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An Evening of Culture

Les collections 1960-1965 – Le catalogue raisonné de Jean Paul Riopelle

1960.001P.1960 – Composition, 1960

Way back in October, I purchased one ticket to go see “Riopelle Symphonique” at the Théâtre Wilfrid-Laurier (the largest of the five halls) within Place des Arts and the day finally arrived for me to go a week ago, today.  I had just seen “Sans Paroles Harmonium Symphonique”, with my buddy Julie, which was a symphonic interpretation of the the music of Harmonium, a Québécois group I was very into in high school.  It was an enjoyable experience, so I figured why not see what the same co-creators, Serge Fiori (formerly of the said group) and Nicolas Lemieux and new guy Blair Thompson did with this one.  My father had admired Jean-Paul Riopelle’s work as an artist so I knew the name, and I figured, hell, if nothing else, I’ll learn a bit about this artist and, if I don’t care for it, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra (MSO) is always a treat.  This year is the centennial of Riopelle’s birth, ergo, the celebration.

I skipped dining downtown and went directly to the show, which started at 8:00.  Some putz blocked the street I needed to go up to to park in the underground parking lot so I drove around and was lucky enough to find one on the street. Bonus! $15 saved (providing I didn’t get a parking ticket!)

Art on the streets next to the Quartier des Spectacles (Entertainment Quarter)

I live on the South Shore of Montreal so I don’t always know what’s going on in town.  I might hear of something but outta sight, outta mind, and all that.  What a pleasant surprise to see a bunch of bright lights!  I determine immediately that I would meander after the show and take in the sites.

Got to my nosebleeder seat…. Oy!  With no zoom on my phone, this is how far I was to the stage…. hellllloooooooo down there….

The curtains opened and we had the whole MSO and two choirs (Petits Chanteurs de Laval and Choeur Temps Fort) on either side of it!  I couldn’t quite understand the conductor, Adam Johnson’s outfit… It was not a classic tux and tails, It was a white tux with… um… feathers?  Apparently, Riopelle was a huge fan of geese and.. yeah, I don’t get that part.

The music started and it was quite lovely, two of the three screens descended and… ah hell.  All of us up in the balcony start murmuring our displeasure.  It bugged me to no end that, in creating this piece, they did not take the time to come up to the balcony and see what we would see.  I promise you it is the only “illegal” photo I took during the show because I was thinking of you, dear readers, and wanted to show you what I saw.  Oh, and thankfully, that fat head to the left sat a little lower later on…

Those damn spotlights.

I know, I know, get over it.  But still.


How much more enjoyable it would have been to see the above, eh?  It took us a while to resign ourselves to not seeing the art properly and just enjoy the music.  I did. Mostly.  This was like a play in five acts, with the disembodied voice of the artist, through various interviews joining two sections. You could hear him drawing on his ever-present smoke as he spoke.

He was a “stream of conscious” painter.  He worked on one piece from beginning to end in one session.  No touching up, no coming back to do anything whatsoever the next day.  And he could not stand to be watched while painting either.

“Dans l’exécution, je n’ai pas de temps à perdre à chercher. Il faut que ça marche tout de suite.   Je n’aime pas faire le spectacle. S’il y a un spectateur, il y a une distraction. Je ne pourrais pas le supporter.”

My translation:  In the execution, I don’t have time to waste searching. It has to work right away.  I don’t like to perform. If there is a spectator, there is a distraction.  I could never stand it.

I had to laugh at one point when we heard him explain that he was an  EXpressionist and not an IMpressionist (having a complete disdain for the genre) “..as they are liars.  Unlike them, I paint what I see…”   Nkay…

Jean Paul Riopelle | Art Canada Institute

Les oies bleues (The White Geese)

He was an interesting artist and extremely successful in his lifetime – way back in the 60’s paintings could go for anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 and more.

He also got into sculpture.  I’m not a fan but hey, art and subjectivity and all that 🙂

La Victoire et le Sphinx (Victory and the Sphinx

I am happy I went to see this, though in all honesty, I am not sophisticated enough to appreciate the joining of the music with the art.  The music changed for each of the five sections to purportedly match the different eras of his art, but, to me, it didn’t feel quite so.  I read a few reviews after the day after, and it appears I was not alone.  One said, and I paraphrase : “The music could have been for anything, including a biopic of Maurice Richard (hockey player) or some historical saga.  The music, while competent enough, does not detract from the lovely visual, but that it would not be the reason to see the show, nor buy the soundrack.”  Maybe I am not as unsophisticated as I thought?

