Recently I was invited on a personal tour of Station 16 Gallery in Montreal. I’ve been friendly with its founder Carlo for about four years now, ever since I facilitated an introduction between him and a local street artist. So when I told him that I would be back in my old Montreal stomping grounds, he took a couple hours out of his busy day to show me around the ever-expanding gallery.
Station 16 is located on Boulevard St-Laurent in the heart of le plateau, where the gallery’s presence has boosted the community’s economy and sprouted new growth and development for local businesses. Montreal was hit hard by the economic downturn, and there are still many empty retail spaces around. So Station 16 partnered with the annual Mural Festival to reinvigorate interest in this historical and trendy area.
The goal of Station 16 is to feature and promote local urban artists as well as international favourites. The great thing I noticed when I entered the gallery was how busy it was. Most art galleries are usually very quiet, with one or two patrons an hour, and the receptionists’ shoes usually cost more than your entire annual salary. For many people, visiting art galleries is an intimidating and perhaps snobby-elite experience that feels alienating and ostracising. Not Station 16. Kids, teenagers, families, tourists, street art enthusiasts, art collectors, and dealers abounded the ground-level gallery. It’s a very inclusive and welcoming experience, with a no-pressure enviro, and fosters a sense of community. I think that encouraging everyday people in the process of appreciating, critiquing, and collecting pieces of art is a good thing, and removes the exclusivity that surrounds the art world.
Pure Maple Sizzurp piece by What Is Adam, like an Warhol-throwback!
Took me a moment to realize those are guns.
Olek, my beloved guerilla-knitting-yarn-bombing babe with a clever turn of phrase here. This is actually a silkscreen of her work, but it comes out very 3D! It looks like there’s actual yarn in there! I’ve photographed her in Montreal, NYC, and London!
Le Diamantaire! You can’t turn a single corner in Paris without running into his street diamonds. They’re prolific!
Now this is my kind of toilet. The entire walls are covered in What Is Adam pieces, and what’s that on the loo?
It’s my boyfriend HANKSY!
Enzo Sarto is one half of my NYC favourite Enzo & Nio!
This is the back of Carlo’s computer! I see WIA, Stikki Peaches, Enzo & Nio, Shepard Fairy…. “Never forget how awesome you are.”
How could I?
Station 16 is located at 3523 Boul St-Laurent in Montreal, within walking distance from metro stops Mont-Royal or Sherbrooke. If you go, tell them Chris says hi!
I first photographed Icy and Sot in Amsterdam, both on the street at at one of their gallery shows. They’ve become street art darlings since then, with major turns at Norway’s NuArt fest in Stavanger, and also, it seems, New York City. I literally couldn’t walk through a single borough without running into their work. Most of these were in conjunction with the Bushwick Collective, but also, they were part of the Welling Court Project. Even still, some of it just seemed to be good, ol’ fashioned illegal graff. Good on ’em.
This delightful mural in South Williamsburg just went on and on….
… and on….
This massive, colourful explosion in Bushwick seems to depict suicide bombers in Iraq, but it could also be the way protesters are gunned down in Gaza. Or perhaps it’s Tel Aviv. Syria? Tahrir Square? I’m not really sure, but then again, the goal isn’t to precisely identify what the artist is trying to say. The point is to make it mean something to you.
I love how his arm reaches up and hangs off of the barbed wire on the roof.
Apologies for not getting a close-up of his hand. I should point out that I took these photographs the first week of January when it was about -20 degrees and removing my hands from my mitts to take photos was a race against frost bite. I could only take maybe two or three pictures before my hands would sting and splinter and redden and become numb. Graff hunting in winter is so much different than in summer. Le sigh.
Their famous portrait here in blue was a massive mural up in Queens, as part of the Welling Court project.
I love this cop and his shadow mural off of Meserole in Bushwick. It must have been erected during the Black Lives Matter protests, as it seems to be a direct comment on Police Brutality, and appearance vs reality when it comes to New York cops.
You know what’s funny of this walking boy of theirs? If you go on Instagram, everyone thinks this is Banksy.
