• Words by The Kiddist

In Search Of ... Mural Festival '19

When I got word that I was going to the Mural Festival in Montreal, CA a serious case of goose pimples made an appearance on my arms. Looking up the lineup of artists, and seeing the likes of Insane 51, Joshua Vides, Miss Van, and Pichiavo got me dancing in my seat. This trek to Canada would be nothing short of an exhilarating experience ...

The trip to Montreal from Boston was about a 5 hour drive through a beautiful landscape of trees and hills. Along the way, hearing "are we there yet" from my little brother was a small price to pay for my passion of street art. When we crossed the border into the land where a barrel of maple syrup trades higher than crude oil on the commodities market ... I knew we were close. Aside from the Mural Festival, I was also looking forward to an authentic late night poutine run I've heard so much about. French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy, who could resist? ...

The street of Saint Laurent was where the art and food lovers pilgrimage to. Venerated murals from names like INTI, Roa, and Nychos have blessed these hallowed walls. It was an area littered with vendors and artists in action providing us with the sustenance and eye candy we sought after...

Once we arrived, I was hoping to encounter one of the headlining artists spraying a mural. Lo and behold my prayers were answered; standing next to their lift was the dynamic duo Pichiavo finishing up for the day. With a goodie bag in hand filled with snacks to help break the ice, I nervously started chatting with Pichiavo and asked about the characters in the mural. After learning about them and the art they were bestowing to the city of Montreal, the antiquated yet still socially accepted practice of getting one's black book tagged is always the highlight of every artist encounter. Needless to say, I was feeling fortunate.

Visitors of the Mural Festival can be seen with freshly peeled leaf shaped mango kebabs, or shaved ice in hand; walking the closed off streets. Ever so often you’ll walk by a group experiencing the murals in guided tours, vendors selling merchandise, and different ethnic cuisine establishments added to the overall experience of the festivities. As we continued on our journey "In Search of ..." more artists, we decided to travel the path less taken and ventured out to the back alleys to watch local artists tag, while having their own BBQ. The vibe was more chill, but the passion and quality of the murals were just as good as the main event.

Finding ourselves back in the main area, we bumped into Leon Keer, putting the finishing touches on his "ground-breaking" anamorphic piece. His disorienting, 2-dimensional drawing becomes a 3D work of art ... if standing in the correct spot. You will soon realize you are looking at a toilet that lends itself to a silly photo-op, which my brother was happy to pose for. He was able to convince our dad to get him a plunger from a nearby hardware store to add a bit of pizzazz to his selfies.

After some interactive fun with Keer's mural, we headed to the Station 16 Gallery to check out what was on display. As we were about to walk in, I noticed the artist known as Denial art was outside spraying. I stopped by to talk with him, and learned that he was always into art as a kid. As Denial was telling me how he would invest his money earned back into his craft, he grabbed some poster board and started stenciling a couple of pieces for my brother and I. He grew up knowing what it's like to have siblings ... so he understood that giving each of us one would curb any arguing.

Fast forward to our encounter with one of the festival's headliners: Gleo, a Columbian female artist who took a break from her mural to chat with us about Montreal. Not only did she give my brother and I hand screen printed stickers of her work, she also signed our black book with the paint colors she personally mixed for her mural ... that was a first, but one of the coolest and most unique tag in our book yet.

We then searched for Insane51; another headliner, in order to bask in the presence of his red, blue, and black masterpiece. Seeing his murals in person should be on everyone's bucket list. Make sure to bring your 3D glasses!

Other artists took the experience to another level. Germdee had his own personal saxophonist add ambient music to his live action painting. My brother was fortunate enough to receive a T-shirt, patch, and pin because he did a story of Germdee's work on his Instagram. Sculptor Lauren Ceval installed a white rabbit made entirely of re-used coroplaste and wood material in front of a Starbucks. Observers walked around admiring her installation while a public piano sat there for anyone compelled to play ...

Mural Festival in Montreal will go down as one of my most memorable trips that I have taken. Climbing on top of dumpster bins, up fire escapes, and finding our way on rooftops to get the perfect shot of every mural we saw added another level to my passion for art. Time with my brother and dad conjuring up absurd ideas to make our time a good bonding experience for us. When my brother took the plunger prop he used for the Leon Keer mural photo shoot and decided to write "this is art" on it and stuck it on a dumpster summed up our shenanigans perfectly. Doing this at an art festival just solidifies in my heart that what my passion is ...

... developing communities and having a social impact through murals. Initially, my main objective was to search and meet as many artists as I can, get to know them, and eventually have my black book signed. Realizing I'm in the midst of a cultural experience through art, food, and fashion have totally changed my perspective on my journey for "In Search of " ...

Til next time,

The Kiddist

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