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‘Street find’ art transforms NDG alleyway into outdoor gallery

Click to play video: 'Trash art decorates alley in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood' Trash art decorates alley in Montreal’s NDG neighbourhood
A local artist has transformed his alleyway in the NDG neighbourhood into an outdoor gallery. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports. – Jun 11, 2021

A local artist has transformed his Notre-Dame-de-Grâce alleyway into an outdoor gallery, showcasing colourful and repurposed street finds.

Self-proclaimed “artist by accident,” Ramin Salimi, says he’s been bitten by the art bug.

“The itch keeps on scratching, so you have to scratch the itch,” Salimi said.

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For the last two years, the NDG resident has been slowly curating an art show on the back fences of his neighbours.

“It’s a back alley gallery,” Salimi said.

His pieces are entirely made of garbage — though that’s a word Salimi says he doesn’t like. He prefers to call the items, “curbside finds.”

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In fact, he says that the miscellaneous things he uses — including old tarps, cooking pans, tar paper, old picture frames —all find him.

“It’s a mystery to me. I walk a lot on the sidewalks of NDG and Montreal and they are very generous with their offerings,” Salimi said.

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About 30 or so pieces, all different sizes, painted in bright colours and different art styles, don the alleyway.

Exterior paint, much of which is donated or discounted, is used to splash a new life on his finds.

Salimi gets permission to hang his eclectic art on people’s property.  He says that since he started, a number of neighbours enjoy his work and the atmosphere it gives to their private, closed-off space.

At times, Salimi says residents even fight over pieces.

“They say, ‘Why does my neighbour have one and I don’t?’ and I say, ‘You do realize this is garbage,'” Salimi said.

Even city councillor Peter McQueen is a fan.

McQueen has several colourful canvases zip-tied on his backyard fence. He even has some of the art inside his home. He encourages the use of space and says it brings life to the community alleyway.

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“Absolutely, there is still plenty of fences available,” McQueen says.

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Salimi says not all his fellow neighbours enjoy the art, but he doesn’t hold any judgment, saying they can do want they want to his creations.

“This is your own garbage, going on your own fence as artwork. When you don’t want it — it was garbage to begin with. We’re just delaying its final destiny.”

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