No visit to Montreal would be complete without checking out the art scene. If you’re like me, interested in seeing art but not always in the mood to be in a stuffy museum surrounded by stuffy people, consider a cheaper outdoor alternative. Whether it’s street art, graffiti, or a mural, keep your eyes and mind open and you might discover some off the wall pieces whose colors themes add life to an occasionally dull looking city. With Under Pressure, an annual graffiti event wrapping up a few months ago and our artic winter just around the corner, there couldn’t be a better time to be outdoors. From sprayed lines in a back alley that look like they were done by a bored teenager to sprawling scenes that cover an entire building side, Montreal has it all, with murals often the most impressive. Here are my top 5, worth seeing while out and about in the heart of the city. Each is within walking distance of a metro (subway to you English speaking visitors). Some on this list may be old, but they still pack a punch. See these inspired works now before the city gets inspired to paint over them.
5. Les Conteurs
Artists: Richard Morin, Annie Hamel, Florence April-Borgeat, Olivier Roy and Nico
Location: École nationale de théâtre du Canada, 360, rue Laurier E., Montréal (corner of Drolet)
With dark colours, partially covered French text, and a bird-headed man, it’s hard to know exactly what to make of this collection of oddities on a wall which may in fact be the point; each mysterious part a piece to a story that we must create – or figure out for ourselves. Created in 2011, you can find more information about ‘Les Conteurs’ and similar themed work here.
4. Punk Party Girls
Artists: Fin Dac and Angelina Christina
Location: Chemin Cote St Paul & Notre Dame Ouest in St Henri, Montreal.
Found in what some are calling the new, semi gentrified up and coming plateau neighborhood, you might call this recently done mural part of the area’s overhaul. No overdose of color but there’s just enough; who knew grey concrete, sky blue and black lines go so well together. There’s a bit of punk and Navajo in this and each girl’s body position, facial expression and mullet/ punk hairstyle keep my interest. I’d definitely party with them. If you like the look of this one, there’s definitely more where it came from.
3.When I Grow Up I Want To Be a Kid
Artists: The A’shop Crew
Location: Sherbrooke street corner of Decarie
This boy and his dreams take us back to the magic of childhood with the look of wonder in the little boy’s eyes reminiscent of when our toys and were like little objects of magic that could spring to life simply by the power of imagination. There isn’t much to smile about in the dead of winter in Montreal, but seeing this image always does the trick.
2. Our Lady of Grace
Artists: The A’shop crew
Location: Sherbrooke Street West, corner of Madison
The details and hues of orange and yellow gives this mural a ‘goddess of fall harvest’ feeling. Research confirmed my long held assumption that it’s a graffiti version of a painting or at least inspired by one. Turns out it was inspired by a Czech painter, Alphonse Mucha.
- Manga Girl
Location: Duluth between Saint- Laurent and Saint-Denis
This piece of Japanese style manga art is in a word: Kakkoii. Covering two sides of an unconventional apartment block, it fits in perfectly in what many consider one of Montreal’s trendiest neighborhoods. Walk down Duluth Street between St-Laurent and St-Denis and before you know it, a set of big blue eyes will be peering at you as you pass by, her tentacle-like hair extending around the corner of the building. Around since at least 2008, hopefully it will remain a permanent fixture.