It’s starting to really feel like summer, as it usually does in the mid to late spring, so people will be going out more in the days and evenings and, due to the continuing curfew, staying home at night. With that in mind, we’ve got an in-person artistic residency, a new album and stuff from local artists you can order online.
Let’s get started:
PC the Infamous Releases the Visionary Wonderland Album
Montreal-based rapper, producer, singer, songwriter (and also actor) PC the Infamous has done quite a bit since hitting the local music scene seven years ago. He has produced and performed eight albums and now his ninth, Visionary Wonderland, was just released, following two singles and two music videos.
PC the Infamous performs in both English and French and his style incorporates everything from classic rap to trap to indie rock, techno pop, synth wave and emo rap. Here is the latest video that premiered along with the release of the album:
The MAI’s Et si on réimaginait le monde II Continues
The MAI (Montréal, arts interculturels) has always had a strong commitment to sharing and facilitating access to its resources and it’s in the middle of doing just that. Et si on réimaginait le monde II is a paid residency series focused on artists with visible or invisible disabilities, deaf, hard of hearing, neurodiverse, living with a mental illness, or with different abilities or physiques which began April 26 and runs until June 4.
Two of the four shows, Le magasin ferme and Fragments have already concluded, but you can still catch Troubleshoot by Mathieu and Simon Renaud and then Cartographie : Les eaux intimes, a dance show guided by Georges-Nicolas Tremblay with Marie-Hélène Bellavance, Ariane Boulet, Anthony Dolbec, Simon Renaud and Alexandra Templier from Corpuscule Danse.
Troubleshoot runs May 17-21. Cartographie : Les eaux intimes runs May 24-28 and May 31 – June 4 at MAI, 3680 rue Jeanne-Mance. Info available on the MAI website
Puces POP is Back Online for Spring
While things are still looking up for a full-on (or as full-on as possible) in-person POP Montreal this September, Puces POP, the quarterly local market, will once again be an online affair this spring. The changing rules on venue capacity made an in-person market difficult, so they decided to try and repeat the success they had in the winter with a virtual version.
The catalogue launched today. It features arts and prints, clothing, jewelry, treats and more, all from local artists and companies, just like the regular Puces POP.
The Puces POP Spring 2021 Catalogue is now available at PucesPOP.com
Featured Image from Le magasin ferme, courtesy of MAI
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Montreal museums are finally opened, though at limited capacity, and who’s to say for how long. Still, I’m glad to be back at the MBAM, watching the sunlight filter in, gazing at Leo’s mural, hand over his heart, warm smile in his eyes as he stares back. Not all the pavillions are open, and I’m not a Riopelle fan, but I’m here to see everything I can.
The pandemic has provided laser focus of what’s important to me via the things I missed, as well as the creature comforts I found a way maintain (the espresso machine was a great choice, and if you need to know where to buy incense when you can barely buy basics, I know that too). Museums are one of my happy places, and while I took a pop art MOOC, and AR’d countless artworks into my living room (thanks, Google Arts & Culture), none of it was the same as being there.
Based on the response to this round of reopenings, I wasn’t the only one who missed in person visits. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has been selling out weekends since reopening (albeit at 25% capacity), and they’ve even added extra weekday hours. The Musée d’Art Contemporare has sold over 500 memberships since restrictions eased, but it isn’t likely to be enough in the grand scheme.
A May 2020 survey by the International Council of Museums found 13% of global museums, including 10% of North American museums, were forecasted to close.
“Museums are in crisis, and that was before the pandemic. There were issues at some of these major museums with the heads of various organizations […] for various reasons, being unceremoniously let go, and so there’s something systemic there. And in my mind, and I as an individual, I’m always looking for change. If it’s not broke, break it, and maybe put it back together the way it was, but you should always be looking at, is there a better way of doing things.”
I’m on the phone with David Marskell, and as CEO of Kitchener’s THEMUSEUM, he has some experience with reimagining and reinventing. The space itself has gone through its own transformations to become what it is today. Originally a department store, it became the Waterloo Regional Children’s Museum in 2003, which didn’t meet expectations. David was brought in to fix what was broken, and instead built a new vision, opening THEMUSEUM in 2010.
” We had the opportunity to be whatever we wanted to be, but we didn’t have a collection. So we realized […] we didn’t want to be pigeonholed, and we could be very quick to move to something that was topical of the day and so on. So, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, we called ourselves THEMUSEUM. One word uppercase without even the collection.”
With interactive art, an all ages MakerSpace, and audio experiences, THEMUSEUM isn’t interested in whispering corridors or pretension, but rather the hands on immersive experience of Arts. David tells me that there’s nothing comparable in North America right now, and I’m jealous, because I want one in Montreal.
Much like THEMUSEUM itself, The MakerSpace is a dynamic and organic creation; an idea and space that grew to fill the needs of the community, proving that despite the distractions of the digital age, necessity remains the mother of invention.
“We began creating it with younger people in mind, but very quickly, seniors came and said ‘hey, I want to know about 3D printing, […] and by the way, I can be a mentor and help volunteers show other people how to solder, or use the sewing machine’. And then we’d get the millennials who would show up with their doorknob, trying to put it together and they don’t know how to use a screwdriver, simple little things like that.”
The MakerSpace even hosts a beer night, an inadvertent reminder that intergenerational skill sharing is also a social interaction we’ve been neglecting for too long. You can learn an awful lot over a beer with the right company.
The future is in progress, and art — both how we do it, and view it — is evolving. All this makes it the perfect time for the inaugural Museums/Musées Canada Conference, and THEMUSEUM the perfect collaborator.
In the context of the conference, the umbrella term “museum” is a broad one, and rightly so. The conference will include leaders and workers from galleries, science and technology centers, aquariums, zoos, and traditional museums from across Canada. With an eye toward networking, honest dialogue, and learning from one another, the conference aims to reimagine the concept of such gatherings before they even discover what they can envision as a group.
This year’s AltCon, the Alternative Conference for Emerging Professionals, will be a part of the 2022 Museums/Musées Canada Conference. AltCon started four years ago as a way to bring together up-and-coming industry professionals who are all too often shut out of prohibitively expensive and intentionally exclusive conferences.
THEMUSEUM is also hosting the only Canadian date for The Rolling Stones UNZIPPED, the first international exhibition by and about the band and their nearly six decades of rockin’n’rollin.
The timing provides an opportunity for the exhibit itself to become part of the conference, an ideal learning tool to explore how it was curated, and the intricacies that go into hosting a travelling, multi-media exhibition.
What happens after the conference, and what will it mean for the future of the industry? David wisely, and humbly doesn’t know.
“I’m trying to stop everybody else telling me the outcome. I don’t know it, and nobody should know it. […] As a white male of a certain age, I don’t want to be the head of whatever ends up if something more formal comes of this. I shouldn’t be the head of this, somebody else should be the head of this. I’m happy to be the catalyst, and use the Rolling Stones exhibition and AltCon to host this national dialogue, but if there is a board, if there is a new entity, it needs to reflect Canada and it shouldn’t be people that look like me.”
Expanding on that point, he says:
“If you put 10 people under 35 (and I’m just picking that number) to come up with programs for diversity, equity and inclusion, the output would be much different than if you put 10 people that look like me in a room and came up with that.”
Speculating on the future of art itself might be easier. When pandemic restrictions forced every industry and individual to reimagine how they do the things they once took for granted, and while the process has been disorienting, there are bright spots where the results have proven innovative.
(When asked about the MAC’s virtual Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything exhibit, David said he thought they did a marvelous job with terrific execution, and I felt unduly proud as a Montrealer who had nothing to do with it.)
THEMUSEUM also tried some new tricks, and maybe even surprised itself.
“We did drive thrus with dinosaurs, robotic dinosaurs back around Thanksgiving for three weeks, And we attracted, you know, pandemic stressed families in the safety of their cars, and we drove half of our annual attendance in three weeks. Why didn’t, we think of that? Why did we have to wait for pandemic to think of that?”
While he doesn’t want to lead whatever comes next, David does have some predictions: the future of art will be immersive, interactive, and yes, like it or not, Instagrammable.
“I think that with all respect to, you know, art that hangs on a wall and you know the traditional types of things that you would see in a museum and symphony and things like that. I think young people are gravitating and showing that you have to be emotional, you have to be Instagrammable.”
Whatever it becomes, I can’t wait to see it.
Featured Image: The Markerspace (part of THEMUSEUM)
This week, we may not have the nice temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, but we do have a virtual transdisciplinary exhibition, a live virtual concert and a movie about the making of the 2009 POP Montreal music festival.
Let’s get started:
Van Grimde Corps Secrets’ Virtual Exhibition Embodiment 2
Dance company Van Grimde Corps Secrets has been all about collaborating with other artists from different milieus since the early 2000s. Their latest project, a virtual exhibition called Embodiment 2, is no different.
In 2015, the group founded by Isabelle Van Grimde began sharing its research into the EVE 2050 triptych with other artists to foster collaboration and discussion. The result was the EVE 2050 web series.
Now, they have combined that series with Brad Necyk and Gary James Joynes’ film The Birth of the World to create this virtual exhibition.
Ctrllab is an art gallery and performance space, though during the pandemic, the venue on St-Laurent has been functioning mainly as a media production company. This Saturday, they welcome back one of their favourite in-person guests for a virtual performance.
Electro Minimal Tech artist Sean Kosa has been part of the music scene since he was 14 in Toronto. Over the years, he moved to Montreal, then to Asia and now back home to our city where he has performed in various venues all across town.
In 2009, Andi Slate had just completed a feature film and decided to go back to basics. The filmmaker shot over 55 hours worth of footage of her POP Montreal colleagues putting on the festival as well as shows during said fest.
11 years and at least two projects later, Slate returned to that footage and put together The POP Movie, which first screened at the 2020 Edition of POP Montreal. Now, it’s available for all to stream!
We seem to be getting more live art and music (virtually, of course) as the weeks go by and the weather gets nicer. This week we’ve got a couple of live events and a band formed during the pandemic’s first single release.
Let’s get started:
BIG BANG & The Aussenwelt Collective Stream Virtual Nuit Blanche Performances as Part of Art Souterrain
This Saturday night is Nuit Blanche, the showcase event of the annual Montréal en lumière Festival. Unlike every other year, though, the Metro won’t be open all night, museums and galleries won’t be receiving throngs of people in the wee hours of the morning and crowds of people won’t be packing the Quartier des Spectacles to enjoy tir sur glace or a ride on the winter Ferris wheel…because of, well, the cufrew.
Nuit Blanche will still be happening virtually and one of its most popular attractions is back: Art Souterrain. The installation part, featuring art in Montreal’s underground city, will still be happening as of April 10th, but tomorrow night, they will be streaming performances from the Aussenwelt Collective and Stéphanie Décourteille’s BIG BANG dance formation live.
Violet Hébert and Joseph Blais will provide the musical accompanyment for these three performances. Here’s a promo video to give you an idea of what it might look like:
Art Souterrain, the Aussenwelt Collective and BIG BANG will stream an evening of multidisciplinary performances Saturday, March 13, beginning at 8pm, on the Art Souterrain YouTube Channel
The Liquor Store Play Cabaret Lion d’Or Virtually
If you thought to yourself “Wouldn’t it be nice to catch a Big Band playing Cabaret Lion d’Or again?” well, this Sunday you can, virtually, of course.
The Big Band in question is The Liquor Store and they will be performing at the aforementioned very stylish venue on Ontario East as part of Indie Montreal’s Les dimanches couvre-fun series. It’s a chance to catch not only the music part of going to a show, but the venue part as well, without leaving home or watching an old video.
Speaking of an old video, for now, here is the same band playing in a different venue before all the lockdowns:
Indie Montreal presents The Liquor Store Live from Cabaret Lion d’Or as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun, Sunday, March 14th at 8pm. Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com
Scarlet Wives Debut Single Dream Funeral
When two musicians have their tour plans scrapped due to a pandemic and then have their rhythm guitarist and drummer drop out, they could just sit at home and wait or form a new band with a new drummer and write and record music. Alice (vocals, guitar) and Mike (bass) chose the latter when they formed Scarlet Wives with Zenab (drums).
They also joined up with three other musicians and sound engineers to form Lack Haüs records. Scarlet Wives’ first single is also the label’s first. Called Dream Funeral, it was released March 5th and the next one is due out in April.
They describe the song as “a heavy-hitting dose of fairy grunge” but you really should just give it a listen at one of the links below or check out this teaser video (*** WARNING: Video may trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy):
Jason C. McLean speaks with comedian Preach, the host of this year’s Gala Dynastie, a celebration of Black excellence from across Quebec. They talk about comedy during COVID, this Saturday’s online edition and this year’s theme: The Rise of the Engaged.
The 5th Edition of Gala Dynastie streams live this Satruday, March 6th, at 6pm. For tickets and for more info: GalaDynastie.com
Since both of this week’s entries relate, either directly or indirectly, to Nuit Blanche, it’s probably a good idea to start by briefly explaining what Nuit Blance is, for those who don’t know.
In a nutshell, one night a year, most museums and galleries, some other businesses and the Montreal Metro stay open all night. There are parties, events in Quartier des Spectacles and the Old Port and even the Biodome gets involved.
This year, it’s not possible for most people to be out of their homes after 8pm due to the curfew, let alone on the metro at 3am, but some of the key Nuit Blanche events have found their way online.
Let’s get started:
Art Souterrain Festival is Back Online and in Physical Space
Every year, the Art Souterrain Festival is the highlight of many Montrealers’ Nuit Blanche. This event normally sees several artists fill Montreal’s Underground City with installations and perform live art shows.
This year, of course, will be different. Roughly 30 artists will take part in the festival’s two parts:
From tomorrow (Friday) until April 30th, you can take in free online activities such as recordings of performances, podcasts, round table discussions and artist portraits (with quite a few of them happening next Saturday, aka Nuit Blanche 2021). Then, from April 10th to 30th, the regular public installation part of the festival will take over the Underground City.
Leonard Cohen: A Crack in Everything from the MAC is Now Online
Speaking of Nuit Blanche, Back in 2017, that’s when we covered (and very much enjoyed) the Leonard Cohen exhibit A Crack in Everything at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC). It was an immersive and impressive multimedia experience and a fitting local tribute to our legend who had passed away the year before.
Now, while the MAC is open once again to the general public for in-person visits, they have decided to bring back the Cohen exhibit for anyone (in Canada, that is) at any time with a free virtual version of it. It obviously won’t be the same as exploring the exhibit in person, but given the amount of recorded video and audio content in it, it should transition well to this format.
This week we’ve got a film and arts festival dedicated to LGBTQ+ works that highlight members of Black communities, a music video premier from a local alternative folk rock group and a Valentine’s market from the people behind POP Montreal.
Let’s get started:
The Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival
We’re in the middle of Black History Month and the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival is set to return for its 13th edition. This year, the theme is, appropriately, Resistance.
With all that is going on south of the border and around the world, resisting is key. The festival also plans to resist any negative effects COVID might have on their ability to reach audiences by making the entire event free and online.
With seven feature films 23 short films and representation from nine countries, the conversation is sure to continue. There will also be found tables, a comedy show and even speed dating.
The 13th Edition of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival runs February 12 – March 12. For the complete schedule and more info, please visit massimadi.ca
Aquarius Dreams Release Music Video for Flora’s Earthtones
Montreal-based alternative folk rock group Aquarius Dreams released their lastest EP Flora’s Earthtones way back in pre-COVID 2019. While they are planning to go on a “reformative hiatus” and then re-emerge when the pandemic is done, they are first releasing a video for the EP’s titular track this weekend.
