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PAPIER 15 preview at CreativeMornings Montréal

Valérie Kolakis “Box 1″ Donald Browne Gallery (Montreal)

by Rebecca West

Papier15 is an annual contemporary art fair based on Montreal, dedicated exclusively to the promotion of art on paper. We’re lucky to have a small preview of the exhibition at our upcoming CreativeMornings Montréal event this Friday, appropriately themed “Ink”, and conveniently located in the same Mile End building as the upcoming art fair.

Fair ambassador Bill Clarke explains their approach: “There is a wide range of work that can be made on paper – drawings, collage, small paintings, prints, abstract or figurative – and, for many artists, paper-based work is central to their practice.”  Produced by the Contemporary Art Galleries Association (AGAC) and now in its 8th edition, we chatted with Simone Rochon, Communications Manager at the AGAC about the significance in 2015 of an art fair focused on paper works, and their connection to the broader Montreal creative community.

Sara Angelucci “Arboretum (Maple tree with Goldfinch)” Patrick Mikhail Gallery

With so many opportunities for artists to be working with digital and new media in 2015, why focus exclusively on paper artwork?

This special focus is what makes Papier so unique. We may at first think of paper as a more traditional medium, but it actually offers a huge range of possibilities to artists! Works on paper at the fair include drawing, print, photography, collage, sculpture, installation and even new media work. Jessica Bradley Gallery, for example, will be presenting an installation by Jon Sasaki, where confetti is slowly being dropped from a conveyer belt. Artist Valérie Kolakis, from Donald Browne Gallery, will be presenting a bronze sculpture that looks exactly like an old cardboard box. It’s a play on the way we perceive the medium of paper and on the preciousness we usually associate to a work of art.

Another reason behind this focus on the medium of paper is that prints, drawings and photographs, for example, are typically more affordable than a painting or a sculpture. This means that they are also a great way to start collecting! Having this focus is a good and simple way to convince visitors that contemporary art can be both accessible and affordable.

Jon Sasaki “A Machine To Release One Burst Of Confetti Gradually Over The Duration Of An Exhibition” 2011. Jessica Bradley Gallery (Toronto)

Has the Papier audience evolved since the fair’s launch 8 years ago? 

Since our first edition, we’ve seen our audience grow significantly from approximately 4,000 to 18,000 visitors. There are many different types of visitors at Papier… What’s great is that the event draws in people who wouldn’t necessarily visit art galleries, but who after discovering Papier become more curious about contemporary art. There’s a very friendly atmosphere at the fair and this is one of the reasons visitors come back year after year. Of course, Papier attracts an array of art enthusiasts, art students, art professionals, art patrons and collectors.

Yann Pocreau “Lumieres” 2015. Galerie Simon Blais

What was the impetus for the move to Mile End from the Quartier des spectacles?

Unfortunately, there is major construction planned on the vacant lot we occupied last year. It was impossible to predict when exactly the construction work would start… and far too risky to plan the fair knowing theses dates could change.

When we visited the Complexe de Gaspé, we were at once impressed and excited. The space is beautiful and the view is breathtaking. The size of the space offers huge potential – this translates into more space for visitors and larger booths for galleries.

The Gaspé hub is also home to six artist-run centres and hundreds of artists’ studios. In recent years, it has become a burgeoning venue for contemporary Canadian art, with the highest density of artists and cultural workers in the country.

Papier15′s new digs at Complexe de Gaspé in Mile End

What advice would you have for the first-time art buyer looking to start a collection?

First, do some research to narrow down and focus on what you really like. The more you see, the better! Visit galleries, exhibition centers, art fairs or museums and research artists online. 

Set a budget. If you are starting a collection, you might want to give preference to emerging artists whose works are often more affordable. Of course, works on paper, especially editions like prints and photographs, are always a good way to start on a modest budget. It’s also good to know that a lot of galleries offer payment plans. 

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and let the gallerist help you through the process. It’s their job to give you a history about the artist and information about his/her artistic practice.

Most importantly, don’t be intimidated! Trust your instincts and don’t underestimate an emotional connection you have to an artwork… a big part of buying art is selecting pieces you are naturally drawn to.

