On The Scene//Montana Paint Shop and Gallery, Tokyo.
Tokyo is recognised by many as a major centre of street art and urban culture and it fits that a short distance by train from the busy and sticker bombed centre of everything Shibuya is a place where street art and that Tokyo staple, a good coffee, converge perfectly.
My way to the neighborhood where Montana's Tokyo branch of their Paint Shop's was colorful to say the least. Coming from the streets of Shibuya via a short train journey to Toritsu Daigaku station I was looking at the skyline all the way. Imagine that skyline covered by a feted "masterpiece", as the large murals found on many buildings in the Tokyo area are referred to colloquially. It's a vision unlikely to occur in this dimensions version of Tokyo but once I found my way to the nicely tucked away venue that houses a revolving gallery of urban themed exhibitions, a bar selling drinks of many varieties and of course the Montana Paint Shop I knew I was onto something special.
We've covered street art regularly over the years and it's genuinely rare to find such an excellent venue featuring the much discussed art form. Heading down into the basement of an unassuming building into the unexpectedly small space (Hey, this is Tokyo!) it's easy to wonder just where you've ended up but once you turn the corner past the many flyers for local shows and events it's an experience second to none.
As fans of street art of all forms it's always fun to discover somewhere where you can chill out and enjoy the view and this is certainly one of those places. The normal charm of a Paint Shop, found in the addictive smell of aerosol and paint is not to be found here but it's even better for that. With Dylan's I Shall Be Released on the stereo and the smell of coffee not far behind this was easily a place you'd come often. The exhibition from writers SECT and WANTO showing at the time of our visit was an excellent one featuring canvases of various dimensions with jet black New York style tags on a silver background making some impressive work. The Japanese influence is shown more clearly in larger format pieces that take a multicolor theme and play with the shapes of the tags effectively.
Positioned in one corner of the gallery space is a rather large Fat Cap that is really quite impressive. It's positioned almost Zen like in the midst of a pebble filled gap in the flooring and is a definite visual highlight. One aspect of the venue that impressed us though was the sheer number of graf zines and books (many long out of print) that filled the shelf space in the lounge area. Unfortunately, they're not for sale but a visit to Shibuya will easily secure you some quality zines at one of the various shops found there. All in all we enjoyed our first visit to the space and will be back as soon as we possibly can - For sure!
Words by Sebastian Gahan. Images by Scattershot (c) 2012