Directed by Callum Sheedy, the video “alludes to the degradation of the relationship between humanity and nature, the dance between moral volition and action.” Part of it is also clearly shot on Mount Royal, which always leads to some spectacular visuals.
Puces POP is Back Online for Valentine’s Day
The annual POP Montreal music festival is all set for an in-person edition this fall, but while the curfew and other COVID restrictions are still in effect, their popular Puces POP market has reinvented itself, just in time for Valentine’s Day. They have an online catalogue available until March 1st.
You can buy products from over 70 local artisans. We’re talking body products, clothing, jewelry and much more.
So we’re now under curfew, but the Montreal arts scene continues online. It’s kind of like they’re offering a way to go out at night without being fined or having to put on a jacket, or even nice clothes. (No music this time, but there will be next time) Let’s get started:
Art and Haircuts for Mental Health
During the pandemic, we can’t forget about people suffering from mental health issues. Sometimes the simple dignity of a haircut can really help.
The non-profit organization Coups de pinceaux, Coups de ciseaux plans to offer just that. They have teamed with hair salon Cam & Roro and 100 visual artists to help remove the stigma surrounding mental health and offer free haircuts to those with mental health issues.
The project is called 100 artistes pour une santé mentale sans tabou and from January 15th to March 15th, they will be selling works by 100 different artists for $150 apiece. $100 goes to the artist and $50 goes to the organization so they can provide these free haircuts.
Black Theatre Workshop Launches Its 50th Season with Sanctuary
The pandemic won’t stop Montreal’s Black Theatre Workshop from celebrating its 50th season. In fact, they’re launching it online Friday, January 15th at 3pm with Sanctuary, a reading of a new work in development by newly appointed Artistic Associate, Lydie Dubuisson.
Sanctuary is “a feminist conversation between a teenage girl and her sister, her godmother, her best friend, her pastor and God, as she takes refuge in the sanctuary of her church while searching for answers about her destiny.”
Directed by Tamara Brown and part of the Discovery Series, it features Vlad Alexis, Chadia Kikondjo, Mireille Métellus and Espoir Segbeaya. The stage manager is Danielle Skene.
You can watch the premier of Sanctuary Friday, January 15th at 3pm (eastern) on YouTube or Facebook Video. It will also be available on demand for four weeks after the premier. For the rest of Black Theatre Workshop’s 50th season, please visit blacktheatreworkshop.ca
Haunted Montreal’s Winter Ghost Stories: A Québécois Tradition
Throughout January, February and March, the company will be hosting a virtual tour called Winter Ghost Stories: A Québécois Tradition via Zoom. This is a highly theatricalized, though historically accurate, telling of some of the real local winter ghost stories as well as some Quebec legends.
In January, there will be a show every Friday both in English and French, then in February and March, French shows will be on Fridays and English shows on Saturdays.
For more info on Winter Ghost Stories: A Québécois Tradition or to reserve your spot, please visit hauntedmontreal.com
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This is the time of year where thoughts start to turn to summer and, in particular, all the shows the season usually brings to Montreal. At Forget the Box, this is when we start thinking about just how we’re going to cover all the festivals (music, theatre, comedy, etc) and what sort of ticket giveaways we may run.
This year, as everyone knows, will be quite different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even if some of the restrictions currently in place are loosened and things get back to some semblance of normal, the summer’s events won’t be coming back until next year, or in some cases this fall.
So there are no shows to cover, but that doesn’t mean we can’t run a contest to give away tickets. You’ll just have to wait a while to pick up your prize.
With everything upside down, what time better than the present to start thinking of the future. If we beat this thing with our social distancing, we’ll have reason to celebrate.
So without any further ado, here’s FTB’s Lockdown Contest:
The Grand Prize is two tickets to the show of your choice with some restrictions. Given the huge financial hit the event industry is bound to take this year and the fact that they’re probably all too busy right now to coordinate a contest with us for the future, these won’t be promo passes.
Instead, we’ll be buying a pair of tickets like everyone else and then giving them to the winner free of charge. As such:
It can be any concert, play, comedy show, festival, etc, but it must happen in the Greater Montreal Region (if you can get there by bus and metro, it’s in the zone) before the end of 2022.
Tickets to the concert or show must be available for purchase to the general public. So if a show’s sold out for the public, it’s sold out for this contest, too.
We don’t guarantee your first pick, or preferred seating, but we’ll do our best.
Price of a single ticket can be no more than $200. Depending on what you pick, you might get access to an entire indie festival, a day’s worth of top-notch concerts or just one really great show.
You must be legally allowed to enter the venue where the show is taking place.
How to Enter the Contest
Normally with giveaways, we try to keep things simple. This time we’re asking a little more. Here are the details:
Send us your best Montreal on Lockdown Story by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Lockdown Contest in the subject line before May 22nd 2020 at midnight.
We’re looking for uniquely Montreal stories – funny anecdotes, personal tales of how you’re dealing with our new reality, interesting accounts of how people are respecting social distancing in their own way, heartwarming tales of community solidarity, whatever you think might inspire, interest or amuse. They could be written, told through photos, or a combination of the two.
