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2 giant Leonard Cohen murals appear in Montreal (where an LC exhibition is also opening)

Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen mural on St-Laurent Blvd (photo via Brendan Kelly)

The late, great Leonard Cohen (whose excellent 2016 swan song You Want It Darker was nominated for the Polaris Prize this week) is being honored in his birthplace of Montreal at the fifth annual Mural Festival. As part of the event, which is underway now through June 18, artist Kevin Ledo is painting a nine-story high mural of Leonard on the side of the Cooper Building on St-Laurent. Blvd. That’s a picture above.

Separate from the festival, the City of Montreal is planning a twenty-story mural of Leonard at 1420 Crescent Street, to be painted this fall by Gene Pendon, as part of a celebration of the city’s 375th birthday. Writing for the Montreal Gazette, Bill Brownstein opined:

No question that the Crescent mural will be masterfully handled by Montreal artist Gene Pendon – a.k.a. Starship – and American El Mec, but, seriously, the side of a 20-storey building would be more appropriate for a Batman beacon (if our dreamer Mayor Coderre had notions of making Montreal a twin metropolis with Gotham City), but not for an homage to Cohen, a most modest man.

Perhaps even more troubling is that the Mural festival had been planning its tribute a few years before Cohen had passed away at 82 last November. In fact, fest execs had even applied for a city grant to create its mural before the Crescent mural was announced in April and learned after that announcement they would not receive any city funding.

“We were really quite surprised after hearing that a mural was going up on Crescent for the 375th anniversary,” says André Bathalon, Mural festival co-founder. “I have nothing but great respect for the artists commissioned to do the Crescent St. mural, but we feel that Crescent St. doesn’t make much sense for a Cohen mural, that St-Laurent Blvd. is a much more appropriate place for him.

Here’s what the twenty-storey one might look like:

There’s also new Leonard Cohen exhibit opening at Le Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MAC) as part of the city’s 375th birthday celebration. It’s called Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything and it’s set to open on November 9, 2017, one year after Leonard’s death, and run through April 9, 2018. Here’s more:

A truly multidisciplinary exhibition combining visual art, virtual reality, installations, performances, music and writing, Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything offers the public a collection of brand-new work commissioned from and created by local and international artists who have been inspired by Leonard Cohen’s style and recurring themes. At the same time, it is a particularly Montreal-centric exhibition that has received outstanding support from the community.

Beyond the works to be created especially for Leonard Cohen – Une brèche en toute chose / A Crack in Everything, the exhibition will also include innovative multimedia environments where Cohen’s songs will be covered and performed (including a concert series put on by Pop Montreal), as well as a survey of his archival material (writings, drawings and recordings produced over the past half-century). Artists involved include The National & Sufjan Stevens, Chilly Gonzales & Jarvis Cocker, Moby, Julia Holter, Little Scream, Basia Bulat, and more. Details on those are still TBA, but the list of contributing artists is below. Even more info at MAC’s website.

Musicians & Performing Artists
Ariane Moffatt (Canada) with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal
Aurora (Norway)
Basia Bulat (Canada)
Chilly Gonzales (Canada) & Jarvis Cocker (United Kingdom) with The Kaiser Quartet
Dear Criminals (Canada)
Douglas Dare (United Kingdom)
Jean Leloup (Canada)
Julia Holter (United States)
Little Scream (United States)
Lou Doillon (France)
Mélanie De Biasio (Belgium)
Moby (United States)
The National (United States) with Sufjan Stevens and guests
Socalled (Canada)

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