I always take the final bow

I made my way down the crowded staircase and finally out the door for some welcome fresh air.  There was much gaiety all around.  I discovered that it was “Montréal en lumières” or Montreal in Lights.  Quite the fête, let me tell you.  It was still going strong at 9:30 p.m. on a Thursday night.  And since I’ve already taken up way too much of your time, I shall just leave you with a few pics 🙂

And a short video.  There was dancing and skating, too (I didn’t go up to the rink…)

On my way home, I passed in front of this sculpture. The traffic light serendipitously turned red, so I opened my passenger window, leaned over and… click!  (I had never seen it lit up, couldn’t pass up the chance, eh?)

114 thoughts on “An Evening of Culture

  1. I love that you took yourself to this! A feast for the senses, eh? It looks like it, at least. I always get more creative when I get out of my usual rut–I bet you’ll find yourself brimming with ideas/energy the next few days . . .

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Unlike them, I paint what I see…” I think he needs glasses! Well there is always the chance of the producers not considering what the paying customers see but really this should be taken into consideration.
    Montreal looks amazing I get it was part of a festival but your certainly picked a vibrant night to visit 💜

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was just funny because, don’t all artists do what they see? In their own way, of course. It’s too bad they didn’t (or maybe they did but figured, too bad, so sad).

      Montreal is great and there are way more things going on than I often know about. Most of my friends, who live on the south shore like me, hate going to Montreal – the parking the construction – all make for a headache. Me? I may cuss a little but I still go! 🧡🧡


  3. You stayed the course, Dale, good decision. Fact is, it could have been dangerous scaling an early escape from the heady height of your seat! As always you took the best of the entire evening home with you, to give to us. It might be my imagination, but your after-show pictures claim joyful light. You’ve captured the city celebrating, rather than than the earlier images apparently shown against mismatched music. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I did. Though at some points, when the music was particularly cacophonous, I half-hoped there was an intermission and might have snuck out. I’m glad there wasn’t, I would have missed the best part (I never have been able to not stay until the end so I’m talking out of my arse.) I do always try to focus on the best parts. The festival was quite something to see. And more critics raved and raved about the music and art together so, I am just one voice. Thank you, Jilly.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I admire your tenacity. But such a shame to be so far away from the stage. If it was a rock band in a stadium there’d have been big screens…even in smaller theatres for comedians there are screens so all can see. But I love your collection/selection of photos, as ever 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Q

    Viva the arts!

    That symphony hall is out of fucking sight! Even if you are correct in stating that the peeps in charge of putting this beautiful creation together might have wanted to quality test all the vantage points, because yanno . . . it’s only right.

    Riopelle’s getup really got . . . wait for it . . my goose. But that’s the price of brilliance, I guess. You have to be slightly (and most of the time very) unhinged in order to tap into that particular vein and umm . . he is.

    Impressionists as liars. I said this to my high school art teacher and she just thought I was trying to get out of doing my project. She was absolutely right of course, but hey, it still counts!

    And yay to Mon-Ray-All in lights!

    And YAY to you for always supplying the brilliant captures, the witty banter and the arts, oh . . those arts. I feel so much more cultured when I read you.


    Liked by 1 person

    • B

      Yeah baby! Always good to expose oneself to the arts.

      It is a beautiful hall. (Hmmm. maybe I shoulda linked my WW to this…) I’m thinking they should have checked. At worst, don’t sell the top balcony seats. It’s not like it was a full house.

      Riopelle was definitely an interesting fella. I went down the rabbit hole when getting this post together as I was looking for the videos of what he said exactly. I might go back and watch the whole things. He was who he was without apology. Gotta give him credit for that. Then again, these artists are a breed apart, aren’t they?

      Buahahaha! You funny guy. I seem to recall you mentioning that you had an artistic side, not yet shared with me.

      I do love when they put on these light shows. I really do have to keep my eye on the what’s what so I can partake a tad more.

      Yay to you this lovely comment. I do try… Funny, I say that about reading you!


      Liked by 1 person

      • Q

        It’s good for the soul.

        Money Money Money Money . . . . MONEY. I know, I know . . . I sound sooooo naïve, but really, it doesn’t always have to be maximum capacity.

        I think artists have been able to keep to that vein, for the most part. I guess it’s because they’re not in the public eye as much as musicians and athletes. Dunno.