Share this post either on Facebook or Twitter and tag @forgetthebox also before May 22nd 2020 at midnight.
We reserve the right to publish the stories we receive and will definitely publish the winner (so please let us know how you would like to be credited – just one name, a name and an initial, your full name, a fake name, etc. – if not we’ll just use your name.
We know that these times are trying and that not everyone is in the right headspace to be positive right now. This contest isn’t designed to preach positivity, but rather to try and give everyone something to look forward to.
The shows will return. This summer will look and feel very different in Montreal, but if we all do our part, we’ll all be partying together at some point – and you can be the one who got in with free tickets!
For many people, collage isn’t really an art form. It’s an activity you give kids when you have a bunch of old magazines to get rid of and they’re bored and restless. Quebec Collage is looking to change all that.
This initiative seeks to promote the art of collage through webcasts, calls for artist submissions, workshops, and exhibitions. Their latest effort is the Retailles exhibition, a collective art show featuring collagists from Quebec and abroad.
Hosted at Galerie/Atelier Marc Gosselin, The Retailles exhibition invites you to look beyond your perceptions of collage. It features two parts, one showcasing ten Quebecois collage artists, and the other displaying a selection of postcard art in the Noir & Blanc.
The Quebec artists featured include Virginie Maltais, founder of Quebec Collage, as well as Jérome Bertrand, Lucie Bosquin, Éric Braün, Madame Gilles, Caro Dubois, Linda Luttinger, Jean Marie Moncelet, Jean Martin (RAVEN), and François-Xavier Vigneault Marcil. One look at their works will dispel any misconceptions you have about the art of collage.
Despite the myths, collage is a complex art, with some artists featuring intricate scissor cuts or torn paper and elaborate placement, while others, like Virginie Maltais and Linda Luttinger, opt to combine torn or cut paper with the use of paint in their work. It is truly eye opening and proof that collage is more than child’s play.
The Noir & Blanc part of the exhibition is the result of an international call for submissions. Artists from around the world were invited to submit analog collages in the form of black and white postcards.
This included everyone from established collagists to those new to the art form. What you’ll see at the exhibition are the postcards that made the cut, pun intended.
If you’re interested in visual art and want to expand your horizons, learn about collage, or just see some amazing work by local and international artists, check out the Retailles exhibition. It ends tomorrow (Sunday), so get moving!
Retailles can be seen at Galerie/Atelier Marc Gosselin, 3880 Saint Catherine East until July 14, 2019 at 5 pm
ShazamFest, a unique outdoor annual summer festival, returns for its 14th edition, and this year with more whimsy than ever. It has perhaps the most eclectic diversity of performances to occur at a single festival.
ShazamFest features a diverse range of entertainment including, but not limited to: live music performances, circus acts, burlesque, dance, theatre, poetry, wrestling, skateboarding, and much more. The festival is set to take place from the 11th to the 14th of July (this weekend), and is to be hosted in the Eastern Townships, 90 minutes outside of Montréal at festival founder Ziv Przytyk’s organic family farm. Free roundtrip shuttle services from Montréal are available, as well as free on-site camping.
The festival is also particularly distinctive for its green initiatives, as part of its dedication to an eco-responsible and sustainable approach. ShazamFest is very encouraging of its zero-waste initiatives, having only produced 12 bags of garbage at its 13th edition last year and aiming to create even less this year by encouraging festival goers not to bring single-use bags, using only reusable or compostable dishware, providing unlimited free local source water, bringing in organic local food vendors, and numerous other eco-friendly features.
The headlining acts of ShazamFest XIV will be Afrikana Soul Sister, Les Hôtesses d’Hilaire, the Souljazz Orchestra, and Susie Arioli. A few additional must-see features include Matthew Silver, Ziv’s Sunset Show, Bibi Lolo BangBang the clown, a burlesque segment by Swell Sisters La PetiteFleur and Queeny Ives, and many more.
Here’s the full lineup:
That’s right, FTB is giving you a chance to win a pair of tickets ($125 value) to Shazamfest! Simply share this post on Facebook or Twitter, tag @forgetthebox and say Shazam!
We will draw a winner from the entrants and announce it Friday morning.
As anyone who has attended Montreal Comic Con knows, one of its great privileges – in addition to hobnobbing with creators and celebs – is seeing the best of our local cosplay scene. This year proved no exception, as can be seen in following gallery of costumes covering everything from Star Wars and Disney characters to Horror icons and Burton films. Enjoy!
Bust out your back issues and binoculars folks, because it’s that time of year again. Montreal Comic Con descends upon the Palais Des Congres this weekend for three days of autographs, celebrity encounters, cosplay and of course, comic books.
This year, the 1990s will be very well represented, and not just by those sporting fashions from Forever 21. Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’s very own Man of Steel, Dean Cain, will be present to reflect on his time in the iconic red and blue tights, as well as his turns as Vandal Savage on Smallville and Jeremiah Danvers – aka Supergirl’s foster father – on CW’s Supergirl.
Voiceover actor extraordinaire Jim Cummings will also be making a long-awaited appearance at the Con. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, his voice certainly will.
Remember the classic after-school programming block known as the Disney Afternoon? Cummings worked on nearly every animated series you raced home from the bus stop to check out, from Gummy Bears, Duck Tales, Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers, Aladdin and Gargoyles, to the comic book/sitcom Darkwing Duck, where he brought the titular Masked Mallard to vivid, egomaniacal life.
