Starting tomorrow and over March break Elicser Elliot, arguably Toronto’s best loved street / graffiti artists, will paint a mural and relief assemblage around and on the Hug Me Tree.
Before it was painted, the Hug Me Tree was a dead tree -- one with stubby branches, no leaves and soon to be pulled down. It was first painted and thus rescued by Elicser in the summer of 1998 (or 1999) and quickly became a symbol of spontaneous creation, benign neglect and an icon of Queen West culture. The work was recognized not only by the art community but most importantly appreciated by and accessible to anyone passing by.
Elicser anonymously maintained the tree for almost ten years, giving it six major incarnations with the occasional collaboration of others he never met. Over the years, the Hug Me Tree has received a considerable amount attention and press, documented by photographers, locals, tourists and art lovers. It has transformed that corner of Queen West into a focal point, a meeting place, a photo-op and part of the social fabric of one of our cities most famous and vibrant streets. When the Hug Me Tree was hit by a car and fell in August 2008, there was unprecedented reaction and outreach from the community: it narrowly avoided the city wood chipper before being rescued by citizen protest and a woman in a truck – who amazingly enough, was proposed to under the painted tree. (She was also accompanied by the child of this marriage who acted as foreman in safely relocating it.)
Check out more info about the tree here: