The New Studio Gallery

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
— H. Jackson Brown

Me and Chris outside our new building just after the offer was accepted.

First day inside.

Bad beginnings make for happy endings. Im pretty sure I’ve read that somewhere. If not, I’m making it my mantra. On Halloween morning 2018 my partner Chris and I started the move from Toronto to Wallaceburg. It’s about a three hour drive South West of this city I’ve lived in since I was 19. Big contrast. From a crowded metropolis of 2.7 million to a sleepy town of just over 10k. Chris is from Montreal but he’s always lived in busy urban areas from New York to Osaka. It was an adjustment for both of us. But this place. This place. We found a converted bank from the late 19th century that a family of artists had restored beautifully. The main floor was a finished gallery with commercial zoning. The top was a residential 3 bedroom loft with large windows overlooking the Sydenham River. It was so spectacular that we called the broker without even looking at the location. But then we realized it just happened to be down the street from my dad! We weren’t looking anywhere specifically. For weeks we had just been searching the net for unique properties. The fact that my family, who I happen to love so much, lived THAT close was just one more huge incentive.

A view of the work space

Makeshift work desk until the new one arrives.

Moving day morning we got up at 4:30 AM to get an early start. I had come down with a really bad cold the day before and Chris had thrown out his back so we were relieved that we had hired movers. My dearest friend Tracey came with us and arrived at the truck rental place at 7:30am before realizing they opened at 8. It was cold and raining so we walked 5 blocks to find shelter. By the time we found a coffee shop we had to start walking back. No cab or Uber would pick us up because it was such a short distance. 

We had reserved a 26 ft cube truck because there were two apartments to collect. However, it turned out that the closest one they had available that morning was in Ajax. The biggest vehicle they had available was 20 ft. We hoped it would be sufficient. After loading half of Chris’s belongings I realized we wouldn’t have enough space, so we were forced to walk six more blocks in the rain to rent an extra cargo van. Tracey was helping us that day and she dropped her phone en route so we had to retrace our steps to find it. Thankfully a nice older lady had picked it up on the sidewalk and held it for us. Then we realized the truck they gave us had an empty tank and we almost ran out of gas on the DVP.

This tile is the original flooring from around 1880.

I got this incredible setee on auction from the famous Mott estate courting suite.

My Toronto apartment was on the top floor of an old 1920’s walkup. 6 flights no elevator. I called my landlord to ask if he could prepare the front doors to stay open and he informed me that the doors had just been broken and we would have to use the side entrance. I told him that side door was much too small and he said, “Well I’m not going to break the door down for your couch, Troy.”  

We figured out a way to prop the two front doors open and the movers were fantastic. Chris stood inside the cube truck and layered everything like an Olympic Tetris champion. There was not an inch of wasted space, just a tightly braided wall of stuff.

The main safe at the back of the gallery space is so heavy it almost takes two people to open the door.

Safe guts.

Once we managed to get everything in the two trucks we thought the worst was behind us but by that time we were just hitting Toronto rush hour so we sat in traffic for almost 3 hours before actually leaving Toronto.

With Chris and I driving the cube truck and Tracey driving the cargo van, we decided to stop for something to eat in Cambridge. I locked the keys in the cube truck with my little chihuahua, Phoebe, inside. We stood for two hours in the parking lot without our jackets while it gently rained on us, waiting for a locksmith to show up. Two different truckers tried to jimmy the door open with their personal locksmith kits, but to no avail. When our official locksmith finally arrived he looked 12 years old. We stood watching him for another hour as he attempted to loop a wire around the door handle with all the precision of a baby standing for the first time. Phoebe slept comfortably swathed in a crocheted blanket on the passenger seat. The extra cargo van and the locksmith doubled our carefully planned moving day budget. 

The last hour and a half of driving we moved at 30 km/h because of a thick Halloween night fog that I’ve only seen in Vincent Price movies. It was like driving through an alien landing. I couldn’t see 10 feet in front of our tightly packed Tetris truck. 

Edison bulbs and this building are like peanut butter and chocolate.

The floor is split between both the original hardwood and tile.

I told my dad to expect us at about 4 or 5pm. We pulled into his driveway close to Midnight. Three Zombies. The next morning I woke up feeling relieved that the sun had set on such a miserable day of unfortunate events and that nothing else could go wrong. I reached over from the pullout couch to grope for my phone on the nightstand but it wasn’t there. We found it, later that morning, in the driveway, sitting in a pile of wet leaves as the unbroken stream of rain continued to fall through the second day of moving. I tried putting it in a bag of rice but my phone is a paperweight now. 

I guess my favourite part of the whole day was my shooting diarrhea that only stopped when I finally had access to my own bathroom. But enough about that. We’re here now and this building is a dream come true. The first night in the building Chris, Tracey and I got Irish drunk and they watched me go from room to room in the spirit of being overcome with gratitude and the luxury of screaming without bothering the adjacent apartments. I completely let loose in the new Troy Brooks Studio Gallery.

  • This is probably a good time to mention that this will not be a traditional gallery space open to the general public. It will be more of a place for me to work, schedule visits and sell to patrons directly, as well as having the occasional opening. If you’d like to schedule a visit please do feel free to call directly at 1-833-482-7665

ADDENDUM

In July 2017, nine months after my mom passed away, I was having lunch with some friends at Sin And Redemption, across from the AGO in Toronto. A dark haired gentleman walked over to our table and started telling me he was an intuitive and that my mother was “jumping out at him.” My mother’s death was still very fresh. I felt stuck between wanting it to be real and reminding myself that we’d just been talking about her passing at the table. I sat there quietly as he told me what she was communicating and handed me his business card. He told me to reach out for a session. I never did, but immediately paid a visit to his website. There were videos of him stopping people on the street, giving them cold readings. The rest of the day I had a knot in my stomach over the thought of a stranger seeing my grief as an opportunity. More than anything though, I wanted to believe it. But I couldn’t. Here’s what he told me, “She wants you to be very careful with your heart health. Heart disease runs in your family. In November you will get everything you ever wanted.”

This November, I moved into my dream home with a gallery attached, closer to my family with someone I love with all my heart.

The previous owners drew us a really nice chalk board welcome message.

Big hands like bull.

My dearest friend in the world. My Catfish Girl, Tracey.

No human size smile will suffice.

Drunk with power inside my brush forest.