He’s also voiced both Winnie the Pooh and Tigger for the last few decades, and stood in for Jeremy Irons and Christopher Lloyd as the singing voices of The Lion King’s Scar and Anastasia’s Rasputin. He’s lent his pipes to various Looney Tunes projects, all sorts of video games and even theme park attractions. Suffice it to say, if there’s an animated property you hold dear to your heart, he was likely involved.
Speaking of Disney, the voice of Belle herself, Paige O’Hara, will be present to reflect on that tale as old as time, Beauty and the Beast. Given her character’s reappearance in Ralph Breaks the Internet and the continual popularity of the ‘Disney Princess’ brand, one can only wonder whether we’ll be seeing more of the brunette bookworm in the years to come.
Celebrated Canadian comic artist and writer Ty Templeton will also be in attendance once again this year, telling stories and taking commissions from his booth in Artists Alley. Templeton is best known for having adapted the classic superhero cartoon Batman: The Animated Series into a monthly comic for DC through the 90s and 00s.
The Batman Adventures series won multiple Eisner Awards and helped introduce a whole new generation to the Dark Knight Detective. Though Templeton’s credits span multiple DC and Marvel titles, as well as the late, great Mad Magazine, which only this week was cancelled after 67 years in print. Try not to bum him out about that one.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers fans will be tickled by the appearances of Austin St. John, Karan Ashley, Walter E. Jones and David Fielding aka the Red, Yellow and Black Rangers and their amorphous floating head of a leader, Zordon. Though the action-packed live action kids series became a pop culture phenomenon in its day, it also left us with plenty of unanswered questions, such as: how exactly is saber-tooth tiger a dinosaur?
All this isn’t to suggest other decades of comic book and pop culture deliciousness won’t be equally represented, mind you. 70’s Hulk Lou Ferrigno will be hulking about, X-Men and Star Wars actor/athlete Ray Park will also be around (and maybe even demonstrating roundhouse kicks? No?) and Elijah Wood will be reminiscing about the Lord of the Rings films with the one and only Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner, holding court for autograph seekers, no doubt surrounded by Starship Enterprise memorabilia.
Comic Con is the perfect time to let your inner geek out, whichever era you prefer, so take some time this weekend to enjoy its more than 200 activities and remember to invite children under the age of five to tag along. Because they get in for free…and because it’s never too early to start obsessing over sci-fi.
For full program details and ticket information, visit montrealcomiccon.com. Comic Con runs from July 5th to the 7th
Usine 106U is not like other art galleries. It’s not immaculately clean or impeccably organized, and its outer mural is as colourful and eccentric as the art you’ll find within.
Located in the Plateau next to the iconic Else’s Pub, the gallery attracts everyone from painters to sculptors to dollmakers and photographers. The gallery’s openings on the first Thursday of every month feature works that range from the classic to the extreme and the atmosphere is one of an eccentric family reunion rather than a formal affair.
While most galleries in Montreal charge huge commissions and exhibiting fees, Usine 106U takes fifty dollars a month and ten percent commission on any sales. In exchange, every artist gets four by five feet of space to show their work to passersby and regular visitors. Artists who volunteer their time running the place get all fees and commissions waved.
A Concept that Grew Over a Decade
The official caretaker of the gallery is Eric Braün, a multidisciplinary artist known for his acrylic paintings of creatures. His style for me is reminiscent of Bosch and Dali, with a hit of Nightmare Before Christmas thrown in.
Usine 106U has been around for 12 years. In the beginning, it was just a show of the same name.
A guy from Paul’s Boutique record store lent Eric and other artists a paddock with the goal of creating art on the spot, filling the walls as they went. The show lasted one week and was hugely successful, with the media and others coming in to wait, ready to buy the works in progress once they were finished. Almost everything was sold.
The show’s success led to an offer to continue it through to the end of the month, followed by an offer to rent the space on a monthly basis. From there came the idea of artists sharing the cost and management of the place and the rest is history.
When I asked Eric about the name, he explained that it was a French play on words.
“If you pronounce in French the number ‘cent six’ – one zero six – and the letter u it makes ‘sans issu’ and ‘sans issu’ sounds like ‘sans issue’ which means ‘no way out’ and that was the title of my anthology cause I used to do comics so it was always a collective. But back then it was international and silent so it could be distributed in many different countries without having to translate.”
In addition to Eric’s paintings, he also has copies of his comic books and sculptures for sale at the gallery. When I asked what kind of artists he feels the gallery attracts, Braün spoke of people who do very intense personal work, “outsider art” that doesn’t fit current fashion, and some old style abstract pieces.
Open But Selective
Eric is discriminating in his choice of artists who get to show there: “If someone does some really bad copies of some photos that you see on the internet I tell them they should work more on their stuff and come back later,” he said.
When looking for artists to admit to the gallery, he’s not looking for perfection but originality and honesty in the work. Currently there are 40 different artists showing their work with the common thread being that:
“Everything is figurative, there’s a narrative, there’s a story being told and everything is kind of explorative. People take chances, they develop their own language, they go into their own world, and they keep working at it to create something that is original and unique.”