        I love art. That’s it. I have tried my hand at art many times and it didn’t turn out so well. But loving the arts is my artistic side. I can also design stuff. But that’s it.

        Partake IS in the files, right? It would seem a slam dunk since we use it all the time, but those are the ones that sometimes slip through.


        I mean MUAH!



        Liked by 1 person

        • It really is. And I love to expose myself to stuff I know nothing about. I might not always like it but hey, when it comes to conversation, I’ll at least have a little something to say, should the subject arise.

          And yes, I know it’s all about money. Thing is, it was not even filled to capacity. And since there were no breaks in the show, I could not move and find my way on the next level, without disturbing folks.

          Yes, for the most part. And let’s face it, there are those who seek that public eye.

          I know you do. And it’s not about being good, necessarily. I will share a meme that really spoke to me. And designing stuff is great… Say… I need something for my one-day walk-in closet…. just sayin’

          I do believe it is. We could always check but no harm in re-adding it, just in cases 😉


          and, hey


          Liked by 1 person

          • I like to think I’m cultured and on some things I am but there’s a lot to which I am in the forest without a guide.

            That sucks. They pack people into these things like sardines. That’s what I always felt like at a sports arena. The stairs were steep, the seats were steep, the people were oftentimes drunk . . bad combination.

            They do.

            That was a classic by Vonnegut. I should say, that was another classic by Vonnegut. Talk about a file!

            Hey! The Vonnegut Files!


            and yo


            Liked by 1 person

          • I think you are and that’s the thing… there is so much out there we are constantly learning and enriching ourselves (those of us who are open, that is).

            It does. Sports arenas have to be the worst!

            They are artists of another sort…

            It was a good ‘un, eh?



            Ya baby!


            Liked by 1 person

          • Does baseball count? Because I happen to think the patience you need to have has to matter some. And poetry, there is poetry to the sport. Or at least when you know where to look.

            Seriously. I feel like I’m in fucking Rome going to a gladiator match when I would climb those fucking stairs.

            Those are the interesting peeps.

            A great ‘un.


            To . .


            Liked by 1 person

          • I actually do think it does.

            No kidding! It seems to be the standard in stadiums – beware the fat dude coming at you!

            They are. I can’t get into those weirdos who sit in a cage twenty feet off the ground in the name of art.

            Uh huh!





  6. What a beautiful theater! It’s interesting what symphony orchestras are trying these days with the visual arts. That’s the bummer about the cheap seats that probably weren’t that cheap because cheap is relative. Although the show didn’t seem to knock your socks off, cheers to the pleasant surprise of the light show outside! Cheers to the city showing off itself in lights.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is. I love that they got the MSO to perform this. The cheap seats were not cheap – I wasn’t willing to pay top dollar for something I had no inkling about. Anyway, had I paid more or less, I still would have been bummed. It was very interesting and caused me to google Riopelle quite a bit to write this post and I will probably delve a little deeper. Some of his work really appealed to me, while others, not so much.
      The festival going on was definitely icing on the cake 🙂


  7. What a beautiful hall! Shame they didn’t plan well for those sitting higher up. To be honest though, when I go to a concert, I’m not interested in seeing images. I usually get totally absorbed by notes. That ‘feathers’ thing seems a bit awkward! Still it looks and sounds like a wonderful night out in every way, ending with an extravagant color fest! Oh, and …”unsophisticated” ..you? Gotta be kidding! xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I guess Montreal knew you weren’t going to be thrilled with the theater experience so it went all out to blow your mind when you came down into our atmosphere again and your nose stopped bleeding!

    I agree. Someone should have considered that seating section and the performance….and then not sold tickets for those seats!

    What a beautiful light display you walked out into. I think you were looking for an evening of gaiety and you found it outside! You captured great shots.

    You live in one great city Dale. I’m glad you took yourself on a date!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahaha! Funny lady!

      Yeah, it would have been nice for them to check the view from the rafters 😉

      It was great and I am sure I missed parts of it. Only when I looked at the video I shot, did I see the ice rink. People were walking around with skates and I couldn’t figure out where the hell they were going.

      I do live in a great city (or a 15-minute drive away from it) and keep telling myself to go more often to enjoy it.

      Thank you, lovely Ginger


  9. Thanks for thinking of us on this sojourn, Dale. The experience alone was worth all the aggravation. (I can say this cause I felt I was there without putting down my cup of coffee) I’m glad there was more for you to see in town. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is. I love to expose myself to new things. If I could afford it, I would go once per week, easily. And yes! There was much joy and laughter amongst the lights!