Papier Spokesperson Karine Vanasse at last year’s event. Credit: ARHphoto.

Is there anything special that we can look forward to at this year’s edition?

There are many new features to look forward to this year! We have a fantastic program of daily talks and tours with an impressive line up of guests and experts. Papier Projects, a new component of the fair, will showcase large-scale works, installations and site-specific works. We also have a new art video progam, which comprises of a dozen video works presented in a special screening room. All these activities are free.

Papier15 kicks off with a VIP benefit cocktail on Thursday April 23rd at 6 p.m. and opens to the public for free on Friday April 24th. For more info visit or buy your VIP tickets here.  


                                       Photo by: Max Rosenstein

Meet Dave Arnold, the face behind Montreal signature signage

By: Sarah Mackenzie

You may know Dave as Mr. Sign – or at least you’ve already seen his work. Based in Montreal, Dave Arnold is a sign artist whose pieces are regularly painted on food trucks and restaurant window displays. A quick glance at his portfolio reveals that Mr. Sign has left his mark (literally) on many renown local eateries and establishments, including Joe Beef, Lawrence and the Grumman 78’ food truck – my personal favorite. Dave’s choice of playful yet simple bold lettering that is both nostalgic and contemporary is sure to grab a passerby’s attention. Given that Dave is the featured illustrator for this month’s climate theme and a past CreativeMornings/Ottawa speaker, it seemed befitting that we would sit down and ask him a few questions. Plus, we were curious. He seemed like quite a guy. Dave Arnold ladies and gentlemen, coming to a sign near you.

Word on the street is that Mr. Sign evolved as a result of door-to-door visits to local businesses attempting to sell hand-painted Santa Claus window displays. True or false? 

That is actually a common misconception about my origins. I’m not sure how that one got started. Truth be told, my Father and his Father before him were traditional sign painters. Even as a young lad, I’d see the two of them joking and laughing, and painting letters on windows and walls. Oh the fun we had! They both told me that I could be whatever I wanted to be in life, but that sign painting, as a career, was the easiest way to become rich and famous. They’re both alive and well to this day, and so rich it’s ridiculous. They both own their own island in the Caribbean, and fly there in their own private chopper.* (*helicopter)


Your portfolio is impressive. You’ve collaborated with a lot of interesting Montreal establishments, including restaurants like Nora Gray and popular Mile End hangouts like Nouveau Palais. Where might I find Mr. Sign in the future?

More and more these days, I’m working in the field of ‘design.’ In the end, the designs are often executed as hand-painted signage, but the design process itself has become increasingly fascinating to me. I’m working this week with McDonald’s Canada on a complete re-brand of their logo and branding. Without giving too many details, I can tell you this: the ‘Golden Arches’ are going to have pointy tops soon, rather than curved. Stay tuned!

How do you go about creating a sign? Are you normally given artistic freedom or is the client heavily involved in the process?

If the client is smart, they just give me complete creative control, then sit back and watch the magic happen. Every now and again, a client is a total moron and wants to have some sort of creative input. To these clients, I generally respond with my famous catchphrase “you are a complete and utter moron.”


I dig the Western feel and the old-fashioned typeface that you selected for your CreativeMornings illustration. How does the image relate to this month’s climate theme?

I figured that since the current climate issue is often associated with global warming, I’d slip in the old ‘thermometer temperature rising’ trick. As for the lettering itself, I decided I wanted something was, how do you say?…….. the “bomb jiggity”? In my humble opinion, I accomplished this task neatly and completely.

You’re starving and you could use a drink. Where would we find you?

Montreal is world renowned for it’s restaurant and bar scene, but if you compare the prices they’re charging to the prices that the supermarket is charging, it’s ridiculous. 8 to 1; 9 to 1 sometimes. I mean, what am I, a Sultan over here? Get serious. You can find me eating and drinking at my cozy little house, just STACKIN’ that paper. Gangsta stylez.

Still curious about Mr. Sign? Check him out here and follow him on Instagram

Steve Bissonnette & Louis-Félix Binette (Photo: Léa Beauchamp-Yergeau)

By Rebecca West

As announced recently on our blog, our host since the founding of CreativeMornings Montréal in 2013, Steve Bissonnette, is stepping down this month and passing the proverbial torch to fellow MTLCM co-founder Louis-Félix Binette. We chatted about what this means to them, and to the broader CreativeMornings community.