If there is a word to describe the art at Usine 106U, unique is certainly it. Whether it’s the hyperdoodled paintings and guitars of artist John Lanthier, Jean Martin Raven’s sculptures, or the realistic yet wonderfully eerie paintings of Xavier Landry.
Much of the art is not for the faint of heart, with art depicting graphic nudity, sex and violence displayed alongside cutesy hand knitted dolls. That said, Usine 106U is more than a gallery.
Home Away From Home
For artist John Lanthier, it’s a home away from home. He’s been showing his work at Usine since 2015 and like many artists, he volunteers his time in exchange for showing there:
“I enjoy making art in the environment here and appreciate having a permanent gallery space where my psychedelic paintings, sculptures and custom guitars can feel at home amongst the many diverse local artworks that cover the walls. Thanks to Eric Braun I’ve also had my Hyperdoodling paintings and Guitart instruments featured in the last nine magazines…which is pretty cool.”
The magazine in question was created following Eric Braün’s failed attempts to get his work in a local art magazine which was poorly managed and written. So like any pioneer, Braün decided to publish his own, and Usine106Us quarterly free magazine features work from a variety of artists showing at the gallery.
As a working artist, Usine 106U saved me from a dark time in my life. Their collective welcomed me with open arms, a tale shared by many who come to the gallery hoping for an affordable space to show their work. In addition to the monthly vernissages, they also do free collage workshops (bring your own glue).
When I asked Eric Braun what advice he had for aspiring artists, he was very pragmatic:
“Get a job to pay your bills and then do art with your needs taken care of or you’ll go crazy.”
The gallery is located at 160 Roy East and is open every day from noon to 6pm. Check it out.
On September 26th, Pop Montreal returns with another five days of music, film, panels, and visual arts. It’s been a few years since I’ve attended this very Plateau/Mile End festival, but I already know I’m going to have a good time. Because unlike other bigger festivals where you’re drawn to check out what you know, at Pop you’re guaranteed to discover a whole slew of new exciting artists you’ve never heard of before.
Here’s my list of what I’m most looking forward to checking out at Pop Montreal 2018:
Ever since I first heard the song I Love Rock n’ Roll as a teenager, I was drawn to the badass that is Joan Jett. This year as part of Film Pop, the festival will be screening a documentary by director Kevin Kerslake about the legendary feminist punk rocker. I’m also looking forward to attending the screening at the newly opened indie/art house movie theater Cinema Moderne on St-Laurent.
Wednesday, September 26, 8pm, Cinema Moderne, 5150 St-Laurent. Tickets $12
While rap music isn’t usually my thing, I was so drawn by the music video for Elegance by New York artist Kilo Kish that I officially have added her show to my must-see list. While researching Kish I discovered that Pitchfork recently dubbed Elegance one of the best songs of 2018, declaring “Building from the stream-of-consciousness style that characterizes most of her catalog, Kilo Kish turns her racing thoughts into crackling electricity.”
Wednesday, September 26, 11pm, Piccolo Rialto, 5723 Ave du Parc. Tickets $20
My favourite part of POP. The festival has these fairs year-round now (if you’re friends with a Plateau gal, you’ve undoubtedly been dragged to one of these events), but the biggest of them all is always during the main festival in September. For three glorious days, you can shop for prints, jewelry, food, makeup and clothing. So come watch hipsters gather in their natural habitat, and leave with a cute new print to hang on your wall!
September 28-30, Eglise St-Denis, 454 Laurier Est. Schedule
Molly Nilson is a Swedish pop singer that, according to Pitchfork “does ennui like no one else.” That combined with her 80s music sound has me excited to see what she does onstage. I would love to tell you more about her but she doesn’t have much of a social media presence… which kind of only makes me want to get to know this artist more.
Thursday, September 27, 8:30pm, Bar “le Ritz” P.D.B., 179 Jean-Talon Ouest. Tickets $16.50
In between film screenings and shows, I plan on checking out the many art shows that are also happening during Pop. Here’s just a sampling of the ones I’m most excited for:
OBORO and White Frame co-present Où sommes-nous, an exhibition by Judith Albert, Katrin Freisager, Dana Claxton, and Nik Forrest. These four established artists open and disrupt our knowledge of space and time, bringing into question the line between reality and illusion through poetry and resistance. (info)
Art POP is collaborating for the very first time with the Association of Visual and Media Arts Masters students (AEMAVM) of the Université du Québec à Montréal to co-present POP Pavillon, AEMAVM’s annual group exhibition showcasing the work of 11 exciting, emerging artists. (info)
Centre Clark presents a new exhibition by Shana Moulton, an artist who creates evocatively oblique narratives in her video and performance works. In Whispering Pines, the artist presents art pieces combining an unsettling, wry humor with a low-tech, pop sensibility.(info)
* POP Montreal 2018 runs September 26-30. Full schedule available at POPMontreal.com
** Featured Image: Screengrab from Kilo Kish’s Elegance video
Starchild Stela is a prominent part of Montreal’s underground art scene, known mainly for their activist graffiti/street art, zines, and fine art. If you live in Montreal, chances are you’ve seen their work in the streets. If you haven’t, now you’ll probably notice them everywhere.
