Montréal-Nord window art reflects neighbourhood joy
De l'Art en Vitrine exposition runs until Sept. 15
Fadi Mawassi's vivid window display in Montréal-Nord has been up for a week, and it's turning heads.
"Every day, clients tell me they like it…. Even the passersby across the street notice it," the owner of Marché Tradition said.
For Mawassi, the colourful portraits in his store windows "add beauty to the street," a change he welcomes.
They're part of De l'art en vitrine in Montréal-Nord, an initiative by the local business development group, the Corporation de Développement Économique de Montréal-Nord (CDEC), to draw people to the area's commercial strips.
Twenty-four vibrant illustrations, designed by Niti Marcelle Mueth and Emilie Morneau, are brightening storefronts on Fleury, Charleroi and Monselet Streets until Sept. 15.
"We really wanted to give people a good reason to visit their local businesses, as well as bring colours and joy into the streets," says Melissa Bensiali-Hadaud, a spokesperson for the CDEC.
The group also launched an online contest to encourage art fans to buy at local stores, after two challenging years for businesses.
People who successfully identify where illustrations are being showcased can win up to $1,000 in gift cards until Sept. 2 to splurge in Montréal-Nord.
In May, Morneau and Mueth spent a day meeting store owners and visualizing images that would best represent where they would be displayed.
"It was really important for me that the store owners would be proud of the images because it represents them as well as the people who enter their stores," Mueth said.
Morneau, who has lived in the borough since 2017, says she jumped at the chance to portray her home in a positive light.
"I realized that when we talked about the neighbourhood, it was never for positive initiatives or … the interesting people here doing good things for the community," she said.
The nine portraits at Marché Tradition are her favourite pieces of the exhibition, she says, especially because one of the images highlights her neighbours. The window features her and Mueth's artwork based on the same eye-catching palette.
"I love my neighbourhood so much, and I love my neighbours. It just made sense for the mural to turn out this way," Morneau said.
For Mueth, emphasizing Montréal-Nord's sense of community through art aligns with her previous body of work. She is the artistic director of Never Was Average, the group behind Montreal's Black Lives Matter fresco, which graced Sainte-Catherine Street East in 2020.
"We didn't really have restrictions for the market, so it was fun to be able to create and see what Emilie and my work would look like once we put it together because we worked separately…. And it was a perfect fit."
Mueth describes De l'Art en Vitrine as an opportunity to celebrate art beyond the city centre and "make art accessible to people old and young."
"Usually, when we speak of art we think of popular neighbourhoods, downtown, and I thought it was important to position [Montréal-Nord] as an artistic area that's centred on community and living together," Mueth said. "This project gives people another reason to visit Montreal-Nord for more than just running errands."
with files from John Ngala