Culture & Conversation

Shopping the Streets

It’s clear that Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir is no small affair, walking up the stairs at Mont Royal metro this weekend. Greeted by hoards of festivalgoers and the resonating sound of reggae drums carrying underground, its nearly impossible to resist the allure of what Tableau Noir’s festivities have to offer right outside the metro doors on Avenue Mont Royal.

Saturday, Rover set out to attend as many Tableau Noir events as possible. From dance to music, poetry to endless food, art and street vending, the festival definitely measures up to its hype coming from the official website. As a Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir newbie, I was pleasantly surprised, the festival truly has something for everyone — still sticking, of course, to a central theme of Farnienté. Such variety is only to be expected, as the theme of the event defines itself around its own elasticity.

Tents housing everything from books to food, arts, music, crafts, fashion, pet supplies, scooters and bikes lined both sides of Mont Royal avenue as of eleven a.m. in the city’s biggest outdoor market of the year. People from all walks of life were checking out the day’s festivities — it seemed as if a city bus had overflowed onto the pavement; there was the same feeling of commonality, the same sardine-like rush in some areas, and in other, more spaced out zones, a similar mutual respect between strangers. Above all, a feeling of community and togetherness, much like during the creation of La Grande Fresque, was clear throughout Saturday’s events.

Most activities invited participation from the general public,  including (but not limited to) guided hula hooping, knitting with recycling materials, and meeting up with Georgia Volpé at  Parc des Compagnons-de-Saint-Laurent to aid with the making of her massive plastic bag carpet. Having now traveled from event to event throughout the province, Volpé’s creation looks for participation from anyone interested in weaving together her growing piece. What started as meditative and based around self-discovery for the artist has now expanded into the epitome of community-based art, for any and all of Tableau Noir’s enthusiasts to take a part in.

For those wishing to bask in all that is Farnienté, the Mont Royal/De Bullion site set up  lawn chairs on patches of fake grass and table games like chess and checkers, that all were welcome to play while watching Montreal’s collective art initiative En Masse create a black and white mural  on a huge white canvas that has been propped up against the side of a local building. At the Mont Royal/Fullum site, kids painted their own Tableau Noir frescos in specifically separated rectangles, marking off canvas space, a scaled down version of the frescos painted Thursday night.

With activities available for all energy and age levels, Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir is a festival definitely worth taking a part in, even if this means waiting until next year for its to return. In the meantime, literally dozens of festivals packed with events will take over the city all summer, and as usual, Rover is here to keep you updated.

Nuit blanche Sur Table Noir wrapped up its festivities on June 12th. For more information about the festival’s events, theme, and artwork, go to


Different Strokes
Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir

by Catherine Averback

Ten pm, Thursday night, Avenue Mont-Royal : Darkness has set in by now, but clusters of silent figures stroll through the night, from Berri to De Lanaudière, a procession of quiet passersby inhabiting the pavement while other bodies bend to draw lines of chalk on the street. Day festivities have come to a close, and all down the street a feeling of calm determination has settled in – the artists of La Grande Fresque de Nuit are starting to paint.

The main event of this weekend’s four-day long Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir “Farniente” celebration, La Grande Fresque features 45 different artists, each creating their own frescoes of the joyfully sloth variety, straight on the asphalt, their “tableau Noir.”

Artists of all ages and stylistic backgrounds have come to display their skills to a varied and notably youthful audience of pedestrians and cyclists. Among the youngest of artists is Wolfe Girardin, painting a large man with mustard stains on his shirt and the word “chill” emblazoned above the character’s head. With his work Rest/Relax, Girardin, at only 19 years old, is here for his first Tableau Noir.

Works vary in color from light, pastel hues to darker tones. In the low-light conditions, the latter manage to look weightless, effortless in many pieces, as if the paint has only slightly touched its cement canvas. Some frescoes are hazy and dreamlike, while others are strikingly clear; some hold cartoon-like quality, while others revolve more around modern concept art, sometimes with a hint (or heavy dose) of sarcasm added to the mix. Pollock-inspired free technique is noticeable in a number of pieces, emphasizing perhaps a joy in carefree experimentation.

Passing through La Grande Fresque, it becomes clear that attending the event involves more an act of observation and appreciation as opposed to questioning, much like the acts of creation, free expression and even the farniente theme itself. Under the almost sublime glow of street lamps, artists work with meditative intensity, some zen, and others maintaining an icy concentration that seems unwise to cross. Many appear to be taken in by their work, reveling in aesthetic experience.

Pointing out some obvious tracks left by a bike that has passed through her fresco space, Maude Ledoux, painter of what she has named Remind of Travel, seems unbothered. “I like that the bike goes through,” she says, “I don’t try to erase it. […] It’s part of the game.” Ledoux insists she works “more for the process” than the final result.

Equally alert to this process, passersby watch in a respectful hush. Despite the fairly large number of spectators present, a steady quiet remains. Some sit on the curb, enjoying a silence as local tenants peer from windows above. A feeling of peace, a calm togetherness, seems to overtake me; it seems to fill the street, and the people as well.

As night grows deeper, the pavement transforms into a vernissage – a true dégustation of what Montreal’s visual art has to offer. Still, watching the paint settle in the dark makes me wonder how the pieces will appear in the drastically different light of day, as full sunlight beats down against concrete – most definitely a scene worth seeing come morning, as the Tableau Noir festivities continue.

The Nuit Blanche sur Tableau Noir festival continues in the Mont-Royal area until June 12. Keep checking Rover for updates on the festival’s events in the coming days. For more info on Tableau Noir, check out





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