Wow! How much fun was the MURAL Festival!
What a success for a first edition, everything was well set up and everyone looked very happy. St-Laurent was packed with people Friday and Saturday, a beautiful sight. A sight which is one of the reasons for the festival, to evelop and upgrade the Main by bringing people back to it.
The SDBSL (Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent) has a five year plan with the MURAL Festival which is very exciting! It’s great to see new concepts and innovative ideas such as this one and to also see the support from the city and the shop owners. There are a lot of empty walls all over St-Laurent and many talented artists out there so it won’t be hard to do it again.
So what happened during the Festival?
20 murals were painted by international and local artists
Many activities on the street and random live music acts
Spotlight on an underground culture, street art, for the general public
A rare opportunity to see artists paint in the daylight and in front of the public
A chance to observe incredible techniques and the progression of the pieces over the days
4 days of no cars on St-Laurent, always a pleasure to walk in the middle of the street with no cars around and so much more
Friday night was the vernissage at Station 16 gallery featuring festival artists. There were some very interesting pieces. The art is still up and well worth checking out!
On Saturday afternoon I joined the walking tour given by urban artist Cam Novak. What a great tour, full of information. It was nice to find out about the different artists, their styles, the street art scene in Montreal and so much more. Finding out about the inspiration behind some of the walls was probably my favorite aspect of the tour. Check out Cam’s Facebook page for more tours coming up this summer.
What’s great about the Mural Festival is that the work from the different artists is available to everyone all the time, the new museum of Montreal is open-aired along St-Laurent.
All of the murals are between Sherbrooke and Mont-Royal, starting South with Reka One (from Australia) who painted the back of the Hotel 10. As you go up St-Laurent you will find eight murals around the parking lot just before Prince Arthur, a massive one by Montreal’s collective En Masse as well as a very interesting 3D mural by Montrealer Jason Botkin and many others.
Escif from Spain painted a very precise lock with the word Barré (locked) as his first mural in North America on St-Dominique just up from Sherbrooke. The idea behind it is a political reflection on the fact that we are all in a hidden jail without real liberties.
If you keep going up, you will see A’Shop’s wall at the corner of Des Pins. The collective is one of Montreal’s most respected and have been doing graffiti for 25 years. You can see some of their work in NDG as well. On this wall, there is a grandmother with a paint can, showing that street art and graffiti is accessible to everyone and all can enjoy it! A great message as graffiti is too often judged negatively by some.
This is followed shortly after by Omen’s on the left hand side on St-Laurent and then Phlegm’s very detailed and precised murals. The bar Frappé is now covered by Ricardo Cavolo’s colorful art. The very trippy wall by collective WZRD GNG is at the corner of Bagg street.
On the East side of the street, you’ll find Other’s wall with the Paria Crew’s wall at the corner of Duluth. The face on Other’s wall (mural on Napoleon corner St-Laurent) belongs to a homeless man he met in Ottawa who asked him to bring him back with him to Montreal as he’d been stuck in the capital for too long. Other told him he couldn’t take him back but took some photos of him and brought back his face to the city! Other is a well known and respected street artist who’s been doing graffiti in Montreal for about 25 years.
Stare, Montreal’s King of graffiti since 1996, is on Marie-Anne on the North side, straight across is an interesting piece by A Squid called Sebastian.
The last two murals are some of the largest of the Festival:
Roa, a world renowned artist from Belgium is inspired by animals from the country where he is painting. His mural on Clark between Rachel and Marie-Anne is of a Buffalo. It’s his way of bringing an animal that used to be all over this part of the world to the people of the city.
On top of the buffalo, he painted a polar bear, an endangered species as well. Maybe he’s sending a message that if we are not careful, the polar bears will disappear as well.
Also on Clark just before Mount Royal is Pixel Pancho’s amazing robot.
Along the way, you can also take detours through the many alleyways and see more work by a big variety of street artists. Check out the walls behind Greenlight Gallery, beautiful stuff!
Montreal is really lucky to have had this Festival, can’t wait for next year’s edition!