Bank Girls, St. Jacques Street, Montreal, 1955 (circa)
Inscriptionssigned, ‘Surrey’ (recto, lower right)
Private Collection, Victoria. B.C.
Now I want badly to get to work. I would like to do something with Place Ville Marie and the girls who flock in to the Square there at noon.
It is in the same spirit Surrey composed the following trio of works. They are important to consider in the context of Philip Surrey in his day. Watch American Graffiti again after all these years. Some of the highlights of “The Fonz” in the television series Happy Days will be useful, that is, if you weren’t there. We strongly a encourage a reading of the MacLean’s article “ ...a portrait of the city [of Montreal] that is also a portrait of the human condition” in 1966, Ian Adams wrote,
MONTREAL IS A CITY of young women. On the island there are 175,000 women between the ages of 18 and 35. Almost 100,000 work downtown.
Every weekday morning they move, fresh and lithe, tap-tapping on their high heels through streets that still carry the littered taste of yesterday, turning the concrete landscape that is downtown Montreal into a fascinating and exotic world.” Not to be overlooked is Adams’ perceptive and unanticipated important observation about these young women, “Montreal is their city. It really belongs to them. And they know that too.
This is a perspective to consider in studying Surrey’s work.
The composition of Rue Notre Dame, circa 1953 has an image Surrey used from time to time, a corner boy, a classic urban “greaser”, hanging around, perhaps looking for trouble or maybe just passing time. Baby boomers will recall Dean Martin (or maybe the Four Lads) and the lyrics;
....Standing on a corner watching all the girls go by/ Standing on a corner giving all the girls the eye/ ….. Standing on the corner watching all the girls/ Watching all the girls, watching all the girls go by…