The Main Canvas
MURAL Festival Kicks Off with Music and Painted Magic
What happens when you transform Montreal’s historic Main into a blank canvas?
That’s what the inaugural MURAL Festival is cooking up this weekend. Up to 20 murals along St. Laurent Blvd. will come alive by some of the city’s most prolific wall artists. Artists from Europe, the U.S. and Australia will be there too.
Director and founder of LNDMRK, the organization behind the festival, André Bathalon says this event is a first for the city.
“In past years, [our mural artists] contributed to other events [similar to MURAL] overseas,” he said. “At some point, we realized why always go elsewhere when we can be that canvas and be the center of attention?”
That center of attention is along the Main, from the corners of Sherbrooke up to Mont Royal Ave. The street is closed for pedestrians to watch mural artists colour abandoned brick walls with spray paint.
There are also tons of food stands for visitors to grab snacks while watching the artists work their creative magic. Many merchants have also set up shop along the way for people to buy products at discounted prices.
One of Montreal’s well known artist-run collective, A’SHOP, was there when I walked around on the festival’s first night on Thursday. They’re behind the ubiquitous Our Lady of Grace mural in NDG.
So far the mural depicts a grandma holding a spray can. She may also be picking her nose with her finger. We’ll find out if my guess was right when it’s done by the end of the weekend.
“The canvas [that is St. Laurent Blvd.] is a character by itself,” Bathalon adds as he explains why the Main was chosen as the venue for the festival’s first edition. “It’s important not only to draw from it, but also put the art into context to play with. There are so many walls that need attention, love and caring.
“[The Main] is almost a city by itself. There are so many people with different cultures and it divides Montreal into the East and the West.”
Saturday afternoon is the best day to walk up the Main. MURAL fest has partnered with Osheaga for a block party that will happen near Cinema Excentris, while DJs spin tracks near several murals.
Bathalon deeply appreciates the creative fabric of the city. It’s something that served as a driving force to launch MURAL Festival.
“Montreal has nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “We have plenty of extremely talented artists, so why not invite our artist friends from elsewhere to paint with us here.”
MURAL Festival runs through Sunday night. It is free and open to the public.
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