Register Thursday | June 27 | 2019

Guerrilla Gardens

Transforming neglected urban spaces

Wedged between train tracks, the St. Urbain Street underpass and the rising highway of Van Horne Avenue, the grassy triangle barely exists at all. A path and a hole in the metal fence mark where pedestrians and cyclists shortcut over the railroad tracks. It’s the kind of neglected place, however, that Glen Lemesurier thrives in.

Lemesurier, now forty-one, recently transformed this neglected piece of city property in the Montreal neighbourhood of Mile End into his own private carnivalesque sculpture garden.

Against the industrial landscape, Lemesurier’s spinning whirligigs and improvised weather vanes capture the eye. There are over a dozen: some are wood, some steel and all are composed from recycled objects. Some clang, some whirl, while others impress in stillness and in silence.

Lemesurier notes that there are numerous artists creating environmental installations in the woods of Mount Royal Park. He believes artists should express themselves in abandoned spaces and fill them with beautiful works of art. His efforts may come to naught, though, if the city of Montreal decides to dismantle his creative additions to the space.

“Now that spring is here and all the snow has disappeared, the city workers who maintain the property may decide to dig everything up and haul all the sculpture off to the trash.” He laughs. I suggest that he should plant some flowers, maybe some morning glory along the fence. Lemesurier nods. “If the city deconstructs my work, so be it. Sometimes a fleeting glimpse of beauty is enough.”