No, beebees, just, no.
I will do anything you tellllll meeeee toooooooooo.
In October 2013, Banksy performed a month-long outdoor extravaganza in New York City. He called it “Better Out Than In.” (Har har har). Each day of the month, he erected a new piece somewhere in Gotham. That’s a lot of pieces and a lot of work. I figured I’d see what remained a year and a half later. To my surprise, I actually found three pieces that remained. In street art circles, lotsa people really hate Banksy. With a passion. He’s reviled by most. I thought his work woulda been paint bombed or destroyed by now. I found three! I was delighted.
The first was this piece at 79th and Broadway on the Upper West Side. The owners of the wall put the piece behind plexiglass to stop people from destroying it, but that hasn’t stopped people from dropping their business cards down there. If you look closely, someone’s house key is stuck in there too.
Now I walked by this wall on Delancey near Bowery many many times as I was hunting street art and didn’t think much of it, until I gave it a good look. What struck me as odd about it was that the rest of the wall had been painted except for this perfect little square of what looked like random tags.
Ahhh, but look closer. Do you see the words “The Musical” embedded in there? Banksy did this thing where he added the tag “The Musical!” to random tags. For example, one tag had said “Dirty Underwear” and he added “The Musical!” This is New York after all.
For reference, this is what the wall looked like before it was heavily tagged:
Playground Mob, The Musical!
And I found this piece by accident 🙂
Finding this piece was a rare treat! It’s Banksy’s Geisha Girls and tree. I was searching for it in Bed-Stuy and couldn’t find it, until I came across one of those rolldown grate thingies on this wall. I figured the piece had to be behind it, so I went inside the business that owns the wall, an optometrist, and asked them politely if I could see the Banksy behind the rolldown grate.
They said sure, came out with the keys, rolled it up, let me take my photographs, and chatted pleasantly with me. And that was it!
Ask and you shall receive, people.
Check out my Banksy category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
By the time you read this, I will already be out gallivanting through New York City, Brooklyn and Queens, hunting Space Invaders, Banksys, Hanksys, Swoons, and many more of my favourite street artists. I am here for a month, housesitting in the Upper West Side. I end this year the way I began it: on my own terms, and travelling. I have never been more free.
And I win.
Enjoy some of my greatest goofy 2014 hits, in GIF form!
Rolling my eyes at the Berlin Hauptbahnhof, leaving Germany for the last time.
Dancing on the streets of Bonn.
Warsaw’s Palace of Culture and Science, built by… uh… Stalin.
The best Klezmer band in Brussels right outside my window!
(hit the volume button on the bottom right corner of the vid)
The Berlin eyes have it.
The ghosts in Shoreditch’s windows
Art imitates life imitates art.
Guns in Copenhagen are beating like hearts.
Brick Lane street art goes largely ignored. (It says, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.”)
Where’s the Space Invader?
I like to call this one, “Ew, I smell that, was that you?”
I like to call this one, “Oh is that really what you’re wearing? How… brave…”
I like to call this one, “Is that a bee or a fly?”
I like to call this one, “I just had a small stroke.”
How I talk to Cats (part 1), filmed whilst housesitting in London.
How I talk to Cats (part 2), filmed whilst housesitting in Copenhagen
How I talk to Cats (part 3), filmed whilst housesitting in Enkhuizen (the Netherlands)
Now let us go out of 2014 with a bang, just like we did in Paris…
Goodbye 2014. I hope I never see you again.
Kunsthaus Tacheles was a centre for artists, vandals, graffitists and other culture-jammers to gather in an old 1907 arcade that was partially demolished by the DDR, located near Oranienburger Strasse. It was officially closed down a couple years ago, and now it is completely blocked off and surrounded by fences, walls, hedges, and wire. There’s no way in. But on some of the walls that are still exposed, artists continue to tag.
Anyway, the other night I’m watching the object of my affection Benedict Cumberbitch … er.. batch.. Cumberbatch in the film The Fifth Estate, and I notice they filmed an entire section at Kunsthaus Tacheles before it closed down. They filmed inside and out. During the scene where they’re leaving, I noticed something that nearly made me spit out my tea.
