(23) The Little House of Something on Photography



"I love the name!" Yoji says, as he sips a small mouthful of warm water from the glass marked TIME'S CHANGED. "Everything has becoming so big these days that nothing is touchable anymore. There were the days when a photo print worth no more than ten dollars, and you got what you really love. Those were the days when photographers would even give out prints, free, to friends who really appreciate them. It's the passion and respect the artist got as a reward. Now it's about investment, becoming commodity. I am not saying artists shouldn't be paid, what I try to say is the market has created an illusionary sense of value, $$$ driven, and changed the meaning of creating art to a whole new ball game." Yoji clears his throat and sips another mouthful of the warm liquid.

"Yes, and I love the name because it is so open to one's imagination, and interpretation. It has a magical touch, it returns to the roots - deconstructs systems preexisted. That frees the minds of certain "school" of photography too, leaving room for us to build and collect what most appropriate according to our budget and circumstance." Bill says and nods in agreement. He took a 45 minutes drive from North York to join the meeting.

"Financially we are saved from spending too much on the acquisition of a presentable building. A house is good, little house is better. Something can be anything, can be curated, can be big or small. Not a big promise but suits us all well. We stick to our small team and we just do our best." George has never been happier. He massages his fingers as he speaks, as if, he's ready to hand out the money.

"Ooh, I have no idea the name can mean so much. I only thought it cute, and people love cute things nowadays, don't they? We don't want to build something they feel intimidated to partake, right?" A gleam appears in Mrs. Bento eyes as speaks. She thinks about Little Mosque on the Prairie, a Canadian television sitcom where she got the idea of the good name from, little realizing that title, is actually a play on the name of the classic American book and TV drama series, Little House on the Prairie.

"The Little House of Something on Photography. Sounds petite and vivacious, like my woman here." Mr. Bento teases his other half with a polite smile. "Also, the name has somehow, suggested our mandate - to build a house of photography modestly, without any preestablished rules, somewhere people would love to go, experience lives and look back at themselves without even knowing. But how should we begin? I would say we should begin by thinking in terms of how 'little' is the house. It could perhaps be three stories, like ours? We could have a gallery on the ground floor, organizing changing exhibitions. All the rooms on the second and third floor can be thematic. A good solid wet-proof basement for storage. There's also possibility for future expansion, building another level on the roof. Ha, it sounds awfully like we are using our own house for this project, the Little House of Photography on Gladstone…"

"That's a pretty version of the museum. A house like yours how much will be it now? A good three to four millions? I would say it will probably climb up to five millions after all the renovation and fixtures." Wandy adjusts her eye glasses and fixes her look on Mr. Bento.

"The Gladstone Hotel was sold for only 2.25 millions in 2000, and it has 60 rooms!" exclaimed Mrs. Bento, "Wouldn't we need to win another lottery if we were to acquire something like that today!"

"It's also about location. Queen West price is really out of many people's reach today. Sacrificing the location, get some land outside Toronto and build on it. Think about different options: site-built, prefab, manufactured, panel, container…" Bill says energetically. "I once visited a cave house in Spain and it looks every bit spectacular, from interior to exterior…a structure pretty much created for you by nature. It's a pity we're located in a different geographical region."       

"But the fact is, aren't we're placing ourselves more and more in the virtual world? Where's the body and soul, and time to have a physical presence in everything? Geographically, you can be in the same country that has two very different regions. Take for example, Iceland. Morning you can stand on ice, and mid-day on lava." Mrs. Bento says matter-of-factly as she passes small dishes of home-baked almond muffins to her guests.