The Journey is the Reward
I wished to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings, some of the obstacle, harassment and some or many random acts of kindness, support, and beauty.
In June 2016 the sale of my vacant lot in Hintonburg closed and I was able to purchase The Imbleau & Son Foundry in Renfrew.
I was so happy that I sold my vacant lot. I had a cheque for over $250,000 dollars in my hands, but I was single, alone, and had no one to hold in my arms and share the joy with. That realization was really difficult to deal with.
Isabelle, my 12 year old daughter, was with me the next week. One week on, one week off (the landscape of divorce). All excited Isabelle and I drove up to Renfrew and embraced the purchase of the property and after had a pizza to celebrate at a local restaurant.
Dream Dream Dream of converting the space into the Art Factory. To have the largest artist studio in Canada, an Art Gallery, and Art Supply store.
The factory was up for sale for several years. The previous operation at the factory was the manufacturing of street steel manhole covers. Contamination and pigeon shit. A 8700 square foot Pigeon Hotel. When a property has contamination NO bank will give you a mortgage. So I paid cash for the property. Nor can you get a loan, no secured line of credit. Only cash. All in - not a small decision.
I am not some poor starving artist. And I wish to talk about this for a moment…. An aside
So many people assume. Artist = Starving. This is not my situation. I find it most taxing and the judgement so exhausting. I was very poor in my 20’s. I was hard core broke. I lost 17 pounds due to not eating correctly. Erika (my ex-wife) and I slept in cold damp bed sheet while living in East London. We could not afford to turn the electricity on to be warm and dry. But I worked my ass off. The experience of being that poor was most humbling and challenging. You are judged by everyone. You are living your life. It is fucking hard to surrender your soul to your passion. Lack of support, lack of encouragement, and countless letters of rejection from galleries… it pushes you to dark spaces. But I have this fire inside my soul that screams. So I push forward. I know that there is something inside of me that must be respected as true and pure. I was very blessed to have so many people in London buy my paintings. Now I am 44 years old. I have 7 rental income unites (two 3 bedroom house, a triplex and a duplex downtown Ottawa, and a 1400 square foot storage unit), and two other units that need renovations to increase my 7 rental incomes to 9. Plus I have the 8700 square foot Factory to convert into a business and studio. Even if I do not sell my paintings I am free to live without stress. For the past 14 years I have not had a job, a boss, no office. I sell paintings. I say this to correct Artist = Starving = for ME it = LIVE LOVE Dreams. Some dreams are not blanketed in darkness, but some dreams are filled with sunshine. Dreams require work. I work with intense passion.
The first weeks of work were filled with many dump runs. A staff at the Renfrew dump, who had formerly worked at the factory for 39 years, helped unload the trailer. As we unload the items at the dump, he told us stories about the operations at the factory. He was so generous, and he had such a warm, kind smile painted across his face as he helped.
The Town of Renfrew came to turn the water main on. A few weeks later, I hired Marshalls to remove several large machines out of the space. They were the same company that manufactured and installed the equipment that I was paying to remove. I wished to share my joy and communicate the progress of activities with others on Facebook and social media. So I took a few photos of Marshalls working and removing and the progress inside the factory. Two hours before Marshalls was finished. The Ministry of Labor (MOL) showed up. They received an anonymous complaint. The MOL issued a stop work order. I was order to do a Designated Substance Report (DSR).
This was a pretty major thing. The factory was not properly cleaned in over 100 plus years. This meant I could not hire a contractor until the DSR report was completed. I could not hire a plumber, a gas fitter, no electrician... no skilled trades persons, no paid workers. The implications of this are massive. No paid workers.
Fortunately the Town of Renfrew had turned on the water a few weeks before the MOL had showed up. So I had running water. But I could not have a gas water tank install. So no hot water. So no warm water to shower or clean.
I could not hire staff, No paid workers until the DSR was carried out. As the property owner I was still permitted to clean, work, and repair the Factory. So I spent over 800 hours cleaning the factory over the summer. I wished to clean the inside of the factory before commencing a DSR. I knew that with all the pigeon shit and the factory basically being pigeon hotel. I would be screwed. So I worked alone in this massive space. At the end of the day I would walk down to the river and clean myself. I was black as black. The amount of dirt that covered my body and cloths was insane. I am not blind. I know the looks I had from individuals as I washed in the river... the judgments of being some poor, homeless, freak. But I am a dreamer. And some dreams require massive work. So I shielded myself with my Dreamer Mind and Dreamer Soul. So I washed in the river. Pretty intense. But hey... I am an intense dreamer.
Rapidly I figured out who were my discretionary friends and who were my real friends. This was not an easy truth for face. I was very overwhelmed with the massive task that faced me. Feeling very alone. Not being able to hire help. The DSR really was a massive pain. I broke down a few times inside the factory and just cried. Things seemed really hopeless.
But I knew that I had this Unknown Anonymous Stalker on Social Media (Mr. ASS) who has followed me for many years (9 plus years) calling Bylaw, Police, Electrical Safety Authority, Police, LCBO head office in Toronto, Liquor Inspector, Building Inspector, Building Services, more Bylaw (over 200 times). So now I had Mr. ASS calling MOL.
This pissed me off. But if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade (right Mr. ASS).