Steve, how does it feel to be stepping down as host of CreativeMornings Montréal after two successful years?

I’m super proud of what we’ve accomplished, and feel like I’m leaving at a good time. There is understandably some anxiety in handing over so many responsibilities, from managing our team of volunteers, to maintaining relationships with CreativeMornings’ head office in New York and with sponsors. That being said, I have total confidence that the team will be in good hands with Louis-Félix at the helm.

Louis-Félix, how are you feeling about taking on the role of host?

I’m as as excited as I’ve been since the beginning of CreativeMornings Montréal. It’s an amazing opportunity to be at the centre of such a dynamic community. There is a bit of stress associated with the added responsibilities; I don’t want to let anything fall between the cracks. On the other hand, I’ve been having good conversations with NYC, and there are a lot of great upcoming CreativeMornings initiatives that will either be coming from, or to, Montreal.

Louis-Félix, how do you think your background in politics, diplomacy and management consulting will influence your approach as host?

I feel like I’m one of many nodes in a global CreativeMornings network. As a former international diplomat, it feels like I’ve moved on to “creative diplomacy.” So I see this role as a way to bring together the things I’ve learned over the years in various contexts and apply them to make MTLCM better. A lot of thought and energy has gone into structuring the Montreal chapter, and we’ll continue to experiment and try new things — it’s always a work in progress. We’re always looking for new ways to innovate and engage Montreal’s many creative communities.

Steve, what qualities do you think make for a great host?

There are certain qualities that distinguish a great host, as I noticed in my work here in Montréal, as well as getting to know chapters around the world. You have to be a good listener, to be able to filter and process ideas coming from many directions, then synthesize them and put back out into the community in an enthusiastic way. A great host has to be aware of the big picture — within their community, in other chapters, and beyond CreativeMornings. Managing a volunteer-based organization is also unique — a careful balancing, unlike managing in a for-profit context, where everyone’s ideas are considered.  

Steve, do you have any friendly advice for Louis-Félix?

It’s not an original answer but it’s one that comes up often — to trust your team and delegate! I ran into trouble in trying to personally solve problems that would come up. The role of host shouldn’t be to solve all problems, but rather to facilitate solutions. It’s a clear distinction. It’s also important to accept that despite everyone’s best efforts mistakes will happen — you simply have to own up to it, forgive them, and move on.

Louis-Félix, what are your plans for MTLCM in the next year or so?

I’m starting my host duties by trying talk to everyone on our team of volunteers, to get to know what it is about CreativeMornings that keeps them coming back every month. I also want to take stock of the last couple years and see what we’ve done well and had fun doing — to see how we can have successful events without reinventing the wheel every time. It’s also important for me to get more feedback from our community, and get them more involved in telling us what’s working and what isn’t.

In terms of specific projects coming up, there are two we’re working towards this year. Firstly, I want to make it easier to connect through CreativeMornings — not just at our breakfast events, but more broadly. Whether it’s when people are travelling internationally, or looking for a new project collaborator, I want them to have the reflex to tap into our rich network of creatives. Our second major initiative is in partnership with the economic forum je vois montréal. Last November, CreativeMornings Montreal took on an engagement to organize an economic summit on creative communities, to take place in the fall of 2015. Our goal is to bring together Montreal’s business leaders, beyond the creative industries, to take stock of what the various creative communities bring to the city in terms of economic value. We can then help ensure the survival and expansion of our city’s amazing creative vibe.

A big thank you to Steve for doing such an incredible job as host over the last couple years, and welcome to your new role Louis-Félix — it sounds like we have a lot to look forward to this year!

My Dear Friends,

As of Feb 27th I’ll be stepping down as the MTL host.

The past 2 years (21 events) have been amazing and have given me something I never expected when this adventure began. I have tried to express it at times, but truthfully it has simply made my heart larger.

This inspiring global conversation has taken root in our city, and having played a lead role in that, I count myself as very lucky. We started as a small group meeting for a drink at Laïka, and ended up with a community of almost 2,000 of Montréal’s most interesting people. I have loved everything we’ve built and feel that it is at its absolute best right now. I hope I have made you proud. I have made myself proud.

