December 30, 2017

"Tower of Songs" - Leonard Cohen mural for the City of Montreal

'Tower of Songs' is a mural homage to Leonard Cohen and 21-story high monument to love made in collaboration with Montreal-based mural organization MU, Montreal artist Gene Pendon, and Cohen's estate. This mural was a little bit of a departure for me in a few ways but I'm extremely proud of it. Although I generally try to avoid painting celebrities, I am a fan of Cohen and couldn't pass up the opportunity to honor this artist who embodied a spirit of genuine humility, sincerity, and profound love for humanity that is not usually associated with stars of his stature.
MU and Gene Pendon first brought up the possibility of collaborating on a Leonard Cohen tribute mural in Cohen's hometown back in 2013, prior to the occasion of his 80th birthday, but the project didn't gain full momentum until after Cohen's passing in November of 2016. The scale and prominence of this project required a great deal of time and planning, and involved the collaboration and support of many people. I normally work from my own reference photos, but since that wasn't possible in this case, the design was based off of a photo shot by Mr.Cohen's daughter, Lorca. This is one of the largest murals I've ever painted, and it required long nights of sometimes 12-16 hour sessions–painting just one ear or finger would require days of slow and steady work to complete. Montrealers can be very protective of Leonard Cohen, though I do remember being a little surprised early on in the process by some criticism for the mural's massive size and location. However, since its completion, the mural seems to have been largely embraced and the response has been overwhelmingly positive for which I'm grateful. I'd like to think that the devotional amount of love, labor, and soul that went into this mural was, in the end, clearly visible. Every spraypainted line and circle that the artwork is composed of required a great deal of patience, dedication, and almost prayerful intent–something I'd like to think the mural's soulful subject might appreciate. 
I also hope that this mural serves as a tribute to not only a great artist and the love associated with him, but to a place that supports and values its artists as much as Montreal does. 

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this project happen: the entire MU team, Gene Pendon, Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, Michel de la Chenelière, Leonard Cohen Estate, Conseil des Arts de Montreal, Fondation de la Chenelière, Concordia University, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, Timbercreek, Brian Levitt, Jonathan Wener, Marcel Elefant, Sari Hornstein, Rossy Family Foundation, J. Gerry Shapiro, Murray Dalfen, Louis-Nicholas Coupal, and the City of Montreal. Special thanks to my right hand man Eric Heights. R.I.P. SCAN
Photos #1, 8, 12, 13: Olivier Bousquet, #3-7: Eric Heights 

Bon article en français ici: 'Le Poète Sur Le Mur'

“The world is all forgetting, and the heart is a rage of directions, but your name unifies the heart, and the world is lifted into its place.”
-Leonard Cohen, ‘Book of Mercy’