"I Killed the Neighbourhood Gallery!"

By Tiana Dargent — Tue, 03/07/2012 - 16:20

A pioneering local arts establishment is being forced out of business by one crusty neighbour.  Rather than supporting and encouraging the kind of enterprise that brings life and vitality to a burgeoning community, the City has bowed to pressure from one vocal individual who just doesn't get it.

Patrick John Mills walked the fine line between having a home-based business and being an art-lover who graciously welcomed the public into his home. This caused quite the controversy with some of his neighbours (possibly even simply one!) who repeatedly complained about nearly everything he did since he opened his gallery at 286 Hinchey Ave. in Hintonburg five years ago.

This video below is short, and shows what takes place at a typical art party in Patrick's home.

Complaints were made about his promotional posters, cars being parked on the street, and monthly art parties. These were directed to all kinds of governmental bodies and finally, after years of being in the clear, it was decided that to carry on in the same manner would require re-zoning his property. This is a very cost-prohibitive option and to change the business model to avoid re-zoning would essentially kill the business entirely.

I was hard-pressed to find any person actually openly complaining about Patrick John Mills or the events at his Gallery/home. I was surprised because I not only asked real-live people but I searched the Internet too ... and you know that if there is a complaint to be made, it’s online! In fact, my sleuthing turned up nothing but enthusiasm and appreciation for what he has been offering the community for years: an environment where people from all walks of life come together to celebrate and learn and create art. But all it takes is one person to complain with enough vigour and so a few days ago, the decision from the City of Ottawa has caused the closing of the gallery.

What does this mean? Patrick loses his source of income and thus, possibly his home. Local artists will have less opportunity to show and sell their work. Enthusiasts and explorers will be stymied in their attempts to see and touch and breathe and hear and live art. The community will lose an aspect of its richness.

All this loss... for what? To ease the prickly soul of likely one person who so intensely dislikes something Patrick is doing that they feel they have the right to take away that opportunity to enjoy that unique and welcoming space from all of us?


That’s pretty bullshit if you ask me. You didn’t, but you’re reading this and that’s kind of like asking me... indirectly and after the fact of me having already published my opinion... Moving on.

Patrick is currently looking to move his gallery to a new space. There is no appeal system to the City of Ottawa and thus he is forced to move on. In his own words, from his letter to Paul Dewar published on his site:

“I would like to make an Arts Centre.

I would like to purchase a church, a building, a proper space. I greatly welcome some advice, talks, knowledge, insight, guidance, resources, assistance in helping me in my life. I promise your time, your help, your love for the Arts will be greatly appreciated.”

To find a list of people to contact about this issue, check out the entry “We are Artists” on the gallery blog. If you can help out in any other way, I strongly encourage you to get in touch with Patrick himself.

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Submitted by Anonymous on
The City of Ottawa didn't bow to pressure placed on it from one individual.  What John Patrick Mills was doing was against the rules of the city.    The city doesn't make exceptions for things like this as they would have to allow every business to operate in this fashion. No need to blame the person who was against traffic and art parties on their street.   Everybody has a different idea of what a community is.  Unfortunately,  your definition is against current by-laws.    

Submitted by Anonymous on

Submitted by Michelle on
I find it amusing that you post as anonymous, and yet seem to speak for the city. Your argument is invalid.

Submitted by Chantal on
So what was wrong exactly? Having a party in your home? Parking a lot of cars in front of your house for ONE evening a month? If people weren't prepared to have that happen on their street, maybe they should have reconsidered urban living...  Patrick wasn't operating as a business when he had these big events people seem to have a problem with... he was inviting people into his home.  And whatever the definition of community might be, being an "anonymous neighbor" who calls the police and/or City of Ottawa to deal with your problems, being someone who never speaks face to face with the person you have an issue with, and acting like a total child is not part of ANY definition of community.

Submitted by Kaitlin on
Ottawa might be one of the most officious cities that I've lived in, and it doesn't stand it in good stead. People who complain about efforts like the gallery needn't look to far to know what has killed culture and community in the city.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Gag me.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Yeah. Just look what happened to the Capital Hoedown festival. The organizer is a bit late in paying his fee to the City (slow pre-sale of tickets, recession, etc), they just rip up a contract to give him the Walter Baker park in Kanata. The organizer scrambles to find another site (do you think that the City is helping him at his point?). He finds a ranch in Stittsville and the City shuts him down again because that site is NOT ZONED FOR FESTIVALS. WTF! There is zoning for festivals now? What I know is that this City is run by circus performers. Jim Watson is not part of my city.  

