Friday, March 13, 2009

Zone of our Own Part IV

Sharing the studio with Stan worked out pretty well. I was comfortable working there and I was getting used to the idea of traveling to the studio to work. I wasn't so happy with my apartment though. It was as basic and small as an apartment could be and it was hard to love. When I heard about a good studio opening up over in 101 on the other side of the building, one I could live in, I decided to take it. I knew I was going to miss sharing with Stan. We got on pretty well together, perhaps because we took such different approaches to painting.

I went to see the Superintendent about the space. Fortunately he knew I paid my rent and wasn't destructive. The next step was to get past the problem of living in the studio. There was this little matter of the zoning by-law that said thou shalt not live in yer studio. Clearly, most of the people in the building lived there anyway. The super said, "you understand this is a working studio". I replied, "I'm a painter". We understood one another.

The space was a big rectangle with a storage room and a shower and wooden storage structure that worked for stacking paintings. I had a large bank of windows and a long painting wall. I liked it quite a bit. That was before I found out about the heroin addicts next door.

I don't know how many of them actually lived there. It looked to me that their deal was, score, shoot, sell, get beat up, cough a lot, nod off. At all hours people would come to their door and knock. If they didn't get an answer, sometimes they would come to my door. "I can't help you?" "Why not?" I guess I had some kind of preconception or misconception about what heroin addicts are supposed to look like. I can tell you after viewing that scene, I was wrong. Heroin addicts looked like everyone else, with all kinds of stripes. I had a knock on my door one night from some guy in an Armani suit, standing there with his girlfriend, who was decked out in a super-expensive evening gown. They were very upset that buddy next door wasn't around. He was likely out getting beat up at the time. They couldn't understand that I couldn't help them out.

At the bottom of our street, there were often a couple cop cars. They had a good spot to take a break, at the end of a quiet street. Usually they pulled up so that one car faced in either direction, and there they sat, motor running, talking and smoking and drinking coffee. I'm sure they did good cop stuff when they weren't on break, but they were oblivious to the constant stream of customers my neighbour had. Nobody wanted to call the police though, because, even though the City was pretty slow about finding people who broke zoning by-laws, a major police action in the building just might be enough to wake them up. We didn't want to get booted out of the building. Somebody in the building thought they could shame them out. In the dead of night, in huge letters, the words "get your heroin here" went up in the hallway with a big arrow. The next day buddy was out there painting over it. Finally the landlord got rid of them. We heard the guys were actually paid to leave overnight, but I don't know that for sure. They just disappeared, soon to be replaced by a painter named Peter.

I settled into my studio. With the junk dealers gone, the whole environment was much improved. I ended up staying there for several years, and made a lot of paintings in that studio.

...more soon


Anonymous said...

do you have photos of your studios?

mister anchovy said...

I do have plenty of photos of the studio at 101....buried with all our books and stuff that is still not unpacked after our move. When I dig them out, perhaps I'll post some.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Isn't it weird how people want heroin when everybody else wants to sleep? I'm glad the addict neighbours moved on.

Candy Minx said...

The cops sitting there eating donuts while staggering masses of junkies went in and out or walking around is one of the funniest things I've ever seen in life. Another set of reasons drugs should be decriminalized...