Shelter: Heavy metal esthetic in the Town of Mount Royal
MONTREAL — Bruce Lemieux is a self-employed jack of all trades who transports hot tubs in the summer and sets up booths at trade shows in the winter. He lived in N.D.G. for years, but in 2005, he decided to move to a highrise apartment in the Town of Mount Royal. Although it is at the opposite end of the city, it gives easy access to most major autoroutes, but more importantly, it has space at a nearby industrial estate where Lemieux can park his tractor-trailer.
Were there other advantages to being in T.M.R. rather than N.D.G.?
Actually, my mother lives here. Also, I have several pets. It's not easy to find a place where you're allowed to have animals. My rent is low, too. I think I'm paying less than some of the other people, but I'm a good tenant and I help out the landlord from time to time. In the summer, I look after the outdoor pool.
door pool. I must say your decor is quite extraordinary. Did you paint the walls yourself?
(Every surface, including the doors, is covered with artwork - a giant, flowing mural of trompe l'oeil stairways, gothic arches, a snake, two scantily clad women and a collection of real and mythical creatures.)
When I moved in, the walls were the usual bland white. I like lots of colour, so I decided to paint them burgundy and beige and add some gold veining. Unfortunately, I didn't use the right kind of paint and one day, when I tried to clean the walls - they get dusty because I'm so close to the highway - the colours smeared!
Goodness, I guess you didn't tell your landlord?
Laughs. No. He hasn't been inside my place. I came up with a solution though. My brother plays in a heavy metal band and before they perform on stage, their bodies are painted with all kinds of designs, just like Kiss. I know the guy who does it. He's an airbrush artist called Bob Sklton who used to go to biker meets, so I asked him if he'd be interested in painting my apartment.
He's clearly very talented. What gave him the inspiration for the subjects?
I made some suggestions, but basically I said to him "just go to town!" I love stone. Rocks. Gargoyles. The kind of sculptures you'd see in a cathedral. These paintings, which came out of his imagination, satisfy my appetite for something different. There's no stencilling. It's all done freehand.
freehand. There's a lot of detail. How long did it take him?
Just over a week, working for a couple of hours a day. He's not quite finished. My bedroom isn't done yet.
(We walk into the bedroom, which still has burgundy and beige walls. The room is dominated by a king size sleigh bed, a large night table and an Empire-style, bow fronted dresser above which is perched a huge mirror with an ornate wooden frame, flanked by a couple of reading lamps with black and gold pedestals.)
Even your furniture is larger than life! Where did you get it?
At Sears. I was actually just looking for a dressing table and a night table, but the bed was part of a package deal, so I ended up buying the whole lot. I had to dismantle the closet so the dresser would fit in the space.
One thing led to another, so I also removed the bedroom door. I've hung a couple of heavy drapes for privacy, but also so the pets can wander in and out.
(Back in the living room, I remark on his bright red lacquer bowls and vases.)
The red forms a great contrast with your "stone" surroundings. And tell me about your red electric guitar. I would never have thought of hanging it on the wall.
Most of my ornaments came from Pier 1. It's one of my favourite stores. The electric guitar (like my brother, I play, but only as a hobby) was custom-made for me by the "Picasso" of the rock world — Mauro Liberatore. He's a well-known luthier here in Montreal. The bevelling, everything, is all done by hand. His guitars are veritable works of art. That's why I've hung this one on the wall but that protects it, too.
Shelter is a weekly series featuring a conversation with tenants or condo owners.
Occupant: 41-year-old Bruce Lemieux, miniature schnauzers Bailey and Lola and three cats - Cody, Otis and Bobbi
Location: Town of Mount Royal
Size: 4½ with a balcony
Rent: $745 (excluding Hydro)
Been there since: 2005
Read more: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Shelter+Heavy+metal+esthetic+Town+Mount+Royal/7528644/story.html#ixzz2C2jUaTdO