Posts Tagged ‘montreal

23
Dec
10

Children’s Book Illustrator, my newest hat.

Just when I said I wouldn’t take on any new work, a friend and colleague asked me to put together some drawings for a small kids’ book he’d written. The book is called “The Shop at the End of the High Street”, and is a whimsically surreal tale (complete with odd beasties and the stores that cater to them) about a family’s quest to visit the shop at the very end of Montreal’s Mont-Royal Avenue. The author felt that Montreal just does not have enough place-specific kids’ books that tell a tale and show off the city at the same time…and so I was recruited to the task with 40 hours’ notice.

Here are some of the results, which you can check out in larger size at Flickr



20
Dec
10

En Cas d’Amour…


A piece which I installed in front of a vacant lot on St. Laurent Boulevard in Montreal, near the St. Laurent/Fairmount intersection. The fronting of the lot with several 1/2″ plywood panels to create posterable space that hides the lot from view is a design feature I’ve seen in several other places around the city.

I’m really interested in the idea of creating variations of safety and public awareness posters, signs and installations along the line of the “IN CASE OF FIRE BREAK GLASS” or “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS, SAY SOMETHING” that are ever-present in certain areas to the degree that we simply tune them out.

02
Dec
10

A preview of things to come…


21
Sep
10

McGill Cyclist and Pedestrian Forum this week

McGill Reporter Article
“A McGill forum to discuss issues arising from these changes, co-sponsored by SSMU and University Services, will be held Thursday, Sept. 23, from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Ballroom of the Student Centre on McTavish St. The event will give participants a chance to air their views on where McGill’s mobility priorities should be focused in the weeks and months ahead and how different members of the community can reconcile what are sometimes competing needs.

It happens that Sept. 23 is “Bicycle Day” in Montreal – part of a week-long series of events aimed at encouraging public transit use and other alternatives to the automobile – a happenstance forum organizers thought was ideal as the backdrop for their event.”

18
Aug
10

Newnesses

Since it’s been a couple of weeks since I last updated the blog, let me tell you of new things…

The book, “The Art of Swap” is finished, and I am in the middle of writing a number of cover-letters and writers’ statements to send off to a couple of publishers. Part of the process involves explaining where and how what I’ve written fits into the existing literary field, and this I’ve found to be a frustrating and interesting task. Interesting, because little exists in the way of similar work. Most street-art books treat the work as a series of pictures -just like any other visual art book- disconnected from their context and creator, and to my knowledge no one has written a combined street art book/urban planning theory text.

Street art and graffiti are the world’s first truly international art movements. They transcend race, class and gender, and embedded in their practice are a whole lot of interesting issues, ideas and conflicts related to notions of accessibility to and control over public space. Street art and graf, if you ask me, also play into concepts of urban design and renewal (the improvement of areas of public space and the mission of inserting a bit of joy and wonder into people’s lives have always influenced the pieces that I’ve done.)

As it stands now, I’m working on building a swing set to be hung up in a yet-undetermined location. (I’ve seen some similar and very neat pieces where others built swings that could be mounted on trees or even inside bus shelters.) One idea I’ve had bouncing around in the back of my head is to see how GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software could be used in the furtherance of installation-based street art projects. (After all, I am an urban planning student with access to a wealth of powerful planing tools…) Since GIS works on the basis of displaying interactive layers of data on maps, one could potentially display the location of all parks (or pieces of public art, etc) on the island of Montreal, run an algorithm or two to plot an area around each park equivalent to a 5 or 10-minute walking distance and display the urban areas which are in, for want of a better term, a ‘park desert’.

more to come, including pictures from the Elmaks/Meen/AZDEAD “Inglorious Beasties” art show!

26
Jul
10

New Wheatpaste, and urban planning gripes

First of all, let me begin with a new updated version of the “Cirque Turcot” wheatpaste. I just gave it a slight tweak to make it look more like a circus poster.

I don’t think I’ve ever used this blog as a ranting podium for my commentary on certain urban planning issues. Then again, there is a first time for everything, and as I get back into the swing of another academic year and have less time for streetart I’d like to round out my often-infrequent posting with a bit of analysis and commentary on ongoing Montreal projects and decisions.

As of several months ago, the planning directors of Montreal’s McGill University decided that the streets of the lower campus were going to become a car-free zone- a decision which I wholeheartedly applaud. It was put forth with plenty of notice and opportunity for public consultation and input. What McGill’s planning board decided to do in tandem with this decision- prevent people from riding their bicycles on the lower campus streets- was not announced beforehand.

This policy flies in the face of both McGill University’s past lobbying for safe, accessible bicycle networks (which University representatives carried out during consultations for the Montreal Transportation Plan) and McGill’s own Master Plan, which calls for “…a greener, pedestrian-friendly Downtown Lower Campus, as free as possible of motorized vehicles” and for an increase in the number of bicycle parking spaces on and near campus.

The same Master Plan states that the Planning Office wishes to “…create people-friendly spaces that encourage conversation, reflection and the sharing of ideas”. I do not know how the Planning Office envisions this ‘sharing of ideas’ process taking place, but to me it involves a dialogue at the very least. And a dialogue has certainly not taken place. From what I have heard from friends who have attempted to contact McGill’s Planning Director, he has been ignorant and even hostile to their concerns. One friend who spoke to him personally said that he expressed an anti-cyclist frustration and mentioned his almost being hit by a cyclist in defense of his closing McGill’s Lower Campus to cyclists.

But maybe that’s just hearsay. The director of the Planning Office hasn’t responded to an email I sent him expressing my opposition to his decision and the means by which it was carried out yet, but if and when he does I will add it as an update. Maybe he won’t think a street artist is worth talking to, but that’s not the issue here. The issue at hand is a decision made without public input that flies in the face of McGill University’s record and actions on bicycle use.

