What would Montrealers see on the cover of a homegrown magazine in the spirit of The New Yorker?
That's the question being explored in 52 illustrations in the exposition Le Montréaler, on display at the Maison de la culture Plateau Mont-Royal.
Renaud Plante, one of the project's three organizers, said artists across various styles were asked to participate — they bring schools from minimalism to cartoon into the mix.
"We wanted a large palette," he said.
The visions of Montreal captured by these artists range from political, like a woman wearing a burka, to playful, as seen in a squirrel scampering off with a bagel.
Some of the artists came up with a more personal take on the city while others offered an editorial overview.
Plante said the team carefully chose their artists and were confident they would be rewarded for their selection.
"We knew the talent we had," Plante said.
Still, he added that some of the artists had to leave their comfort zone to create the quirky works.
Giving life to landmarks
One of his favourite pieces is by Diane Obomsawin, a filmmaker and cartoonist whose work has been published by Drawn & Quarterly.
It features the iconic Molson brewery smoking a cigarette.
"It was amazing to see how she gave life to that famous building," Plante said.
Visitor Céline Gagnon said it was one of her favourite pieces too.
She's lived in Montreal for 30 years and used to work around the corner from the building.
But she said it was hard to pick an absolute favourite.
"They all bring back memories," Gagnon said.
In addition to the illustrations, three artists have contributed text-based works about the city.
Inspired by Paris show
The project's other two organizers, Marion Arbona and Nicolas Trost, are illustrators who were inspired to create this exhibition after seeing a similar one in Paris called The Parisianer in 2013 — it also explored the zeitgeist of the city through cover art.
That was in 2014 and by the following year they were deciding how to start the project. In 2016 they began reaching out to artists.
Montreal is only the latest city to co-opt The New Yorker's cover style — The Tokyoiter was similarly inspired.
Le Montréaler can be seen at the Maison de la culture Plateau Mont-Royal until Jan. 14. Admission is free.