  10. I expect the artistic luvvies would have been too busy extolling their own virtues to have noticed that the spectacle was a little myopic for many of the audience. Still, it broadened your (and our) horizons a little and Montréal en lumières was a delightful bonus.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m fascinated by this performance, but am with you about the odd lighting. I am super sensitive to bright lights so I’d have spent the performance with my eyes shut. Montreal is a cool place. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh! You just reminded me! For a (way too) long period of time, the spotlights were on US. It was blinding and rather unpleasant. I had forgotten that part… You would have been miserable.
      Montreal is a pretty cool place with lots going for it. Glad you enjoyed, Ally.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This is Dale doing what she does so well. To have an experience and then to share it in words and pictures as her mind and heart captured it. She brings a trip to Montreal home for everyone: sights, sounds, art, and history; the good and the not so much — the why, how, wherefore.

    She said that Jean-Paul (I’m naming my next son Jean-Paul) Riopelle disliked being watched when he worked (painting or sculpting). In the age of YouTube, I get to see artists preform. I have met Jonas Gerard (before he fell from grace) at his studio in Ashville, and still enjoy watching videos of his creative performances, especially with live music (I want to do that myself — writing and art). I then watched JADIS and Heinz Scharr work (just cuz was in that rabbit hole). I was thus further inspired — first by Dale’s trip/post, then by watching artists work. Wonderful.

    Thank you, Dale. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh you! How lovely of you to say! I actually cut some of the post as it was already 900 words at one point… I still would have more to say! I guess I’m a decent tour guide 😉

      Jean-Paul is a common name here. Well, was, it’s an older one. Isn’t that funny about him? Some just love to show off. Him? Not so much. Oh, and here is another tidbit. He had no idea how much his pieces sold for! An interviewer asked him and his reply was that he had no idea. He was paid so much by a gallery; how much they got for them, he had no clue. Whoa…

      Love the rabbit hole you went down, thanks to my nudge 😉

      How cool would that be? Writing and music – you keep me posted when your channel is up 😀

      Thank you, Bill 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    • It really was, Gigi. I’m glad I did go, even if the art was partially hidden and the music at times a little on the cacophonic side for me.
      The lights after were a double treat! Thanks for joining me 🙂


  13. Even if you weren’t overwhelmed by the show, it sounds like the night as a whole was quite a wonderful experience. I had seen some of the photos you shared–what a beautiful concert hall with so much art! The Montreal light festival going on around is amazing. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Whoa…what an interesting evening. While I enjoy music as much as the next person, I’m not a fan of combining it with other forms of art. I’m sure I’m one of only 3 people in North America to have not seen The Sound of Music because I can’t stand musicals. A good story shouldn’t have to be enhanced by music nor should a creative piece of art require music to enhance it. Sorry, just my ‘unsophisticated’ take. Thanks for sharing a lovely evening. Now if only those in charge would figure out it should appeal equally to those in the cheap seats as well as those who can buy an august view.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear you. This is far from a musical though, when you consider it’s just images of the artists work moving along screens. However, it does mean you have too focus on two things, so yes, definitely not for everyone. Don’t you unsophisticate me!
      It was, all in all, a lovely date I took myself on. And yeah, if you cannot fix the situation, close that section!

      Liked by 1 person

    • They are and I do it rather often (well, as often as the purse strings allow, that is). I dunno about sophistication, but I do like to challenge myself by experiencing things I know nothing about.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m delighted to see that these experiences of the Arts helped you to be clear about what you do or don’t like, what resonates with you or doesn’t, what is inspiring or not. Either way, these explorations of artistry can serve us well for us to also create such as this post. I enjoyed your photos of the city. 🤩😍💕✨

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was truly a wonderful evening (even more so, now that I have had time to let it all sink in). I love taking myself out like this 🙂


  16. The screen was bigger on the street. 😉
    C’est un peu le problème des places loin. C’est moins cher mais on voit rien. Il me semble me souvenir d’Un Cirque du Soleil ici, pourtant pas trop derrière, mias on avait un pilier dans le nez…
    Belle soirée quand même non? Variée. 👍🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  17. An interesting fusion performance, whether one likes either the music, art or both.
    Yes, a definite rip for the nose bleed section. Probably a rip for the lesser sinus infection section, too. ⚡️💥

    Liked by 1 person

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