Much like how decorative art is everywhere in India, street art is everywhere in Montreal. It fast became one of my favorite things about this city.
First, let’s clarify what is meant by street art:
In my mind, street art is done with the intent of bringing art to a community. By contrast, graffiti tagging is destructive and self-serving. Bueno vs. no bueno, in other words.
Street art and graffiti are largely considered illegal, but some cities have embraced it as an art form and offer permits to street artists, making it legal in some parts. New York, Berlin, and Melbourne come to mind as cities where street art is *a thing* – little did I know that Montreal would also earn a spot on this list! Being able to walk around a city, feeling like you’re making your way through an outdoor museum of sorts, makes me immensely happy – and that’s why I adore street art.
Check out some of the street art I encountered while exploring Montreal’s “outdoor museum”:
Like any major city, you’ll see tagging in Montreal. It’s more of a “Hey world, I was here!” self-serving mark to make, as compared to street artists who make their art for the benefit of others to enjoy.
I was pleased to see a much higher concentration of street art than graffiti tagging in Montreal, though it makes my skin crawl just a bit whenever I see beautiful street art marked up by some ugly tags.
Street art on apartment buildings
The prevalence of street art in Montreal was most evident to me when I started noticing colorful apartment complexes around town. I couldn’t believe that some apartments had whole sides completely painted over with vibrant murals. As street art friendly as NYC is, I’ve never seen it on private residences before. If I were ever to move to Montreal, I’d 100% want to live in one of these.
Street art in parking lots
Even some parking lots in Montreal are decorated with street art. No big deal, let me just pull my car up to this face right here…
Murals on storefronts
What most impressed me were the massive murals on many of the storefronts in The Plateau neighborhood. Unbeknownst to me, the Mural Festival had taken place earlier in the summer (June 2013), where some 35 international artists brought their art to Boulevard St-Laurent and surrounds and colored the neighborhood with murals. I’m not exaggerating when I say that you literally cannot walk down this street without street art in your line of sight. IT IS GLORIOUS!
Street art EVERYWHERE
My favorite kind of street art? The really random pieces, often in really random spots. The ones I like tend to look like stickers or decals stuck onto walls and fences. Google tells me this form of street art is wheatpasting: gluing posters, drawings, etc to the street with a (wheat) paste. My favorites are usually of people with weird facial expressions: even better if they have mismatched heads and bodies. It’s quirky, it’s ridiculous, and that’s what I love about a lot of street art.