A visit to Montreal is always special. But on my recent visit, in October, I came across something that was truly special. Everywhere I turned, the city seemed to be covered with art: walls, doors, sidewalks, even storefronts were painted with dazzling designs and colours. It was all thanks to an annual event called the Montreal Mural Festival.
The piece that impressed me most was the portrait of Leonard Cohen, Montreal’s recently departed native son. He gazed out from a nondescript wall just off the Boulevard Saint-Laurent — sometimes known as the Main — dapper as always under his trademark hat. I wrote a post about it.
What I didn’t mention in that post was that just down the street, from the side of another building, a beautiful woman gazed out. She was looking in Cohen’s direction, and something about her made me wonder if this was the mysterious Marianne, from his famous song. (At least, the young Marianne: the real Marianne died not long before Cohen.) That’s her you see at the top of this post.
But Leonard Cohen and Marianne are only a small part of the public art show that occupies this city. The Montreal Mural Festival is now so popular that it occupies the town for 11 days each June. During that time, scores of artists — authorized and unauthorized — flock to Montreal to stamp their personal visions on whatever space they can get, whether it’s in a public square or a forgotten alleyway.
Wandering down Boulevard Saint-Laurent, adjacent streets, and parts of the downtown core, I saw an amazing variety of art that day. There were more famous faces, like Jackie Robinson, the baseball legend who got his first break in Montreal. There were cartoon characters, animals, apocalyptic scenes, abstract designs, wailing musicians … almost anything you can think of.
I put my camera to work, and captured as much as I could. Here’s a sampling — if you like it, maybe it’s time to plan a trip to Montreal.