under pressure 2013 / review

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montreal’s annual under pressure international graffiti convention, which takes place in the back alleys, curbsides, and up the walls of buildings along ste catherine street between place des arts and the main, returned for another summer just a few weeks ago. street art legend and local hero sterling downey originally created under pressure as a magazine, but it quickly blossomed into a fully-fledged festival. the festival plays home to dozens of local and international talent, including street artists, bboys and girls, skaters, and MCs.

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truth be told, i had almost forgotten about under pressure this year. i’ve attended the festival almost every summer since i moved to montreal – it’s such a unique little subculture, created by this very diverse community of artists of all kinds. as proved by the inaugural muralfest earlier this summer, montreal loves it some street art, so it’s always been a bit of a surprise that under pressure doesn’t seem to get quite as much love as other festivals (or even muralfest, so it seemed). nonetheless, festival goers and artists alike came out in droves to support.

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am i the only one that felt like the festival got like 4 blocks shorter than usual? in the past, i’ve spent hours at under pressure. from early afternoon until just before sundown, and never gotten bored. i actually camped out on the sidewalk to watch miss me work last year. it felt like there was a lot less to take in this summer – maybe it was just because i’d been so many times previously? but after about 2 hours, i had run out of things to do and found myself eating a pulled pork sandwich on the side of the road like the classy lady that i am. i also got awkwardly street style shot by cult montreal for the second year in a row (#humblebrag) (actually not that humble).

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i did get to catch a few great artists, including a personal favourite, i am batman, painting an amazing “self portrait” in an alleyway near the beginning of the festival site (pictured below). batman’s work could be found at various spots around the festival, including a stellar piece at the fresh paint gallery. i also got to catch earth crusher painting a stunning largescale mural that featured his signature “the man” bot suit carrying a damsel in distress (pictured above). i saw a ton of amazing stencil work, and lots of great spray can pieces. overall, i found that this year’s festival had a much more “urban” overtone – and no i don’t mean “black,” asshole. i mean that the work had a much more “graffiti” feel to it: lots of tags, and lettering. even though, of course, under pressure is a graffiti festival, i definitely felt a more “street art” presence last year, even though they are often lumped together one or the other term. don’t get me wrong, the urban presence was by no means bad, just different. so, what did you think?

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