Dear Paul Dewar
A few days ago The City of Ottawa ByLaw closed my gallery. So I lost my source of income and my business is closed. I need help. I am getting hammered. The City of Ottawa ByLaw has forced me to close my business – Zoning Issues. I have not not had a job in over 15 years. I have worked and lived off my painting / art sales ... and now my gallery is closed. And I have no way to pay my mortgage / bills. I am fucked. Sure I can go start doing bathroom, kitchens, renovations... to feed myself and keep a roof over my head. But this is wrong. My life, my soul , my time is a gift that would be wasted ... and it would be a crime to flush such passion.
I have never applied for a grant, no funding, nothing. I did everything with out hand outs. With the help of a dear friend (Terrilee and one year Tony Martins) and myself we organized, hosted, promoted the Hintonburg Arts Festival for three years (Stage, 12 bands, 50 art tents, youth art competition... ). The first year we raised and donated a lot of money for homeless children in Lanark. The third year I (me, myself, individual) lost thousands. And the last year an unknown individual called everyone (Police, ByLaw, LCBO head office in Toronto, liquor inspectors, electrical safety authority, food and healthy inspectors... ). So they crushed me. I stopped. I do not care about money. I love community. I love art. I love artists. Money is paper. It comes and goes. Life and Art shine. But I am not a fool.
Again I did not apply for funding. I remortgaged one of my properties and paid to do the 103 ton Sculpture Garden. It was an insane among of work. I put on 17 pounds of muscle mass as a result of doing this project. It was (past tense now) the first and only Sculpture Garden in the National Capital City of our great Ottawa. Artists from all over the region show cased their work here. I even had a sculptor fly out from Vancouver three times. Yesterday he had to box over 50 works to ship back to Vancouver. I cried. It was brutal. This is a crime.
Every year for the entire month of December (The Art of Giving). I would invite 25 or so artists to show their work. I would take ZERO, nothing. Each artists would get 100% of sales. I asked each artist to donate a painting. I would then take all the 30 or so works and donate them for permanent display to a local charity. I would not accept a tax receipt. A gift is a pure gift. Each year this was a massive success. 56, 63, 74 and 59 art works sold. 252 art works Sold. Normally a gallery commission would be 50%. The charities that now have original art are: Grace Manor (Salvation Army), Rideauwood Addiction and Family Services, Elizabeth Fry Society, and Bruce House. The value of the art work donated is over 150 thousand dollars. Pure gift. This was a hard sacrifice. Christmas is retail month of the year. But it is so important to give real gifts.
Every charitable organization that approached me in the past years to use the gallery for their events... I hosted it for free. I asked two of the charities to give me $50 to help pay for water and toilet paper. But I hosted many events in my home / gallery to help. The Urban Youth Arts Festival... free. Celebrate Her... free for a week... many others.
When my 17 year relationship with my wife ended. I had 15 keys cut to my front door. I put a calender up on the wall. Artists, dancers, musicians, photographers, theatre company, bands, everyone with a heart of passion that needed a free space to be creative had a place to express themselves. I have had bands touring across Canada use my home as a B&B for free. Just last week I had 15 sleep in my home. They all had breakfast for free, my shower had a 2 hour line up. Bands would give me a free Cd. I have a nice Cd collection.
I could go on, on, on, on and on telling you all the things I have done to help promote art. But I will end with this one last thing... I personally put up over 30,000 posters and with the help of other artists over 40,000 posters over the past 2 years. That is two winters. Putting up posters at very cold temperatures. I remember Adam Davidson and Shannon Lee Mannion helping me (among others) put up posters on many cold winter nights (-12, -15, -25, -35 Degrees Celsius). Insane. Yes. We are Artists.
Quit Your Job, I Killed the Group of Seven, Naked Naked Naked, Pretty Ugly Art, My Kid Could Paint that @!#$%, I HAVE ISSUES... these show titles were provocative and many found them offensive. I had many complaints. And sure everyone loves I LOVE YOU all over the City. But not all Art is a pretty picture. We need to encourage brave, creative souls. Ironically we have Vincent van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada.
For five years I developed the gallery and it grew to be very successful. I organized shows / events / even put the Hintonburg Arts Festival together for three years, communicated with many artists, spoke to public about the art work and the artists, website, press, media, sales, and interns work for me... I worked my ass off. To be honest and blunt. But due to the success of the turn outs. Small turn outs being 200, average opening 350 - 400, good turn out 500 plus. The City of Ottawa Bylaw forced me to close due to a Zoning Issue.
I now am only allowed one person to visit my home at a time to look at my paintings. No openings, No events... No way can I realistically think that I am going to be able to afford to live in my home. So I have already called a dear friend who works for Remax. I accept that it will be impossible to afford to live in my home. This saddens me. Why.... Isabelle (my daughter almost 9 years old) will be deeply effected. This is bullshit.
Just because a person complains. Does not mean that they are correct. My grandmother is a bitter bitch who complains about everything. But if she calls 311 to voice her poison. The City of Ottawa job is to do their job. I have never had to pay a fine. I had to go to court over some sandwich board at the end of my street. But with the help of CBC and the media. ByLaw dropped the charges. What a waste of time to try to promote the HAF. Just because someone complains does not mean that they are right. We all have rights. I can understand if I was selling crack, if I had the police shutting me down every week due to illegal activities. I can understand if the music was playing until 3 am. But the noise, music ended at 11 pm sharp (art event once a month, not every weekend. Once a month). We were celebrating art, community, creativity, culture in a healthy positive beautiful way.
It is time to move on... there is no appeal system to the City of Ottawa. And to be honest I was pushing the limits of an at home business.
Time to find another location. Time to figure out how to grow and celebrate Art. I would like to sell my home, and investment property and get a proper space. I have never applied for funding. But with the massive impact of current events my view has changed. Any and all help is greatly welcomed.
I would like to make an Arts Centre.
I would like to purchase a church, a building, a proper space. I greatly welcome some advice, talks, knowledge, insight, guidance, resources, assistance in helping me in my life. I promise your time, your help, your love for the Arts will be great appreciated.
Live Love Art
Patrick John Mills