I’m very happy to announce that Louis-Félix Binette will be taking over as our Montréal host. He has worked closely with me since the beginning, and I have the utmost admiration for him. Those that have the pleasure of knowing Félix understand how truly inspired and committed he is to CreativeMornings, Montréal, the ideals of fostering a community, and shining a strong light on the path for us all. He is a perfect fit and he will do a fantastic job.

I would like to offer profound thanks to my amazing MTL team who have become lifelong friends, the HQ team in NYC, and everyone who has encouraged me over the past 2 years. It’s easy to forget that this wonderful collaboration is entirely run by volunteers — who donate their time, creative energy and passion to making this happen for us all. I’d like to say a special thank you to Tina Roth Eisenberg who has changed my life. She’s taught me to share what you love and let it grow, and as I have told her ‘I owe you big time buddy!’.

I’m sure you might be asking why, and it’s for positive reasons. It comes down to my family (being more involved in my daughter’s school) and stepping up to help run Plank this year. While it is simply time to pass the torch, I also get the sneaking suspicion that I’ll never be able to truly end my CreativeMornings endeavours. 

I’ll leave it there before I get too mushy.

Steve Bissonnette
, CreativeMornings/Montréal Host.

Chers amis et amies de CreativeMornings,

Vendredi dernier le 19 décembre se tenait au Musée d’art contemporain l’événement le plus populaire de la courte histoire (vingt mois, quand même!) de CreativeMornings/Montréal, en présence d’Alexandre Taillefer. Vous étiez près de 800 à vous inscrire. Malgré une capacité limitée, nous avons laissé entrer près de 100 personnes de plus que prévu.

Il y avait une telle énergie dans la salle, et pourtant, nous n’avons pu nous empêcher de penser à ceux qui n’ont pu obtenir de billets. Pour plusieurs d’entre eux, ç’aurait un sixième, huitième, douzième CreativeMornings. Pour beaucoup d’autres, ç’aurait été toute une première expérience. Faute d’avoir pu accueillir tous ceux qui auraient aimé assister, nous avons tout fait pour rendre la vidéo disponible le plus rapidement possible. Vous pouvez la visionner ici.

J’espère que nous aurons l’occasion de remettre ça à notre prochain événement, le vendredi 30 janvier 2015. Ou à n’importe quel autre « dernier vendredi du mois ».

Merci de votre compréhension. Merci de rester en contact. Et Joyeuses Fêtes!

Steve Bissonnette, hôte officiel
Louis-Félix Binette, directeur général
au nom de toute l’équipe de CreativeMornings/Montréal

Abonnez-vous à notre infolettre mensuelle.


Dear friends of CreativeMornings,

Last Friday 19 December, we held the most popular event in CreativeMornings/Montréal’s short (20-month) history, with Alexandre Taillefer as a speaker. You were close to 800 to register. Despite a limited capacity at Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, we made space for as many people as we could — almost 100 more than we were supposed to.

There was such energy in that room, yet we couldn’t help but to think of all those who couldn’t get a ticket. For many of them, it would have been a fifth, eighth or twelfth CreativeMornings. But for even more, it would have been a first. And what a first it would have been! Short of having been able to accommodate all of you, we put every effort in getting the video ready as fast as we could. You can watch it here [in French only].

I hope we do get to see you at our next event, on Friday 30 January 2015. Or any last Friday of the month after that.

Thank you for your understanding. Thank you for keeping in touch. And Happy Holidays!

Steve Bissonnette, host
Louis-Félix Binette, Managing Director
on behalf of the entire CreativeMornings/Montréal team

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter.

Photographe Tayaout-Nicolas a filmé un très beau «timelapse» au CreativeMornings/Montréal du mois de novembre sur la #CHANCE!

Photographer Tayaout-Nicolas shot an awesome timelapse at November’s CreativeMornings/Montréal on #CHANCE. Check it out!

