If you've walked along Mont-Royal avenue recently, you've probably noticed a few things looking different. For starters, a large part of the street has become pedestrian and biker-only. Another difference is the many blue-painted murals that have appeared on the ground. One of them, titled "O SEA," pays tribute to the beloved Montreal whale, which was caught making its way through the Saint Lawrence river a little over a month ago and was shortly found dead afterwards.
The mastermind behind this work of art is Omar Bernal Benítez.
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We spoke with Omar to find out his connection to the whale and what it feels like to have been part of the transformation of a Montreal street.
In relation to his work of the whale, he explained that "it's a way of saying goodbye to her."
"The piece, although I am very satisfied with the result, is the least of it."
For him, the process of making the work itself, and everything that went with that, including meeting new people and gaining new ideas, holds great importance as well.
Like most good works of art, Omar's original plan for the street mural ended up taking a slightly different shape than what he originally pictured.
"The moon was an element that wasn't in the original sketch but I imagined how that whale that filled us with hope at a certain moment fulfilled its objective and left us with a reflection: She came back where she came from but transformed," the artist told MTL Blog.
Bernal Benítez said he came to Montreal for the art scene and many festivals, and like many of us, ended up having plans get cancelled because of the pandemic.
But, continues to be happy that he "welcomed [him] with open arms."
Omar said it's a great feeling to have played a role in the beautification of Montreal streets.
While this large-scale work of art may be difficult to get a full view of when you're walking on top of it, but that fact in itself lets you pay more attention to every little detail inside it instead.
Bernal Benítez made sure that every inch of his tribute to our dearest Montreal whale got the attention it deserved.
Just look at that tail.
Hope you're resting easy, sweet Montreal whale.
The 32 blue street murals going along Mont-Royal have now been completed, so make sure to take a look at the art under your feet next time you find yourself on that avenue.