I’m sure most of you have heard about or seen Our Lady of Grace (Notre Dame de Grace), the five storey mural on Sherbrooke St. W. and Madison Ave. in NDG. It’s freaking beautiful and some awesome local artists painted it. One of the coolest things about this mural though is not just how much people are talking about it, but how much people are talking about it in relation to art, how it relates to the city’s attitudes of art, and what commercial success means in the context of graffiti culture. It’s actually so exciting, it’s these kinds of discussions that really spark for yours truly, thinking about the myriad definitions of art and what those can mean/change over time and through different contexts. One of the things that drew me to Hip Hop when I first started listening, was the overwhelming sense of self-definition as an art form, how exploring meanings become part of meaning. Maybe this only makes sense to me, but thinking about street art and graffiti is so relevant in this city at this time. To talk about what it means when part of the city’s budget for graffiti prevention is put towards local graffiti artists painting a giant mural. Is the city of Montreal alright with graffiti only when and if they can have a say over where and what it is? If yes, does the city’s endorsement of graffiti take away from the idea of street art as, in essence, illegal? I kind of think its rad to use the city’s money to make art that the city generally opposes so unwieldingly. The mural was actually painted right before this new bylaw was passed, allowing for fining tons of money from large property owners who fail to remove graffiti from these properties. The city’s involvement with graffiti has always seemed counter-intuitive to me. There are so many amazing street artists in Montreal, and some cool ways to get art out there. But when it comes to cracking down on things like tagging, Montreal is really harsh, and to a lot of younger kids. What does it mean when the city reveres one aspect of art, but smashes another? I’m not sure. And I’m not calling for ‘legalizing graffiti’ or anything like that, I just think its important to think about when people are involved in defining art, and especially things like street art. What do I know though, I just really love graffiti and thinking about it.
I haven’t had the chance to check out the new Fresh Paint gallery at 180 Ste Catherine E., but I am doing it as soon as I can. A huge entire building dedicated as a free space for street art and graffiti (as well as other kinds of art probably)? I’m dowwwwn. Also, EN MASSE just opened an installation at the Musee des Beaux Arts, which looks like it will be freaking amazing and I think went up yesterday (Nov. 6), as part of the multidisciplinary initiative of the MMFA/MDBA to pay tribute to contemporary artists. Also, admission is free so go check that out. Until next time I ramble. xx
(I wanna shout out Raf Katigbak of the Mirror and Corey Pool of the Link newspapers, their articles really got me thinking.)