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La Ville de Montréal a lancé lundi la programmation estivale de l’événement « Plaisir au soleil dans Peter-McGill ». Jusqu’à la fin du mois d’août, le festival de quartier présentera plusieurs activités allant de la sculpture au théâtre afin de remettre en valeur toute la partie ouest de l’arrondissement de Ville-Marie.
En donnant le coup d’envoi aux festivités, le conseiller du district Peter-McGill, Sammy Forcillo, espère que la population se réappropriera un quartier «négligé» au fil des ans. En effet, aux dires de M. Forcillo, le district Peter-McGill fait les frais d’un certain laisser-aller auquel il faut remédier.
« Depuis le déménagement du Forum, la rue Sainte-Catherine peine à se revitaliser dans cette portion-ci de l’ouest de la ville », regrette le conseiller municipal. Il rappelle que le district Peter-McGill est celui où l’on retrouve le plus de familles et d’enfants dans l’arrondissement de Ville-Marie. «Il est donc normal que la population demande une prise en charge de son environnement et que la Ville réagisse», ajoute M. Forcillo.
Au total, ce sont 5,5 M$ qui seront investis sur la modernisation du square Cabot et du parc Hector-Toe-Blake au cours des trois prochaines années, dont plus d’un million de dollars iront à l’entretien et à la propreté. La Ville de Montréal entend travailler conjointement avec les citoyens du quartier dans l’élaboration des futurs projets et ainsi «créer avec eux un climat plus favorable».
L’exposition Arcane de Mer de l’artiste Glen Le Mesurier constitue le point central de l’événement «Plaisir au soleil». Répartie sur l’ensemble du square Cabot, elle comporte dix sculptures d’inspiration navale assemblées à l’aide de pièces de bateaux. Pour le sculpteur né à Gaspé, le thème de la vie en mer a permis de « réconcilier les origines irlandaise, française et italienne du district Peter-McGill».
Parmi les autres activités proposées d’ici la fin de l’été, les concerts Mélo-cité s’arrêteront au square Cabot à l’heure du lunch et la rue Pierce deviendra partiellement piétonnière pour les deux semaines de l’événement Quartier en mouvement. Le festival « Plaisir au soleil » culminera sur une grande fête estivale au parc Percy-Walters le samedi 20 août.
Love and art anchor the heart
Artist Glen LeMesurier has more pieces in public spaces than any other sculptor in Montreal
By MARIANNE ACKERMAN, Special to the Gazette
August 19th, 2011.
Click here to see the article on the Gazette’s site.
MONTREAL – After dark, I’m sitting beside the railway tracks, drinking wine out of a coffee cup, wondering where the mosquitoes are. Half a dozen people mill around a crackling fire, mounted on a milk drum, while Augie, 11, and his sister, Tallulah, 14, sitting at a table, work their way through some snacks.
A thin, angular guy with bristly grey hair, our host, is waving a flashlight. I call him over, take a roll of bills from my pocket and stick them into the beam. His eyes light up.
Last payment on the fish, I explain. “What? You still owe me? Hey, money’s always handy when you’ve got kids. Comes in, goes right out again.”
That’s how sculptor Glen LeMesurier does business. Two years ago he offered to loan us a piece for our front yard. Visiting his studio, my husband and I decided we needed to own Poisson Jurassic, an undulating fish skeleton on a rotating pedestal, made from chunks of chains once used on mammoth long-haul trucks. Finally, it’s paid for.
Irrepressibly intense, Glen LeMesurier is part of a rapidly dwindling variety of artist: hard-working, driven even, yet not a careerist. His greatest victories involve talking politicians into letting him treat various empty corners of the city as his showroom. Consequently, he has more pieces in public spaces than any other sculptor in Montreal, most of them “on loan from the artist,” including a few that went up when nobody was looking.
Using elemental and recycled materials; scrap, bolts, wheels, springs, pipes, he cuts, welds and polishes, creating sculptures that capture the spirit of purposeful function in imaginative ways.
