Gosh, hard to get words together to capture my thoughts on visiting Montreal. Although I grew up here, I left at 19 and have lived many other great places so thinking of Montreal as coming home is a bit of a stretch now. Sure, I have my childhood and adolescent memories but really not many of my adults ones and I know London far better than Montreal now, as far as big cities go and of course my own nearby Vancouver.

I grew up out in West Island in the very pleasant leafy suburbs but I'm staying at an Airbnb up by Beaubien Metro. It's a ground floor flat in typical Montreal style with one long hallway along one side, rooms off of it with no opening windows and then the kitchen at the back and a lovely back courtyard. It's very quiet and comfortable and Ruth and Guido are very nice young people to stay with. I like the chumminess of Airbnb. It feels like staying with friends of friends. We're going to be exchanging some tasty recipes and you just don't get that when you stay in a hotel, do you? Plus, it's very economic. I booked a private room in a shared flat and it's $29 a night. A real bargain! Very clean and comfy and heck, I really only sleep here and chill out a bit, the rest of the time I'm out on the hoof.

I have a friend Ann-Marie Brown up near here that I plan to hook up with a few times and do art things with. I carried back two of her lovely small encaustic paintings from our Figurative show at GPAG in February and handed them safely over last night.

I'm planning some artist studio visits with a handful of my Montreal figurative artists and have already had one with Kai McCall. Read more about studio visit here.

After visiting Kai's studio, I wandered down to take in the gallery at UQAM and then toodle up St. Denis Street, peeking into interesting shops and boutiques along the way. A really cute one was Linda Morisset. Cute funky fashions with a flirty circus feeling. I think I'm going to have to go back there and take another look.

Up around Rachel and Mont-Royal and St. Denis, I put some time into finding a small bag full of second hand french versions of some of my favorite English authors. I'm keeping my french active and reading novels in French these days. I speak the words in my mind as if I were reading for an audio book, giving them lots of realistic verve and attitude and so am sort of percolating my brain in many ways, as if it needs any further percolating! I have a neat little French-English dictionary on my iPhone that I use to look up a word I'm really stuck on but sometimes that's only one every few pages. Very handy!

Another thing the iPhone is super handy for is Google Maps! Crikey! You key in your destination and then it captures your real current location and gives you a few different ways to reach your destination. Super! As long as you put in the correct destination. Walking back from dinner late with Ann-Marie last night I put the wrong address in and ended up walking an extra 8 blocks or so but made it home eventually. My own silly mistake. You can even see the little ball moving along the line of the bus line so you can tell when to get off. Dandy travel app!

Another great use for mobile phones was told to me by a sweet young woman who had flown to Montreal from Newfoundland instead of hitchhiking as the price was pretty good and the difference wasn't worth the risk, among other things. She does quite a bit of hitching and she asks the driver if she can text her mom the license plate before she gets in the car!!! What a great idea!! Gee, they sure didn't have that when we used to hitchhike in the good old/bad old days.

Had a peek into Rossetti where we used to come to buy our dance and gymnastics leotards. I didn't have the nerve to admit to them that we may have tucked a couple into our bags without paying way back in the dark ages when we were 14. I think I even still have a purple one in my knits stash in the sewing room which is getting smaller as I snip bits out of it and use them in other projects. I didn't shoplift many times and maybe can remember every item that I did pinch. Yikes, I'm glad that is a very old faint memory and not a current practice. Not a good idea on any count or at any age. I remember and old grade school chum who told me she had pinched a large glass jar of dill pickles under her shirt!! What a kook! She is an old neighbourhood friend I would love to run into at the high school reunion. Lynn M actually phoned me on my Pavelka business line many years ago and left a nice chatty message BUT not her current name, location or phone number!! Darn it!

Wandered around the fabulous outdoors spectacle area by Place des Arts, what a venue for those fabulous hot summer nights here! Wow! We don't have anything quite like that in Vancouver.

Checked out the Belgo Building which is a big commercial building that has been converted into creative spaces for artists, dance studios and galleries. I got into the elevator with some women who seemed to know where to start so I just rode up and started out with them. Basically you just wander the halls and wander into whichever places are open.

Among things that caught my eye were:

JÉRÔME HAVRE at Galerie Donald Browne. One of his small textile creatures hung there with great character.

VALÉRIE KOLAKIS at Galerie Donald Browne. She has created very beautiful fascinating subtle ephemeral artworks on the large glass windows but stenciling through a pattern with Vaseline as her medium. These lovely things have been up for 2 years! I was informed that some of her works only lasted 2 days on an installation in Ireland before they became smudged beyond recognition and that another in China lasted excellently. It's all in the cultural differences.

Paryse Martin's chunky horse which sort of looked like an old fashioned wooden rocking horse but this one was on hot pink skate guards and made of corrugated cardboard which actually almost looked like chunky milk chocolate. Very nice work along with some intriguing large globes painted like no world we know. I just wanted to stroke their smooth painted surface which looked like it may have had marble powder mixed in with the paint but I kept my hands in my pockets.

Jumped on the Metro and zoomed across town to Atwater then walked in a big wind up to Greene Avenue in Westmount. We don't have the same architecture out west as they do here in the older east. Nice stone buildings and the young green leaves showing off even though the temperature has dropped and the winds and rains are threatening.

On Green Avenue, Gallerie d'Este was showing some beautiful Angela Grossman works including some daubed life studies in bitumen on paper. Very nice gallery, great space and excellent works by an interesting stable of artists.

Gallerie Bellefeuille is another top shelf gallery with some old faves; David Bierk, Norman Laliberte, Jacques Payette, Joe Fafard and some luscious interior photographs by Polidori. Boy, I'd be dangerous with a BIG house and a BIG credit card!

Bussed back down Sherbrooke Street and stumbled upon a nice little vernissage where I helped them consume a bit of red wine and chatted to some nice guests. That was an unexpected treat. Walked from Guy through Crescent Street and on down Ste. Catherine Street, taking in the ups and downs of the economic times in the faces of some of the shuttered buildings and less fortunate folk on the street. Tough times and no wonder BC gets lots of harsh weather refuges heading out west where at least you most probably will not freeze to death when sleeping rough on the street.

Lots of For rent signs sadly. Lots of Tattoo parlours and for rent signs...

This was Thursday's Pub, a real hopping place when I worked there in maybe 1979, closed and shuttered now on the formerly glorious Crescent Street.

Here's the famous girly bar on Ste. Catherine Street, golly still here after all these years. Different windows but still the same place right in the center of the main shopping street. Still advertizing dance contact and now lit erotique (erotic bed), boggles the mind...

Had to stop in at Dunn's and have possibly my one and only smoked meat sandwich. I didn't particularly head for Dunn's, it just appeared when I felt like stopping for dinner. The smoked meat was just right, nice and steamy and juicy and just the right amount. It was a great ending to a busy few days of lots of walking.

Posters for the artist Jason de Caires Taylor and his underwater figurative sculptures adorn the walls of the Metro.

Today I'm off to visit the Musee de Beaux Arts with Ann-Marie and tomorrow I have 3 artist studio visits lined up. See you next time.
Published on May 12, 2013

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