The Under Pressure international graffiti festival was on last weekend along Ste-Catherine between St-Laurent and Hotel-de-ville and what a great event it was! For its 18th edition, mother nature backed up the festival with beautiful weather, which was enjoyed by everyone.
Sterling Downey, the founder of the festival, told me during a phone interview that they estimate about 20 000 people were at the festival over the weekend. Downey said that the greatest thing about the festival is how organically everything goes each year thanks to the many dedicated volunteers and great coordinators. The greatest accomplishment for him is how they have managed to keep the festival small, as in it’s accessible to the community, not pretentious or driven by economic reasons but purely fun! The artists feel like it’s their festival and they own it.
Many walls were painted by about 80 artists or writers from all over the world. Downey mentioned that there were artists from all over Canada, the States, South America, Germany, France. The festival doesn’t pay for anyone to come so it all depends on the artists budget and if they can make it to Montreal! All the artists are on the same level when they participate to the festival.
Most of the side streets on the North side of Ste-Catherine were painted as well as the building of La Cremiere which got taken over by Mr Clean! The walls behind Foufounes Electroniques are now all covered with new work. It’s very nice to be able to walk around and watch artists paint live in front of you, makes the whole art more approachable in a way and less underground.
As Montreal artist FLN (Futur Lasor Now) told me “The festival is a very important festival for the community. It gets people who only have a negative view of graffiti to see a whole bunch of different sides of it and it also brings everyone together which is also good.” FLN had a blast participating for the first time at the Under Pressure Festival, you can see his work just off Ste-Catherine on De Bullion street. Walking around the city you might have seen his many very original stickers! Check out his facebook page.
A skate ramp was installed outside of Foufounes Electriques on the Saturday and there was a skating competition on the Sunday with a cash prize of $1000 for the best trick!
There was live music all weekend with many different DJs playing great beats. Sunday afternoon was the Up Yours! Crew Battle BBoying with some amazing bboys and bgirls, the moves done by some were so impressive, it must have been quite hard to judge and choose the best. The crowd was huge with most of the people sitting down to be able to watch the action in front of the stage.
The Fresh Paint Gallery at 221 Ste Catherine E was also a great place to visit over the weekend. It moved recently from it’s first location a bit West on Ste-Catherine. the 1st gallery was around for 16 months. The idea behind the gallery is to keep it constantly moving, ephemeral, which reminds you of graffiti. it is an alternative self-financed project managed by Under Pressure festival’s team of amazing volunteers! The artwork changes about every 6 weeks to two months. The exhibition that is on at the moment is about language, it’s called Alpha-Bête Can’t we all just get ensemble, it offers art from many different artists such as Lapin, Carolina Espinosa, Eric Clement, Isaac Holland and many more. The entrance to the gallery is by donation and is definitely worth checking out! The gallery is open from Wednesday to Sunday from noon until 9pm. There is also a lot of artwork for sale at very affordable prices!
All and all a great success yet again for Under Pressure, if you missed it this year, make sure to join the festivities for the 19th edition next year and in the meantime get your dose of graffiti by walking around the area and checking out the Fresh Paint Gallery!