Toronto street artists are teaming up and painting murals in Kensington market of a well-known artist who died in a hit-and-run Monday morning.
Andre Alexander, who was known by many in the city’s art circle, was riding his skateboard early Monday morning when he was hit by a car in North York on Sheppard Ave. E. and Bonnington Place at around 1:10 a.m.
Police said witnesses saw the female driver step out of her car and check on him, before driving away. She is described as an Asian woman in her 40s with short, black hair. Police said the car is described as a silver or grey Toyota Yaris, and was reported to have a child in the back seat.
According to his friend Chris Hughes, Alexander had just moved into the North York neighbourhood a week ago. His other friend, Christian Caezar, said he was going out to enjoy the scenery.
“He really loved his neighbourhood.”
Friends and fellow artists remembered Alexander for his talent and his hustle, where painting and creating was his full-time job and a way to support his 5-year-old daughter.
The late 34-year-old artist would dedicate six to eight hours to painting everyday, his friend Chris Hughes said, honing his craft so that it would catch the eyes of pedestrians walking by his sidewalk setup in Kensington market.
His work took inspiration from the likes of Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He reflected his love for hip-hop, streetwear and the city in his artwork, incorporating what Caezar calls “hip pop art.”
Scrolling through his Instagram, there are images of Lauryn Hill, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, even Rolex watches and Air Jordan 1s stamped across the canvas.
“He did art for passion and survival,” Hughes said. He would set up his pieces on a sidewalk and set a goal for that day, though it wasn’t uncommon for him to give away a piece for free.
Caezar said his main goal was to get his artwork into people’s homes and offices.
As he gained prominence in the art community, he was commissioned by Brimz Hat Boutique, a local shop that features designs and apparel from Toronto creators.
On top of that, he was known for giving back to his community. He would do art workshops with kids and donated his pieces to Sick Kids.
Outside of the art sphere, he was someone people would come to for advice. He was very introspective and had “a lot of foresight,” Caezar said. “He would talk to you from morning to night, if you gave him the time.”
Caezar added Alexander enjoyed yoga and was spontaneous, travelling to Miami to create and sell his work. But what mattered to him most was his daughter.
His daughter, who Caezar describes as smart with an extensive vocabulary, loves ballet. “He always loved to take her to ballet class.”
Hughes has started a Gofundme page to help support Alexander’s daughter.
With files from Premila D’Sa.
Bianca Bharti is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @biancabharti