J’aime MTL opened at Station 16 on Feb. 11, check it out before March 1
It could be because of the diverse boroughs and architecture, the plethora of festivals and cultural events, the bilingualism or the population of people from all over the world, but whichever way you look at it, the city of Montreal has a distinct and unique personality. It radiates a specific urban taste and is multifaceted in nature, it has something different for every type of person. Montreal is a city to be proud of and Station 16 agrees as they launched their exhibit J’aime MTL on Feb. 11.
Station 16 began as a silkscreen printshop that sold their products exclusively online, but after a growing demand from their clients to see prints in person, the founders opened their gallery location on Saint-Laurent Boulevard in 2013. “We thought ‘okay, this is crazy, we should really just open the gallery, quit our jobs and just do our dream job,’” said Emily Robertson, one of the founders of Station 16.
She believes their gallery space to be one that differs from the norm and one that can elevate your expectations of what a gallery is or could be. Robertson herself completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree in art history at Concordia. Yet, still to this day, she expressed that galleries have a tendency to make her feel uncomfortable. “There’s no music, it’s totally silent, you can’t talk in front of the artwork, you feel like you have to be some sort of elite to have some sort of thought [about] the artwork. And I’m thinking ‘wait, if I’m thinking like this, what about all of the people who have never studied this or who are just walking into a gallery for the first time?’” said Robertson. “It’s so unfortunate that there’s this hierarchy [so] when you walk into a gallery you’re not welcome. So, we just wanted a space where people can just come in, talk, [where] there’s good music [and] there’s good art. That was sort of the goal as to why we opened in the first place.”
Robertson said she has been wanting to put on an exhibit exclusively centred around Montreal for some time now, to showcase how artists visualize the 514. Featuring artists such as Jonathan Bergeron, Laurence Vallières, Jason Wasserman and more, the Station 16 team chose artists that depict their view of Montreal through wonderfully individualized and diverse artistic expression.
One artist, Marie-Claude Marquis, was scouted by Robertson through social media. For J’aime MTL, Marquis used oil paint and varnish on vintage plates to create decorative dishes that display humorous Quebecois turns of phrase. Marquis’ utilization of vintage plates began in 2014 when she created a wall installation centred around the theme of heartbreak. She originally attempted to use phrases from her personal journal on shattered, broken plates but ended up using plates that were intact. After attempting the same process a second time for a handmade market and succeeding well in sales, Marquis continued to use the medium.
Familiar words such as “tabarnac” are painted in beautiful calligraphy. The plates, as a collection, depict the image and vision Marquis has of our city. “It’s really mostly about Quebec identity … it’s like inside jokes with people I know … Everyone at the end is relating to it because we’re all a bit similar,” said Marquis. “We are like a community … Quebec: there’s nobody like us in the rest of the world, so I think it’s really nice to focus on that and celebrate that.”
Another artist, Ryan Labrosse, expressed his fondness for interactive art and because of this he created a massive, bilingual word-search on a chalkboard wall within the gallery. The collection of letters contains phrases and words as well as the names of artists and titles of pieces in the exhibit. Guests are invited to circle their findings in the flurry of shapes before browsing through the other artistic celebrations of the city.
From the all-too-familiar image of a spiralling fire escape to cardboard squirrel sculptures or a large can of maple syrup in the middle of the floor, this exhibit offers a variety of takes and artistic endeavours that explore the essence of the city and the province. The collection allows you to look at Montreal through the eyes of creative artists, contrasting or echoing the large culmination of details you have collected which produce your own personal image of Quebec’s metropolis.
J’aime MTL is on display at Station 16 (3523 St. Laurent Blvd.) until March 1. For more information or to purchase artwork visit http://www.station16gallery.com/collections/jaime-mtl.