12
Jul
10

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Mack

Well, I put up perhaps the most fun piece of streetart I’ve ever done today.

Back in May, a friend and I had his little 2-year-old son paint a picture on some paper with a bunch of fingerpaints. The idea, as I saw it, would be to hang this picture somewhere in downtown Montreal as an example of ‘high art’. Art galleries in a number of cities- the ex-Ottawa Portrait Gallery being among them- periodically bring out some of their work and display it at a street level during festivals or special events.

Well, I borrowed the gold frame idea from the Urban Curators Project and today we went out to hang up his masterpiece…

And here we are… Frame, plexiglass and wire were found on garbage-day back in late April and assembled together last night. Since Mack’s favourite thing in the whole wide world is indeed apple juice, that’s what he chose to name his magnum opus.

And here’s Mack himself at his vernissage…

Hamming it up for the cameras…

30
Jun
10

Cirque Turcot

It’s forty-two years old, and no one really seems to know what to do with the Turcot Interchange.

When it was first unveiled in time for Expo ’67 (a time period which was marked by a flurry of megaprojects under the stead of Mayor Jean Drapeau that also included the Montreal subway and Ville-Marie Expressway) it was a towering marvel of modernist efficiency. It still is the largest highway interchange in Quebec. It handles more than 30 per cent of Quebec’s total truck traffic.

Now it’s crumbling, and the city, province and community groups are fighting over what to do next. The City of Montreal proposed a 10-year, 5-billion dollar plan which, in typical Montreal megaproject form, envisions a three-level Colosseum-like concrete megastructure taking its place.

The Quebec Transport Authority promptly rejected this plan and came up with a proposal to bring the expressway down onto embankments, a development which will require the expropriation and demolition of some 130 homes and which will create a new barrier cutting through the neighbourhood of St. Henri. This plan will also increase the highway’s carrying capacity by more than 10 per cent. This move has been resoundingly panned by environmental groups arguing that we should be trying to have less, not more, cars on the road.

A coalition of environmental and community groups, engineers and planners has put forth a third proposal, which calls for the preservation and maintenance of the beleaguered interchange and the gradual reduction of its carrying capacity. Public transit services are proposed as a means of taking up the excess slack. As it stands, the recession has placed a damper on this hot-button issue, and City politicians seem to be doing as much as they can to keep the issue under wraps. To make things more interesting, the head of Projet Montreal might be involved in keeping Turcot deliberations a secret.

This is an issue that needs to be brought back into the public eye.
That’s why I came up with a series of Turcot-themed posters. I give you the first in a list of alternate proposals. The magnificent “Cirque Turcot”, which promises to pay for itself in popcorn sales by 2044…



And to my readers…please make use of the fundraising widget on the right side of the page. It’s free to use and raises money for To Write Love On Her Arms, which is a great cause.

26
Jun
10

An ongoing update…

It has been a while, hasn’t it? First of all, some new stuff is coming. I have been rather sick these past two weeks and am only now starting to recover.

Secondly, “The Art of Swap” is heading into final editing. I’m tweaking some written sections to include more references for interested readers to check out, playing around with cover designs and finishing up the swapbox blueprints.

As for Ottawa, a number of interesting things have happened since I was last there. Alas, I am much too busy working on a plan to go to Burning Man to write a long, drawn-out update about them…but that is coming at some point…

EDIT: Montreal art show and sale this Canada Day (aka the real Fete Nationale) 10-4 PM, St. Philip’s Church grounds (corner of Sherbrooke and Connaught Streets), Montreal QC. Come one, come all! Over 50 artists and artisans, including MaksWerks!

18
May
10

Trying to grab hold of a few good ideas…

Well, it’s been a rough couple of weeks here at the Werkshop, and I’ve been fighting to get my motivation back while at the same time realizing that my creative drive is sporadic, somewhat unfocused and has the unfortunate habit of derailing other elements of my life when allowed to run full-tilt. Maybe it’s an artist thing to be subject to a manic creativity (and sometimes, like when I was putting together the layout and written sections of “The Art of Swap”, it has proven a blessing as a motivator) but I’ve finally recognized that I’ve got to get more focused and find a way to make it work for me. Sometimes I make street art and other times it manifests itself by making me its creator…

I’ve given some thought to learning a couple more craftmanship and art skills, like cabinetmaking, ABS plastic-working and boning up on my knowledge of screenprint making. I’ve also been considering a couple of potential large interventions to pull off this summer, since I’ve got the basic knowhow to be able to work with wood and metal. Trying to think up new and interesting uses of public spaces has always been a favorite theme of mine…

There are a lot of vacant, under-construction and poorly used areas in the vicinity of downtown Montreal which could be converted to some more interesting uses, and picnic areas and sports facilities are two themes I keep coming back to. I’ve been thinking about what I would have to buy, find and make in order to create basketball hoops out of scrap wood and metal. One of the examples I’ve been considering is Brusse’s Streetlove Project , which I absolutely love.

As well, downtown Montreal is severely lacking in bike parking. I wonder how easy it would be to Macgyver up a nifty-looking bike parking fixture. Or perhaps a smaller one, for tricycles…

I’m going to head over to the library and try to borrow a couple of books on innovative slum architecture and built solutions to urban problems. I’ve always had an incredible admiration for some of the creative genius-work which one can find in urban slums, and in a way I as a street artist am aping their work. I’m trying to build things out of discarded materials, using whatever I can find and trying to give our discards a new and productive life…

Here’s a question for my dear Montreal readers…what do you think needs fixing in our city (besides potholes, of course)??





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