Winter 2019: Business Trip and Contemporary Art in Montreal

I came back to Montreal in February for a client visit. Several back and forth from New York to Manila then back to Montreal in February. Long haul flights can be very tiring. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw my husband at the airport. I’m glad he went to see me again and spend some time with me even if it was just a short trip.

My first weekend in Montreal was a beautiful winter day at -9 degrees celsius and snowing. It was nice enough to go out but still too cold to stay out too long. We decided to visit Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. At first I thought it’s going to be just about classical fine art but it was more than what we were expecting.

The museum features classical fine art, modern art and contemporary art. It was featured in a way that each art piece is placed side by side to what looks like a theme which overall makes a cohesive representation. The museum has over 43,00 works. As someone who constantly goes to museums, I can easily recognize artwork from famous artists like Dali, Andy Warhol, Dale Chihuly and James Turrell.

There are several pieces that I find intriguing such as the Hand Grenade dresser by Los Carpinteros, the man and woman’s head by Stephan Balkenhol, the Tumbling Woman by Eric Fischlâ and the portrait made by Kehinde Wiley who famously created Barack Obama’s portrait for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.

Also on exhibit was Alexander Calder. We were fortunate to see a lot of Calder’s work from when he was starting to his most recent work. I first saw Calder’s work in The Whitney and larger sculptures in Storm King Arts Center. I find his sculptures fascinating especially his kinetic mobiles.

The museum did a great job in featuring his work.  The way they projected the lights created beautiful patterns on the walls. It is probably the biggest collection of Calder that I’ve seen so far. The exhibit not only showcases a collection of his work but it explores on Calder’s upbringing, experience and training through the years.

He made a total of 600 sculptures and 22 monumental outdoor sculptures. He also created paintings, paper art, jewelry and domestic objects. He was not just an artist, he was an inventor, designer and an engineer.

Aside from the art pieces, the museum also features decorative arts and design before the 1900s to the modern age. The older art deco pieces weren’t so interesting to me but the design in the 1970s were timeless. The transition was progressive, it felt like walking into an antique shopping mall to what looks like an ikea showroom. It was presented in a way that takes the viewer in a time machine into different eras. The design is identifiable since each piece shows signs of the age when it was made. One can easily recognize  similar patterns.

Walking around the different pavilions takes a lot of energy but not as big as The Louvre, or The MET. It has 5 pavilions and a concert hall. There’s enough to go around to keep one interested and spaces were you can relax and rest before moving on to the other pavilions to see more artwork.

The museum also houses a cinema which plays foreign films. The tricky part in Montreal is that the preferred language is French rather than in English. In case one wants to see the cinema, even if it says in the website it has English subtitles, it’s always best to ask before going cause they might play it only in French.

My husband and I also had fun outdoors and had beers in Brutopia in the afternoon. Although the weather was tolerable on Saturday, Sunday was a bit of a drag with icy rain. Luckily, there’s a cinema close to my hotel. We saw Destroyer, Nicole Kidman as the protagonist. Not a typical Nicole Kidman movie and I was also impressed with the direction of the film. I’d compare it to an old Clint Eastwood movie with a modern twist.  It was directed by Karyn Kusama whose name I haven’t heard but worth noting  because of this film. 

After the movie, we decided to eat at the Greek restaurant we chanced upon the last time we were in town. We went to Souvlaki Bar while we were stranded for a day in Montreal back in November. They have decent Greek food. I didn’t mind coming back for the grilled octopus and their gyros.

After a successful User Acceptance Test (UAT) my colleagues and I went out to dinner with the client. We went for an all Canadian restaurant, it looked like a place where you can get poutine and burgers. I went for burgers since I already had poutine.

Surprisingly, although this is my 3rd trip in Montreal, I haven’t seen everything yet. Like most cities, it evolves, I can’t possibly experience everything unless I permanently live in it.

Whenever I’m in Montreal, I am always on a business trip. There was never a time that I’d just go to Montreal for just pleasure. On one of the days after work, we explored downtown. I get to see Notre Dame again and enjoy the beauty of its interiors.

It’s been a while too since I’ve been to church. Since 2015, I get to be in one four years later and in Montreal.

When in a foreign country, I try my best to find exotic cuisine. Luckily I get to try Polish this time. I tried Pierogi, a famous polish dumpling stuffed with either potato, sauerkraut, ground meat, cheese and fruits. I find it strange yet fascinated, I’ve never thought about dumplings stuffed with cheese. It was definitely a first.

During the winter seasons, there’s always a high chance that the flight will be delayed or cancelled because of strong winds or heavy snow. Since my colleague’s and my flight was scheduled later in the day, the chances of getting a delayed flight was higher. We were held in the airport for a while. Our flight keeps getting delayed for an hour and then another hour. My colleague and I decided to just stay in Montreal for another day since our flight was delayed then cancelled.

It was a good call since I can get more rest and I get another day in Montreal.

As a Hilton member myself, I opted to stay in DoubleTree Hotel in downtown so I can still explore before my flight. The cold weather was unbearable so I went to see a French movie in the Museum cinema and had lunch at Cafe Parvis which happens to be a trendy spot. The ambiance was laid back, it’s one of those places perfect for get togethers with friends.

I’m hoping to be back again in Montreal sometime in the summer. Hopefully more museums are open, and I get to experience the speakeasies and the jazz festival.