A new Lee’s on life - Metro US

A new Lee’s on life

All things must change.

For the past quarter-century, 529 Bloor St. W. has been one of Toronto’s most infamous addresses. Lee’s Palace, the long-standing concert venue, has been the site of legendary performances from Elton John to rock revolutionaries Nirvana and more.

Additionally, the three-storey frontage is world-renowned by virtue of artist Al Runt’s inimitably abstract images.

“My first mural went up on Lee’s in 1986 after I got fired as a waiter there,” laughed the amicable painter.

“My style hasn’t changed but I get a wide berth of references … everything from Aztec to Dr. Seuss, Robert Crumb and M.C. Esher.”

While Runt’s initial mural was removed during recent club renovation, his work is gone, but not forgotten. The countenance is currently receiving a facelift thanks to support from owners Bruce Bennett and Jeff Cohen along with the City Of Toronto. Faced with boring brick or a Runt original, they quickly opted for the latter; what Cohen feels is a “fresh” aspect of Hogtown.

“(The city’s) Façade Improvement Program grant matched our costs,” he said.

“It was important if we were going to take down his original artwork that he had first option to re-do it … We were excited that he eagerly accepted.

“Initially, we just wanted to make the front look a little fresher but, personally, I like this mural even better than his original work.”

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