Brave talismans of a crumbling time and place, built to rust, they do. Of 102 works, about half are private purchases. Others can be found in front of the Cirque du Soleil HQ (a commission), at Carré Cabot near the Atwater métro.
Days later, we’re back in his private sculpture garden, a strip between the railway tracks and the Van Horne Terminal Iron Works, where he has lived and worked for 14 years. Squirrels nibble carrots hanging from a feeder in one of the many trees he planted. He serves honey from his private hive of imported Italian bees.
The eternally optimistic man of action is in a reflective mood.
“My vision for Montreal is sometimes so powerful, it’s overwhelming,” he says. “This city could be amazing. Look at the sculptures brought here for Expo 67. Montreal is nowhere near it’s potential for beauty.”
In 2005, he won a Conseil des arts grant to see the work of Expo 67 masters in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, including Niki de Saint Phalle, Bernard Luginbühl and Jean Tinguely .
He was impressed by the iron work of Jujol in Barcelona, who worked with the Catalan architect Gaudi.
Travel exposed Montreal’s potential, but also clarified reality.
“The only person with any kind of vision and clout here is Phyllis Lambert,” he says. “I dream of having the impact she does with the CCA.”
His studio is full of gems that would enhance the aesthetic of any living room, but he hankers to go big.
“Every idea I get these days needs to be on a much larger scale.”
Being allowed to create for Montreal is not enough any more.
He would like to create a four-season sculpture garden in the countryside, a permanent exhibition people might actually pay to see. He’s even found the perfect location.
But how does an inveterate noncareerist change the way he relates to the world without becoming somebody else?
In Glen’s case, the beginning began with heartbreak – a horrific experience with a woman last winter.
In the worst of it, close friends kept an eye on him 24/7.
As the cloud lifted, he began to question his future both as a rogue public artist and as a woman-adoring, lumpstaking 51-year-old single guy:
“Why can’t the universe throw an artist at me, a woman who can make stuff happen?
“I gave this a lot of thought, and figured out that when I meet somebody, I always look at the body first, you know, glance down, get hooked.
“Months later I wake up and realize she’s a wing nut. So I decided (his thumbs and index fingers form a square), the next one, I’m going to look in the eye, get her talking and find out what she’s thinking. If she’s got something going on in her life, then – only then – do I let myself look down.”
So he did.
That’s how he found Rouge Lefebvre, who is not only an accomplished artist but can prepare delicious meals on an open fire and is also beautiful.
His showroom has never looked so professional. His plans have never been so concrete.
A member of the new group of Friday Voice columnists, Marianne writes the Micro Montreal column which profiles people and places in our city.
A novelist, playwright and critic, Marianne is publisher of The Rover, an online arts magazine found at http://www.roverarts.com.
Click here to see the article on The Rover’s site.
When I came across this guy who makes amazing sculptures from industrial materials, my rural Ontario upbringing quickly resurfaced. I’d never met a man east of Napanee who could weld! Not only did Glen LeMesurier create the exceptionally fine Jurassic fish currently reigning over our tiny front yard, he spent a day pouring concrete and generally insuring installation. Having an original iron work takes the pressure off gardening, gives the shady side of Waverly Street an edge over precocious perennials facing us from across the street by early April.
Glen is something of a media darling in Montreal, though self-promotion isn’t his style. He simply believes art belongs in public spaces, and has a long history of random installations. To call him a Mile End artist isn’t quite right either. He’s a Van Horne phenomenon, as tied to the neighbourhood’s once great industry – the railroads – as any artist could be.
From his blog: “I believe that by using recycled material in unexpected ways the survival of these materials becomes heroic and their transformation from object into Art becomes part of a mythological process. As a self taught artist I have spent twenty years learning the techniques of construction that have allowed me to move from working on small pieces in wood to working now in an industrial studio, and mostly in iron. I have given a lot to my work and have also gotten much from it and I owe a debt to other artists who have gone before me, traveling this road of sparks and steel.”
