Montréal tout-terrain: unicorns and kitties for BIXI

Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mostly on the run, his office in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people.

Montréal tout-terrain: unicorns and kitties for BIXI

Inside Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mostly on the run, his office in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.

Adorned with unicorns, pegasi, galloping horses, Mario Bros-style clouds, stylized flowers or flying saucers, some fifty BIXIs are escaping the grayness of anonymity this summer.

For a month, five young visual artists with very different styles shared a large studio to each decorate ten BIXIs with almost total freedom.

Five times ten = 50... This choice of numbers is explained by the concern of the Mural Festival to mark its tenth anniversary and by that of BIXI to celebrate its first 50 million uses.

"When we close Saint-Laurent Boulevard for ten days for the mural festivals, people very often come by bike, so it was natural for us to participate in this joint project with BIXI," the director tells me. General of the Mural Festival.

hard to find

"We asked the people at Mural to suggest about twenty artists from a wide variety of genres and we chose the files blindly, discovering the identity of the artists only after the fact," explains Pierre-Luc Marier, BIXI's Marketing Director.

To talk to the artists, I went to the gigantic workshop-garage occupied like a beehive where the bike-sharing company stores and repairs its thousands of gray or blue bikes.

Photographers were at work to digitally capture and Instagram each bike.

The BIXI app will not give any indication to help find painted bikes. "The only way to find them is to open your eyes and look for them," says Mr. Marier.

Totems

"I wanted to paint my bikes as if to dress them up with patterns," says Aless MC, who is also a cartoonist for Le Devoir and the New Yorker, in particular.

"With my choice of colors, my goal is to give joy to people who will see or use the bikes I painted," explains La Charbonne, real name Camille Charbonneau.

His works on two wheels are indeed delightful.

“I drew some raging totem animals like to animate the bikes and I hope people will feel their energy,” enthuses Chien Champion, Felipe Arriagada.

His orange bikes represent the day in Montreal, the dark blue ones, the Montreal night. “I like to paint on anything except canvas, so on a bike was perfect,” says Zephyr, a Toronto-born artist who came to Montreal out of love for the city.

Each artist had to produce a "collector's bike" destined to never be ridden on the streets again. "I allowed myself some kitty on the saddle of the one that will never be used," says La Charbonne.

After the season, these bikes will be stripped and revert to the eternal gray BIXI.

Until June 19, you can view the top five artist bikes at the Mural Festival site. The other 45 traveling works of art are already circulating.

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