By Jessica Beauplat

D’Arcy and Matt are the founders of Heart City Apparel. A young and vibrant clothing line with a slightly different twist. Walking around the city, they noticed the widespread homelessness that existed next to the street art. They figured that there had to be a way for the art to help people living in the streets. So, they got in touch with a Montreal street artist, and began their project. Ever since, they’ve continued to expand to cities throughout the world with the goal of allowing artists to truly give back to their cities. Let’s talk further about giving people a chance. 

Hi guys! You both have very interesting backgrounds, growing up in different parts of the world. Could you tell us a little bit about that and how did it influence your view of the world? 

D’Arcy: Being lucky enough to grow up in different corners of the globe has definitely been a defining aspect of my life. Born in the UK, and having my early childhood spent in Ghana and France before arriving to the US exposed me to a variety of cultures and backgrounds early on, setting the tone for my current interests in international development and cross culture exchange. I was brought up in an environment that pushed me to reach out to people different from myself, and to learn and grow from these relationships. Travelling, as one might see from my 8 months of backpacking last year, is definitely my passion, along with learning as much as I can from those I meet along the way.

Matt: I moved around back and forth from New York to Paris to Connecticut throughout my childhood. It really helped me accept and empathize with different people and cultures. 

What do you find unique about Montreal’s creative community?

D’Arcy: There is this buzz in Montreal, one that is being filled by this young, entrepreneurial generation of hip and passionate 20 to 30 year olds. There is an unbelievable amount of passion, and talent in the creative communities of Montreal. Be that of the street artists, nightlife gurus, musicians and vibrant students population, of which seem to all come together in this creative space emerging in the city.

Matt: The art scene in Montreal really seems to have come together in the last few years. For example, on St. Laurent you’ll find a creative hub (Lndmrk, Saintwoods, Station16 Gallery) all located in the same building. They are all coming together and collaborating on so many different projects. It’s really cool to not only witness that culture but slowly becoming ingrained in it.

How do you explain two young entrepreneurs being more interested in the issue of homelessness in the city rather than money?

D’Arcy: Haha, would it be cheesy to just say it provides a sort of moral satisfaction that keeps us running? It also helps that both our backgrounds (History and International Development) haven’t exactly trained us to be money hungry. Instead we want to look into our communities, learn from them, and try to give back.

Matt: Having a purpose is what keeps both a person and a business going. I think we’re fortunate to be more obsessed with helping the disenfranchised and exposing art. We feel a moral obligation to keep going. Whereas if it were just for the money, there would be no purpose, it would be no fun and the day-to-day struggles would not be worth putting up with.

Through social media, you are humanizing people living in the streets by sharing their stories. Why is it important for you to share their world?

D’Arcy: A lot of the time, and even we ourselves have previously been guilty of this, people aren’t able to (and aren’t forced to) relate to homelessness. The ever unspoken “other” of our communities usually causes us to walk by quickly without considering their own stories, of which are more like our own than some might think.

Matt: Through this campaign we’ve met some incredibly kind and open people who are really no different from you and me. Often, there was just a period in their lives (a rough upbringing, an accident, a sickness) that landed them there. A lot of people walk by and think it’s their fault for being there – we want to help those people understand that there’s a lot more to it.

What were you the most surprise to learn as you got to meet the homeless community? 

D’Arcy: Personnally, I was surprised by how relatable their problems can be, and how you never really have this mind set of “Oh, one day I might be homeless” but neither did most of those that are currently in the streets.

Matt: As for me, I discovered that they’re willing to give so much. They’re often the first to share what they have – whether it’s food, a blanket or their time. It really goes to show that those who have the least always give the most.

What is the single thing that keeps you going day after day? 

D’Arcy: Knowing that so many people are supporting our movement because they, like us, understand that this social good is worth fighting for.

Matt: The fact that more and more people are wearing our shirts and sweaters and identifying with an artist and a charitable cause instead of solely a brand name.

Heart City Apparel is a philanthropic urban wear company that takes artists from around the world and gives back to the homeless in their cities. To learn more and how to get involved check out 

Le thème global de CreativeMornings du mois de novembre est la ‪#‎CHANCE‬. On se voit le matin du 28 novembre prochain.

The global CreativeMornings theme for the month of November is #CHANCE. See you all on November 28th.

Image by/par: Jeremy Lord (@jeremylord)