High-femme imagery and characters paired with bold slogans such as “support survivors” (of sexual violence) and “he won’t change, just leave” can be found painted on exterior walls, freight trains, and slapped on mailboxes/other public spaces in sticker-form. Fierce and powerful, they have a style that turns heads and makes a difference, from making drab infrastructure more aesthetically pleasing to making the world a better place.
Starchild Stela agreed to do an interview on how they got started, their relationship to DIY culture, giving back to the community, and their views on the Montreal graffiti scene.
girlplague: When did you start doing street art/graffiti, and why?
Starchild Stella: This is a question that comes up a lot for me in interviews, and it’s a bit odd to answer for me because it was still an era where street art wasn’t popular yet. It wasn’t an enlightened decision, it wasn’t really planned.
I started because other people I knew were tagging, everybody in my circle kinda did it (although not seriously). Everybody had their name & signature. At that time we didn’t have access to fancy sprays and it was niche and you got to really suck at first, just the type of stuff teens who spent lots of time outside would do.
I really had not much going on in my life at that time besides struggling and being angry at the world, I was drawing a bit but “art’’ wasn’t really a thing for me. I was a “bad kid” and went through a lot with the justice system, was on probation (for other reasons) during pretty much all my teenhood and pretty much felt untalented and useless. I think I was also looking for something to do to deal with myself.
My first “graff” was pretty much the same character as I do today but it was really bad. We stole sprays in a car and we did it, and I remember, ah – that’s really something I could be good at. (This would be circa 2002-2003).
You make personal/art zines. Do you find a correlation between the DIY nature of both zines and graffiti?
There’s a DIY connection with everything I do, it is my lifestyle. Coming from a low income background and still being poor, unfit for conventional “work” because of disability as well as a desire for independence led me to live “for free” as much as I can.
I think it’s also grounded in a hope for community. Zines were an inherent part of my recovery, and so is graffiti. I don’t like rich people graffiti – lol. I think consumerism and technicality within the “industry” of graffiti makes it feel inaccessible to people.
I see it as an illusion; you can add flares and robotically paint something fancy looking but it won’t be interesting if you don’t have a genuine style. The truth is you don’t need fancy paint to make cool things. I don’t know, for me graffiti that is not DIY is likely to be boring and I couldn’t care less for art by privileged university students or 30 something graffiti uncles. This may sound cocky but the scene is so oversaturated!
The graffiti/street art scene is very male-dominated. How has this affected you as non-binary and femme?
Honestly I was so unaware of feminism before – the way people acted towards me within these circles made me really self-conscious of my gender, how I was never gonna fit in. Experiences of misogyny made me learn about anti-oppression.
Graff is a scene where women are still perceived as either sluts or wifey. Since I don’t fit in either category that just makes me an oddity. But at the same time, graffiti has no gender. If you put the work in, the people that need to know will know, it’s not about pleasing people, so at the end you do you. It”s about you and your friends fucking shit up.
You do a lot of work fighting against rape culture, transphobia, racism, and other types of oppression. Is there a political agenda in your work, or is it natural to you because you are passionate about these topics?
At this point I don’t know if qualifying my art as “fighting” is correct; generally I explore in topics that affect me directly. For example, I do lots of work surrounding surviving traumas, especially in my writing.
I don’t see my art as activism but often people say that my work is political. But it’s fucking 2017 I think anyone’s work is political. As a white person, I think it’s inappropriate to call anything I do as anti-racist or anti-colonial, although I do my best to unlearn oppressive behaviours, to learn and pay reparations where it’s due. But these things are not a political agenda; I think we should all take the time to reflect in the ways we are complicit and support directly the work of people who are affected by these systems of oppression.
I try to “give back’’ to my community in various ways; however I tend to do work only about experiences I know. I’m highly interested in anti-oppression politics, read a lot, do my best to unlearn oppressive behaviours and recognize the ways I am benefitting from systemic oppression. I try to remain critical and humble.
You’ve been travelling a lot and doing a lot of work in other cities, including a residency at James Black Gallery (Vancouver) in July. What are your experiences with and feelings on doing work in places other than Montreal?
I have been here all of my life, so it feels good to get out. I am immensely privileged to be able to do that work. Montreal for me is my home of traumas. Going places I’ve never been, even if they are only a couple of hours drive away, makes the memories flow around and heal myself.
I am lucky. I want to meet new people and often feel stuck in Montreal. Travelling brought me perspectives. Right now I’m working on an upcoming show with Laurence Philomene to be held in Toronto.
You have a large following, including almost 10 000 followers on instagram. What do you have to say to fans who are inspired by you, and/or want to follow in your footsteps?
Don’t follow my footsteps is my main advice lol. I say that because I made lots of mistakes, learned some lessons the hard way. I’d just say do what you love with sincerity, be humble, even if you think you’re the shit there’ll always be people who will disagree.
Listen if you get called out, learn to take your space, and leave room for others. You don’t have to be under the spotlight all the time. Be aware of your privileges. Respect the people who support you. Have fun – you can’t have fun all the time of course, but if the work you do brings you joy, you are up to something.
Do you have any non-art related aspirations in life?
Live my best life. Getting my shit together. Baking the most delicious desserts on earth. Developing my practice as a witch. Being there for survivors. Develop strong friendships and travel if I get the chance. Being financially stable enough to support my family and my cats without stress. I want to put energy in healing & managing my PTSD, to live a healthy and joyful life.