The ever-evolving discipline of street art has reached new heights in recent years. Capitalizing on the surge of popularity and high demand, Montreal’s Mural Festival is steadily growing to become of the biggest exhibitions of public art in North America.
For the fourth edition of the festival, the creative team of LNDMRK brought together world-renowned muralists, artists, musicians, and DJs, attracting a diverse crowd of curious spectators, music lovers, and art enthusiasts to create a memorable event that is starting to define the festival season of Montreal. We had the chance to assist the 11 days of Mural Fest to observe this year’s Muralists at work.
Vehicle traffic made way for pedestrians as a giant street sale took place amongst the working muralists and installations present throughout the St-Laurent Boulevard. Street merchants used containers as a workspace that they customized to represent their company’s atmosphere as they had their products and services on full display. Locals and tourists from all over the world also took part of the festivities and enjoyed savoury dishes from various restaurants as they observed the artists at work.
Over the 11 days of festivities, the block parties, located in the lot neighbouring Station 16 Gallery, delivered a lively atmosphere every evening of the festival. From rapper ScHoolboyQ to kick things off on opening night, the block party highlights were Fool’s Gold Homecoming with an all-star line-up featuring A-Trak, Roy Wood$, Boi-1da, Shash’U, and Kardinal Offishall, while ÎleSoniq and AIM took over the last weekend making the St-Laurent Boulevard vibe to the sounds of EDM to close out the festival in style.
The VIP terrace created by Hennessy was the location for exclusive events such as the media launch, which was graced by the presence of this year’s Muralists, artists, and influencers. With containers stacked on top of each other to create a two level terrace, the VIP zone was the prime location to enjoy the festivities. From the second floor, the VIP audience had a privileged view on the main mural created by Australian artist Meggs and towards the main stage that hosted the block parties. Guests were also able to observe the work of Brazilian based Acidum Project and Montreal based X-Ray as they completed their respective Mural.
Events hosted in the VIP area featured a collaboration between Le Cartel Clothing and French artist GREMS, a collaboration from visual artist DEVO with All In Eyewear for the presentation of their 2016 SS collection, and Atelier New Regime, a rising and edgy fashion brand, hosting a music event with Montreal’s own High Klassified and Planet Giza.
Muralist, innovators, and creative thinkers all gathered to embellish the landscape of the city with the creation of 26 new murals and installations for the 2016 edition of Mural Fest. Scattered across the St-Laurent Boulevard and the neighbouring streets, visitors followed a map to each installation and observed the different painting styles, techniques, and sculptures each artist had to offer for this year’s festival.
Puerto Rico based artist Bik Ismo, master of the chrome technique, filled his mural with another majestic piece. With a standout style and craftsmanship, the 3D skills were on the forefront, creating a pair of dancers with a metallic surface achieved through a complex color scheme made from aerosol.
From New York City, Buff Monster’s pink power made up for a colourful piece with his trademark army of one-eyed creatures. Buff Monster’s out of this world characters gave birth to the piece ‘’The Seven Deadly Sins’’, with each one representing one of the capital offenses, such as one character holding a seven-story ice cream cone to symbolize gluttony.
Providing a majestic backdrop to the crowd and main stage was UK artist D*Face and Australian based Meggs creating towering Murals standing side by side. D*Face fashioned his wall with another satirical piece, drawing inspiration from old hand-painted advertising signs that refer to his long standing connection with Montreal, the city where his family emigrated from almost a century ago. Inspired by the beauty of Mother Nature, Meggs made use of different patterns and meticulous details to create a grandiose and colourful Mural display that pays tribute to World Ocean Day and evoke the importance of preserving earth’s natural habitat.
Facing Meggs’ installation was Felipe Pantone’s intricate display of kinetic art. The use of dazzling rainbow colors and contrast mixed with the black and white graphics are signs of the influence the digital age and computer-generated graphics have had on the Spanish artist. For this year, Pantone also designed the visual identity of Mural Fest, which was present on all the promotional materials.
Pacing up and down La Main, you might have stumbled upon another creation from Jason Botkin. With 10 paintings spread across the boulevard, Botkin’s work was a representation of different animal species imagined in colourful fashion in order to bring more vitality back to the boulevard.
A collection of artists from around the world were commissioned for Mural in an ability to break down borders and bridge the gap between cultures and languages, in a way to promote international collaboration. Mural Festival is also an essential platform for local and up-and-coming artists looking to showcase their talent. Muralists this year also included Mateo, Roadsworth, Hsix, Klone Yourself, Natalia Pak, Five Eight, Fonki, Miss Teri, and Jonathan Bergeron.
During three of the 11 days of the festival, an art fair was hosted at Le Capitol, a creative space to celebrate urban arts and a chance for artist to connect with their audience. The space featured many exhibits from different galleries, perfectly blending contemporary and street art. Exhibitors during the fair included Station 16 Gallery, Galerie Bloom, #Hashtag Gallery, Colagene, and Artgang Montreal amongst many others.
Also on display, a Romeo’s gin lounge imagined by Stikki Peaches who, in addition, was exhibiting a human-size collage on which guests were able to make their own drawings while admiring an unconventional live painting session by Melissa Del Pinto & Omen. Both artists created a freestanding piece with Del Pinto fusing her passion for painting and love for birds to create another feathered creature which symbolized awareness and their short-lived presence. Omen’s distinct style resulted in another dark piece that hauntingly blends the realm of graffiti and street art.
Mural festival is well on pace to become the premier destination for urban art in Canada. With strong support and endorsement from Mayor Denis Coderre, organizers have successfully brought together creative minds to explore the festive and ingenious soul of the city of Montreal. Offering easy access to muralists at work, it provided a better understanding of street art. Mural has been instrumental in revitalizing one of the main arteries of the city by transforming it in a space for creative visionaries.
Decompoz is already looking forward to the next edition, as Mural will celebrate its fifth year of existence.
MURAL Festival 2016 // Video by ABCDF