Under Pressure: 20 Years Later // Part 3

Is graffiti art? More and more people seem to think so. By 1999 – Under Pressure’s fourth year – the festival had quickly gained a following. Not only did it feature local Montreal favourites like HOPS Crew and JKR Crew, but this time, Under Pressure had gone international – Halifax’s HW Crew and Toronto’s Kwota Crew were there making their marks as well. The festival was even able to bring in FX Crew and TZP Crew from their respective locales of New York and Switzerland for the event, making it the most diverse one yet. As usual, graffiti writing was supplemented by live music, breakdancing, and more.york wall front

Out for fame | Toronto

I’m writin’ my name, in graffiti on the wall, all graffiti artists hold tight”,  sang KRS One in 1995 in his song “Out For Fame”. In 1999, as a tribute to this song, Under Pressure organized an exhibition of a new kind focusing on international graffiti writers. Thirteen years later, Under Pressure is teaming up with the French collective Art By Friends in order to bring OUT FOR FAME back to life. We are changing the form, but keeping the substance. OUT FOR FAME is now a wandering exhibition. OUT FOR FAME wants to promote and federate the international community, by encouraging an inter-generational exchange through its collection of art work from internationally recognised and emerging artists. With this nomad exhibition Under Pressure and Art By Friends are creating a dialogue and offering a perspective about graffiti, which is often misunderstood. After debuting in Annecy, France, and then showing in Montréal, Quebec, OUT FOR FAME will settle down at Goodfellas Gallery in Toronto, for an exclusive night on March 7th. Go check it out, we promise you won’t regret it!

About thirty artists from 5 continents are united with only one common trait: a paper medium of 50 x 70cm, and the obligation of lettering “Out for fame”. Otherwise, the artists were free to compose as they like: landscape or portrait layout, marker, silkscreen print, pen, ink, spray paint…. This OUT FOR FAME exhibition is the incarnation of graffiti diversity. Regardless of where they are from, artists such as Wüna, Yens NFC, Koey, Wozdat, Axe and Immune Collective root themselves in classic graffiti traditions. In contrast, les hommes de lettres from Garbage Beauty flirt with illumination art and draw upon aesthetics from the middle ages. Debza and IMP pay tribute to the tattoo realm and on the other end of the spectrum artists like Beeforeo, Opire, Okies, Grock, Keim, Haks180, VILX, Scribe CSX, and MSHL mix their personal styles with illustration and design to make brightly colored and cartoon-like unique pieces from watercolours, sharpies or pencil crayon. The artists are having fun and are gently provoking the conservative.

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Rest in Power

It is hard to find a beginning when the shock of the news still hasn’t worn off. How can you express your grief or sense of loss when you can’t even believe the news is true… There are so many things that we can say about Sharon, stories of her success and her commitment to Under Pressure and to the team of volunteers, performers, artists and dancers who were able to work with her through out the years. Sharon was the kind of person you knew you could count on, to be there, to support the artists and music she loved and really believed in. She rarely got discouraged, and her love for the festival and those around her shone through in her devotion to putting on the best shows she could possibly do year after year. She never asked for anything in return, and had the wisdom and patience of someone who had unselfishly and whole heartedly been involved with the music scene in Montreal across decades of time.

Sharon had a vision for the festival and she had a work ethic which would not allow her to do things half way. The festivals performances grew under her care and she never backed away from doing what she knew was right for those stages. She believed in the festival but more importantly she believed in the people she worked with and would remind us of it when we needed it. Sharon always wanted to make the people who contributed their time to the event feel appreciated, and more than one time was she seen giving away her own festival shirt to a performer who hadn’t received one. She bought beer and water, she brought fury when she needed to but always checked in after to make sure everything was ok.

The 19th edition of the festival was a success and spoke to her vision of Under Pressure and what she wanted to keep doing for Montreal. Sharon was our respected colleague but most importantly she was a family member to us. This loss is profound, but she will be with us always.