After university (I graduated in 83), I started making paintings in a shared studio behind a convenience store in The Junction, way back before The Junction was a cool-hipster-artsy area. That was a good place to start out, but I wanted to find a place where I could both live and paint. I found a storefront space on Ossington Ave (way before Ossington Ave became a cool-hipster-restaurant area) and fashioned it into two studios with a shared kitchen in the middle.
I had a work-space at the front, with a partial divider behind which was my bed and living space. There was a door to the kitchen and then on the other side a door to the studio in the back. We also had a basement, and that’s where the bathroom was along with the shower (let’s not talk about the rat problem) and some painting storage. It was perfect at the time.
I held my first two exhibitions in my work-space there at 70 Ossington. The place had previously been a hardware store, so the walls in the work-space were peg-board, and for month long periods I turned that front space into a modest and funky little gallery.
Here’s one of the paintings I exhibited at the time. It’s called The Listening Machine and in fact one of those exhibitions was called The Listening Machine and Other Paintings. This was an important painting for me.
It was a pretty big painting – it must have been 7 or 8 feet wide. Unfortunately it no longer exists. I couldn’t sell the thing, and a friend offered to store it behind a business owned by some relative. Years later, he called me to collect the painting as it could no longer be stored there, but the painting was badly damaged. I don’t know what happened. I’m sure part of the problem was that I had hardly any coin when I made the painting and I used the cheapest oil paint I could get my hands on. Perhaps that, coupled with the storage conditions combined to seal the fate of this painting. When I retrieved it, paint was badly peeling off the canvas in layers. There was no way to save it.
Fortunately I had a picture.