When my mother and Mary Kay decided to put my grandma (Marguerite Bourassa) into a nursing home, I bought her house in Duluth's "West End."
The main reason was to keep my younger brother Sean off the street. He went to help "Big Grandma" when our Uncle, Jack, was dying, and stayed on after that--it was where he lived after all.
The other reason was to protect myself--just-in-case I ever needed someplace to go. I had already been a renter at the Northern Warehouse (in St. Paul's Lowertown) for 20 years at that point and I could see that they would condoize the building some day--after the artists had turned it into a priceless sanctuary.
I was conceived in the house at 3059 Chestnut St., and spent a lot of time there during my early "independent" years (ages 10-11). At that point, I was going to a private parochial school about 6 blocks away called St Jeans, and I often stayed with Grandma, Frank (her second husband), Aunt Dottie (she was in school at age 50, getting her diploma as a medical records secretary), Uncle Jack (he lived in that house his whole life), and "Peppie" the toy poodle.
I came and went as I pleased. No one ever questioned me--ever--except that they often joked and teased me about what I was intending to make for dinner. These adults just couldn't wrap their minds around the fact that one weekend I just simply couldn't stay over, because I had go home and put a roast in the oven.
I now feel that house "calling me." So, after 30 years of living in my unbelievably beautiful loft, building a legacy as a self-employed artist, and an entire community--I'm leaving.
My vision is to use this historic house as my residence and gallery. I will continue to create my works at my painting studio on Lake Minnesuing--just 30 miles away. Water everywhere!
The next time you get an invitation to an art show from me, it will be at 3059 Chestnut St! Apparently, that Lincoln Park neighborhood has become a "Crafts" district in recent years. Come on y'all!
If I have my way, I will work with the City of Duluth, to develop an equity housing/studio project for artists. It would have to be in a concentrated and limited area. A place where we artists can be together and happy and once again--never again to be used as an economic development tool, and then discarded when we (like we are now) are in the way.
Thanks to everybody who came through my door here at the Northern Warehouse, Studio 519.