These excellent sculptures have honest labour in their souls. In a time when last year’s iPod is considered quaint, Glen creates art from materials of proven durability. What better talismans to ward off the hyper spirits of our cyber-saturated environments?
Cliquez ici pour voir l’article sur le site de Night Life.
Glen LeMesurier est un artiste marginal, un personnage haut en couleur, à l’image de ses coudes tatoués et de ses yeux bleu azur.
Depuis trente ans, le sculpteur montréalais se passionne pour cet art, d’abord pratiqué sur du bois, avant de passer au métal, auquel il est resté fidèle. Un amour pour un élément qu’il a découvert dans sa jeunesse: «Mon père travaillait sur des moteurs automobiles, j’ai habité toute ma vie dans un garage.» Aujourd’hui, c’est donc sans grande surprise que Glen est devenu un passionné de machinerie et passe ses journées dans son studio, aux abords d’une vieille ligne ferroviaire du Mile-End.
Cet été, une cinquantaine de ses sculptures prennent place à la Maison de la culture Côte-des-Neiges, à la fois en intérieur et en extérieur. Une volonté de l’artiste qui se définit comme «vert», car ses œuvres sont créées à partir d’objets recyclés et de rebuts de toutes sortes. «Chaque semaine, je passe près de six heures au cimetière des métaux, à sélectionner les prochaines composantes de mes sculptures», explique Glen. Et si l’entrevue qu’il donne commence sur le lieu de l’exposition, elle se finira chez lui, dans son studio, empli d’objets de toute sorte.
À quelques pas de l’atelier, il fait découvrir son Jardin du crépuscule aux curieux. Sur cette parcelle de terre abandonnée en pleine ville, il entrepose quelques œuvres de sa confection. D’ailleurs, nombreux sont les endroits de Montréal où l’on peut apercevoir les immenses sculptures de cet artiste du macadam. Le Cirque du Soleil ainsi que le Jardin de sculptures de l’Hôpital Douglas, à Verdun, en sont les heureux propriétaires. Dans le fond, le rêve de cet éternel enfant – au volant d’une vieille Volvo customisée de peluches et de jouets – est d’implanter ses sculptures dans tout Montréal: «La ville est un jardin qui a besoin de points de repère», défend-il.
Bien loin, donc, des sculptures grecques, romanes, gothiques ou baroques, ce non-conformiste connaît pourtant son art sur le bout des doigts. «J’ai plus de 2000 livres d’histoire de la sculpture et des métaux dans ma bibliothèque. Ici, personne ne connaît vraiment cette histoire. Les autres ne le connaissent pas encore, mais je suis en train de la changer», s’amuse le sculpteur autodidacte, dont Tim Burton aurait pu s’inspirer pour un prochain film.
Chez lui, on se retrouve confronté à l’image de l’atelier d’artiste qui nous trottait dans la tête depuis tout jeune. Une immense pièce, pleine à craquer d’outils et de babioles – vélos, cheval en bois, énorme bouée en plastique, carcasse de chariot en métal – où se retrouvent son chien, Prince, ses tortues, et dehors, ses pigeons. En clair, s’il n’existait pas, il faudrait inventer cet homme, riche en générosité, en enthousiasme, en créativité et bientôt heureux papa.
Walking is a kind of reading Braille. We learn the city by the soles of our feet. If you are lucky, you will have discovered the sculpture park in the middle of night, towards the end of summer, when the air is wistful and calm. It is one of those secret spaces, so exposed and strangely placed that it becomes invisible. If you move through the city with only a destination in mind, it’s possible that you might never find it. But if you read with your soles, sometime you’ll end up here, and I wonder what stories you’ll find?
