Montreal mayor reveals plans for massive mural honouring Leonard Cohen

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The city of Montreal, famed for its mural art, will have yet another piece decorating its cityscape come September after Mayor Denis Coderre announced on Twitter that the city was painting a massive mural of Canadian musician Leonard Cohen.

The 790-square-metre (8,500-square-foot), 20-storey mural will be located on Crescent Street, just north of Ste. Catherine Street in the city’s downtown core. The project’s $200,000 budget must now be approved by city council before any work can take place, La Presse reported.

Born in Westmount, Que., the famed singer, songwriter and poet passed away on Nov. 7, 2016, at the age of 82. Shortly after his death, Coderre said the city would honour the memory of the well-known Quebecker, promising to “make proposals … to concretely recognize the memory of Leonard Cohen.”

The project will be led by Gene Pendon, a muralist who’s part of the Montreal-based artist collective known as MU. His previous works include murals of renowned jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and novelist Dany Laferrière, who were memorialized as prominent culture builders of the city.

Montreal has long planned for a mural dedicated to Cohen. Three years ago, to celebrate Cohen’s 80th birthday, Pendon had planned on painting a mural at the Balfour Building, a 10-storey building on the corner of Boulevard St. Laurent and Rue Prince Arthur, where Cohen had written the lyrics to some of his most famous songs. However, the building’s owner had decided to renovate the facade, so the project was shelved. With Cohen’s death, the project was revived in a different part of the city.

“It will be an eight- to 10-week job,” Gene Pendon told La Presse. “So it should be ready around September. Personally, this is my biggest mural. It’s at least three times bigger than what I usually do, so it’s a real challenge.”

The murals must be approved by the Cohen’s estate before the project can start.

“I have my vision of what I want to do, but even if I do not have to do it, I would like to have the blessing of the family,” Pendon informed the newspaper.

And there may be even more projects commemorating Cohen in store for the city. Responding to criticism that the newly-announced memorial wasn’t in an area where he grew up or lived in, Coderre simply told one woman on Twitter to “be patient.”