I needed stretchers built. Scratch that. I needed strainers built. That distinction was made in the first phone call. Art Placement in Edmonton is a one man show. It’s an Edmonton institution, and his name is Dennis. I heard his voice, which sounded like it was filtered through a good cigar before it was sanded to rough. “Go to the Goodyear Tire. I’m in the back.” It was summer and a good day, so the loading dock was open, and jazz was on the radio. I couldn’t make it up. He looks exactly how I expected him to.
I have been glad to know him and glad to know that this place was in my city. Dennis is efficient, honest, hardworking. This place is part of what makes me think I could be an artist here. I have only been there twice, and spoke on the phone a few times. He provides an education, which is a bit like hope. He also holds a lot of knowledge about the history of Edmonton’s art community in his memory and his stories. He doesn’t charge for that.
After 23 years, he is being displaced. I feel like a curmudgeon: “They call it progress, I suppose.” Anyway, I don’t think Dennis would appreciate the sentimentality. After June, our city will have lost something. We will not have Art Placement anymore. He says he might start up again, somewhere else. In a year or so. Before it closes, someone should say thank you. You will be missed. So thank you.