Mtl en Arts is bringing art to the streets

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

The largest open-air art gallery in Eastern Canada, the Mtl en Arts festival has undergone a coronavirus-era reboot for its 21st edition, which runs from July 20 to September 13.

Under the open skies

Since its creation in 2000, Mtl en Arts has showcased hundreds of artists from different disciplines in a popular outdoor festival held on the one-kilometre long Aires Libres pedestrian mall in the Gay Village.

Mtl en Arts’ mission is to democratize contemporary art by making it accessible to the general public via a series of multidisciplinary and interactive performances, as well as an exhibition-sale where art-lovers can also purchase works from emerging and professional artists.

This year, with the Québec government-ordered cancellation of all summer festivals due to COVID-19, the Mtl en Arts Festival presents Mtl en Arts – Version 2.0 to celebrate contemporary art in this time of physical distancing.

This year’s edition showcases 60 artists via the following four activities, which will take place in virtual and physical form.

Public art

Distancing is the theme of outdoor urban art created by renowned Montréal artists Roadsworth and Mathieu Connery just for the festival, on Sainte-Catherine Street between Saint-André and Papineau Streets. The works will be created during the week of July 20 and will be on display until October 12.

Roadsworth first gained notoriety as a street artist using a stencil-based technique to playfully alter and subvert the urban landscape, as chronicled in the NFB documentary Roadsworth: Crossing the Line. His ground paintings, murals and installations have been commissioned throughout North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. He has also worked with the Cirque du Soleil and Banksy’s Can’s Festival.

The critically acclaimed artist Mathieu Connery chooses textured and aged walls on which to integrate his geometric works in personal and collective murals throughout Canada. He has also reappropriated existing graffiti, remixing it to his liking.

Several artists will create 18 large format works on mobile media in front of the public, who can safely watch the artists at work from viewing stations that observe physical distancing regulations. This activity will run from July 30 to September 13 on the Aires Libres pedestrian mall in the Gay Village.

The Mtl en Arts virtual exhibition will showcase the creations of some 30 artists selected by a jury of peers. Art lovers will be able to purchase their favourite works through the online boutique available from August 17 to 31.

Visual and craft artists can still apply for the virtual exhibition. Application deadline is August 5.

Art will also be available for purchase via the online art auction from September 1 to 13.

Richard Burnett

Richard “Bugs” Burnett is a Canadian freelance writer, editor, journalist, blogger and columnist for alt-weeklies, mainstream and LGBTQ publications. Bugs also knows Montréal like a drag queen knows a cosmetics counter.

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