GUIDO MOLINARI (1933–2004)
Solstice, 1999. Sculpture at our store on Rue Sainte-Catherine, Montreal
Guido Molinari is a major figure in Canadian contemporary art, a precursor to minimalism, and a leader of the Montreal abstract geometric school. We had the pleasure of meeting him while he was creating his mobile sculpture entitled Solstice, which is readily visible in the middle of our store in downtown Montreal.
A veritable kaleidoscope of luminous colours symbolizing the seasons, this imposing mobile sculpture bears witness to both the talent and strong, free spirit of Guido Molinari. The work was set in motion thanks to the ingenuity of mechanical systems designer Michel Dallaire. Through the power of his work, Guido Molinari not only made this a beautiful space, he continues to inspire onlookers who walk past this masterpiece day after day.
Au fil d’une vie (Over a Lifetime), 1999. Work at our store in Carrefour de l’Estrie, Sherbrooke
Danielle April is a renowned artist who already has over a hundred exhibitions to her name, along with some 20 works integrated into public buildings. For this project at our Sherbrooke store, she used as her inspiration the work and philosophy of artist William Morris, a forerunner of the Arts and Crafts Movement who created fabulous collections of decorative plant motifs. William Morris was an ardent defender of the idea that we can noticeably improve the quality of our lives by surrounding ourselves with beautiful objects produced by artisans.
Danielle April’s work is curled up deep in the heart of a spiral vault. Though imposing, it undeniably evokes the fluidity of a piece of fabric unrolled in space and the subtle, see-through look of lace and guipure. Thanks to an assembly of titanium, glass, and aluminum, twisting and turning lines, and clever laser openwork, the impression of lightness is magical, like that of a gem emitting a soft, luminous vibration in a giant case.
Envolée d’écume (Bubbling Sea Foam). Mobile at the Boulevard Laurier entrance to Simons, Place Sainte-Foy
Pascale Girardin is a ceramist, art object designer, and renowned creator of architectural artworks. The recipient of a number of awards and grants, Pascale Girardin has earned an international reputation by creating and producing an impressive number of original works integrated into the architecture of public areas, hotels, and prestigious restaurants in North America and the United Arab Emirates. Bubbling Sea Foam is at the Boulevard Laurier main entrance to our store in Place Sainte-Foy. The spectacular space in which this mobile slowly moves brings us back to the balance of the human being in space, the peaceful floating inspired by material freed of its weight, the gentleness of the wind, and the steady and rhythmic motion of waves etched in sea clay. The presence of the work in this busy space is an invitation to rest and enter into an intuitive, inner dialogue with a simulated object that subtly evokes our fundamental relationship with nature.
Éclosions (Emergence), 2004. Four-part oil on canvas in the Customer Service Desk at the store in St-Bruno
Yolaine Plante is a Rimouski native pursuing her career as a painter in Quebec City. Her four-part work symbolizes the main stages of a person’s life. It begins with a feminine figure coming into the world that we subsequently follow through each major milestone of life, up to total self-fulfillment of the person, who becomes aware of her plurality.
The artist instinctively plays with colour by attempting to evoke the idea of birth and renewal through the luminosity and vibratory qualities of her work. Keenly attentive to the expressions of her medium, she journeys down unexplored paths of representation.
La Visite (The Visit), 2006. Painting on the ground floor of our store on Côte de la Fabrique in Old Quebec
While acquiring the buildings next to the company’s headquarters on Côte de la Fabrique to carry out necessary expansion, Peter Simons discovered that part of the location had been the site of Quebec City’s first inn in 1648, when the population was barely 500. The story goes that owner Jacques Boisdon, with a fitting last name meaning “Drink up!”, was required to prohibit drunkenness, blasphemy, gambling, and scandals and had a duty to close his establishment during religious services and on Sundays and holidays. Inspired by this anecdote about life in our city long ago, Peter Simons commissioned a work from painter and muralist Pierre Laforest of Île d’Orléans, who uses a traditional technique similar to that of 17th century Dutch masters. This talented artist imagined and composed a lively and very evocative scene that takes us back to the everyday life of Quebec City’s first residents. This striking canvas can be admired at our store at 20 côte de la Fabrique.
Italian glass mosaic tiles dating back to the 19th century, attributed to Walter Crane. Installed in 2005 in the Le 31 for Men section at the store on Côte de la Fabrique in Old Quebec
In his ongoing quest to find distinctive decorative details and vintage woodwork to complete the renovation of the Old Quebec store, Peter Simons discovered the famous Saint-Amand-les-Eaux cupola at the massive Saint-Ouen Flea Market in a Paris suburb. This cupola, made with Italian glass mosaic tiles, used to adorn Château Bouchart, which was built in the late 19th century by a prosperous industrial family in France. It had been commissioned to celebrate the wedding of one of their four daughters. The cupola was installed at the entrance to the Le 31 for Men department on Côte de la Fabrique and restored on site by a team from the famous Scuola Mosaicisti Del Friuli school in Italy. It is affectionately dedicated to Carlo and Maria Cusan, as well as to all the Italians who have settled in Quebec City and brought renewed vibrancy to our community. Through their courage and passion, they have enriched our cultural mosaic.
FONTAINE DE TOURNY
Cast iron fountain designed by Mathurin Moreau and Alexandre Lambert, two animal sculptors renowned throughout Europe at the time art foundries flourished in the 19th century
To celebrate Quebec City’s 400th anniversary, the Simons family wanted to give its fellow residents a significant gift that demonstrated in a concrete and sustainable manner its great fondness for the city that had welcomed its ancestors. Discovered in pieces at a Paris antique shop in 2005, Fontaine de Tourny today stands in the heart of Place de l’Assemblée-Nationale in front of the Parliament Building and is one of seven existing Tourny fountains in the world. Originally the winner of the gold medal at the Paris World Fair in 1855, this urban antique treasure was first inaugurated in Bordeaux, France, to celebrate the arrival of running water in the city. Along with its twin, it adorned Allées de Tourny until the 1960s. The fountain was shipped to Quebec in pieces, completely restored by Quebec and European expert artists, and unveiled in July 2007 to kick off Quebec City’s 400th anniversary celebrations.
CREATIVE YOUNG ARTS AND ARCHITECTURE TALENT IN OUR WINDOWS
The L’OBJET event is a challenge presented to future graduates of the professional master’s degree program in architecture at Université Laval. Students must invent an original object that reflects their concerns and vision of the world and whose execution challenges them to solve technical and practical problems. All entries are displayed in our windows on Côte de la Fabrique, then put up for auction at a gala evening held at Musée de la civilisation. It’s a great way for us to encourage and promote the talent of these future architects and attract interest in their work among our clientele.
Once a year our windows also feature youth who do street art and frequent Café Graffiti, where they are welcomed and encouraged to discover ways to fulfill themselves through creation.