I took a leap and it paid off.
Onalea and I were kicking around ideas for housing for the month of December. As of the 1st of the month we would, once again, be homeless. My contract with Alberta Theatre Projects was up and we would have to move out of the beautiful accommodations in the East Village. Options were on the table and we were deep into discussions, weighing the pro’s and con’s and using a Blue-Sky approach to the decision making.
I’ll be spending the month building a couple of shows - brand new paintings and sculptures for the Tangled Gallery in Toronto and brand new work to coincide with my run of “Assassinating Thomson” in Calgary. Onalea is working on a new album and furthering her work with the “Requiem for a Lost Girl” project. It’s going to be a very busy, art-filled month.
I thought, “I’d like to have a really nice place. Something with lots of space, lots of light, a couple of studios (one for each of us, so we’re not in each other’s way) A nice kitchen. And, maybe a place that’s just the two of us.”
I looked at Air BnB, and found a few places that looked great. I looked on Kijiji as well. The prices were in the $3-4000 range for the month. Well outside of our budget, I must admit. Neither Onalea or I have guaranteed income in December so we had to be very careful with our money. We can’t just rent a mansion, after all.
So, we put our thinking caps on and cast our net.
A couple of ideas: there are house-sitting/pet-sitting jobs posted online which we applied for. Responses were slow and not terribly promising. Also, allergies might make the stay a little less than pleasant.
I wrote to the hosts at Air BnB and Kijiji and asked for a discount, or an exchange for an original work of art. Most of my inquiries were declined as the properties are for income only and “while I enjoy Art, I need to pay my mortgage”.
However - and here’s the gem - I got a response from a poster on Kijiji who said he found the offer intriguing and he would get back to me.
I wrote him back with more information about my life and work and he agreed to meet us and show us the house he and his wife had just moved out of in Cranston (just south of the city).
Richard, whose middle name is Bruce, whose father’s name was Bruce and is a semi-retired eye-doctor was a thrill to meet. He seemed kind and compassionate. He’s one of those rare people who knows exactly what Retinoblastoma is (being in the ‘biz).
The house is beautiful! And, he’s agreed to exchange it for an original piece of Art. It seemed like perfect serendipity.
I have, in the past exchanged Art for housing, but this is the first time with a total stranger. I’m over the moon at this opportunity and looking very much forward to the month of December and all the art it will bring with it.