Day 3, Oct 17
Visited Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art. It was pathetic. Then I went around the old city specifically to see its churches. Most churches, of any denomination, stood empty, while the streets outside teemed with people, and the shops were packed. Something to think about.
The guide of the bus tour said that when some churches and monasteries close down, the buildings are sold. The sold churches might be demolished or repurposed as public buildings. He showed us a former nunnery that had become high-scale commercial real estate. The apartments there are very expensive to buy.
By law, the historical buildings in Montreal should keep their facades even after changing hands. The builders only keep the walls and the roof of such buildings but gut the insides completely and redo them from scratch, with all the modern plumbing etc. The prices for such homes are, of course, astronomical. Here is a photo of an old, closed-up church on one of the old streets. It might become a jazz playing venue soon.
Another interesting local law prevents Montreal from becoming a city of skyscrapers. No building in the city could be taller than the Mount Royal (233m). The tour bus on the first day took us up to the mountain – it’s a park and a cemetery – and the view from there down to the city was breathtaking. It was especially beautiful because of the fall season – all the trees were changing colors.
Day 4, Oct 18
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts was a nice museum. Its collection is not huge but it’s diverse in times and styles. Some pieces raised a question mark in my head. Example: Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s painting had me wondering. In it, the artist paints a model who sits behind him. He is looking back at her. Why would an artist place his subject that way? Did he ever paint anyone who sat behind him?
Two paintings in the museum I recognized from my frequent roaming of the image sites: Pinterest, Flickr, and Tumblr. One, of an Italian woman sleeping by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, I have in my Pinterest collection. Love it.
It was a strange feeling, walking into a museum room and seeing a painting I looked at countless times and admired. Another such painting, by James Tissot, is called “October,” which seemed symbolic. I was visiting Montreal in October, and the leaves throughout the city were almost as yellow as in the painting.
The decorative art collection of the museum was limited but it had a few items of interest, including a bunch of funky chairs.
A selection of miniature guns by the local artisan David Kucer was cute. All guns are the exact replicas of the real things but much smaller. Some are 2 cm long.
The usher said they could shoot and have ammo to match, but I’m not sure. The holes for the finger were too small. Maybe a child could pull those triggers but I definitely couldn’t, and my fingers are rather small for an adult. You can read about the artist on his website: http://www.kucers.com/