Thursday, December 08, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Roadsworth by Roadsworth with Bethany Gibson

I want Roadsworth to come to my city. I want him to spawn a movement and encourage others everywhere to take up his special brush. It seems that Montreal, or parts of it, anyway, are much more beautiful due to his slightly subversive art.

I say “slightly” because it maybe isn’t as subversive as it once was, but even then it was pretty. In 2001, his art started appearing on the streets of Montreal. A giant zipper where a dividing line would be. A bathtub next to a storm drain. A flight of birds in the place of a crosswalk. In Roadsworth (Goose Lane) his initial motivations are explained:

While Roadsworth had been musing on questions of car culture, consumerism, advertising and the use of public space, it was the aftermath of September 11, 2001, that galvanized him to move from intention to active expression. He felt he had nothing to lose, that the state of the world was such that any illegal action on his part would be innocuous in the grand scheme of things.

And so it began: street art blooming overnight. By 2004, Roadsworth had created 300 pieces of art on the streets of Montreal. Something that looked as though it would come to and end when he was arrested in November of that year and charged with 51 counts of public mischief. However, an international movement sprang to his defense and he was ultimately let go with little beyond a warning. What looked like it would be the end became something of a beginning.

Now Roadsworth is an esteemed and internationally recognized artist. This small coffee table book in some ways confirms but also celebrates his work. It looks at his thoughts, his hopes his motivations and his goals. It is an interesting monograph and a visually stimulating collection. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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