Submitted by Katherine on
Great article Tiana! Even though Ottawa has numerous art galleries, the NAC and buskers, the (main stream) art scene is cramped,old fashioned and stiff. The alternative galleries are great initiatives and should be encouraged to be different and to bother some people. Maybe that person just proved what a great idea it was by wanting to destroy it. Oh, dear jealousy...

Submitted by Anonymous on
"No need to blame the person who was against traffic and art parties on their street." Yes there is. I live a few streets away. Traffic is minimal and the parties don't seem to be wild crack fuelled gatherings to me. Well in fact I'm not sure I have ever seen one, and there is good reason for that. Having lived in many cities of the world, I can conclude, Ottawa is not of-art-mind. But then maybe the problem here, was to expect that a gov city ever would be?

Submitted by Anonymous on
BS. I live in the neigbourhood as well, and the last party was 200 people who were encouraged to attend "naked" - such was the theme of the party.  As to Mr. Mills postering - well, YOU try and find a space anywhere in this city to put up an event poster after Mr. Mills and his lickspittles have finished plastering the town.  He seems to think only his events matter and that the ground he walks on should levitate five feet above everyone else.  I found one of his poster in  Bells Corners yesterday.  PJM broke the law, too bad so sad...time to suffer for your art Mills.

Submitted by Chantal on
You made that comment as if anything you said actually mattered to why he broke the law. All of it is totally irrelevant to the point of this post. Why are you so threatened by Patrick, his themes, and his gallery and why are you so affected by the actions of someone who you clearly don't want ot have anything to do with? If you don't want any of this to be your business, why do you care so much? 

Submitted by Anonymous on
My point was that your anger is directed in the wrong place.    He / She didn't make the law;  They just reported a violation. You can cry about the lone individual ruining your neighbourhood or you work with City Hall to get this rule changed    

Submitted by KC on
The problem is that this squeeky wheel took advantage of the selective application of City bylaws to ruin a person who only contributed to fostering the neighbourhood, promoting local artists, and contributing to the community. He was targeted and unfortunately, the City just does not want to deal with complaints but rather bow to them.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Sorry for him to lose his "business". I understand all that hard work to promote so called art. Nothing wrong with that. It is wrong only when you go for mediocre, low level and nothing outstanding.  The art presented there didn't or wouldn't do any good to Ottawa's professional art scene. Almost every show or art presented there were of extreme mediocrity.  Actually these shows were falsely presenting  works of high quality.  In a way the bureaucracy stopped the mediocrity being further promoted. 

Submitted by Anonymous on
Sorry for him to lose his "business". I understand all that hard work to promote so called art. Nothing wrong with that. It is wrong only when you go for mediocre, low level and nothing outstanding.  The art presented there didn't or wouldn't do any good to Ottawa's professional art scene. Almost every show or art presented there were of extreme mediocrity.  Actually these shows were falsely presenting  works of high quality.  In a way the bureaucracy stopped the mediocrity being further promoted. 

