The pandemic has certainly fostered ingenuity in artists when it comes to getting their works into the public eye. With so many galleries, exhibition spaces, and museums being closed throughout the year and most still holding restrictions to abide by current health protocols, it’s not surprising that most spaces aren’t seeking an influx of works or having a regular rotation. But some artists, such as Montreal-based creator Christopher Michaud, have been finding inventing new ways to get their works out into their communities.
Residing in the NDG area of Montreal, Christopher Michaud has been turning bus shelters into pop-up galleries around his neighbourhood. With heavy pedestrian traffic throughout the NDG area, it’s hard to miss these flourishes of art along Sherbrooke street. Apparent across the artist’s story feed on his Instagram page (@iamsidchurch), Michaud has been busy with prints and stencil work over the past year. But this latest endeavour of his seems to be turning more heads for passersby.
Michaud attaches illustrations and prints on paper to the interior glass of bus shelters along the busy street, making them clearly visible and slightly protected from the elements. The artist views the act of placing them there as a sort of pop-up using “guerrilla tactics”, and it is definitely an inventive way to bring art into a mundane pocket of bus-users everyday lives.
The style of Michaud’s work blends the vibrancy and imperfect edges of street art with evocative, expressive portraiture. His linework and style are varied, at times realist and others with a cartoonish bend. A hodgepodge of pop-culture and political poignancy, his work covers subjects including Black Lives Matter, punk icons, and Tom Waits. The aesthetic of his mixed-media practice and the quilt of culture he displays through it are striking in their familiarity, and it’s no wonder that his works have garnered attention in the city.
It may seem odd that Michaud would choose to leave his art for the taking- or possible destruction- but his methods echo the drive of countless artists in an oversaturated age. “I can hardly give my art away,” he stated in an interview with Global News. “That’s why I do this.” It’s not a surprising approach when an artist has trouble getting the world interested in what they have to offer, and as long as Michaud continues to churn out these pieces, it is certainly an inspiring way to inject art into the world.
Montreal has an interesting relationship with public art– a great deal of the time, they will allow unsanctioned projects to go undisturbed so long as they’re not disruptive. And while it certainly would be simpler for them to deal with Christopher Michaud’s guerrilla pop-ups than say a sculpture or a mural, they have yet to bring down any form of hammer. Fingers crossed that these little flecks of art across the urban landscape are able to survive and thrive throughout the year.