And here’s the scene here:
HOW DID I MISS THIS WHEN I WAS WALKING BY?!
So I went back to try and find a way in, or maybe a ledge to perch from, or maybe just a gap in the wall so I could photograph it.
I went to every business surrounding the Kunsthaus and asked everyone if they had access to the fenced-off area, just so I could take a photo. No one could help.
Finally, I found a crack in the tarped-over fence big enough to shove my hand through. Camera firmly gripped in hand, I tried to snap as many pics as I could at such an awkward angle.
BUT I STILL NOW I HAVE SEEN WITH MY OWN EYES THE FLOWER CHUCKER!
Check out my Banksy category for more of his work that I’ve photographed around the world!
I didn’t include this photo in my Berlin Wall post because it deserves its own dedicated post. I found this Banksy on the East Side Gallery, and it’s an old piece of his: a monkey wearing a sandwich board that reads, “Laugh now but one day we’ll be in charge.”
Someone has added a stencil mocking him that says “Shut the fuck up.”
I didn’t have the time to post this when I was still in Copenhagen. I was walking along and I came across this Banksy piece from his parachuting-rat series. If you know Banksy like I do, you know that he hasn’t done one of these for YEARS, so this piece is extremely old and a rare find.
But how did I know it was a real Banksy and not some imitation?
Because it’s behind plexiglass.
If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted many street art photos lately (which usually is what this blog is all about), it’s because I’ve been fiendishly working on this street art short film! I started filming this way back in September and actually had more footage than I could use, so editing this has taken some time! In addition to having a lot of technical problems trying to edit this thinger, I’ve also been busy living! So many projects on the go, it’s hard to sit still!
Anyway, this short film features the works of Banksy, Roa, Invader, Phlegm, Stik, Mobstr, C215, Paul Don Smith, Curtis Kulig, JR and the Inside Out Project, James Cochrane (Jimmy C), Alo, Fred Le Chevalier, Shok 1, and many more! Enjoy!
Speaking of things I’ve been busy with, I was invited to climb atop the huge O2 arena with the Up at the O2 experience. Basically, they harness you up, and you spend about an hour climbing atop this huge concert and sporting venue which overlooks all of central London! But this was special, they invited me to a particular Christmas-y climb where there were ukulele carol-singers atop the O2, singing Christmas standards and serving mulled wine, mince pies, Christmas crackers, and fake snow!
Here’s me in my gear, looking fucking endearing.
They wouldn’t let us take photos as we were climbing for safety reasons. But once at the top, I got snap-happy. Check out the Uke-carol-ers!
We were pretty high up.
La ville des lumieres anglais.
There were many reporters there because what we were doing was pretty newsworthy.
And this was the climb back down. AHHHH. Heights.
It was on this day, the day of the climb, that my short story was published AND I received some wonderful news that I’m not at liberty to speak about now, but perhaps in the New Year I will. I’ve gone into a few meetings for this project, and I hope good things will come to fruition. When I know more, so will you!
In the meantime, enjoy this gorgeous Harvey Milk quote I typed up on my gorgeous typewriter.
“Go after her. Fuck, don’t sit there and wait for her to call, go after her because that’s what you should do if you love someone, don’t wait for them to give you a sign cause it might never come, don’t let people happen to you, don’t let me happen to you, or her, she’s not a fucking television show or tornado.
“There are people I might have loved had they gotten on the airplane or run down the street after me or called me up drunk at four in the morning because they need to tell me right now and because they cannot regret this and I always thought I’d be the only one doing crazy things for people who would never give enough of a fuck to do it back or to act like idiots or be entirely vulnerable and honest and making someone fall in love with you is easy and flying 3000 miles on four days notice because you can’t just sit there and do nothing and breathe into telephones is not everyone’s idea of love but it is the way I can recognize it because that is what I do.
“Go scream it and be with her in meaningful ways because that is beautiful and that is generous and that is what loving someone is, that is raw and that is unguarded, and that is all that is worth anything, really.”