Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Writing's on the Wall . . . in Montreal

My last night here, I'm back in my hotel room before 8 because the author reading I was so looking forward to turned out to have taken place this morning -- I assumed that 7:45 would be this evening, forgetting that the French system prevails here, so 7:45 is morning, 19:45 evening. Damn! (Lawrence Hill is the novelist I missed seeing -- you may have read his The Book of Negroes.) So I'll use the freed-up time to post some more photos -- which you can look at while I'm flying back home tomorrow.
As you can see, these are snaps of graffitistreet art/murals in a wide variety of styles, all found the other day as I walked through various neighbourhoods. While they give the streets an edge you might not have guessed at from the photos in my last two posts, I think the graffiti adds to, rather than detracts from, the city's appearance. But as you might know from my Paris posts over the past few years, I'm a fan of graffitisuch art, especially when it's as clever and energetic and just plain sumptuous as this. (Edited to reflect Pseu's useful and thoughtful comments below -- I obviously didn't think enough about what I'd actually collected when I posted yesterday -- I had remembered more examples of smaller-scale and more spontaneous graffiti (tags all over one side of the "French blue" corner bookstore Hostess liked, for example) -- than what actually ended up in the post.
The photo above and the two following are all of the same wall -- if you know Montreal at all, you'll recognize the cross on top of the mont in the section below.








The photo above is of the credits accompanying the mural seen below. You can read more here (Scroll down for English) about the organization which is using Street/Public Art to achieve a range of social goals -- rather cool that Benjamin Moore paints are involved -- presumably if you loved some of these combinations, you could head into Benjamin Moore and find out how to get a living room going . . .



And here's another one -- I love the mix of older buildings with their architectural ornamentation as a certain claim to order and propriety, and then the competing assertions of chaos in the colour and surrealism of the murals. And against that sky? Mmmmmm, yummy!


From a distance so you can really appreciate the interplay with the cloud-mottled sky above and the street life below.

As I say, I'll delay posting this so that you'll read it as I'm flying home tomorrow. I've loved my visit to Montreal, although I hadn't quite factored how much energy and time would go to conference activities. I'd love to be here (with Pater -- or some girlfriends, or daughters, or sisters) for a few days of museum and gallery visits, shopping, checking out some foodie spots -- another time.
I'll have to hit the ground running at home -- I'm part of a search committee at work and we have a stack of heavy-duty CVs to get through for short-listing so that's Thursday gone. And then I have to turn around and get back to Vanc'r for Friday because we are being trusted with Nola for the whole weekend while her Mom and Dad head to an out-of-town wedding. We're going to sub-contract one evening because we have opera tix (Butterfly!!), but otherwise it will just be us and Nola, fun!
I still have a few more Montreal shots, though, which I'll try to show you before the week's out -- then I'll be in full-on planning mode for our trip to London/Portugal/Paris which happens mid-June. Can you see those calendar days getting blown off, littering the floor?!!!

10 comments:

  1. Those are fabulous! But I'd label more as "street murals" than "graffiti," though some of the stylistic elements are the same. They seem to be more planned and thought out than what I generally think of as graffiti, which is more opportunistic and spontaneous. But semantics aside, they are fun, energetic and very artistic pieces!

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  2. Back in Vanc'r, a bit weary after my flight -- but have to pop in to say you're absolutely right, Pseu -- hadn't quite realized I ended up with only these larger-scale, more planned, more polished works. street art, murals, not quite graffiti -- somehow I ended up editing the graffiti photos out. . .

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  3. I am impressed by the art/graffiti...so much more creative than I usually see here.
    Hope that you are resting up for Nola and the Opera!
    Fun times await you.

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  4. Thanks for all the pictures. Personally I feel about graffitis like I feel about tattoos, which means, that I don´t like them. I feel ok, while a building or whatever is under repair, and with the facade covered, that people are permitted to decorate the white board ( or whatever ) with paintings. I know, I know, I´m old-fashioned with my opinion, but this is only my opinion and I´m not like campaigning against graffitis or tattoos.

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  5. I love this kind of vibrant street art - when I think of graffiti I think of the ugly 'tags' and such that festoon many run-down areas. But when it's illustrative, decorative, full of life and exuberance, I think it looks great. Creative rather than destructive, I guess.

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  6. I've just come up for air to say I so enjoy your vernacular shots of Mtl, a marvelous intro for your readers who do not know how distinctive the city is. And may I also add the people watching is supremely wonderful.

    And Nancy Huston! Can't wait to hear more!

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  7. Response to graffiti is complicated and it often challenges our own feelings about property ownership -- I think we're often more likely to find it offensive if we are home-owners, and certainly I would be upset if my own home were ever chosen as a working surface! That said, even the supposedly ugly tags that are ubiquitous in big cities can be seen as a way for expression of voices that often get stifled -- and they undoubtedly has an energy that I respect even when I find it uncomfortable.
    Duchesse: Take a big gulp while you can -- oxygen seems sparse these busy days, doesn't it!!
    Wish I'd had time to track down your son in Mtl. -- in fact, just wish I'd had more time in general to eat well there. As I said, I'd neglected, in all my anticipation, to consider seriously the difference between a working visit and a vacation!!

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  8. A sign for Prince Arthur! I've had many an al fresco Greek dinner on that street. . . Miss Montreal so much. Did you dine at L'Express, the enduring and peerless bistro?

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  9. Oh I LOVE graffitti and tag art I collect it in my travels!!! I love these Thanks for sharing

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  10. Miss C: No, sadly, the dining out was limited this visit, and def. left me wanting a return soon.
    KK: you're welcome!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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