Home Arts ARTiculate

ARTiculate

by Rebecca Ugolini January 17, 2012
ARTiculate

Welcome to ARTiculate, a new column for a more informal kind of arts writing.

From bucket lists of Montreal must-sees to personal reflections on arts-related topics, ARTiculate invites readers to drop in, read on, and keep thinking once they’re done reading.My father, the eternal trickster, often accuses me of having the ‘spirit of contradiction’: before I can help myself, I always think up a few objections, which, of course, proves his point.

To his delight and my chagrin, I take the bait again and again because his diagnosis iscorrect. Case in point: New Year’s Eve. I believe pre-midnight follies get swept away with the old year when the ball drops, but while the rest of the world is making merry, I find myself sullen and quiet, leaving my baffled dinner companions to ply me with Bombay and finger food. As you can imagine, I’m the life of the party.

I’m also starting to think this behaviour is characteristic of born-and-bred Montrealers. Surrounded by opportunity, we’re often content to mope. Labelled Canada’s European city, we’re indifferent to the landmarks tourists travel across the world to visit.

Given carte blanche, we’re compelled to contradict: but to ring in 2012, let’s forget our jaded ways and let ourselves enjoy the predictable, the familiar, the local. Here are three ways to go in with the old this January.

Same old story

Survey the crowd of a Montreal museum: is it equal parts bored high school groups, tourists clutching Phaser-like audio guides, and arts students sketching into curly-cornered sketchbooks? It isn’t that we don’t want to go to museums, we just never find the time. Exhibit from February to May? Damn, I’m booked solid.

In with the old

From Greek to Canadian to Medieval, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has it all. Admission to permanent exhibits is free, and temporary exhibits, from the striking Nunavik- inspired Resolute Bay, to the pop and street art love child that is Big Bang, promise something new. Check out the Bourgie building, a new concert hall and gallery built in and around an 1894 church. (www.mbam.qc.ca)

Same old story

When was the last time you walked around the Old Port or got dragged to Pointe-à-Callière with your history class? With its share of corny tourist traps and bad restaurants, the Port
sometimes seems more appalling than appealing.

In with the old

The key to enjoying the unique architecture of the Old Port’s buildings, its stunning churches, like Basilica Notre-Dame, and cheap (and sometimes free) Classical concerts, like those held at Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours, is to visit during the low season. January is the perfect time: with its second skin of snow, the Port exhibits a relative freedom from crowds and extra charm. Done
walking? Slide down St-Laurent for a hot bite to eat in Chinatown, which is smaller than Boston’s or New York’s, but blessed with more ambiance.

Same old story

We’ll spend a pretty penny for a decent bite on vacation, but on a busy day in our own city, we’ll more likely settle for Starbucks or food court fare than seek out local, unique, beautiful places to eat and drink. Don’t wonder why businesses fail in the notoriously tricky restaurant industry: the truth is difficult to swallow, but we’re part of the problem.

In with the old

Think back to your dearest food memories: the vivid sights and smells which arise should convince you that food is an art form, one worth investigating on our own turf. Montreal is full of old and old-at-heart locations that combine beautiful surroundings with artful food at welcoming prices: from Sakura on de la Montagne, a 30-plus year old, traditionally-decorated Japanese restaurant with yukata-wearing waitresses and the best lunch sushi menus in town from $12 to $20, to Café Myriade on Mackay, with old-fashioned coffee decorated with foamy milk hearts, there’s more than enough to whet the appetite of your stomach and soul just around Concordia.

Related Articles

Leave a Comment