Picture a working class Montreal neighborhood.
Its streets have got potholes the size of your head. And its old wrought iron staircases lead up to antique apartments filled with young people just bristling to get out after almost five months of winter.
Next door is a corner store where you can buy lotto tickets, beer and cigarettes. And all around you is a maze of back alleys and side streets plastered with posters for rock shows, graffiti, signs for missing cats and notices for next weekend’s garage sale.
Oh, and not far down the way, you’ll find a little workshop where they take standard, mass-produced skateboards and turn them into a thing beauty. That’s C’est Beau.
Based out of Montreal’s blue collar Hochelaga neighborhood, C’est Beau Handwork originally started up in another, more remote area of Quebec (the Canadian province where Montreal is located)– one of those countless regions where the old French Catholic tradition still lives strong in towns named after saints.
So down in St-Gabriel, C’est Beau’s first recycled, handmade and hand-painted skateboards hit the road. The whole idea being that throwing out good wood is kind of like hosing down your driveway after a nice rain: “Ça fait aucun esti de sens vieux con.” Or in other words, it makes no f*cking sense.
Nowadays, though, C’est Beau works out of an old industrial space a quick ride from Montreal’s bustling corporate, commercial and residential center.
From there, they recut and rework old boards, which are then hand painted in the style of any one of the many artists that seem to be part of their collective. The end result can be an image of anything from Buzz Lightyear to a butt plug, a moody black and white portrait to kitschy photo booth snapshots.
So what does C’est Beau get up to during the colder moths of the year, when snow fills those back alleys and Montrealers keep their doors and windows shut? Their attitude seems to be that’s it’s no big deal, and their natural inclination seems to run toward benders. C’est Beau’s videos of raucous house parties, offensive acts at art shows and other debaucheries are proof enough of that.
But then again, it’s all there in their name. Because even though the literal translation of c’est beau means “it’s beautiful” – which of course their work is – anyone who’s lived in Montreal can tell you that it more often means “it’s all good.”
“Une Brosse” (translation: A Bender) Video:
“L’Été (translation: Summertime) Video”