Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Who Am I?
I went to art school, where I gravitated towards design. Upon graduation I opened a design studio, but I did not abandon contemporary art and its systems, its ideas and its materials, but rather sought its integration through what I do as a businessperson and as an artist. After securing a studio space, I came to know the building's owner, but also those who own the buildings around it. From this knowledge, another system, an older one based not on private ownership for material gain, as in speculation, accumulation, but on bettering the conditions of those marginalized by those for whom accumulation is the object; buildings owned and operated by communities that formed societies whose stated purpose is benevolence, the greater good, instigated by those who came to this country, who in fact paid a tax to work here, to help build its infrastructure, and after that brought their families, whose children produced new families in a part of town that was now their own, a ghetto, as some have called it, whose parents and grandparents began their lives there, as I began my business there, a part of town that was soon patronized by those who lived outside of it, who ate its food, bought its pots and pans, its souvenirs, took in its colours, its differences. I could go on, but the point is that those who started these societies and purchased these buildings have grown older and are in fact dying, and with no one to replace them, with fewer people moving in from where they, their parents, their grandparents and their great grandparents came from, well, that’s where I come in, because I see parallels between these benevolent societies and the artist-run centres that are so important to this city’s cultural ecology, so much so that I decided to make a space for a new artist-run centre in the very space where I started my business, and have since expanded my interests to include other buildings, picking up leases and subdividing their spaces to house older artist-run centres and provide studio spaces for artists who are in need of them, eventually expanding to other parts of the city through contacts made with those who own the building I first leased space in, to the point where some might think of what I am doing as an addiction, this amassing of leases and subdividing of spaces, but hey, I am not the enemy, because I have helped those before me, those who started these benevolent societies and artist-run centres, and yes, my desire to take on more spaces has created conflicts with artists and designers who have told me about spaces available in the buildings where they hold leases, where their landlords, who have accepted my higher-than-what-they-were-getting bids on available spaces, have now raised their rates on those who told me about them, forcing them out, which has allowed me to take over their spaces, their former spaces, which I have plans for, to continue my work, which I must say I have a knack for, am good at, and why stop at that, why stop at what I am good at if I am making things happen for those with whom I have something in common? I am not an agent of real estate, but one of change, and change is good, because the more things change, the more they stay the same.