Making It Montreal, a program designed to promote the work of artistes émigrés in Montreal, was born out of organizers Tasha Anestopoulos and Louis Rastelli’s interest in the city’s status as a breeding ground for young artists. The project, which officially launched on February 4, aims to encourage anglophone artists to stay in Montreal and to dispel the city’s reputation as merely a stepping stone for everyone but artists native to the city. Showcasing music, visual art, and spoken word, the project aims to help newly-arrived artists connect with Montreal’s broader art scene by indicating avenues for them to display their work and gain exposure.
Last week, the first of Making It Montreal’s scheduled art exhibits opened at Casa Del Popolo. Though the featured artists – Jesse Purcell, Aimee Van Drimmelen, Kierra Albina, Tyler Rauman, and Harley Smart – work in different styles, the exposition is tied together by their shared experience as anglophone artists who have chosen Montreal as home. Though Casa doesn’t lend itself particularly well to art exhibits, the work on the walls – which will be on display for the rest of the month – evidenced its creators’ thoughtful commitments to each of their unique styles. A strong first showing for the project, the exhibition clearly demonstrated Making It Montreal’s worth as an avenue for local talent to gain exposure.
The exhibit’s vernissage last Tuesday gave Making It Montreal’s organizers a chance to elaborate on their experiences in the city, as well as the difficulties they’ve encountered integrating into the art scene. Much of the conversation centred around the participants’ perception of the linguistic barriers in the city, and the extent to which the anglophone art community is distinct from its French counterpart. Anestopoulos emphasized the accessibility of the visual art scene, claiming that as long as art was worthwhile and provocative, it would be appreciated by people speaking any language. Expressing a slightly less optimistic perspective, Tyler Rauman – who moved to the city six years ago – recalled the obstacles he encountered upon his arrival, describing how he was welcomed “slowy but surely” to the art scene. But in spite of his difficult experience adjusting to the city, he agreed with the consensus that Montreal offered a fitting environment for young artists to experiment.