love You prints were sold during the show's run at Dooney's (which means that this project hasn't ever broken even in a funds sort of way, not that anyone is keeping track). One was stolen.


  • The ILY artist's identity is still a mystery. Trusted sources have indicated that he would like to remain anonymous.


  • Sharon Harris was sideswiped by a City Parks and Rec pick-up truck on Bloor St. while photographing the graffiti, but walked it off.


  • Please check out the show's appearances in the media here. Thanks to everyone who helped spread the love.