The garden is tacked onto the northern boundary of the Mile-End, sandwiched between long industrial buildings in red brick and flanked by whizzing roadways and chugging trains. Aside from a couple of large poplars that have swallowed part of the chain link fence separating the park and the tracks, there is little by way of large plants or interesting topography. The space is exposed and a bit hostile, despite being filled with a dozen or so whimsical, beautiful sculptures. The pieces are large in scale, mostly twelve or so feet high, and made of reclaimed materials, wood and metal. Some are painted a uniform, brilliant color, but mostly the original textures and colors are retained, including the marks of wear and age. In combination with the overgrown summer foliage or the snow and gray-yellow December grass, these weather-worn sculptures give the impression of an abandoned carnival. A creaking, twirling, possessed space.
These days there are places to sit down in the garden: a wooden bench under one of the large poplars and another along the eastern side, just in front of the protruding cement of the underpass, and a snaking Gaudi-esque rock collage of a bench at the western boundary. But even if you come on a pleasant summer evening, chances are there won’t be anyone sitting about. Mostly, you’ll be alone. Glen LeMesurier, the sculptor responsible for the garden, wishes otherwise. He tells me that he began building the garden three years ago, inspired by the death of a dear aunt, whose folk-art garden he had spent lot of time in as a kid. Perhaps the lingering feeling of strange presences in the garden comes from this early possession of LeMesurier’s, the aunt who accompanied him through the building of its first sculptures. He began the project one October night three years ago, clandestinely digging holes and planting his big masses of metal and wood. At first no one noticed, so he kept building and planting, pushed on, as he says, by the spirit of his old aunt. Eventually, the city came ’round to ask what he was up to, by which time he was already pretty comfortable and feeling strongly about the place. He argued that the land was no use to them anyway, having been an abandoned car lot for many years. The land was toxic, and they would have to dig four feet out of the whole lot in order to build anything. “If you let me stay,” he said, “I can detoxify the land with plants.” And so a deal was struck. In order to secure the space in any permanent kind of way, LeMesurier realized that the space had to be useful, to become something of an active public park, frequented by families and old ladies as well as melancholic hipsters who like things that creak and spin.
The garden has more uses than you might think. “If you spend enough time here,” explains LeMesurier, “you’ll learn to read the sculptures like a weather station. I can tell what kind of clothes I’ll need for the day just by looking at which ones are spinning. That gold and red one, it only spins with a southerly wind, so if it’s going, I know it’ll be warm all day. But the big whirly-gig only spins if there’s going to be a storm.” On another day, when we talked mostly about the plants in the lot, he led me over to a couple of blocks of cement set up as a seating area, and pointed to a scraggly plant growing out of the ground. “I just transplanted this mint yesterday, and I think it’s going to take,” he said excitedly, “that way, next summer, when you come here with your lover, you can sit together and smell the mint.” LeMesurier has been devotedly transplanting various local plants from the area into his garden. Eventually, the plants will spread all the way from the road, where they started coming up first when he began the project, to the railroad end of the park, which is still a bit sandy. “As more and more plant diversity is introduced, insects are starting to come back. There were even bees pollinating these flowers this summer,” he relates, “I was so excited to see them.” Someday, the plants and the bees will have chased the poison out of the ground.
As his years with the garden go by, LeMesurier says, he feels the presence of his aunt less and less. It has become less a memorial than a weather station, a playground, a place to write poetry, and watch sculptures grow old. But no matter what he says, the garden remains a persistently possessed, slowly spinning place in which you cannot escape your own melancholia. This is a precious experience. If you choose to sit there, you will be swept over by a wind that blows past you without even noticing, and all kinds of vehicles whose passengers would never stop here. The open, exposed character of this lot will stop it from ever becoming a thriving public park, overrun by screaming kids. You can’t play tag beside a freeway. So even as the plants take over and the space becomes greener and greener, and perhaps you are inspired to lead your new lover to a certain fragrant mint patch, this garden will never shake its sweetly sinister character.
It is through its creaking and spinning that it relates to you its stories: foggy memories of rusting cars and whispering aunts, grain freight shipped in from the prairies and squashed pennies on the steel tracks.