Archive for the 'Montreal Art' Category

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



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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…


19
Nov
10

Big News, Everybody!

My blog detailing my grad-school project to study post-disaster tent cities in Port-au-Prince, Haiti is now online. Visit it right here at http://www.mcgilltohaiti.com

As part of the whole project I’m selling a limited run of prints to raise funds to pay off the costs of the trip and additional supplies/travel vaccinations. More info can be found on the blog. or you can check out the Etsy link right here. Only 40 will be sold, so get ’em while you can and help fund what will be a great initiative.

The print, which is totally awesome, looks like this:
ART PRINT

And a closeup of the linework looks like this:

19
Aug
10

DIY Bike Lanes and Imaginary Crimes

First of all, let me begin with an awesome street art initiative from Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Urban Repair Squad

As the article mentions, Sao Paulo is known for its congested streets which pose a dangerous challenge for pedestrians and cyclists alike. During Brazil’s World Cup games, a group of street artists took to the city’s empty streets to paint bike lanes and pedestrian crosswalks in hazardous areas, a project which reminds me a lot of Montreal’s very own Roadsworth.
Train Tracks by Roadsworth

There’s some talk about initiating traffic-calming initiatives and pedestrian-friendly urban improvements in Montreal’s St. Henri Borough to manage dangerous and confusing intersections. (Ongoing construction has, in some places, created a maze of concrete barriers through which pedestrians must weave in order to cross streets). I’ve suggested that the local borough council, if and when it begins a public awareness campaign to raise support for intersection overhauls, get a street artist like Roadsworth (or myself) to paint new pedestrian crossings in certain intersections. I’m thinking of something along the lines of a meandering clown-shoed path to best illustrate the danger that construction barriers pose to pedestrians crossing far-too-wide streets in which they’re often forced to stop halfway. Or a stencil of the Montreal Pedestrian Charter, which was adopted to prevent situations like these.

And now on to gripe-town. The Harper government continues to stand pat on its decision to eliminate the mandatory census long-form, a decision which has been condemned across the board. To this date, only a handful of groups have come forward to support Harper’s decision. These include the Fraser Institute, a right-wing, pro-‘free market’ think-tank, as well as the National Citizens’ Coalition, site of Stephen Harper’s old job, and the euphemistically-named Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation.

Stephen Harper’s contempt for others and their points of view has been glaring and at times, even chilling. Watching Industry Minister Tony Clement being apparently forced to publicly defend the scrapping of the census long form, seemingly as punishment for having criticized Harper’s decision to do so in the beginning, smacks of a tragic comedy; one part misery and two parts farce.

As a future urban planner I will be one of the many people who will be making important use of census data that, in Canada, currently has an international reputation for accuracy, proper documentation and strict privacy controls. What it all boils down to is this:

As Noam Chomsky has said, media discourse no longer revolves around a debate or interaction of two opinions. What has replaced it is instead a strategy by which a message is repeated over and over until it enters the public consciousness and becomes public opinion. Facts are replaced by buzzwords. And it works. For example, take the recent survey which found that close to 20 per cent of Americans believe that President Obama is a Muslim.

Harper’s people have been trying to push a conservative Christian agenda on Canadians for a number of years, an agenda which requires more than a complete ignorance of the facts. For example, it’s not enough for them to say that Insite does not work, in spite of the massive support it has received at a city, provincial and even international level. It’s not enough to call for a recriminalization of marijuana and mandatory minimum sentencing for possession charges in spite of a tremendous amount of evidence contradicting the very same fear-mongering pitches which Harper & Co. toss out.

No, in order to successfully pull something like this off you have to sway public opinion in your favor first. And that involves both flooding the airwaves with your own message and destroying the foundations of your opponents’ arguments. As long as census data remains reliable you’re bound to see situations where Conservative ministers get caught with their pants down, as was the case when Treasury Board President Stockwell Day tried to claim that the Canadian crime rate is rising rather than falling in order to justify a planned $6 billion dollar expenditure on new prisons.

You can’t call your opponents “ivory-tower intellectuals” and “thug-huggers” and get away with it very well if they can meticulously tear your arguments apart with cold, hard data. You’re just stuck in place babbling on about Imaginary Crimes. These types are the worst kind of policy-makers. Like ‘bio-ethicist’ Margaret Somerville, these people follow a scientific approach insofar as it suits their ideological goals. They prepare an ideological argument first, and then scour for figures that supposedly back it up.

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…




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