Art Is A Dirty Job But Someone’s Gotta Do It…

I am a very determined woman. A determined woman with a deadline. And a crowbar. Scary, very scary. Let me explain.

Basement renovations
Our basement office - before

After spending five very pleasant years in a magnificent and historic building on Notre Dame street in the antiques district of Montreal, my gallery has moved to a magnificent and historic building in the Old Montreal section of the city. Owned by the Church*, it is just up the street from the Centaur theater, and just across the street from the oldest costume store in the city (don’t love the retro plushies in the window over there, but still, it’s always entertaining…)

Our new neighbors.

The space was not in bad condition when I took it, but it was most certainly not in Karen Etingin condition. I had a vision in my head (not the dancing elephant vision from Fantasia – although I get that one too) but a vision of what I wanted the space to look like. Sleek, clean, glittering – what my francophone friends would call epuree.

white room
very clean, very white, and very curated

The walls of this space are 14 feet high, and as I am a little (ok, a lot) afraid of heights, we ordered a handy-dandy specially made 14 foot library ladder from a company which makes fancy rolling ladders for libraries and estates which have libraries (just sayin’…) It’s massive, very pretty and not as easy to manage as we may have wished, but it will get us up to where we need to go…

A fellow poster dealer in Paris has magnetic walls – metal walls to which she affixes her posters with magnets – genius and much nicer in the long run to both the posters and the walls than the usual thumbtack through the linen – so we put metal on all the walls. To 14 feet. Therefore, the ladder.

We – or rather Victor, our friendly electrician installed both the track lights and the designer lighting which were in my vision (get it? Lighting? Vision?). I had seen the lights I wanted in a fancy US catalog but found similar and less expensive at Zone here in Montreal. (I LOVE Zone –  and they look fab.

drumlamp ikea
Drumlamp from Zone

Daniel Jacques (from DJ Renovations), and Mr. Blue, our handy can-do-just-about-anything-guy helped me with the carpentry, the plumbing, the flooring, the painting, and the heavy lifting. Which left the other stuff. We re-purposed (love that word) an architects classeur with chrome Mactac so that instead of institutional (and rather beat-up) khaki, we now have something which looks like it comes out of Architectural Digest. Essentially now it reflects the light from our lovely and large store-front windows and disappears under our IKEA poster table.

The Bjursta dinning table from Ikea.

I actually like IKEA. If you choose well, their furniture and furnishings really work well, are inexpensive, and hey, they’re Swedish. (And have a great sense of humor: they have run some very tongue-in-cheek TV ads. I don’t like the last bunch – running in the UK now and rife with felines, but I like some of their other work. Here’s one that makes me giggle.

We re-did the bathroom (more chrome Mactac, I LOVE that stuff!), and then, well…the time had come. Dan and Blue were busy on other jobs and I could not stand the old carpet tiles in the basement. They were dirty, they were dusty and they had to go. So I got a crowbar (don’t ask) and set to work. I took off the old carpet and then pried off the old linoleum. Ick.

hit it with a crowbar

Went to 6 (yup, count ‘em) big box stores looking for carpet tile until I ended up at the only Mom and Pop shop in the city which carries carpet tile. (They also have cork in rolls that I couldn’t find anywhere and had actually imported from the States for the walls of our workspace). I got a nice set of instructions (first ‘en francais’ and then in English) from two installers, bought myself a fine-toothed towel and a tub or two of adhesive and went back to the basement. And finished the floor. In a day.

Our basement office - after
Our basement office - after

The space is only for L’affichiste worker-bees, but still, I wanted it to look nice. And clean. And now it does. So yes, I am a determined woman. With a crowbar. Be scared, be very scared.

Moving Day Art Gallery Set up
This is what the first week looked like.
Vintage Poster Gallery
The posters look great with all the natural light!
Vintage Poster Gallery
The final product!

*My new friend Clarence Epstein has just written a magnificent book about Church Architecture in Montreal – you can find out about it and also about walking tours he is leading here (International release of “Montreal, City of Spires: Church Architecture during the British Colonial Period 1760-1860”


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