When I first opened L’Affichiste six years ago, the gallery was housed in a historic bank building located in an area of the city called Griffintown. I felt that a Victorian building with floor-to-ceiling windows and lovely painted floors was the perfect backdrop for a vintage poster gallery. It was a happy place, full of light and joy, and my landlord, a lovely man called Paul Emile Rioux, became a friend.
Last year we decided to move the gallery to a street-level space in the historic (and tourist-trafficed) section of Montreal, called, appropriately, Old Montreal. Located just around the corner from the Basilique Notre Notre (Notre Dame Cathedral), our building is owned by the Church. The Sulpician Order had, at one time, a great deal of real estate in Montreal, and while slightly less powerful now, it still maintains a substantial portfolio (My friend Clarence Epstein has written a wonderful book about the Sulpicians and the Church in Quebec which you can find here.) As with most heritage buildings, this one is in need of some love and repair… Which would explain why we have essentially been kicked out for a week while stone-masons repair the centuries-old installation in the front of the gallery.
No need to explain why moving out for a week would be traumatic enough – at the beginning of tourist season and while we are selling like mad on the Internet – but perhaps you haven’t factored in the dust that is created by stonework. Dust is not a friend to vintage posters, which would account for the requirement of carefully packing away our inventory, moving it temporarily out of the gallery and basement, and wreaking havoc in our newly organized space. I always joke that the two words you never want to hear from a contractor when they walk into your space are BIG JOB, but those two words kept echoing through my head last week as I would pack an order, move a box, pack another order, move another box.
Kristina and I are very fortunate to have Kristin, Amanda and Florence helping us out, and last night, for the end of the heavy lifting, moving and plastificating (my word, don’t bother looking it up), I called up Patrick and Giulian to help us finish up. I am hopeful that we will still manage to get all the orders out this week – in time and beautifully wrapped with ribbons and bows, as always – but I gotta say a little prayer to the God of the Basilique that the work gets done well, without too much delay, and within a dust-protected bubble. Can you say AMEN??