Submitted by Chris on
Mr/Ms Anonymous: Judging by your posting, you are the one who complained.  Presumably you are a resident of Hinchey (at least I hope so, otherwise your actions are simply a reflection of some sort of deep moralistic fervour that does no one but yourself any good).  Certainly Patrick's parties are well-attended and certainly they feature art which pushes the bounds of expression.  However, having attended numerous events at the gallery over the years (as well as a lot of parties of various sizes and formats), I can say that the amount of noise and disruption at the gallery on open evenings is minimal.  If you were standing right outside the gallery, or in the back yard where many people congregate, you would of course be aware something was going on.  But noisy, obnoxious throngs do not congregate on the sidewalk: the vast majority of attendees walk to the event, so there aren't masses of cars on the street - I stroll down Hinchey regularly and the difference between an average day and a gallery night, in terms of traffic, is negligible.  On a number of occasions approaching the gallery, I've actually wondered if the event was even occurring, such is the lack of visible hoopla extending outside the gallery space. I was at the Naked event, and in fact, only a small number of women (who's going to worry about shirtless men?!?) were bare-chested, only on the property, and in fact had their "naughty bits" covered in body paint; it would have taken some fairly vigorous and concerted inspection to even realize that this was taking place, which begs the question - if this is offensive to you, why were you there? To be sure Patrick is an enthusiastic posterer and his poster titles can be provocative but promotion is part of any successful public endeavour so to castigate him for PR savvy and determination is rather disingenuous.  If advertising and it's moral effect on the public is your gripe then I suggest subscribing to Adbusters and putting your energy to work on the corrosive effects of corporate mass publicity on a healthy civic society. Patrick can put up as many posters as he wants.  There is no rule against this.  Other posterers, myself included, are perfectly free to cover up part or all of his posters if space is lacking at a particular location.  In fact, this is the way postering works: all posters are eventually covered up by other sheets.  This is normal and I suspect Patrick puts up so many posters since he knows this will happen and wants to maximize his coverage before it is inevitably covered over.  I'm mystified as to why a poster in Bell's Corners is somehow egregious. In fact, you may be the same person who has for years wandered Wellington street pulling down posters of all descriptions, even the most innocuous, under the ill-conceived notion that posters on telephone poles are somehow less attractive than the poles themselves. As for the art being mediocre, that is entirely subjective.  Patrick is open to many forms of artistic expression and, yes, some of it I found uninspiring.  This does not mean that the artists should not have the opportunity to present their vision to the rest of us.  The point of art is creation and touching other people with your work.  A gallery owner's job is to provide the forum for artists and patrons to meet and to interact, not to define what is acceptable and what isn't.  Of course, a gallery owner also reserves the right to decide who and what is displayed.  I'm sure that many artists and much art has not been featured. From the tone of your posts and if, as I suspect, you are the complainer, I wonder if you are also "an artist" whose submission to the gallery were rejected.  If this is the case, don't blame the owner- just find yourself another place to display. Change happens, and PJM style gallery is leaving the neighbourhood.  It's a shame, but I for one am glad that this gallery and its events have been a staple feature of Hintonburgh life these past few years.  Hopefully they will return, unabatted, in a new and accessible venue before too long.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Nah, that's not the way postering works - when one arrogant "artist" can fulfill his own need at self-aggrandizement by being the most visible.  I've played in this city for two decades and postering has always been a balancing act between getting your event noticed and trying not to interfere with others events.  I've postered for shows at Babylon, for major festivals and we have always adhered to this rule.  Mills doesn't care about anything that isn't his own event.  Have I torn down his posters - you bet.  Sticking 6 or 7 posters to the same pole isn't advertising, it's pure selfishness.  I know the scene that hangs out at the Mills gallery and just as a previous commenter stated, it's mediocrity masquerading as talent.  The problem with you and yours is that you think because you picked up a paint brush and splattered some ink on a canvas that you are now in the league of Van Gogh.  The art was crap, the music he hosted was crap and I wouldn't be surprised if the neighbor complained simply to get rid of the monstrosities that were called art out of the area and to stop the caterwauling that was trying to pass itself off as music.

Submitted by Patrick John Mills on
Wow... you sound very upset.   thank you for voicing your words... Mr. Unknown Coward.    

Submitted by Anonymous on
No problem dude.  I look forward to how your next "art" party turns out.  I'll have my decibel meter with me.

Submitted by Balance on
There is no need to attack the art that was shown at the PJM gallery. Not all art appeals to everyone. Heck every one hated Van Gogh's work when he was a live and now you have to pay just to look on it. Patrick's "postering" was selfish. I would call it obsessive. Patrick became more and more vindictive towards his neighbour(s). If he would have dropped the art "parties" - or limited them to once a year, or made them "invitation only" perhaps his Gallery could have co-existing with the other people sharing the neighbourhood. But Patrick likes to push boundaries. This is a once good thing - and a bad thing. Patrick is getting lots of publicity for his "new" gallery. I hope he learns from his mistakes with the first gallery and is able to run a successful, professional business for a long long time. Ottawa needs more people who are passionate about art and who are willing to give emerging artists' space - whether people "like" their work or not. Patrick should keep a check on his ego - Bylaws are for everyone to follow. And, BTW, most Churches have strict usage clauses in their purchase/lease  agreements. I do not think a church would be a good choice for a new gallery - too many limitations.

