Summer Guide: Painting En Masse

The Works Art and Design Festival cuts through stereotypes of solitary artists and focuses on collaborative efforts.



An En Masse mural inside Montreal's Theatre Espace Go

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The Works Art and Design Festival

June 21–July 3, Various downtown locations, theworks.ab.ca

The 2012 Works Art and Design Festival’s theme is “Energy II: Collaboration.” So at the 27th annual public art festival, all 53 original installations mark the combined efforts of diverse artists, such as Montreal art collective En Masse.

Lead by painter Jason Botkin, En Masse is collaborating with local artists on 40-by-14-foot black and white caricatures of urban culture that will appear at both (North and South) of the Works Gateways leading into Churchill Square. In addition to the massive collective, smaller pieces of art by members of the initiative will appear inside of Moriarty’s Bistro and Wine Bar.

The En Masse collaboration appears at the Gateway entrances to Churchill Square and at Moriarty's Bistro. Image provided by The Works International Visual Arts Society.


Botkin says that while the artists always enjoy a reprieve from the solitude of their studios, working on giant canvases is no picnic either. “We have so many stories about shifty elevation devices … very close calls with injury, and much spilled paint.”

Another collaboration is PopSex!, a study of the history and future of sexuality. The multimedia collection is produced by 14 artists and scholars, including Wednesday Lupypciw of Calgary and Pauline Boundy and Renate Lorenz of Berlin. Look for in the Works Big Tent in Sir Winston Churchill Square.

Photograph by Wednesday Lupypciw is part of PopSex! Image provided by The Works International Visual Arts Society.


This year’s festival incorporates 31 different locations through downtown. Use the Works app, designed last year by Guru Digital Arts College, to help navigate all the happenings.

And there’s a lot happening. On top of the 53 installations, there are 250 events and performances, including artist talks presentations and live music in Churchill Square.

The Works is not only the largest free outdoor visual art festival in North America, but also the longest running, according to Kevin Feehan, president of the Works International Visual Arts Society.

And it’s growing: Last year’s festival set attendance records. Some 359,000 people came to see the 43 exhibits spread amongst 27 locations. With more exhibits and more locations, the 27th event is likely to break that record.

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