I have a pretty good idea who Mr. ASS is. So I went up to the Police station in Renfrew. I spoke to the department. I explained my situation. The police were unable to help me. So I have Mr. ASS calling each and every governing agency and department. And then the Bylaw, the Police, Fire Department, Ministry of Labor, and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change are called out to respond to Mr. ASS and his anonymous complaints. And according to the Police… they cannot help me. To quote David Peace (Renfrew local police officer), “The person who is harassing you is very clever. He is using us to harass you.”
There were many days I just wished to quit and give up. But I had Mr. ASS as my personal life coach. Many mornings I wished to just sleep in and not work. But in my mind I had Mr. ASS as my personal alarm clock screaming at me…. So I viewed Mr. ASS as my personal life coach motivator. I wished to kick ass. So I put in 14 – 19 hour days every day. At the end of the summer I had put on 20 pounds of muscle mass. Even my shit had muscles lol.
Kent helped me build my daughter (Isabelle) a beach volleyball court on my land at the Art Factory. He arranged for the dirt to be moved to two locations. When the beach volleyball court was done. As a proud father I posted Isabelle standing on her official beach volleyball court.
A few days later, The Ministry of Environment and Climate Control (MOECC) contacted me. I am not sure who hates me this much but MR. ASS called the MOECC. Who does this… really? What kind of sick individual calls the MOECC after a proud father builds his daughter a beach volleyball court.
Oh well. What can you do. Not much. So I worked even harder. I pushed myself to clean and pressure wash the inside of the factory. A massive undertaking to do alone.
I had to push forward as hard as possible. I wished to have the place washed and cleaned before the cold winter was upon me. You cannot paint walls below 10 degrees. The water from the pressure washer will puddle on the floor.
September, once Isabelle started school. I would drop Isabelle off at school. Drive from Ottawa up to Renfrew. Work 3 hours and 35 mins. Then drive back to Ottawa to collect Isabelle from school. I was really pushing myself to get the space cleaned before winter. I put over six thousand kilometers of driving on my van in the month of September alone. The personal goals I wished to achieve… I did. I surpassed them.
The more I worked… the more kindness started presenting itself. The people of Renfrew flooded me with kindness. Warm loving food was delivered to me… many times. I must look like a sucker for a loving home cooked meal. Frosters (ice cream) from Wendy’s hand delivered with a beautiful smile, fresh cut water melon, a drafting table was gifted to me from a facebook friend (this really blew me away), a truck full of free fire wood to keep me warm, three people offering to let me stay in their homes for free (even gave me keys), the gallery owner in Artist Cove Art Gallery in Burns Town approached me to show my work (and offered to let me live in her rental apartment), the Town Hall approached me to give me a Solo Show, when my van was getting repaired I was offered a ride back from Walmart, the kindness was incredible… so much kindness and encouraging words of support were offered and so deeply appreciated… There are so many more acts of kindness, support, encouragement… they are not all listed. But they all filled my heart in ways I cannot begin to express.
What touched my heart the most was my beautiful daughter Isabelle. She had seen me struggle to sever the vacant lot in Hintonburg, and had watched me and helped me start the process of cleaning the Art Factory. I told her I would build her a beach volleyball court. But she was responsible for buying the net and line borders. So she researched where and what she wished to buy. When it came time for her to pay me the funds for the online purchase I told her, “Isabelle, I had no intention of taking your money for the net, the line borders… I only wished you to think that you were spending your own money, so I knew that you would mentally process the payment. The entire beach volleyball court is a gift to say how much I love you, and how proud of you.”
Then Isabelle said, “Daddy, thank you so much. I have wanted to do this for some time. But I needed to budget my money to make sure I could afford to pay for the volleyball net and lines. I have wished to treat you. I have wanted to take you out for dinner to your favorite restaurant and celebrate. I know how hard you work. And I know you are alone and someone has to congratulate you and celebrate you getting the Art Factory… I wish to treat you tonight.”
Good friend Adam Davidson help and painting together
I have started to paint inside the Factory. I love working in such a large space. I am able to work on several paintings at once. I feel so free. The space is so healing. I keep working on fixing the space. I would love to show you photos of inside. But this will open more harassment from MR. ASS. So I will not be posting the progress of my building dreams of the Art Factory. Just know that I am pushing forward. I have been working for 6 months full time fixing the space. And I have budgeted to keep working for another 6 – 12 months to keep fixing the factory.
Good friend Patrick S Greene and I painting inside Art Factory
I have many painting for sale. If you wish to contact me to purchase art work… NOW is a good time to buy my art. NOW is when I am a seed. Soon I will be a flower. You buying my art today will help me build a dream. Buy a wall, lights, paint. My prices are flexible. Reasonable offers will be entertained. And I will be most open to making you happy. Once the Art Factory is open… I will be on the other side of this mountain. My prices will be more. My vision is to keep working on the renovating the Art Factory. I will be painting this new series of paintings. I am starting to feel ready to approach art galleries in other major cities. I just have not had the energy to juggle this endeavor. Now is a really good time to buy something beautiful. I also accept monthly payment plans.
Live Love Art
Patrick John Mills
Follow me on Facebook
or call me 613 729 0406
Building a Dream - Patrick S Greene helping (aka kick ass friend)
Studio --- lol - outside along the Ottawa River
no walls... outside studio... Love Painting outside (-minus the cops stopping me to ask for ID)
Working along the Ottawa River
Inside my studio in down town Ottawa... - Photo taken by someone beautiful
BUY ME - photo inside Art Factory
BUY ME - inside Art Factory
LIVE LOVE ART