MONTREAL GAZETTE October 8, 2019
A mural that pays homage to visionary architect Phyllis Lambert, her role as an activist and her involvement in safeguarding Montreal’s architectural heritage was unveiled Tuesday in Milton Park, in the heart of the historic neighbourhood of greystones and Victorian buildings she helped to save from the wrecker’s ball in the 1970s.
The mural, painted on the brick wall of a 19th-century building at the northeast corner of Jeanne-Mance and Milton Sts., draws from pencil sketches on paper of neighbourhood building facades drawn by Heritage Montreal stalwart and policy director Dinu Bumbaru. Lambert established the heritage preservation organization in 1975 and Bumbaru started there in 1982.
Near the top of the mural is a quotation by Lambert about what defines flourishing cites; Philippe Lupien, a professor of environmental architecture at the Université du Québec à Montréal, did the architectural lettering.
Ahuntsic-Cartierville mayor Emilie Thuillier, executive committee member responsible for heritage and one of several municipal politicians in attendance, got a laugh when she drew attention to the running shoes Lambert was wearing and called her “a woman of action.” She lauded the architect for her myriad accomplishments, among them the Canadian Centre for Architecture, which this year marks its 40th anniversary.
The mural was created, designed and produced by MU, a charitable organization with a mission to beautify the city by creating mural art anchored in local communities, and painted by Montreal artist Melissa Del Pinto. MU managed the mural — everything from the choice of sketches to the paint, which has a slight metallic sheen and resembles the pencil lines of Bumbaru’s sketches. The delicate sketches look different at different times of the day, depending on the light. The mural’s size and scale respect the neighbourhood, said Elizabeth-Ann Doyle, MU executive director and artistic director.
“I call it a whisper,” Del Pinto said. “It’s there, but it’s not overpowering.”
The mural honouring Lambert is the 21st in the MU Montreal Great Artists collection, which highlights contributions to the cultural scene of artists who are native to the city or who made it home. The series, launched in 2010, includes the mural on Crescent St. that pays tribute to Leonard Cohen; one honouring Mordecai Richler on Laurier St. W., near St-Urbain St., where he grew up and set many of his novels; and murals honouring playwright Michel Tremblay and musicians Oscar Peterson, Daisy Peterson Sweeney and Oliver Jones.