Submitted by MC on
Hey "mr. Music" So now you're attacking and judging the art itself!?  Thats laughable , that would be like someone saying all local music is mediocre because it's not Mozart. get a life or better yet maybe some anger management therapy deal with your issues instead of projecting all this ugliness on others. seriously. both the gallery and the artist involved have done nothing else but share their love for life through art, it takes a very dark soul to so venomously attack these people.   I am just a bystander in all this but as an artist when you attack art and artist for sharing their passion and soul i take it personal   So for your own health seek help  

Submitted by Anonymous on
I think you missed my point while trying to read my comment through your tears.  Maybe wipe them away and go get a hug before reading this - my point is not that local art and/or music is mediocre because its not Van Gogh or Mozart - but that local artists and musicians WHO ARE mediocre THINK THEY ARE Van Gogh or Mozart.  Thus they feel entitled to break city by-laws and skirt zoning regulations and then huff and puff and have a hissy fit when the Man comes around and spanks them.  Kind of like a child having a temper tantrum.  From your comments you sound like a dirty hippy spewing peace and love, so go hug a tree and farm some granola.

Submitted by Kevin on
I've been to a couple of art parties. They were fun (sorry I missed the naked) but even at the time I wondered how-in-the-hell he got away with it. A cover charge does not a house party make. It was clearly a business. Damn shame the parties got out of hand. He coulda floated under the radar for years more, had he avoided the temptation to grow to big for the venue. (artists get greedy too) Tiana postulates that there may have been only one crusty neighbor complaining. There may have -or- a cop driving down Scott st.. saw many parked cars in a usually empty street and got curious -or- Bylaw has been called almost monthly -or- ... the point is we don't know. lack of results in her research is not a result.   hijack: Capital Hoedown still owes many local vendors thousands of dollars from last year /hijack

Submitted by Daniel Martelock on
I am appalled at what some people have written above. Especially with  "Anonymous" and the statement of the "crap" (art) at PJM. I am a local artist, I have shown in Pat Mills gallery, as well as LPMG, gallery 101, Orange gallery, and a large variety of other local galleries, restaurants and many local festivals and such (Im even here on couch assassin). I have raised thousands of dollars for local charities and fundraisers with my artwork, I have zero inventory of any of my work because I have sold everything I have created. You may not call me an artist, you may not like my art, but this is your opinion and quite frankly your opinion is one which should be kept to yourself.  Yes, Patrick may be a little over board with his postering, but he is doing something for the community, he is creating work for local artists, and as a local artist you should understand this fully as you yourself have had to poster for your own events. Have his posters caused you harm? Removed your home or shut down your business? So why have we done this to him for simply trying to provide something to this city that I dont see many others doing? He is proactive to a fault and his parties may have been a little disturbing to some, but he meant no harm to anyone in trying to build his dream. I dont mean to offend you in anyway or personally attack you, I was very upset when I read your post and I have kept this as nice as I could, but do not disrespect the artists who are trying, or Pat Mills who was kind enough to give them a chance. Im sure you yourself were not born a musician, but have been working very hard to be better at your craft over time. This is what we do as well, people are not born professional anything, we all have to work at it.    

Submitted by Anonymous on
I'll speak my opinion when and where ever I want.  If you don't like it your more than welcome not to read it.  Apparently the art community are a bunch of sally's in this town who can't handle criticism.  Cry me a river.  You didn't want a war with Ottawa's musicians, then you should have told Mills to start respecting us when he postered over our events.  Go sniff some paint.

Submitted by Anonymous on
Patrick John Mills posters the city with a lot of garbage marketing campaigns that also break various by-laws and cover up legit events that are also marketed on poster poles. I am glad to see this idiot shut down.

Submitted by Patrick John Mills on
I will be back... more black and white posters... forever.     Future titles include: I LOVE YOU  (so much) ART SLUTS I WANT YOU YOU Need ME. (you need art, creativity, passion in your life) Dead of Alive (a show that will celebrate past and present artists) I am GOD.  (if I purchase a church) - all artists are creators.  Fake Your Death.  (with an art party called Elvis Lives) and more  Naked Naked Naked. ... it would be rude not to have this as an annual event..     And Yes the next location will be zoned commercial.  Just have to wait to sell half my current property (lot 145) once this sells... I will have the funds to go shopping.  The new location will be downtown.     LOVE LIVE ART Patrick  

Submitted by Anonymous on
I have been to this guys "gallery" and know good musicians who have played his events for free while this guy is charging $20 a head to go to his "parties". He is just another parasite. I have no sympathy what so ever for this guy. 

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