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Design & Fashion

Out of the Galleries – Montreal’s street art

Whenever the topic of art in Montreal comes up, mention is often made of the multiple genres that make up our thriving music scene. Yet musicians and music producers aren’t the only ones whose creativity is flourishing in this city that ranked 18th in a recent survey of the best cities in the world to see street art. A casual stroll around town confirms this assessment.

Multicoloured walls

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It wasn’t so long ago that an artist toting an aerosol paint can was stigmatized and deemed a petty criminal for it. Fast forward to today, and graffiti is an established art form, with its own masterpieces. Through the international festival Under Pressure and the celebration of local talent that is the Mural Festival, the city has decided to turn over to graffiti artists a generous share of the cultural limelight. To see that this is indeed so, simply count the number of artworks around town bearing the tag of the En Masse collective.

Conceptual trails

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Some creators like to pepper the streets and sidewalks with conceptual pieces. Remember the artist who a few years ago painted a whole series of fire hydrants in gold? No doubt a statement on the increasing preciousness of safe, clean drinking water as the resource grows scarcer. During the unofficial moving day that is July 1, some furniture and home appliances abandoned on the sidewalk served as blank canvases onto which the Garbage Beauty collective scrawled some bits of poetic whimsy, to wit: “The sounds of joy” on a small organ, “Turn me off” on a television, “Find your own place” on a drawer chest, and so on. Little lyrical gems!

Artists in residence

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Near downtown university campuses, Montreal has made a habit of converting old hotels into student residences. But the Parc Cité complex took it one step further by giving free reign to a bevy of street artists to pretty up the building’s facade, and spiff up its interior too. The result is thoroughly first-rate and oh so Montreal!

To find out more about our city’s street art in all its wondrous glory, check out this Facebook page devoted to it.