Creative Space – Artist Loft

I have been in my downtown Toronto Artscape artist loft for nearly 6 years.

This past weekend I added some finishing touches. I have finally reached a point where I cannot think of anything I would change or that “needs” doing.

The space reflects me completely; knowing I am the only one to ever live in it adds to the “mine” of it all.

With the rough concrete walls (12 foot) and cement flooring I definitely wanted to tie into the industrial aesthetic with my decor at my artist loft.

And while I’m not a huge science fiction fan I do like the “futuristic” look so I purchased a one-of-a-kind lamp by Philip Toesev and had him do a custom piece for above my television. They serve as lighting and sculptural pieces. He is a also a prop designer for film and television.

Being a full time musician, the entertainment world also needed a prominent feature.

Most of the items in this shot were sourced and designed locally.

The lamp by on the left hand side (Sputnik Sprut) by Phillip Toesev uses a drum stand for its base. When it’s on, it gives the room a really cool ambient light and structural presence.

The couch is from a great local store around the corner from me, Pavilion Modern, and is one of their original designs.

The trunk is from a relative of my aunt who used it to transport her life from Europe to Canada by boat to become a nun. I added the glass top to protect it, and to give it more of a coffee table look.

The Eiffel Tower pillows were made by my downstairs neighbor Joe Calleja who specializes in fine art photographic scarves.

My dad constructed the framed sheet metal out of maple. The photo of Mary Wilson (from The Supremes) with Fuller Gordy (brother of Motown founder Barry Gordy) is part of my effort to have a focus on musicians and entertainers “not on stage.”

It was taken in Detroit (1971) which geographically plays into my history, as a big part of my musical influence and career path was taken from listening to radio stations broadcasting out of Detroit when I was growing up.

The photos above the computer are of me performing with dancers during an all night arts festival called Nuit Blanche. The purple print on metal is by my father. The desk chair is by a local designer and from Pavilion Modern.

One of the sculptural flutes from my video N2U, among antique war-time ammunition factory boxes from Kentucky.

The red painting by local artist Kofi Frempong adds a great focal point of colour as you walk into the room.

Above the television is my second “futuristic” sculptural lighting by Phillip (entitled Lighnia Lighting.) It is LED and on a dimmer so it can be used for mood or functional lighting.

To the left of it, keeping with my “not on stage” theme is Diana Ross on a spring board preparing for a dive in 1971. She was an expert swimmer. Who knew?

On the other side is Flipp Wilson preparing to take on the role of his alter ego “Geraldine Jones” on his variety show. In January 1972, Time magazine featured Wilson’s image on its cover and named him “TV’s first black superstar”. According to The New York Times, Wilson was “the first black entertainer to be the host of a successful weekly variety show on network television.”

Beside that (pictured above) is Eartha Kitt taking a sip of honey backstage before her vocal performance.

The rubber coated metal garbage can is from the Art Gallery of Ontario. The design lends a focal point aspect to something that would most times be considered an eye sore.

On the microwave stand a painting of me done by Julie Walsh while I was performing at the Wanderlust Festival in east Toronto. The pottery is from a great little store across the street from me featuring work by local artists called Craft Ontario. I love how it extends the colour palette and brush strokes of the painting.

Welcome to my hallway/kitchen. As music has gone pretty much completely digital, I decided a great way to display my recordings in the “physical” world was to make magnets out of them.

The wall art you catch a glimpse of is an artist’s proof of a work by Patricia Neal called “Spark Plug” (done in 1971.) It spoke to me, fit my style palette and a great find from a store just across the street from me. Doing some research on it may have been done during her time at Toronto Art School OCAD.

My bedroom.

I love performing in NYC. The Brooklyn Bridge was painted on a bicycle path map of New York and picked up at the Chelsea Market.

The other art work is by long time friend David Wilcox. The subway scene is from a photo I snapped on my travels. These three girls came in dressed up, each with a Red Bull and a bottle of water. I can guarantee that was not water. Just seemed like a fun night-on-the-town scene to capture.

And Finally…

the man, the musician, the myth and aspiring interior designer who lives here.