A few weeks ago my girl friends and I hopped into a car and drove the 5+ hours from Portland, Maine to Montreal, Canada. I’ve been to Canada several times before, but never to Montreal so I was quite excited to see what the city had to offer. October isn’t exactly the ideal time to visit a Canadian city, but due to all our busy schedules, it was the one weekend we could all write “Montreal” in our planners (okay, maybe it was just me).
The ride to Montreal was rather uneventful, despite the fact we got pulled over for speeding in New Hampshire. We managed to talk our way out of the ticket. Apparently the young officer understood our excitement to party it up in Montreal as he was a big fan of the casinos there (which we never were able to locate). And, we may have also gotten a little lost once we made it into the city of Montreal because our fearless GPS commander Jane didn’t realize that “ouest” means “west” in French and the GPS was trying to send us towards Toronto. Opps! After a minor detour, we made it to our hotel.
I’ll recap our 48 hours in Montreal in another post because today I want to focus on the beautiful street art of Montreal, Canada. To be quite frank, I always considered street art to be graffiti or something hoodlums would do when they have nothing better to do with their lives. I will fully own my ignorance as well. In the recent years, street art has bloomed in Portland and I even know a few of the artists. I fully respect what these guys can do with a can of paint. Hell, I can’t even paint a bookcase with spray paint without it looking like a cat walked through it while it was still wet!
Montreal has a very young college and international crowd. There are numerous art galleries and museums scattered throughout the city. What truly amazed me was not what was actually in the great halls of the museum, but what was painted on the sides of building in the middle of the city. The Montreal street art is amazing!
Every June, the city of Montreal hosts the annual MURAL Festival, which is a free art festival that celebrates urban art. The festival attracts artists from all over the world and their works of art can be seen throughout the city for the rest of the year. On Saturday morning, the girls and I walked from our hotel up to small crepes restaurant on Saint-Laurent Boulevard (I love crepes to the point that it was one of my nicknames in college). When I saw my first mural painted onto the side of an old building, I let out a small squeal of delight. I was determined to locate and take pictures of as many pieces of street art I could find. It later became a game as I dodged traffic and old people in the side-walk to take a picture of each piece I laid my eyes on. I’m sure if I could understand French, I would have heard some locals say “dumb American” under their breath as I sprinted in front of cars for my next picture.
If you find yourself in Montreal, I highly recommend taking a stroll up Saint-Laurent Boulevard to catch a glimpse of some colorful pieces of art. Of course, Saint-Laurent Boulevard is also home to many delicious restaurants, quirky boutiques and many popular bars and cafes. I’d love to go back in June to see the artists at work. I can only imagine how much work goes into painting some of those buildings and I want to understand what each of the paintings symbolize. I’m a scientist by training, but I did take one art history class in college (because I had to) so I know that each work of art holds some symbolism or has a story to tell. As much as I loved the Montreal street art being open for all the public to see, I wish it had a sign like a museum that would tell the viewer the artist and what the art is about. But, I also guess that is the beauty of art… It can be what you want it to be.
Also, if you know the names of any of the artists, please let me know so I can give them proper credit.