Nuit Blanche kicked off on Saturday, Feb. 28, marking the end of this year’s Montréal en Lumière. The month-long celebration of lights, food, arts, and culture concluded with a full day and night of free art installations, gallery showings, and live music. Nuit Blanche has historically been an event tailored to encourage the people of Montreal to discover a variety of artists and explore new venues. One such gallery embraced this spirit of exploration and discovery. Fresh Paint Gallery, located at 221 Saint Catherine, is a space for talented street artists to display their work. Taking graffiti to the next level, Fresh Paint is a non-profit gallery that is dedicated to showcasing up-and-coming artists.
The murals within Fresh Paint Gallery line the entry into the stairwell of the gallery. The graffiti and tags extend beyond the walls and cover the steps of the stairs as well. In celebration of Nuit Blanche, Fresh Paint Gallery painted over one of its mural walls in preparation for the four artists—MSHL, Isaac Holland, MAG Illustrations, and Cgo—all working to create a new mural with the concept of exquisite corpse-art tag team style. Fresh Paint calls this “Art Attack,” and artists paint directly onto a wall infusing creativity and style in the gallery.
According to Adrien Fumex, Fresh Paint Gallery manager since its conception in 2011, Nuit Blanche generates a much-needed interest in alternative arts.
“Graffiti is not generally associated with positive things. We are trying to destigmatize street art and show that it does have a place in the Montreal arts scene,” Fumex said. “Nuit Blanche is huge every year. We get hundreds of new visitors of all ages throughout the night. Some of which never would have stepped inside otherwise.”
Volunteers run the show at Fresh Paint. Entry is by donation, and all proceeds go towards leasing the location and other administrative expenses. According to Concordia Sociology student Alisa Sou, many students volunteer at Fresh Paint.
“It is very accessible to get involved,” Sou said. “If you want to volunteer here, just come in and say hi. I have only been volunteering here for a month now and the team is incredible. It brings people of all ages together that have never really experienced street art.”
The ephemeral nature of the artwork at Fresh Paint is one of its many charms. Previous work is not preserved, but instead painted over live in a new exhibition, emulating the nature of street art. Every new mural is a risk and a testament to the skill of Montreal’s local artists. At Fresh Paint’s Nuit Blanche event, artists covered the wall over the span of five hours while spectators sat right behind the painters.
Sarah Faye, a Montreal HEC Business School student and Nuit Blanche spectator, expressed positive sentiments towards her experience at Nuit Blanche.
“For students, what’s fun about Nuit Blanche is that it makes experiencing art in Montreal more fun and more accessible. It’s really nice to see street art and street dance be represented and brought together like this,” she said. “There’s also good wine that is free, so that’s always fun to have in a gallery.”
The gallery is open all year and has Art Attack events every three months. They also host a famous monthly graffiti battle named Beaux Dégâts at Foufones Electriques.