The newest piece of public art in Toronto is a 10-storey mural that features a giant deer and was painted by an artist with a secret identity.

“birdO” is the alter-ego of visual artist Jerry Rugg, whose public persona involves wearing a large bird mask.

“I paint in the realm of surrealism,” Rugg told CTV News Toronto. “So I think it’s also funny to implement a bit of a surrealist character to my work as well.”

Rugg has spent the past several weeks high above the street, painting a brightly coloured mural on the side of 1 St. Clair Avenue East. 

“I saw the canvas and got the idea,” Rugg said. “I create creatures, that’s my main feature element, and you know in this case I went a bit literal. We are in Deer Park, so I just drew a giant deer for Deer Park.”


I’m changing the Canadian holiday to LABOUR OF LOVE day and it isn’t a day offfffffff.

A post shared by birdO (@jerryrugg) on

This is the largest piece that Rugg, who has done murals all over the world, has ever created. And, it’s a homecoming of sorts for the Toronto-based artist. 

“I moved to Toronto when I was 18 years old to make it in the big city and this is the very first neighbourhood I moved in to—and I’ve been here ever since.”

The piece was designed digitally, and Rugg and his painting partner Jeff Blackburn spent several weeks making it a reality, battling the elements, including wind. 

But the experience of working up high doesn’t bother Rugg who said that dangling off the side of a building for two weeks is “the fun part, actually.” 

The mural was commissioned by building owners Slate Asset Management and StreetARToronto (StART). 

StART is a City of Toronto initiative that helps artists transform areas that may not be considered traditional canvases. 

Rugg saisd he hopes his animal art will be well received by both art lovers and locals alike.

“I always say, I just want to brighten a corner.”