City curtails Patrick John Mills Gallery: one last party
After complaints from neighbours about an outdoor stage, Ottawa’s Patrick John Mills Gallery is forced to close its doors, displacing the work of some fifty artists and putting an end to the parties the gallery was notorious for. The openings were so popular that the gallery held two of per month, with about 400 to 500 people showing up.
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“Technically, I’m allowed to keep the gallery open,” says Mills. “But I’m only allowed to have one person at the gallery at a time. They are “not closing me,” however they will only permit me to have one person on the premises at a time, so an art opening, meet the artists, wine and cheese, all of it, one person at a time.”
If more than one person shows up and another complaint is filed, he may face fines up to $5,000 to $10,000.
“I had 45-50 artists showing that are all displaced,” he adds. “The openings were too big. The success of the gallery is why I was forced to close. So because there were too many people coming to my events, there were issues such as fire and safety.”
Artists from Ottawa, Montréal, Kingston and Toronto have already begun to take back their work. The gallery’s sculpture garden will also be closed—this part of his property is currently up for sale. Mills will use the revenue collected from the sale to reopen the gallery somewhere in the Market.
One of his erstwhile stars, Mathieu Laca, was no longer represented by Patrck John Mills at the time the City of Ottawa shut it down. “Patrick benefited for years from the tolerance and elasticity of the City’s bylaws,” Laca told 2B. As of June, he is coming back to Montréal and will have his first solo show at Galerie Modulum in the Centre-Sud, this October.
Laca says was no longer happy with how his works were being placed in the at-home gallery, and neighbours were unhappy with the over-the-top parties. In general, Laca says the neighbours didn’t complain about the exhibit openings, it was when Mills constructed an outdoor stage for performances that the “elastic broke.”
“It’s time to move,” he says. “What’s not addressed here is that we live in a society where every business is treated under the same umbrella of commercial taxes. Certain businesses are not box stores and there is really a lack of acknowledgement of businesses that can thrive while offering something different.”
As an independent gallery owner, he’s come to understand the nature of operating such an organization. “People don’t generally buy a lot of paintings in their lifetime,” he explains. “When you look at other business, people go and buy subway everyday or buy clothes every month. People don’t have the same type of consumption for art, so galleries have to look at showing safe artwork.”
Mills took a different approach. He gravitated towards provocative and cutting-edge work. “I wasn’t driven to make money, I was driven to push art and celebrate art,” he says. He was trying to build a sense of artistic community that was authentic; that was driven by art, not profit. “I had a theatre company use this space for free and rehearse twice a week. I held theatre nights for emerging theatre. It isn’t just some paintings and sculptures that are displaced, it’s a huge variety of artists.”
The closing party, “Art is Dead” will be held on August 18. It’s being branded as a house party, but you can still expect the usual suspects: bands, body painting, theatre, poets and art.
ART IS DEAD , Sat Aug. 18 @ Patrick John Mills
286 Hinchey Ave, Ottawa