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Arsenal Contemporary Art

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Located within a nineteenth-century shipyard in the neighborhood of Griffintown, Arsenal is a private gallery dedicated to contemporary art. We stopped by to check out the space, and see if we could make any sense out of the collection.

Arsenal Montreal

At first blush, Griffintown seems like a strange neighborhood in which to base a gallery of contemporary art. This has historically been a blue-collar kind of place, home to immigrant families who worked down at the docks. There’s been a recent effort to revitalize Griffintown, but it’s still a post-industrial neighborhood, filled with huge old warehouses, many of which are empty.

But empty warehouses are not without potential, and that seems to have been recognized by the owners of Arsenal. With plenty of space and light, this massive shipyard building is the perfect place in which to showcase contemporary art.

Arsenal Montreal

Arsenal opened in 2011, and has welcomed exhibits from some of the contemporary art world’s brightest stars, while also featuring an equal amount of home-grown talent. It’s a concept that seems to work; in 2013, Arsenal expanded to Toronto, where they occupy another large industrial site, in a former lumber kiln.

The art is definitely cutting-edge. We saw a couple temporary exhibits: an underwater-dancing-drama film project called y20 from Montreal native Dominique Skoltz, and the comedic packing tape sculptures of American Mark Jenkins. These both met with our approval, but much of Arsenal’s collection was hit-or-miss… as contemporary art tends to be. For every interesting piece that captured our attention, there was something like plain, colored blocks hanging on the walls.

Arsenal hosts weekly workshops, called Cultural Tuesdays, during which you can access the galleries for free and interact with the artists whose work is currently showing. The space can also be rented out for events, such as balls and weddings. Even if you’re not into contemporary art, it might be worth a visit to check out the interior of the old shipyard building. Arsenal keeps a strange schedule, often closing for weeks at a time, so make sure to check out their website before heading over.

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Arsenal – Website

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May 15, 2016 at 7:55 pm Comments (0)

The Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art

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Founded in 1964, the Musée d’Art Contemporain was the first museum in Canada dedicated entirely to works of contemporary art. In 1991, the MAC moved into its new location on the Place des Arts, where it hosts exhibitions from the world’s most famous contemporary artists.

Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art

The works displayed at the MAC run the gamut from video and sculpture, to media-painting and performance art. Although they do have a permanent collection of over seven thousand works, only a small number of these are shown at any time. The focus of the MAC is on its temporary exhibits, which makes sense for a contemporary art museum… who wants to see old pieces that have been around for years? Give us something new!

Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art

A visit to the MAC is likely to be impressive and irritating in equal measure, and your enjoyment will depend entirely on how you respond to whatever artist they’re currently hosting; in other words, make sure to check the list of exhibitions before purchasing a ticket. We were drawn by the work of Ragnar Kjartansson, an Icelandic performance artist who has achieved a certain level of fame for his imaginative, often music-based projects. (Since we spent 91 days in Iceland, we felt a kinship towards Rangar; it’s not unlikely we even met him at a Reykjavik happy hour, since we met about 25% of the island’s population at some point during our stay.)

One of his installations at the MAC was called “A Lot of Sorrow,” which is nothing but an extended video of the band The National performing their song “Sorrow” for six and a half hours. As soon as the song would finish, they’d segue into the next iteration. Now, we’re big fans of the National, but still. I think the primary “art” involved in this project, was convincing the band to agree to it!

Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art

We preferred another of Rangar’s installations called “The Visitors,” in which he placed a dozen of his musically-inclined friends around an old mansion, gave them headphones to stay synced, and together had them play an hour-long song revolving around the lyrics, “once again I fall into my feminine ways.” In a large room at the MAC, a separate film of each musician is shown, and the effect is amazing — as you walk around the room (or the house), different facets of the music come to the fore: the cello, the accordion, the drums. And the song was lovely, too.

You probably already know if you’re the kind of person who’s going to enjoy the MAC. Contemporary art is easy to despise, but if you are open to avant-garde works, don’t pass it up. With its focus on challenging artists, prominent downtown location, and spacious rooms which allow its wide-ranging projects to be properly experienced, this is one of the best contemporary art museums we’ve ever been to.

Location on our Map
Musée d’Art Contemporain – Website

Framed Montreal Photos

Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art
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May 6, 2016 at 4:00 pm Comments (0)
Arsenal Contemporary Art Located within a nineteenth-century shipyard in the neighborhood of Griffintown, Arsenal is a private gallery dedicated to contemporary art. We stopped by to check out the space, and see if we could make any sense out of the collection.
For 91 Days